Korean pianist and composer Yiruma chats to us on the eve of his much anticipated Australian tour which includes performances in Melbourne and Sydney. The classical maestro talks about the upcoming tour, performing at the world famous Carnegie Hall and Dolby Theatre in the US and advice for upcoming musicians.
Yiruma you have done a lot of collaborations in recent years. Which was one of your favourites and who he would like to collaborate with next?
Well, the recent collaboration with Henry was especially interesting. It was memorable as I felt like my song was expressed with a new feeling by the addition of Henry’s young and bright energy. It was really an interesting work. While I have collaborated with lots of Korean singers, I haven’t had many chances to collaborate with foreign artists. I’ve recently started to like songs by Sia, who is an Australian musician. So, I think it will also be interesting if I have a chance to collaborate with the Australian singer-songwriter ‘Sia’ by adding up electronic elements.
How do you most like to work? Is there a special place or atmosphere you like when you need to compose?
I have often found musical ideas in my daily life. So, wherever I find musical inspiration is a great place to start working on my music pieces. I usually gain my musical ideas from my daily life, and record my thoughts and music whenever it comes up at the moment. Then, for detailed work or arrangements, I normally go to my studio where I can concentrate well, and work there.
You will be performing the Sydney leg of your Australian tour at the Sydney Opera House. What’s your thoughts about performing at such a famous venue?
Last time in my showcase (2013) which was a simple performance at the Sydney Opera House, I was warmly welcomed by Australian fans, and I could feel my music resonate with the crowd. So, since that time, I have really wanted to come back and perform again in Australia. Luckily, the chance to meet them came fast and I am very thankful for that. As the Sydney Opera House is a world-famous venue where lots of artists dream of performing, it is also an honour for me and I look forward to performing.
While you had visited Australia on May 2013 for the promotion tour of your 7th studio album ‘Stay in Memory’, it is your first live concert that is officially held in Australia. What made you have this concert in Australia?
I have heard that many of my fans are in Australia, and was very thankful when I saw on YouTube that my music was being played by many Australians in the streets or in public areas. I guess Australian people might be familiar with my music as my song ‘River Flows in You’ was also used in the Australian drama ‘Packed to the Rafters’. I have always wanted to officially say hello to my fans in Australia, and now this is a good chance to meet them all.
Recently, you have performed more in foreign countries, is there anything difficult related to this?
Unlike classical concerts where people tend to listen and focus solely on the music, my concert is more about communicating with the audience and telling them my musical stories. So, it was a little difficult to communicate with the audience in English at first. After communicating with them on stage, however, I have realised that it is not that difficult as lots of foreign fans were willing to listen to my stories comfortably and understand my music. Well, as I am performing overseas and working as a radio DJ in Korea, sometimes it is quite tough going straight to work in the morning being jetlagged from the world tour performance the day before. Fortunately, the time difference between Australia and South Korea is not that big. So, I don’t worry.
Yiruma, you finished the US concert tour in ‘Carnegie Hall’ and ‘Dolby Theatre’ where lots of famous artists hope to perform. How was the feedback from audience there? How do you feel?
I was quite nervous on the way to the concert. But, lots of fans came to the concert and welcomed me, so personally it was a concert at which I was really touched. Rather, I received more energy from watching the audience who welcomed me on the stage and paid attention to my story and music. Also, while there were lots of Korean fans there, lots of local fans there came to the concert. So, it made me feel that I should make more music that resonates with fans from diverse regions.
What is the theme of your Australian concerts? Would you give us any clue about the songs to be played in the concert? or Anything we can expect?
I have a lot prepared for my Australian fans, not only focusing on the songs that lots of fans have enjoyed performing on YouTube (such as ‘Kiss The Rain’ and ‘River Flows in You’ amongst my songs), but I have prepared hidden songs and surprise performances which Australian fans can relate to.
Regardless of genre, is there any Australian artist you know or you are interested in? If there is, what is the reason?
As I am currently in charge of a radio music program, I used to enjoy diverse music regardless of a specific genre. Recently, I think the music of the Australian singer-songwriter ‘Sia’ is attractive as her music is contemporary and has lots of elements of soul, jazz and pop. Also, the music of AC/DC- a world-famous rock band – is also what I have enjoyed listening to.
What do you usually do when you don’t perform or are not on the media?
I am trying to spend more time with my family as much as I can. My daughter is turning 8, so I chat with her and travel to places nearby together. Focusing on spending more time with my family is truly giving me a big energy.
In a previous interview, you said you thought you as ‘a contemporary music composer’ more than ‘a pianist’, what is the reason for that? Is there any special reason why you play your songs by yourself?
Well, contemporary music is music that a larger crowd can relate to, and to me, making music that resonates with many people gives me a huge motivation to perform. So it is rewarding when different fans in different countries comfortably find my music and enjoy performing it.
What is “Yiruma’s Music” in terms of yourself?
I have said to my fans “I want my music to be the background music of your life” before. I want to make music which is familiar and relaxing, so that it can comfort people whenever they feel down.
Any message to young students in Australia who want to be a musician?
I would like to say to them ‘Make your own music’. Rather than practice only with existing songs, express your own feeling and thought through your own music. I think if you can play at least one instrument, making your own music would be the first step to becoming a musician and also a new way of learning how to express your feeling.
It has been three years since you came to Australia in 2013. Do you have any plan to meet Australian fans through concert, show appearance (TV/ Radio), and fan meeting more often?
I hope I can come and meet you all, Australian fans, every year via concert or show appearance after successfully finishing the Australian concert tour. I will come and meet Australian fans again if I release my new album.
A message to your Australian fans waiting for the concert.
Through this concert, I would like to thank all of people who have loved my music for a long time and hope that my music is delivered to more people.
Any dream left you want to achieve?
I think I am still achieving my dreams as a musician. Because this dream is what I will be striving towards forever. My biggest dream is to keep performing as a musician who can deliver their thoughts and emotions to the audience. Personally, I would also like to establish professional music institutions to provide better music education to underprivileged children when I get older as it is difficult for them to have music education in reality.
Yiruma – Kiss The Rain Tour
Friday 29th July
Plenary, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Tickets on sale for Melbourne here.
Sunday 31st July
Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Tickets on sale at Sydney Opera House website.