Hugely excited to present this line-up featuring cellist, composer, and improviser Okkyung Lee, DJ, musician, sound artist and visualist, Yeong Die, and Paju-based producer, bela.
“The last couple of years have been extremely challenging as we all know. Although the new norm seems to be settling in, the future remains to be hazy than ever. One of the most dramatic personal changes was that I was “stuck” in Korea for the longest time since 1993 when I left for the States to attend college. For the next 27 years, the longest time I spent in Korea was 2 months maximum, and each time I just could not wait to leave.
However, earlier last year, it became inevitable that Korea would remain as my temporary base after a brief return to New York, I decided to dig around my new surroundings to find any inspirations. At first, I didn’t know where to begin, but luckily, I was invited to be on a committee for the Mullae Sound Art funding program in Seoul, allowing me to access 80 plus applicants’ works. One of the very few outstanding applicants was Yeong Die whose music reminded me of my younger self in a way that is still hard to explain in words. It could be attributed to that her life path has been somewhat comparable to mine, formally studying many different musical traditions yet didn’t find herself fitting in, and ended up paving a personal trajectory on her own. Probably on the surface, her music sounds very different from mine but, I recognized her musical choices, especially displayed in her first solo album titled “Pizzapi,” as kindred ones. Her music felt raw and in search of something deeply personal.
Upon meeting her, I learned that there was a small but tightly knitted community of young underground electronics musicians in Seoul, that had been organizing shows and putting out albums for a few years already. bela was one of those younger artists whose voice stood out as very strong and multi-faceted, even more of an impressive feat considering that they were completely self-taught.
Soon it became quite clear that many young and talented people in Korea were looking for different kinds of music and experience more than ever now. With the accessibility prompted by the internet, it could be the perfect timing to connect this young scene with other various communities outside Korea, generating healthy exchanges and exciting work.
Personally, after being disillusioned by how so-called creative music became stylized over the years, I have been looking for ways to break away from it myself. Not that simply sharing a bill with these two new voices would be enough as an answer, but it probably will throw me into a different set of artistic challenges that I need to figure out how to swim in. Hopefully, I’ll come out of it alive and refreshed.
And even if I don’t, you will definitely have a good time bouncing to their music.” – Okkyung Lee
Okkyung Lee is a cellist, composer, and improviser who moves freely between of artistic disciples and contingencies. Since moving to New York in 2000 she has worked in disparate contexts as a solo artist and collaborator with creators in a wide range of disciplines. A native of South Korea, Lee has taken a broad array of inspirations—including noise, improvisation, jazz, western classical, and the traditional and popular music of her homeland—and used them to forge a highly distinctive approach. Her curiosity and a determined sense of exploration guide the work she has made in disparate contexts.
Even though she is probably known best for her improvisational work utilizing visceral extended techniques for more than a decade, from 2010 Lee started developing many site specific works, responding to its architecture, audience, or objects surrounding her, producing an immersive experience. Most recently she presented Hutton Sori composed for cello and computer generated sounds at Der Sommer in Stuttgart Festival, and Grey Shooting Stars (for Yun Dong-Ju) for cello and pre-recorded sound materials at Bludenzer Tage Zeitgemächer Musik in Austria which involved breaking the fourth wall between the performer and the audience thus challenging the built in hierarchy in traditional concert setting. At Villa Medici for her presentation, Okkyung will continue explore the space in the similar manner while continue breaking away from the conventional cello performance.
She has appeared on more than 30 albums, including a diverse variety of recordings as a leader, whether the acclaimed solo improvisation effort Ghil, produced by Norwegian sound artist Lasse Marhaug for Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego, or composition-driven collections like Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer), released by Tzadik. In 2018 she released Cheol-Kkot-Sae (Steel.Flower.Bird), an ambitious piece drawing upon free improvisation and traditional Korean music that was commissioned for the 2016 Donaueschingen Festival by SWR2, where she collaborated with western improvisers Marhaug, John Butcher, Ches Smith, and John Edwards along with Pansori vocalist Song-Hee Kwon and traditional percussionist Jae-Hyo Chang. She also leads an intricately nuanced Yeo-Neun Quartet featuring harpist Maeve Gilchrist, pianist Jacob Sacks, and bassist Eivind Opsvik that explores the lyrical side of her writing.
Over the last two decades Okkyung has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Arca, David Behrman, Chris Corsano, Mark Fell, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Hval, Vijay Iyer, Christian Marclay, Bill Orcutt, Marina Rosenfeld, and John Zorn among others. In recent years she’s performed in equally varied contexts, whether embarking on an extended tour with the legendary experimental rock band Swans or collaborating with visual artist Haroon Mizra.
As a curator Lee has programmed concert series at the Stone in New York, the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria, and at the Jazz House (recently renamed Alice) in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2015 she was selected as a Doris Duke Performing Artist in 2015, and she has been awarded residencies at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy in 2015 and Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany in 2017. She has been commissioned to compose music and assemble projects for Time Spans Festival in New York, Amsterdam’s Maze Ensemble, Borealis Festival in Bergen, Norway, Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea and Pub Crawl I & II for the London Sinfonietta as part of a Christian Marclay exhibition at White Cube Gallery.
She received a dual bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and a master’s degree in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music in 2000.
DJ. Musician. Sound Artist. Visualist. She makes something funny and bittersweet, scary but something you want to see to the end. She has released albums Pizzapi (2018), Threshold Value (2020), Parallel Cosmo (2021), Tomorrow? and since 2019 she has been experimenting with the way she listens to music, a series of “だいだい dai-dai” Series. In addition, she participated as a musician and promoter in the web content Quarantine études (2020) and the planned performance centers (2020).
A Producer/DJ from Paju, South Korea. They create track-objects that closely tie into their emotional reality, different every time they approach a new project. Their releases include Guidelines (Éditions Appærent, 2021), 2020 (Self-release/Helicopter Records, 2020/2021), why are you so lost sweetie (Self-release / Podunk Label, 2019/2020). Their most recent work Guidelines EP positions Pungmul, one of the Korean traditional music genres, in a splitting club experiment that defies any native percussion sounds. In the heavy-hitting tracks, each hit remains in an imploding state of balance, creating a blurred, blunt sensation that fails to reach a consentient image of a physical instrument. In , a compilation of works released online before and after creating Guidelines, bela found peace in the quiet isolation, musing on the idea that the music can subconsciously affect a person’s core value system by altering their long-forgotten emotional basis. bela is a co-runner of Sorrow Club: a mixed event series focused on creating a comfortable and safe space for all types of music to be played and enjoyed by everyone. As a DJ, they are currently interested in making personal playlists for their 1+ hour bus trips to Seoul.