Vidulgi Ooyoo
2010.06.05 Vidulgi Ooyoo (L-R): Ki-Hun Sung, Ji-Hye Ham, Yong-Jun Lee, Jong-Seok Lee

Vidulgi Ooyoo: Pigeon Milk & the Fountain of Youth

Interview by Joseph Kim 2010.09.27

I first heard of Vidulgi Ooyoo in 2007 when my band asked the Daydream guys if they could recommend any good bands for us to check out. At the time, there were no recordings available for us to listen to. Daydream's guitarist Shin Gye-Hyeon was then in the process of recording VO's debut LP, "Aero". Interesting name, we thought- "pigeon milk". Is that a reference to pigeons' milky looking poo? Do pigeons actually lactate? [Turns out to be neither, but it does have something to do with how parent pigeons feed their young...]

I finally got a chance to see them perform this summer and they completely lived up to my expectations and then some. I got to know VO's principal songwriter Jong-Seok Lee over late nights at Godard and jam sessions. Far from being a shoegazer whose knowledge of music begins and ends with My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, Jong-Seok is a musician steeped in theory and history. For example, he would show me a tuning he came up with made up of only "perfect intervals" and was influenced by Indian drone... I'm also convinced that Jong-Seok is like a Korean Dorian Gray. The man does not age! More on that below...

Fans in the U.S., VO is making plans to come next year! Keep an eye out...

Information online says that Vidulgi Ooyoo ("VO") formed in 2003. Were there any line-up (member) changes since 2003? How did the current members of VO all meet?

A: The current line-up of VO was finally settled in 2004. I saw Ji-Hye playing in a club with Greenish Yellow (her former band) and I was so impressed with her energy. After a while GY broke up, and because she liked VO, she called me and I was willing to accept her naturally. Yong-Jun joined after a month. Ki-Hoon formed VO with me from the start.

Individually, how did each of you come to become interested in music? How did you start playing? What were your early influences?

A: As for myself, I liked contemporary Korean pop when I was very young in the '70s. Singers like Kim Jeongho, Kim Chooja, and so on. And when I was in my early teens, I became interested for the first time in U.S and British pop music and classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc., through FM radio. So I wanted to learn how to play guitar. At that time, one of my brother's friends brought an electric guitar to our home and he played "Stairway to Heaven" by plugging into our audio system and I was shocked. Afterwards, I bought a guitar, practiced it every day and formed a school band. That was the start... My early influences were hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and so on. And then I became interested in progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer.

What did Greenish Yellow sound like? When was it active? Are there any recordings available of this band?

Greenish Yellow usually covered My Bloody Valentine's songs and was active from 2003 to 2004. They didnít release any cds or demos.

Jong-Seok, what did you do before VO formed? Were you playing in any bands? Recently, I heard Sung Kiwan (3rd Line Butterfly) remark with surprise that you were only 1 year younger than him! [You do have a very ageless look.] I guess for this reason, Iím especially curious about your background and the things you did prior to forming this band.

Before VO, I was in a band called La Vie En Rose. After releasing the bandís first album, I left, because I thought I couldnít make the music that I wanted in that band. I wrote a couple of new songs, and then I formed VO.

Anyway, thanks for your nice comment. I have no particular secret about looking ageless. Just drink and sleep a lot. Over 8 hours at least... [smiles]

The first time I heard about VO was from the members of Daydream in 2007, who highly recommended you, but it would be some time until we heard your music. I later learned that Daydream guitarist Shin Gye-Hyeon worked on production for the recordings that would become your album "Aero". Can you tell us what these recording sessions were like? What was it like working with Gye-Hyeon? How much time did you guys spend in the studio? Were there any recordings of VO available before Aero?

Our debut release was a digital single including "Elephant" and "Siren" in January 2007. But it was a home recording, so we could not get the quality that we wanted. We needed someone who had lots of experience with recording and the sounds that we wanted. Gye-Hyeon was the right man. I think he has good ears and instincts. He acquired lots of experience during the 5 years that he recorded and mixed his own band, Daydream. But he was a student in graduate school, so he could not keep on recording us regularly. It took us about 6 months to record and mix down, but we are satisfied with the results, thanks to him!

I noticed that one of your songs on Aero is called "Murmurís Room". I just finished interviewing Seunghoon Choi and he talked about one of his old bands, Murmurís Loom! Is there any relationship between this song and that band?

Nothing related to them directly, except for the title. The song is about a beautiful scene that I saw in my brother's room when I was young, which reminded me of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." At that time, nobody was allowed to enter my brotherís room.

At your recent Ssam performance, I noticed that you guys were segueing several songs together, and that your audience maintained a respectful silence between each song, only applauding when there was total silence. Whereas bands like the Ramones seemed to use segues to bombard and overwhelm its audiences, it seemed to me that VO regards these mini-sets as the way its music is intended to be heard. How do you regard your performance style? Does the band follow any principles when it comes to performance, or what a performance should be about?

Basically, we are not good at speaking on stage. [smiles] It's comfortable for us to segue without comment. We like our performance style to be like a Pink Floyd concept album. We love our music to be like a movie or drama. So there is always some noise between songs. Each song is neutralized to a similar texture, and then we transfer from one dream to another.

Congratulations on the release of your new EP, a split with Chicago band Bliss.City.East! As youíve explained in other interviews, the two bands met through Myspace, and intend to tour together in your respective countries, with Bliss.City.East going to Korea, and VO coming to the U.S. to perform. Iím not sure if New York is planned as a stop, but I hope you will consider coming there as well! What things are you most looking forward to doing in America? Do you have any special plans?

The Korean indie scene is very small and shoegaze/psychedelic music is seldom represented in the scene. So we look forward to experiencing various styles of American indie music and seeing how Americans feel about our music. Maybe we will tour Canada and the U.S for about a month including the SXSW Festival and several cities in March next year. I'm not sure whether New York is going to be included in the schedule, but I really want to go there and Chicago as well.

You toured China recently for about 10 days of constant performances. What was that experience like? How did the audiences there receive you? Did you get to interact with the local scene there? Can you tell us any interesting stories from that tour?

This past August, we toured seven cities in China over eight days and came back to Korea with lots of unforgettable memories. Our impressions and feedback are as hot as summer in China! There were many people at most of theshows, but wherever went, we were so surprised at the Chinese attitude and reaction to our music. They were all right at the front of the stage and cheered loudly, so we were very moved and excited. It was a very interesting scene that we hardly experienced in Korea. So I couldn't help often saying something in Chinese like "Wo Ai Ni... Ta Ja Hao... Xie Xie!" ("I love you... Youíre great... Thank you!") giving up segueing. Most of the supporting bands in China played in the style of Japanese post-rock like Mono or Toe and were so excellent.

One day, our tour promoter in China asked us:
"Hey~ Why don't you play more music on any stage in China??"
"Nobody shouted for an encore... I never heard..."
"They already shouted for an encore..."
"When?? I didn't hear..."
"In Chinese..."

Thank you, Joseph~

Thank you, Jong-Seok!

Ji-Hye and Jong-Seok

VIDEO: Vidulgi Ooyoo: "Mosquito Incognito" @ Ssam 2010.06.05

Ham, Ji-Hye

Lee, Jong-Seok

Jong-Seok with furry animal friends in Bowie

K.O.A. Zine