No Reply, an indie band consisting of vocalist Kwon Sun Kwan and guitarist Jung Wook Jae, first debuted in 2006 by winning second place at the ‘Yoo Jae Ha Music Contest‘.
They’ve been much loved for their soft, calm music and emotional lyrics. Although the duo released only two albums during their four year career – “Road” (2009) and “Dream” (2010) – they’ve demonstrated that a band doesn’t need to constantly pump out releases in order to stay relevant. Fans have been watching the duo’s growth, as they learned how to convey deeper emotions into their songs, and
10asia conducted an interview with the duo to reveal the men behind the music – fans got to take a look behind the emotions they felt, what wasn’t expressed through their songs, and their dreams for the future.
The song “Dont You Know” that you sang together with Han Hyo Joo at the ‘Grand Mint Festival’ is a brighter song compared to your usual work.
Kwon: “We composed the song with a light heart. Han Hyo Joo’s voice fit very well with it, so it was a comfortable process.”Jung: “It only took an hour to record as well, since Han Hyo Joo has such outstanding music knowledge.”
Was there any special reasoning behind your choices for the album titles, “Road” and “Dream”?
Kwon: “We wanted to tell a story that was universal and easily understood by anyone. The titles might seem simple, but it’s just like when you look through a microscope – you can find the existence of a lot of different worlds. Roads and dreams are always within one another. Thus, the two album concepts are universal, but not anything bright. The song ‘No Dreamer‘ is about the reality of our society, where education is forced and people aren’t happy doing what they’re doing.”
Out of all of the emotions in your songs, the feeling of longing seems to be the heaviest.
Kwon: “I was largely influenced by Japanese novelist Murakami Haruki. She’s excellent in expressing that feeling of longing and yearning, and I try to incorporate some of that into my compositions. If love is an emotion about one person, then longing is an emotion that expands and surrounds everyone around them. The completion of my music is not love, but longing.”
In order to talk about such sensitive topics, don’t your personalities have to be that much more sensitive as well?
Kwon: “Our personalities aren’t like that. Our intuition is a bit more sensitive.”
Jung: “Hyung has a tendency to show some of that in his music. He gets mad when you mess with him while he’s sleeping as well. As for me, I’m more of the rough and free-spirited kind of guy.”
Still, the color of your style seems to have magnified with your recent album.
Jung: “We used the piano more for our first album and I was able to develop a more natural feel to my style. I’m not like hyung; I wasn’t exposed to so much music regarding love. I’m more comfortable writing about universal things, such as problems with humanity and society. ‘Comfortable Chair‘ is a song that I wrote with lyrics expressing a modern man drifting away from his generation.”
It’s not solely the genres alone that have changed; your second album has a lot more variety in comparison to your first album.
Kwon: “We did everything alone for our first album, from the programming to the music composition. With our second album, we discussed a lot more with The Koxx’s Sean, Naru, and David Lake’sSeon-Il before writing our songs.”
Jung: “We wanted to stop being too locked up in ourselves and try some more variety in ideas. I think the result of that effort was a more diversity in sound. This album received a lot of outside help and our seniors, such as Seon-Il hyung, listened closely to our thoughts and worries. We were able to shake off some of the pressures for this album that way.”
Did greed force you to show more in your second album? Don’t second albums usually hold a special kind of meaning to musicians?
Kwon: “Second albums, no matter how well you do, still puts you at the start, so the pressure is still there. The public is still in the mindset of your first album, so the second album will take a considerable amount of time to being recognized as our music. Instead of thinking that we wanted to succeed with it, we tried to be consistent with the emotions in our first album.”
No Reply receives a lot of praise from senior musicians such as Lee Juk, Kim Dong Ryul, Yoo Hee Yeol and others. Do they give you a lot of advice?
Jung: “When musicians get together, they don’t talk about music. As for senior Kim Dong Ryul, we sought out his help, so he gives us a lot of advice that is vital to our lives as musicians.”
Are you afraid of adventure?
Kwon: “I feel that No Reply has been walking a smooth path thus far. The real start begins now. We continue to feel the weight of having to make good music or else no one will find us. The feeling of not being able to perform is pathetic, but there will be no improvement if thoughts just end at ‘that was okay.’ Continually breaking and falling is what will stimulate ourselves.”
After the both of you return from your overseas studies and the KOICA, how will your music have changed?
Kwon: “I’m not sure. For now, we’ll never lose our integrity. The most important part of making music is our satisfaction and the satisfaction of listeners. Emotional expression is the most important, of course. Honestly, the problem is what style and genre we’ll be going next.”
What will be the direction for your next album?
Kwon: “It’d be nice if we could sing more comfortably. I’d compose songs centered around the melody, and if I found a key I liked, I’d force my voice to fit it. That made it difficult performing live. For our next album, I’ll be going with a more simpler style. As of right now, I’ll be returning to my own life after we finish promoting our second album. It took me at least 20 hours to compose one song before ‘No Reply’, but it takes a bit less now. I want to go back to those times.”
Be sure to check out their MV for “If I Became” (내가 되었으면) below:
Source + Photos: 10asia@Allkpop