INTERVIEW: OFF THE MENU
Off the menu is a new rock band from South Korea. MIA's team had the opportunity to interview them about their work and the release of their EP "Contact" last January.
1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about your work and your universe?
All: Hi this is Jung Jun Ahn (Vocals, Synth), Hyeong Sub Lee (Bass, Chorus), and Seung Min Lee (Synth, Drums); and we are Off The Menu. I think what we’re really trying to do with our music is kickstart a culture in which both the artist and the audience create and enjoy music across the borders of musical genres.
JJ (as Jung Jun): Kinda like a buffet
All: Yeah pretty much
2. How did you come up with your stage name "off the menu"? What's the meaning behind it?
JJ: Well there’s a restaurant we’d go often and the waitress there always ask us if we’d order the usual or something new ‘off the menu,’ and it just kinda stuck with, you know?
HS (as Hyeong Sub): The thing about the industry these days is that the more your work gets recognized the more you tend to lock yourself up within the walls of some specific style or genre of music. So we thought maybe we’d do things differently from the start.
SM (as Seung Min): Like when I’m at the restaurant I could always get the usual but then nobody’s gonna give me a hard time for trying out something new right?
All: Hence the name ‘Off The Menu.’
JJ: It just seemed like the perfect name for a band of like minded individuals like ourselves.
3. What are your biggest musical influences? Who would you name as your main musical influences?
Everything can be our musical influences.
All: I think we go through moments of inspiration doing just about anything together. Whether it be vibing out on some tunes, watching a movie or going on a trip.
JJ: But listening to music, I’d say, is the most significant since it can also be a really good stimulant. We usually jam out to Toro y Moi, the 1975, Glen Check, O3ohn, Travis Scott, etc.
4. How did you first get into music and has it always been a dream of yours?
JJ: The thing is none of us actually intended to take music in as a profession-it just kinda came to be!
In my case, Searching for and listening to new music has always been a passion of mine-I would beg for an mp3 player to my dad as young as 8 or 9 year old. So the love for music across the board came to me as something very natural. At first, I was more into becoming some sort of a critic in the industry because I was terrified of creating something of my own. But after some time I was thinking it’d be cool if there was music out that really had my style engraved all over it at which point I decided to learn how to play the piano and compose music.
HS: A friend of mine in middle school suggested to me that I try playing the bass, the coolest part(?) in a band. And here I am.
SM: Funny story-I used to be a kid with no purpose in life other than goofing around with friends. But one thing was that I’d love to listen to music as a kid, so my parents actually offered me an idea of getting a music tutor.
5. What was your biggest inspiration while writing your EP “contact”?
JJ: The word ‘contact’ in a very literal sense means to be physically touching something or somebody. We want to be able to touch people emotionally and spiritually with our music and its variety in terms of style and genre which in turn became the whole idea of this album.
HS: We wanted to translate the same idea onto our album cover itself. We turn on the fan on warmer days and the radiator, cold days. So the artwork is trying to convey the idea that this album is suited for any day, hot or cold. But since the release came around during the winter, we decided to put the radiator on a plate.
6. Some of your songs are entirely written in English, is there any particular reason as to why?
JJ: Honestly the only reason we use English so much is because Korean simply doesn’t stick to much of our melodies. Our songwriting process starts with chords and then the top notes. I don’t know why but Korean doesn’t work so well most of the times haha
SM: Each of us in his own way has been influenced much by the American culture. Jung Jun and I used to live in the States when we were young and Hyeong Sub lives real close to the U.S. Army base which allows for frequent contact.
7. Do you write and compose your songs by yourself?
JJ: Most definitely, but in various ways though. Sometimes we each come up with songs of our own and then come around to tweak them together; other times we work on a song together from scratch. During the process we also end up meeting and sharing ideas with other people as well. But at the end of the day we’re just trying to really engrave each of our styles on our music.
8. If you had to choose three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
All: off the menu (obviously)
Listen their EP "Contact" here
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