Best of ‘hallyu’ on display at Seoul MU:CON fair

October 10, 2013
Steve Lillywhite, left, music producer, talks with Graham Perkin, director for market development Asia at Fender Musical Instruments in a session on the first of the two-day long Seoul MU:CON 2013 that opened Thursday in Hongdae and Gangnam in Seoul. / Courtesy of KOCCA

Steve Lillywhite, left, music producer, talks with Graham Perkin, director for market development Asia at Fender Musical Instruments in a session on the first of the two-day long Seoul MU:CON 2013 that opened Thursday in Hongdae and Gangnam in Seoul. (Courtesy of KOCCA)

By Lee Kyung-min

Grammy-winning guitarist Larry Carlton

Grammy-winning guitarist Larry Carlton

“Music is to be listened to. When you close your eyes and listen, you feel it in here,” said Larry Carlton gently putting his hand on his heart during a brief sit-down interview with The Korea Times.

A guitarist, a musician, whose name says enough, Carlton said, “As a musician, rather than theatrics, I want to connect with the audience with the music itself.” Still, he said he’s open to collaboration with K-pop stars, and he’s here to learn about Korean bands.

When asked if he knows any Korean bands, he answered, “Sorry, no. That’s why I’m here. To be exposed.” He also said he’ll focus on the arrangements of the music he listens to here. Carlton is here as part of Seoul MU:CON 2013, a global music market and conference, held at a number of venues in Hongdae and Gangnam.

Carlton is among the world’s music experts taking part in the second edition of MU:CON, where six local acts will be selected to perform overseas.

Along with Carlton, Steve Lillywhite, a five-time Grammy Award winning producer who collaborated with U2 and the Rolling Stones said he believes in the power of great music and great artists.

“Without artists we’ll be nothing. Without them we’ll be nowhere. And if you make great music, it will be found,” he said at the opening session of a sit-down at the MU:CON at GS XI-Gallery. “Music as an art form is here to stay,” he said. He also said he thought Asian musicians are a little subservient, and that they tend to tense up in the studio, more so than when they are on stage.

And he said he wants to bring out their energy by letting them fail. “I allow them to fail, and let them know that ‘Steve will not laugh at me. He’s my friend’,” he said.

Carlton and Lillywhite and other music experts have gathered here to determine which musicians should be given a shot at performing internationally after two-days of performance showcases.

The two-day event includes showcase performances, discussion and mentoring sessions including musician workshop, and a business matching program for buyers and label companies.

For performers, the opportunity to be selected as a choice here at MU: CON means more gratification than winning a prize.

The three MU:CON programs will give musicians the chance of opportunities to perform to audiences outside of Korea, and gain recognition for their talent.

Artists chosen will either perform at the MIDEM conference, in Cannes, France (Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale), or the SXSW Choice in Austin, Texas, Both are large international music festivals and conferences held annually and are similar to MU:CON. Those selected by Steve Lillywhite will receive coaching and advice from the famous producer.

Other than Lillywhite, Seymour Stein, vice-president of Warner Bros and the Sire Records president who turned Madonna into a worldwide pop icon, and four-time Grammy Award winner jazz guitarist Larry Carlton will also be on the selection panel.

Korean-American music video director Joe Hahn from Linkin Park and guitarist Jeff Schroeder from the Smashing Pumpkins will participate in a workshop for musicians.

Artists of various genres, hip-hop, dance/electronic, and rock, will perform including artists such as Jang Ki-ha, No Brain, Rainbow, Kim Ye-rim, and Soul dive.

Venues include GS XI-Gallery, Mecenatpolis Mall, Sangsang Madang Live Hall, in the Hongik University area, and Beyond Museum and the Ellui Hotel in Gangnam, southern Seoul. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) organized the event. “I hope this event gives people cultural inspiration, and hope it boosts collaboration and exchange for music industry,” KOCCA representative Hong Sang-pyo said at the conference.

Hongdae, a bastion of Korean indie music scene and Gangnam, the district which Psy put on the world map are ideal areas for the events to be held in.

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