By Lee Hyo-won
Singer-songwriter Jung Jae-hyung has released a new album, " Promenade ", under the Sony Classical label, and some may be surprised to realize that this is actually the soundtrack for the currently showing film "Why Did You Come to My House - Movie"
The former pop star has written scores for several movies including "Addicted"
(2002) and "Changing Partners"
(2007), but Promenade involved a different creative process. The tracks may have been inspired by the quirky love story starring Kang Hye-jeong
, but the movie's postponed release gave Jung a good year to work on the music as if it were a solo project.
"Normally with films I have to be efficient because I'm given a limited amount of time, and I sometimes have to even rewrite songs if the movie's ending changes", the 37-year-old told The Korea Times in a recent interview in Seoul. "It functions as a film soundtrack but I wanted it to have a life on its own".
Creating music for Promenade was "like a picnic", he said, and "happened piece by piece", and this is reflected in the meandering ambiance of the tracks. Piano, Cello
, flute, oboe, horn and viola tunes conjure up images of warm sunbeams on a lazy afternoon and the sight of light spring rain outside the window of a quiet cafe.
The classical instruments, however, take on a more contemporary and edgy ― and at times slurred and discordant ― texture through Jung's electronic sound designs. There's also a touch of pop featuring vocals by Lucid Paul and actress-singer Uhm Jung-hwa
. Uhm, Jung's good friend of over 15 years and who has starred in three of the movies he composed scores for, stopped by the venue to say hello.
His music is ultimately modern in language but is simple, poetic and unimposing. Despite the electronic mixing, the result is something whimsical and natural, perhaps similar to the Ahn Trio's "Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac".
"Electronic music often feels cold and mechanic, but I tried to draw out warmth", he said. The artist intentionally added glitches to the melody by squishing together some of the rhythm even though it may not be immediately detectable by the naked ear ― perhaps like adding small rips to create fake vintage jeans? "Yes", he said.
It's only natural that the album is impressionistic in color; like Impressionist painters who took the easel outside of the studio, the Paris-based artist went on an actual Promenade through the city. He would settle down in an outdoor cafe and be inspired by the noise of passing breezes and pedestrians and the clinking of coffee cups.
Like the honored composer Chin Unsuk, of whom he is a big fan, Jung is a classically-trained pianist who speaks in electronic music. "The beauty of electronic music is that it enables you to directly translate your intentions, to enliven the original ingredients and keep your color", he said. "Arranging sounds created with classical instruments is rather limited. Electronic sound design is actually easier for me".
Is it like working with a sharp pencil for drawing? "Yes", he smiled. "Electronic sound mixing enables you to, if it were a drawing, draw a perfectly straight line using a fine-point pencil". Electronic music, he said, is just a convenient tool that allows the artist more versatility in this multimedia age.
"What used to be one-way sourcing is now all open", he said about today's merging of genres. Jung, a prolific singer-songwriter, also writes prose and draws images such as the watercolor sketches featured in his album.
"It's not that I'm multitalented or anything. They're just different forms of self-expression, and these days I don't think artists need to classify themselves. Ryuichi Sakamoto started out as an electronic musician but now writes music for movies", he said. "But at the same time, I'm scared. You can go so many ways, with video art and performance, etc", he said.
When asked about his future plans, he already had the next two years mapped out, with a new film score and solo piano album, as well as publishing a book and getting involved with a musical.
"My dream is to simply live toward my dream, and to cherish it. I started out with the simple premise of wanting to do my own music and that's the most important thing. I wish to become a good-hearted egoist", he smiled.
Singer-songwriter Jung Jae-hyung, 37, speaks to The Korea Times in a recent interview in Seoul about his new album. " Promenade " (Sony Classical), the soundtrack for the movie "Why Did You Come to My House - Movie"
, features a lyrical mix of classical instruments and electronic music. / Courtesy of SonyBMG