Korean hip hop mainstays Gaeko and Choiza from Dynamic Duo sat down with Ariel Alkire in Los Angeles during their Grand Carnival North American Tour. The interview was held at the end of their North American tour where they performed in five difference cities. Gaeko and Choiza spoke to Ariel about the making of their latest album Grand Carnival, the most surprising thing about performing in North America and their only Australian performance so far at the Darwin Festival in 2014.
Does it feel weird to do a Grand Carnival tour without the Grand Carnival van?
Choiza: It would have been nice to have the Grand Carnival van for this tour as well, but because we had a better van we felt more relaxed touring with the new van.
What are the most and least surprising things about touring overseas? What have these concerts shown you about your North American fans?
Gaeko: The most surprising fact was that even though the majority of the fans were Korean, there also were local fans with different racial backgrounds who came along to enjoy our concert. They were singing along and dancing to our songs. Being able to see local North American fans seems to be the most exceptional experience of this tour. Also, the 5 states which we toured were far from each other even though it was within the same country. So the weather and food culture were different in each of the cities we visited which was enjoyable to experience.
What’s your favourite food so far?
Choiza: Our favourite food would be the tacos!
Dynamic Duo played the Darwin Festival in Australia in 2014. What were your thoughts of performing in front of an Australian audience? What were your highlights of Darwin?
Gaeko: We understood Darwin to be a vacation city with minimal numbers of Korean fans. So we were very worried about whether or not there would be any people coming to see our performance. But once the festival began, the venue and the stage fitted perfectly with the beautiful scenery and a lot of the Australian fans actually came along to enjoy our stage. It remains a very happy memory for us. We do remember the beautiful nature of Darwin the most.
Choiza: The highlight would be when our performance first started there weren’t that many people in the audience. But the crowd started becoming larger as our performance went on. So in the end we had a large audience gathered to enjoy our stage and we still remember the people who came to listen to our songs. We felt like we gave a great performance in Darwin.
Gaeko: And there were lots of stars in the Darwin sky as well.
AOMG recently signed Hoody, LeeSSang Company debuted Miwoo last year. Is there room for women artists in Amoeba Culture?
Choiza: The door’s always open in Amoeba Culture for female artists, but I guess we haven’t found the right female artist whom we want to offer a contract with Amoeba Culture. If we do get the chance, we would love to work with a female artist.
For Grand Carnival you handed over a lot of the music production to other artists so that you could focus on lyrics. Was it difficult relinquishing that control? How did that impact the way you collaborate?
Gaeko: The sound would be the most influential factor working with various producers. In comparison to the previous albums where we produced and arranged the sounds ourselves, the choice of the sound sources, the texture and tone of the sound as well as the code arrangements can be perceived as more fresh by working with different producers. We did enjoyed writing lyrics and composing melodies on top of differently produced sounds.
You also featured several lesser-known artists on Grand Carnival: Nafla, Dean, Lydia Paek. How did you find these artists, and how did you know you wanted to put them on your album?
Choiza: The artists we worked with were well-known amongst the Korean music industry.
Gaeko: They were familiar to us as well.
Choiza – Even though there seems to be a lot of people doing hip hop in Korea, there actually are not too many, and we can see who is doing good and who is not. Rather than working again with artists whom we have produced with before as a safety net, we thought it would be better for us to work with people who were improving as good artists. The new collaboration would also mean providing an opportunity for those artists so we decided to go ahead with this decision.
Gaeko, has marriage or fatherhood had any impact on how you see yourself as an artist? How do you juggle being a husband, father, businessman and artist?
Gaeko: When I was single, I spent a lot of time working with music and producing new songs. But after I became a husband and a father keeping up a balance between everything became most important. I wanted to be as efficient as possible balancing the energy I spent on my music, the time I spent with my family, the time I spent with company artists and colleagues as well as time for leisure. Dividing up my time does give me headaches compared to before but I will continue to try and balance different parts of my life. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right, but I am giving it my best try.
Choiza, any chance of a solo project?
Choiza: If I feel like working on a solo album I will start to do so. But right now I don’t really want to. But I am starting to get interesting ideas so within 2 or 3 years I might produce a solo for myself.
Translation by Lucy Lee.