57, pronounced Oh-Chill in Korean, is a two-piece rock outfit based in Seoul. Jun (Junhong Yun) and Snow (Seol Kim) joined forces in 2012 (then a three piece).
Jun: We met when I was looking for a drummer to start a new band. A load of my friends recommended Snow to me because she had a really, really good reputation as an amazing drummer with a lot of energy. Actually, I had already known her for a few years as she was a bartender at a bar I went to, but I had no idea she was a drummer! Once we finally jammed together, we clicked and immediately decided to start a band!
Though described as a ‘rock’ duo the band has a sound that is hard to box but is inspired by the recognisable sounds numerous rock and grunge bands.
Snow: We don’t think we have one single easy to define sound. We want to express various feelings through our music. Our overall sound is quite heavy, it is a sharp and rough sound with explosive power.
We are both big fans of Biffy Clyro, they inspire us a lot with both their music and their energy when they are performing! We were lucky enough to see them recently in Korea. It was an amazing show, but I think we might have been some of the only people in the audience that really knew their stuff!
Jun: Nirvana as well. They were one of the first bands I ever saw do a live performance (not in person, I saw it online). It was amazing. It was also the first time I had heard guitar tones like that.
Last week 57 kicked off an impressive twenty-plus date tour across the UK and Europe. For the duo, this means three times as many shows as last year, and much better planning and preparation.
Jun: Last year we used public transport a lot! It was a fucking nightmare and really expensive as well! This year we have had a lot of help from our tour manager and his family. We bought a car and Snow’s brother has come along as a driver as well! That should make the whole travelling part of the tour much easier to handle logistically. Especially with all the gear etc. Seeing as we can sell the car at the end of the trip, assuming we don’t crash it anyway. It should help keep the costs under control as well!
Snow: Last year was our first time in the UK so everything felt a bit strange and unfamiliar. That meant that we could not ever really completely relax, even on rest days. We were always worrying about how to do things and how to get around in the UK. That means that it was sometimes a bit stressful. I think that we know what to expect this time, so although we have a load more shows compared to last year, I expect it will be a lot more fun as we don’t have nearly as many things to worry about. I also want to use the experiences we have this time as influences for the new album which we will be recording in the summer when we get back to Korea.
Upon returning to Korean from their UK and European tour, 57 are set to release their new album Making Fire. The new album brings a change in sound when compared to previous releases, but the core attitude and style of 57 remains strong.
Jun: Almost all the songs we are playing [on this tour] are new and a lot of them will be on the new album as well. After last year’s tour, we changed our sound up a little so it is all pretty new!
Snow: Also, it is boring to keep playing the same old songs over and over again! [We] don’t wanna play the same songs as last year. Good to keep it fresh! I think it [Making Fire] is more the sound we want to produce. We liked our other stuff too, but as we have developed as a band we have got much closer to that sound we really want to be producing.
When playing live there is an honesty to 57, they have the laid back attitudes of the long established rock stars, but none of the arrogance – something that the struggles of independent music probably doesn’t allow most. The duo cites their onstage attitudes as important products of their musical learning.
Snow: I think the most important thing I have learned over the years is to fully concentrate on the music while we are performing. It is easy to become distracted by other things while on stage. When we play, I completely focus on the music and what I am playing.
Jun: I have learned that it is best to express your emotions honestly on stage. Don’t try to be like someone else, just be yourself and let all the energy come out naturally. Also, that it is really important to have full belief in your bandmates.
The strength of 57 onstage isn’t always as obvious away from the performance area, particularly for Snow. Expectations presented by her small stature and quiet nature around those she doesn’t know has many underestimate her talent. As a woman in the indie music circuit, Snow often faces ignorance and silent sexism.
Snow: I find that when we turn up to a new place people like the engineers often don’t treat me with any respect because I am a woman. They don’t expect me to be any good and often they kind of ignore me I think. Lots of questions often get directed to Jun rather than me. They always change their attitude once they have seen me play though, it is quite remarkable sometimes the difference in attitude once they have seen me do my thing.
I wish that people did not see me as a ‘woman’ drummer. I want to just be seen as a drummer.
The solution seems simple – Snow is an impressively fierce drummer, Jun is a skilled guitarist and powerful vocalist – their genders should be unimportant side notes.
57 continue their tour of the UK and Europe in Newcastle tonight, and will continue on through to 25th June.