South Korea meets Nottingham in intriguing cross-continent music project

An exciting new musical project is about to hit the British shores, as British band Eyre Llew and South Korean band In The Endless Zanhyang We Are (we’ll call them ITEZWA) join forces for a cross-continental mash-up.

The project kicks off with ITEZWA coming to the UK next month to play ten shows supporting Eyre Llew, who then return the favour with a full Asian tour in September, taking in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam as well as Korea.

The international tour exchange is the brainchild of Patrick Connor, a Brit who’s been living in South Korea for 11 years. Patrick runs DoIndie, the country’s leading independent webzine that also organises events, festivals and brings international artists to South Korea, as well as Korean music label Beeline Records.

In addition to the tour exchange, the two bands will record a collaboration EP – think Alexisonfire / Moneen’s The Switcheroo Series mash-up – while both are in South Korea.

About the bands

ITEZWA formed back in 2014 and quickly attracted the attention of the Korean public and music critics. They like to think of their music as a ‘slow dance,’ which sounds pretty cool. It’s pretty laid back, fusing dreamlike sounds and vocals to create a musical landscape teeming with sweeping sounds that capture your senses and evokes a strong, emotional atmosphere. Check them out in this nine minute epic Greensleeves + Interlude in the video below:

While their British counterparts Eyre Llew have equally been making a name for themselves on home soil. The Nottingham trio have won plenty of plaudits from national press and featuring in several film and TV syncs with their brand of atmospheric, ambient rock. Check out the brilliant Atelo in the video below:

Patrick tells us he hopes the project will help both bands gain ground in the others’ respective markets while promoting the value of a string of showcase festivals, such as Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape and Focus Wales, which inspired him to kick the whole thing off when he saw Eyre Llew perform last year.

Patrick explains: “The tour exchange idea has been in my mind for a while. I worked for a showcase festival for a while here in Korea (Zandari) and have been to several others. They all do great things, but it seems in the case of Korea lots of bands came and went and, as a result, lots of Korean bands got to go and play in places like the UK. But it seemed almost like a waste of time and money to go and play just one or two shows then come back. I felt like it needed to be something more than that to have any chance of being a success.

“So, I felt that having some kind of partnership with a band in the other country was gonna be beneficial to both bands involved. It means a least you will have a bit of a crowd to play too and will be able to do more than one or two shows. We decided to extend it to make a split EP as well. Again, doing it like that gives you more guaranteed exposure via the other bands fan base. ”

“I first saw Eyre Llew at Focus Wales last year. I was blown away by their live show and immediately invited them over to play at Zandari in Korea last year, and they blew everyone away here as well! We were talking about how best to get them back out here and I suggested doing the tour exchange. They had fallen in love with Korea / Asia so wanted to do a full tour of Asia. I agreed to help them with that, if they would help with the UK leg of the tour exchange. We have been a fan of ITEZWA for a few years and their music fits really well with Eyre Llew, while they had been invited to play at Primavera Festival too, so the timings and everything worked out perfectly.”

Focus on Korean music

When this project landed in my inbox I spent a good few minutes trying to think of one Korean musician, let alone a Korean rock band. I failed, with the exception of that irritating Gangnam Style bloke. And that is part of the intrigue of the tour exchange, as well as what inspired Patrick to get it off the ground in the first place.

I asked Patrick for his insight into the Korean music market, and he said: “The scene is full of talent, but it is a very small independent market that is super focused in an area called Hongdae, Seoul. That is pretty much the only place you can see regular live music in Seoul. Busan (in the south) has a good little scene as does Daegu and Gwangju, but not many bands both travel down there. I think bands need to start touring much more here to develop the scenes in these other cities. The scene is too saturated in Seoul right now.

“(Korean) People are into all kinds of music. For sure the biggest is pop. That’s what all the TV channels and radio stations play… so that’s what gets consumed the most. From our side of things, there are rock bands aplenty. Metal bands, punk bands, lots of jazz. There is a small ska / reggae scene as well. Electronic music is getting much bigger these days too.

“There is an appetite for international bands for sure. Especially the big, famous bands. There are loads of international shows happening these days in Seoul, some big international festivals as well. It used to be that all the older bands would come out here, almost like a last throw of the dice tour or something, but these days we get loads more of the hipper bands coming through, which is great. But if they are not bigger then it can be a real hard sell and a lot of work to get people out to the shows. But once people come, they always love it!”

The UK tour kicks off on 9 May at The Mothers’ Ruin in Bristol, then takes in Wrexham, Cambridge, London, Brighton, Oxford, Leek, Sheffield and Manchester before heading over to Barcelona for the Primavera Pro Festival. More info on all those gigs is here.

The tour includes a series of showcasing festivals, which Patrick is particularly keen on. He explains: “I think they are very important. It is so hard to get noticed these days but these events, if utilised right by the bands, can offer really good opportunities to get your foot in the door and noticed by the right people. It does require a lot of work though. I think some bands go with the attitude that just playing there will kick-start their careers, but you need a good manager or some members of the band that are good at hustling to really make the most of them.

“You never know who is watching at these things. It’s strange. I know a bunch of UK bands who got booked for UK festivals as a result of playing shows here in Korea, it’s strange that playing the other side of the world can open doors back home!”

The tour exchange sounds like a fascinating prospect, so get along to a show near you next month when the two bands are in the UK – or alternatively get yourself out to Asia in September!

You can follow Eyre Llew on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube. And you can follow In The Endless Zanhyang We Are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify.


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