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Pure Emotions: an interview with Park Jiha

Park Jiha

To coincide with the release of Park Jiha’s new album, The Gleam, which we reviewed yesterday, LKL managed to have a quick conversation with the artist to ask about how light and space influence her musical voice:

London Korean Links: How did you get into music? How did this journey in the world of sound begin?

Park Jiha: That started at quite a young age, I felt like I wanted to pursue this way around 10, I was listening to a lot of Classical music home back then and was naturally attracted to also try out. That’s how I started to play flute and later lead me to change ways towards the Piri when I got enrolled in a Korean Traditional Music school at 13 years old. I think we can call this the beginning.

LKL: What is the most striking aspect of music to you? If you had to explain music to someone who has never heard any, what would you say and why?

박지하: That’s a fairly simple answer, I would describe it as “Pure (in the sense of Raw) Emotions”. We are all kind of restricted in our expression by language in a way so there are things that you’d like to present a bit differently sharing your imagination and feelings with less boundaries. For the listener, If ready to receive it, that can trigger interesting emotional responses, or not.

LKL: The inspiration for this album comes from the concept of light. I find this to be an extremely fascinating source of inspiration as light in not normally thought of as an aural phenomenon as much as a visual, and possibly tactile, one. How did you find a sound for light? Did you have a matching sound in your mind already?

박지하: What came out from this album I think it rather is the human reaction and emotion I feel when interacting with light throughout the day, light doesn’t not sound but it does affect us a lot. This is what was the main source of inspiration for these creations.

LKL: Your album The Gleam is part of a project conceived for a performance at the Meditation Hall, located in Museum San in the Korean city of Wonju and designed by the Japanese architect Ando Tadao. Ando incorporated the element of light in the design of the space and so did you in your musical composition. One could argue that this establishes a relationship between the music you composed and the building that Ando designed, creating a link between music and architecture. What is your thought in relation to this connection? Can you envision other projects that feature a dialogue between these two disciplines?

박지하: Sure, this is a very interesting thing for me as well. Architecture plays an essential role in the way we feel ourselves in a closed environment and I was this time very lucky to have access to the space that did really inspire me, but any environment with its own architecture will influence someone in a way. I do not particularly envision any project in the field but I am always open to anything fun and interesting so why not in the future.

LKL: Many musicians enjoy the spark and creative energy that comes from working with other musicians. By contrast, in much of your more recent recorded music, and in your live performances, you choose to multitrack yourself rather than collaborate with other musicians. Why is that?

박지하: I have had a duo project for about 9 years, then did my first solo album with about 3 other musicians. So I also feel the creative energy that sparks from collaborations and I am also interested in collaborations I would feel can be a great fit, I am also releasing a collaborative effort in a few month with the English artist Roy Claire Potter which is a Live Improvisation that was recorded for the BBC a couple of years ago. [Park Jiha will be collaborating live with Roy Claire Potter later this month at Cafe OTO – Ed]

I think I just express my music the best alone at the moment, it gets me to better focus and bring the compositions where it has to go. Who knows, I could change my mind later on !

LKL: In the booklet of The Gleam you explain how light is in a race towards time, only leaving temporary feelings behind, and that this is exactly what you wish to picture for your music. May I ask you to further elaborate on this interesting approach to music production? Are you referring to the ephemeral nature of sound, which exists only when played? Or is there a broader explanation that can be shared?

박지하: That’s definitely part of the point, ephemeral aspects of both light and sound were very much inspiring to me I guess but there was no defined approach in the way I expressed it into music, the album came very naturally.

Inspiring and creative, “The Gleam” has a beauty that’s difficult to put into words. The more I listen to it the more I discover and the more I would like to ask. Maybe I’ll manage to talk with her some more at her two appearances at Cafe OTO later this month.

Thanks to Ilka Schlockermann and Glitterbeat Records for facilitating the interview. Photo of Park Jiha © Marcin T. Jozefiak

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