[Exclusive Interview] JAMBINAI Speak on Bringing the Blends of Korean Folk and Rock to the K-music Festival London

Photo Courtesy of Dawbell PR

The upcoming K-music Festival in London aims to showcase a wide range of diverse and well-accumulated music line-up for audiences. One group in particular has many eager to see them perform. JAMBINAI a five-member post-rock band in Seoul known for uniquely blending the beauty of Korean folk music instruments such as the Haegum with rock instruments (guitars, drums). Their achievements alone speak volumes having won the Best Crossover Album with their debut album ‘Difference’ at the Korean Music Awards in 2013. 

Jump to 2018 and they had the honor of closing the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with their creative sound and an orchestra of geomungo players. I got the privilege to talk to the group made up of five members Kim Bo-mi (Haegeum, and Vocal) Lee II Woo (Guitar, Piri, Taepyeongso, Saenghwang, and vocals), and Sim EunYong  (Geomungo, and vocal,) Yu Byeongkoo (Bass) and Choi Jaehyuk (Drums)

Discussing their upcoming performance in London, working hard to achieve their goals, and their most memorable performance thus far. 

Hi everyone and thank you for appearing on KpopWise. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

JAMBINAI: Hi everyone, we’re JAMBINAI, a band that blends traditional Korean instruments with Western ones to create post-rock music.

Your emotional EP “Apparition” released in 2022, and explored various themes and experiences of the group's life. Do you find it easy to draw from your own experiences when writing and creating music?

JAMBINAI: Our recent work ‘Apparition’ reflects the various emotions we experienced during the pandemic. I always write songs based on my current experiences. (Lee Il Woo)

2021 saw you in the sublime and immersive Tiny Desk Concert. You performed an array of songs to a stunning backdrop, how did it feel to appear on such a renowned show? What was your favorite moment during the show?

JAMBINAI: It felt like a reward for all of our hard work. We were thrilled to receive the proposal and to draw up plans to create the video in our unique style. Also, we were curious to hear the audiences’ feedback once the videos were put out. Collaborating with the Korean media art group ‘District’ resulted in an amazing video. The moment when we performed alongside their video at the vast Arte Museum Jeju was truly unforgettable.

An incredible achievement for you all was during the Closing Ceremony in Pyeongchang, for the 2018 Olympics. How did you feel getting to perform at such a huge-scale event, and how did that come about?

JAMBINAI: Initially, we were approached by the Artistic Director of the Olympic Closing Ceremony, who had been keeping an eye on our musical journey. It’s a very special memory to take part in such a prestigious event. It was a great honor to be part of the grand finale stage of this worldwide festival. We practiced for the closing ceremony performance for several days, and it became an exceptional memory in our lives. At the same time, we cheered and enjoyed the Olympics together every single day.

We can still vividly recall the cheers and applause as we rose up on that circular stage in the middle of the stadium. It made us realize the overwhelming impact of large gatherings. To add to that, it was so heart-warming when numerous friends from around the world, who happened to see us while watching the closing ceremony, reached out to us.

Having recently won the Best Rock Song prize from the Korean Music Awards (2023) with the track “From the Place Been Erased feat. Swja.” Firstly congratulations, and How does it feel to be recognized for your hard and excellent work?

JAMBINAI: We believe that it’s a positive development to be recognized not only as fusion musicians in traditional Korean music but also as part of the alternative music scene. The previous album ONDA winning the Korean Music Awards (2023) was a result of this recognition. We are thrilled about it, but at the same time, we feel a responsibility to introduce JAMBINAI’s music to a wider audience. Especially for this Best Rock Song award, we don’t see it as our sole achievement, considering our collaboration with Sunwoo Jung-A. We would like to extend our gratitude to her for her tremendous contribution as a vocalist. Such achievements inspire us to continue working hard on our music.

You’ve performed at so many music festivals worldwide from Glastonbury to Primavera. What would be the dream festival for you to perform at?

JAMBINAI: From performing at so many festivals across the world we have noticed that people have no fear of enjoying and listening to various types of music. We hope there will be more festivals that transcend genres, races, and prejudices, without any boundaries or discrimination, so that everyone can easily come and join. A festival where all of humanity is treated equally and fairly, wouldn’t that be the best festival on Earth? We think that’s our dream festival to perform at. In that regard, the prevailing global trends of racism, division, and turning to the right over the past few years are deeply concerning.

Having appeared and traveled to so many festivals, what's been your favorite place to perform so far?

JAMBINAI: The 2016 performance at Hellfest was truly impressive. There was a local audience member in the front row holding a large Taegukgi (Korean flag) and cheering. Thinking about the process of how that person acquired the Taegukgi in France and came to the venue to support us was deeply moving. It was at that moment that we realized we could represent not just ourselves but also our country. Apart from that, our participation in the UK’s ArcTanGent Festival in 2017 is also an unforgettable memory. After our last song, we can’t possibly forget the moment when many of the audience members were shouting “Ten More Songs!”

Speaking of festivals, you’ll be appearing at London’s K-Music Festival this October, what can audiences expect from your performances?

JAMBINAI: Today, when people think of ‘Korean Music' naturally for K-pop comes to mind first. However, we hope that people will come to the K-Music festival and explore the wide spectrum of music that Korea has to offer. Although it might seem obvious, we can’t stress this enough – after all we have been through in recent years it would be fantastic if this could be an opportunity for people to recognize how crucial it is to enjoy a live performance, as it can awaken so many emotions within us.

Of all the things achieved in your career, What is the most memorable moment of your career so far?

JAMBINAI: We recently completed a European tour, which lasted from May to June. JAMBINAI started touring Europe in earnest in 2014, and back then, we performed in venues with very few attendees. It’s been a decade since then, but this time, we wrapped up the tour with sold-out shows. It felt like a reward for the hard work we’ve put in over the last decade.

We were also delighted to revisit the VERA, the legendary venue in the Netherlands that we love so much. We were the winners of the VERA Poll 2019, and our name was engraved on the venue’s wall. However, due to the pandemic, we haven’t had the chance to see it in person. Visiting it again this time was a proud moment, and we were pleased to see even more audience members attending our performance as well.

We hope that the K-Music Festival in November will be another memorable time.

Finally, what does the rest of 2023 have in store for you all?

JAMBINAI: The biggest event remaining on our schedule for 2023 is the K-Music Festival. We are preparing for this performance with all our hearts and minds, and we are looking forward to meeting you all in London once again. K-Music Festival is something we’ve been eagerly anticipating, so our expectations are very high.

Our goal for this year was to connect with as many audiences as possible, both domestically and internationally, sharing positive energy. We cherish every stage and want to give our best. Thank you. We’ll see you all there!

See the group perform on 10th November at the  K-Music Festival's 10th anniversary in London. Tickets are available for purchase here.



Thank you to Dawbell PR and JAMBINAI for this interview. Will you be attending the K-music Festival in London? Let us know in the comments, be sure to follow KpopWise for all the latest on your favourite idols!

Kirsty Bright

A UK freelance writer, who stumbled into the land of Kpop while studying Korean. Her bias groups are BTS and Seventeen, but she loves a range of groups and finding new artists to listen to! Contact on Insta: @kirstybright_ Portfolio: kirstybright.journoportfolio.com

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