Going Deep with Maiden Seoul: Uncovering the New Soulful Sound of Alternative Rock
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Going Deep with Maiden Seoul: Uncovering the New Soulful Sound of Alternative Rock

Maiden Seoul is a rising alternative/soft rock band that has been steadily gaining steam within the music industry. The band is known for their soulful sound, melancholy lyrics, and unique vibes. Their captivating melodies and talented performances have gained them a growing fanbase and critical acclaim. Idols 2 Rivals was excited to sit down with the members of Maiden Seoul to discuss their creative process, influences, and what sets them apart in the music scene. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy this conversation with one of the most exciting bands in music today!

 

Idols 2 Rivals (I2R): What first got you guys into music?

Ian: There was always music playing in my house growing up. My Dad played guitar and drums, and my Mom played piano and guitar, so there were always instruments around the house to play around with. My brother, who’s a few years older than me, started taking guitar lessons, and I eventually ended up with his hand me down guitar, and really just started playing around by ear. Eventually I took lessons and eventually went to college for jazz performance, but really it all started in those early years, listening to my dad’s record collection, and picking up little things here and there from my Dad and my brother, and just figuring out a lot of songs through a lot of trial and error.

SJ: I was a part of my Korean church choir growing up but always had a difficult time hitting the higher notes, so I started playing around with harmonies and improvising melodies (to better fit my vocal range). I began to get bored with wholesome Korean church songs and started listening to rap and rock. As a child of the 90s, I fell in love with alternative music; I bought a baby blue Peavey guitar (well, my parents bought it for me) and started writing and recording music right away. I distinctly remember recording guitar and vocals on one cassette tape, and then recording guitar solos and backup vocals on another while the original recording was playing from another stereo. My home studio was sick!

Ian: Haha… I definitely did the double boombox multitrack trick as well. By the end there was more hiss on the tape than music!

Rashid: I grew up in the church. That’s where it all started for me. It taught me so much. From there I couldn’t help but dive deeper into all genres of music.

I2R: What’s the meaning of your track “Turn On The Lights”?

SJ: There are a few layers of what this track means.. but simply put, it’s about trying out love a few times but it didn’t work bc no one knows me (or can love me) better than me. So it’s a lovaby (love song lullaby) to myself. And if no one wants to give me a chance, it’s ok, bc I’ll give myself a chance!! The bottom line – I’ve learned from my experiences and will never be in the dark about love again. “Your love” was lit but I found the switch and now I’ve turned myself on and will stay lit, without you, 4 life!!

I2R: Who inspired you guys to make music?

Ian: Like I said earlier, it all goes back to my parents. They’ve always been supportive of me being a musician, which, being a parent now myself as well as a musician, I can see is not the easiest thing. Unlike my high school guidance counselor, they never tried to convince me to be anything else, and they encouraged me to go for it.

SJ: A lot of different whos and whats have inspired me to write music. I think the whys are more important though… I started writing music around 11 or 12 years old because I felt like an outcast and often felt blue. During my blue periods, I would pick up my guitar or sit in front of my piano and sing about what I was going through because I didn’t know who I could speak to; it helped me feel better. Then I would feel inspired to record it which would keep me busy (and happy) for days.

BS: How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Ian: Well, all of us have pretty varied influences, so I think that really shows throughout the album. That also can make it a little difficult to describe. Overall, we kind of look at it as “cinematic pop”. I really think there’s something for everyone on this album though, and it seems like everyone that hears it picks out a different track as their favorite, which is a really cool thing to see.

SJ: I think the music we create is dreamy yet sad. Poppy but unusual. Detached and sorrowful but in a pretty way. I believe our music is versatile and colorful. And we hope people will hear us in cinemas.

BS: What is your creative process like?

Ian: We started recording these songs about 12 years ago when Soo Jin would come down to New Jersey from New York, and she and I would generally start the process together. Often she would come in with an idea and we’d just start playing with it until it started to take shape. Then we’d usually spend the next day in the studio with Rashid and we’d just start trying things. We took the approach that there were no bad ideas, and we tried anything that popped into our heads. If we heard a sound we didn’t know how to make, we’d just keep searching and experimenting until we found it. Then we’d move on to a new song and start the process over again.

SJ: Our creative process usually begins with me, my voice, my keyboard, and a barebones recording of a song I’ve written. I’ll usually paint an abstract picture with words and record some embarrassing ideas, both rhythmic and melodic, on voice notes. From that point, Ian is somehow able to transcribe my brain and make musical magic. Ian can speak more about his process but from my end, I usually see it go down like this: Ian lays down a perfectly complimentary guitar part, then a sick bass line, and builds and builds. We usually build new parts as we go and then this is where it gets super collaborative; this is approximately the point where my songs start to sound whole and complete.

Rashid: Ian and I had been touring together quite a bit and realized that we both had common music interests. From there we began talking about writing and recording music together and also told me about Soo Jin who he had gone to college with. Before I knew it, we were in the studio together.

Ian: Yeah, Rashid and I were actually creating a lot of long, bizarre soundscapes that we honestly didn’t know what to do with right before this project started. I think the three of us each bring something so different and unique to the process so when we all got together, everything just fit and made sense. Each song had a slightly different origin, more often than not starting with an idea from Soo Jin, although some were completely collaborative. But regardless of how they started out, they all ended up in a really different and interesting musical space and I’m really proud of what we created together.

I2R: If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?

SJ: If *I* could open a show for any artist right now, it would probably be Frank Ocean.

Ian: For me, I’d love to be on the same bill as Radiohead, or maybe more likely The Smile right now.

I2R: What is one message you would give to your fans?

Ian: Well, I hope that one message that our fans can get from this entire project is one of perseverance. This album has died and been reborn so many times over the years that I think we had given up most hope that anybody would ever hear it, besides us. At times that was really frustrating because I knew it was something that should’ve been heard. But, now that it finally made it over the finish line, thanks in large part to Blue Collar Records for giving it that final push. I really think it’s just the beginning. I know everybody thinks the last thing they worked on was their best, but honestly I’m really excited about some of the most recent things that we worked on for this album, and I can’t wait to explore some of those sounds in the future.

SJ: Timing is everything. Nothing matters until the time is right. The time can’t always be right now. But trust me when I say that time never stops, and everything eventually makes sense and aligns in due time.

I2R: What would you guys be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?

Ian: I’m not sure I’d be happy doing much else. As well as recording and performing a lot, I also do a ton of teaching. If I weren’t teaching music I think it’s possible I might’ve ended up as a history teacher or something like that. My wife would tell you that my brain has an extraordinary capacity for useless facts, so it would be good to put that to some use.

SJ: I love animals and dream daily of living on a farm with farm animal friends. I’d have a barn full of rescue cats and dogs and eventually, I’d build another barn because the number of cats and dogs would continue to increase. But for now, I’m loving working in the pet tech space for a super cool startup called Smarty Pear!

I2R: How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

Ian: I think it’s impacted the music business in much the same way as it’s impacted the rest of society. Everything now is geared towards short attention spans and instant gratification. You can get anything you want practically immediately now, and that has caused the entire music industry to shift the emphasis away from albums and more towards singles and EP’s. I personally rarely listen to singles and tend to only listen to albums, which is why we spent so much time crafting the album into something that would take the listener on a journey. I think most artists now feel like they need to have a hit right out of the gate to have a shot, so they often work with a bunch of different producers to create a hodge lodge of 12-14 independent singles and hope that one catches fire. It’s important to remember that it took David Bowie several years to break through with “Hunky Dory”, an opportunity that many artists are not given today. I think that we tend not to give listeners enough credit, though. I really feel that if we put out a really great album then people will listen and will enjoy it as we intended.

SJ: The internet has changed everything, including music. It’s made a lot of things possible but also impossible at the same time. I know this is a super vague answer but it’s because I have so much to say about this and I honestly don’t think anyone would read the whole story. If anyone wants to DM me for it, I’m super willing! Find me @maidenseoulmusic on IG!

I2R: What is your favorite song to perform?

Ian: Well, funnily enough, most of this music has never been performed live. It was all created in the studio specifically with the intent of not limiting ourselves to just what could be performed easily live. So, that remains to be seen. Soo Jin and I did perform one of the songs on the album “Somebody Said” years ago with our old band, The Figurines. It was a pretty different arrangement, but it was always one of my favorites back then, which is why we wanted to resurrect that one for this album.

SJ: We haven’t performed any of the songs from Cinemanic but the songs I fantasize about performing most are “Somebody Said” and “Turn On The Lights”. Funnily enough, “Somebody Said” is a song I wrote for my former band, The Figurines (Ian was in this band too!!), and I’ve actually performed this song several times before… However, I recently had this new idea with rearranging and reworking this song, so it sounds quite different from when it was performed over 15 years ago.

I2R: Which famous musicians do you admire?

Ian: How long have you got? The list could go on for days, but I’ll try and point out some that are some of the more important ones. As a writer/arranger, obviously The Beatles (which definitely comes through on Turn On The Lights), but also Bjork, Radiohead, Steely Dan, Blonde Redhead, Elliott Smith, King Crimson, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell… from a production standpoint, it starts with George Martin, but more modern producers like Nigel Godrich, Jon Brion and Jim O’rourke have really had a pretty profound impact on me. And as a guitarist, Jeff Beck, Andy Summers, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell… Really, I’m a complete music nerd so I’ll stop now or this could go on for days.

SJ: This is a difficult question to answer because I admire sooo many musicians! Like, Stevie Wonder is probably one of my favorite musicians of all time. But up there with him is Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, Bjork, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Fiona Apple, and on and on (and all over the genre map). I can also easily call out Lana Del Rey separately because she’s such a vibe. I like her whole thing… Her lyrics, her music, her style, her face. I didn’t listen to her music much when she first hit the scene, but I received an invitation from Pammy (her makeup artist) to see her perform and I was floored by the performance. I haven’t stopped listening to LDR since.

I2R: What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Ian: As a musician, the best advice I’ve been given is just to always try and create something you’re proud of. You can never really figure out what is going to be successful or not when it comes to music, but as long as you put out something that you’re proud to put your name on, then it’s a success. Luckily that’s something that was instilled in me at a fairly young age, so I’ve never been interested in chasing hits or copying other artists formulas. I’d rather fail or succeed on my own terms.

SJ: The best advice I’ve been given was to learn how to sight sing. From Kevin Norton, one of music teachers in college. Learning how to sight sing made me a better musician and opened my ears. Also, I’ve been told by many people I admire that I should “do what I love and love what I do”… This expert advice has made me a very happy girl. I love music. I’ve always loved music, I always will, and I will always do it.

I2R: What’s next for Maiden Seoul?

Ian: Our full length album Cinemanic will be out in the spring. We’re really excited to finally get this music out there for everyone to hear. Before that arrives, though, there will be another single, “Soon You’ll See”, out in mid April. Beyond that, we’ll be getting back in the studio in the near future to work on the follow up so we can make sure it doesn’t take another 12 years to get that one out!

SJ: Our next move is our full album release Cinemanic this Spring. After that, I’ll hope for placement in some beautiful scene of a film or TV show…and I’ll continue to put that hope out into the universe until it happens, when the time is right.