Jazz guitarist Kimie Kim talks to The Korea Times about his project group Infinite Loop, at his studio in Hongdae, Monday.
/ Courtesy of Kimie Kim
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Jazz is not quite as popular in Korea as pop or rock music. But jazz musician Kimie Kim hopes to build a small community of jazz musicians together to bring street jazz to a wider audience.
Kim has formed jazz fusion band Infinite Loop, inspired by British acid jazz group Incognito, which has a rotating line-up of musicians and vocalists. Infinite Loop released its first album, ``Across the Ocean,'' last December on an independent record label.
``I once talked to the leader of Incognito, who said he liked the idea that he can call other players to join the band. So for this project, I called three other players to form a band and play together. It's flexible. I can invite anyone to join the band for the next project. ... I want to have a community of musicians who can play together,'' he told The Korea Times, in an interview at his studio in Hongdae, Monday.
Kim, a guitarist, is the bandleader for Infinite Loop. He invited long-time friend and drummer Tagg, noted pianist Lee No-kyung and bassist Yoon Du-young to join the group for the first album.
``Across the Ocean'' is an instrumental album of eight tracks with funk, rock and acid jazz influences, all composed by Kim. Most songs run seven to eight minutes long, with a lot of improvisation. Kim's favorite on the album is the title track, but he noted many of his friends prefer ``Scrambled Eggs.'' ``My friends told me it really sounds like scrambled eggs,'' he laughed.
Kim grew up on Jeju island with his music-loving family, his policeman father played saxophone while his elder brother played the guitar, which inspired Kim to take up acoustic guitar.
``I started with classical, but I switched to electric when I was in high school. I wanted to play rock and roll, like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin,'' he said.
At 19, Kim moved to Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute, and later lived in Canada, where he discovered jazz music. He returned to Korea for his military service, but he felt he needed to learn more about jazz music. So he moved to Austria, where he studied at the Vienna Conservatory. ``I was really into jazz and I thought I should go to some place where I can learn more about jazz,'' he said.
In 2005, he returned to Korea and started working as a writer for Guitar Lab magazine, but didn't have time to concentrate on his music.
Now, Kim is back to being a full-time musician, and wants to make jazz more accessible to listeners. `` Some people might think jazz is boring, but I want to make it fresh and new,'' he said.
The 35-year-old musician is setting his sights on the international scene. Infinite Loop's music is available for download on Apple's iTunes, the CD can be bought on Amazon.com, and the band's Web site is in English (www.infiniteloopjazz.com).
Kim, who occasionally plays in small clubs and bars around Seoul, said he was invited to perform at the Beijing Jazz Festival in the fall. He is also planning some gigs in Japan this year, and maybe Europe next year.
Kim is already planning Infinite Loop's next album, this time with another guitarist. Yet, he's not expecting to become famous.
``I'm expressing myself through music, but I want to achieve a higher level, not just with music but as a human being. I don't want to be famous, but I just want to do something good in the future, through music,'' he said.