INTERVIEW: SAMUEL SEO
Samuel Seo is known as a south-korean singer, songwriter and producer. Despite «dividing genre doesn’t mean anything» to him, his musical aesthetic is mostly influenced by HipHop, RnB, Funk and Soul styles. Often referred to as a musical genius, it might be said that Samuel Seo is an artist who doesn’t fit norms. MIA had the opportunity to ask him regarding his latest album « The Misfit », a project fragranced with Funk/Soul musical influences.
1. Before anything, we would like to thank you for receiving us. Latest 31st October you released your third album untitled « The Misfit ». What kind of album is it and does the name « The Misfit » have a particular meaning for you ?
As a composer, and being a multi instrumentalist, I’ve always felt that my music doesn’t really fit into the local culture where I reside. I've always been struggling between trends of the current culture and my way of expressing music which led me to put out most awkward forms of output located somewhere between K-pop culture and maniac types of music. I kind of felt pretty hopeless doing those stuffs, losing all the goals that I first wanted to aim for. So this time, I got rid of every distractions and just worked on how I wanted my music to be fully expressed, thinking about nothing else, no trends, no K-pop related things. When I got it done, I thought this album may work out. Somehow in a good way, this is the first time that I am satisfied so far with an album. Nonetheless, the way I do music may not get along with the rest of the musicians around here, so I just decided to go my own path as a Misfit. This album is just the beginning of my new set.
2. After a close listening, it looks like your album has been influenced by a lot of Soul and Funk. Is there any style that you really wanted to represent in « The Misfit » ? We also heard a saying about « Samuel Seo doesn’t write music which fits genre, he makes the genre fits him », is this a fact ?
I grew up listening to a lot of 90s Neo-soul, Funk and Rock musics. I got the influence from my cousin who always made me listen to tons of different types of music. So basically, dividing genre doesn’t mean anything to me at this point. As long as I keep my voice on top, that’s me and that’s what applies to every musicians around the world, each and every one of them with their own stuffs.
3. In « Ordinary Kids » you said « because dreams are made in the streets, no school », is this for you a way to question the educational system in the world which push children to be the best at school and at the competitive level despite their happiness and dreams ? Were you one of those « Ordinary Kids » who liked it better to dream rather than study ?
I wouldn’t say WORLD. As a Korean I want to share the way of life in this “PUSHING KIDS TO STUDY TO HAVE THE MOST NORM FORM OF LIFE WITHOUT KNOWING WHY-culture” environment was like. And yes I wrote it only to criticize how the educational system works around here. I’m not really sure about nowadays but when I was younger, they never told me why I should study, and why I should get a loan of 3.5 million won average a time to graduate university. What for ? I did not even tried to find the reason why then but kept on following that path until I found what I truly wanted to do with my life. Since literally no one was there to enlighten me to think twice and teach me that there is always another way ahead of your life. This song is all about telling kids or who’s about to have kids around me, to think again. I wanted to give away one simple message ‘Is it really what you want ?’.
4. Did you have any daily influences while writing « The Misfit » ?
Bringing the Neo-soul culture into Korean culture in a right way. We all know that the R&B culture didn’t come from Asia, obviously, but I see many of us just copying what looks and sounds cool. I’m not a fan of seeing a culture being treated shallow like that, so I had to think over a few years trying to figure out the right form of what an average Korean musician who has deep love towards that culture but want to transform it into a right way without hurting the originality of it. I’m still trying to figure out how.
5. In the future, which artist would you like to collaborate with ?
No one at the moment but I’m pretty sure someone will pop up soon.
6. To bring this interview to a final point, if you had to describe « The Misfit » in three words, what would it be ?
It’s difficult. I would say this album is the “Album Of the Year”.
CEO, leader's team, head of public relations & journalist