In the first part of this interview, we really got to know Gumiho as a band. Their quirks, struggles, and how they came to be the band they are now. After dropping their debut album April of this year, it’s now time to find out about their future!
I would like to move on and ask about your process for composing. What’s an average day like for you when you’re working on a song?
Matt: We’re very democratic. Everyone has a say and there isn’t any arguing. Very anti-climatic. We all have our strengths and they are all different so I just try to gather enough parts or even a general idea for a song and then present it to the band. I’m bad at arranging my own songs but can arrange other people’s. Yujin and Stephen are really good at fleshing things out, and then Caspin kind of finalizes it with her lyrics and melody.
Caspin: I don’t know if it applies to other band people, but when I joined Gumiho, our guys were recording instruments, so I just added singing, melody, and words based on the tunes’ vibes. I’d say one to three hours for the melody outline, words come along with it usually, then I polish it three to five hours, play with it around three to five days, and I reveal it to our guys. From there, we try this and that.
Yujin: I used to compose and write lyrics on my own. But after I joined this group, I just experienced composing together. It is really fun to do. Gumiho members are all talented people so.
How do you approach lyric writing?
Matt: I don’t, I’m terrible at it haha.
Caspin: I first listen to tunes. Then I get the “feels” and start writing my thoughts and experience. I personally hate repetitive words, so I tend to rhyme or twist some parts so it kind of has a story. Stephen’s good at writing as well. He wrote “Glittering Dreams,” “We Create The Stars,” and “Cigarettes.” I only changed some parts so it’s easier for me to pronounce and sing genuinely but originally. Those are from him.
Yujin: I write my thoughts.
Stephen: I pull inspiration for all over the place. With “Glittering Dreams” I was reading Thomas Ligotti and just loved the imagery and wanted to weave that imagery and story into a song. “We Create The Stars” is just a song about my youth and going out in high school with my friends. One or two of the lines for “Cigarettes” has been floating around in my head since university, and I finally turned it into something. Sometimes writing can happen quickly, and sometimes it can take years to find the words. I try and write down every little idea I have to a google doc so later I can look back and see what still resonates with me.
Caspin your voice is beautiful to say the least. How have you worked to polish your vocals?
Oh my word. Thank you very much for thinking and saying so.
I don’t do anything actually. I warm up as we practice or during soundcheck before our show. Maybe one thing I do is like a very timid throat clearing throughout the day. Or sometimes I press my throat so whatever “the stuck feeling” is caught, and I cough real hard where it feels like it’s about to tear apart (trust me, it’s not painful, it only clears your hole). When it feels like it’s damaged from practice or shows, then I drink milk even though I struggle digesting it. It may be different from person to person, but for me, it works. It feels coated like a lubricant.
Caspin have you gotten over your shyness for singing, or do you still tell your bandmates to fuck off to the balcony?
I wish I could say that I’ve overcome that one day! I still am very shy, but I’ve learned to put a spell on myself like “this is just us jamming” when we’re on stage. Then I can actually enjoy. I don’t think I’ll ever kick anyone out anymore. They’ve seen worse now!
Caspin, Matt said when you joined the band you were sort of their “Gumiho.” Do you feel that way about yourself?
Caspin: Woo… I don’t know, man. All of us make Gumiho, not only me, you know what I mean? I’ve never thought about it that way. I surely don’t want to seduce guys and eat their livers. It’s bloody and I hate that smell. I’d rather break their hearts for breaking mine. I guess that’s sort of like eating their livers.
Matt: Caspin is super humble. One of our favorite pastimes is to embarrass her by telling her how awesome she is.
Since you debuted earlier this year, what’s been the most exciting part of this journey? What’s been the most difficult part?
Matt: I’m guessing everyone will say opening It’s A Fest was the most exciting and losing Steven so quickly was the most difficult part. It was bittersweet, but hanging out on the beach for the weekend with Steve before he left Korea a few days after was really awesome. I think the overall response to our debut EP was really shocking and exciting. Seemed like every day something was happening and people were so fucking stoked about it. We just thought that it could help us get a few shows, maybe. That whole ride was fun to be honest.
Caspin: Meeting Korean bands and talking to Koreans in Korean! I’ve gone to hardcore shows only (to be honest, I thought punk was hardcore), and most of my friends were foreigners. So I rarely got to talk to Koreans. Like I’ve seen and met them at shows before or even greeted and stuff but never actually had conversations, you know? For me, that’s my favourite part being in Gumiho.
Oh, when people who aren’t in this scene approach me and say they like our sound. There were beautiful girls and cute boys who told me that, which is quite difficult to describe into words. Most difficult part is none so far. Everything’s tolerable.
Matt: Caspin is a social butterfly. She drags us around meeting everyone in the scene when we play shows or when we just hang out at other shows. Everyone loves her haha
Stephen: I think the most exciting part is getting to play with other bands you have been watching for a while, and getting to know other musicians in the area.
Any advice for those who want to start a band and go for it like you all did?
Matt: Just do it, who cares if you’re not good or nobody likes it? You will regret not doing it. The friendships and bonds you form in a band are some of the strongest in life. Bands can become family.
Caspin: Same with Matt. Fucking go for it. Life is too short and shitty to feel timid about something that you’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to be music. It could be anything! Don’t feel cringe, but really follow your heart. Perhaps don’t forget taking your brain with you. Face it and see what happens. I’m sure you know what you want and what to do deep down in your heart.
Yujin: The band is a small society. Harmony and understanding with people are needed. It cannot be accomplished by one person’s strength.
Stephen: I am trying to think of some good advice, but with almost everything creative you just need to start doing it. Go to a lot of shows, meet some people, play some music.
We are more than halfway through the year, what are your plans for the rest of 2019?
Matt: We signed with WDI here in Korea and even had a label in the US that wanted to sign us, but we wanted to stay local. So I think there will be some new recordings by the end of the year, but I think we are focused on playing as many shows as possible and paying our dues in the Korea scene. We’re still the babies of the scene and need to improve.
I’m kind of excited to see what else Yujin can do. She’s super talented, but I think we haven’t seen it all yet. Also we’re going to Busan in October, and I think doing some shows in other cities would be cool. Maybe a new album by the end of the year? We have a ton of song ideas, sooo….
Caspin: Gosh! Merry Christmas! We’ve been working on new songs [the] past few months (funny because we started only a few months ago). But as we’ve been playing shows and practicing, we were constantly working on new sounds and talked about merch, so they are definitely coming out. But in the meanwhile, we’d like to focus on tightening our chemistry and enjoy playing shows as much as possible. Hit us up!
Yujin: Be a helpful person to the band.
Stephen: Hopefully play more shows and write more songs.
There are three questions that I always like to ask the bands I talk to.
First, since this interview will also be published in Spanish for our Spanish speaking Latin American readers, if you had the opportunity to tour Latin America (Mexico, Central America and South America) what countries would you like to perform in and why?
Matt: Actually my mom has lived in Mexico for almost 20 years and I’ve spent a lot of time there, so I would love to play in Mexico. But really anywhere in Latin America would be great! The fans there are really passionate. Growing up in America, I’ve had many friends from different Latin American countries. They’re such awesome people down there.
Caspin: Oh my word! Gracias!!! How flattering is this!? I’d LOVE to tour Chile. I’ve met a friend called André through Myspace super long ago, and he’s such a lovely person, but we’ve never met. It’d be sick because he was making music with his girlfriend back then, so perhaps we could go to each other’s shows!
Touring in Argentina would be nice as well because when I was younger, my neighbour who lived in Argentina for like 20 years made traditional Argentinian food, which was like a huge deep-fried dumpling with cooked meat with red spice. I can’t recall its exact taste because I was about twelve, but it was bit like pizza. I could go to the Argentinian restaurant here, but how cool would it be trying that there with locals after the show?
Yujin: I wanna go to Mexico, Colombia, and Cuba!
Second, I am always looking for new music to listen to. Are there any South Korean band/s that you suggest I listen to?
Matt: One of my all time favorites is Billy Carter and all their stuff is on Spotify. I also like this newish band called Rumkicks who are on Spotify too. Jambinai is awesome but well known now. I used to love the Dead Gakkahs, but I don’t think they’re around anymore? Korean bands, get on Spotify!
Caspin: Great! Glad you’re keen to it. Don’t know what kind you’re into, but if you like it bit harsh, I’d like to recommend No Shelter, The Kitsches, FLUSH, SandyNoiz857, and End These Days for now. I’ve seen them once or twice, but I instantly loved their sound. Hope you do, too.
Finally, to close the interview we wanted to know, if someone is brand new to Gumiho, they are reading this interview and they want to check out your music. What’s the first song they should listen to?
Matt: I’m going to say “Destroyed Warranty” because it’s a good all-around display of every band member’s ability. I really like Caspin’s vocals on that song too.
Caspin: “Destroyed Warranty” like Matt said. It’s a bit harsh, melodic, and rappy at the same time. It was my last song to write and our last song to record. I clearly remember because there was a big smile on Steve’s face when we listened to it (there, I didn’t kick him out to the balcony then). Matt and Stephen couldn’t make it that day somehow and Steve and I were excited how quickly we’ve finished the recording but didn’t want to tell them immediately. After the big smile, he said this is going to be our first song on EP. That’s what you’ll hear when you go to our Bandcamp.
Yujin: When I first listened to their music, I liked “We Create The Stars.”