[Spotlight] Zandari Festa


Korea’s Biggest music showcase festival is just around the corner. Zandari Festa will take place in Seoul district Hongdae between October 2nd and 4th.
The festival is similar to events like SXSW, Focus Wales, and the former set up of Liverpool Sound City; with shows spread across many different locations and festival-goers able to move between venues with wristbands. All different styles of music are showcased at Zandari, from pop to metal. Back in 2013 Crayon Pop made a surprise appearance, backed by trash metal band L.O.D. – we’re serious, check out the video!

Of course most of us are unable to attend the festival, but why not learn a little more about it and the artists? Maybe you can put it on your bucket list!

Started in 2012, Zandari Festa takes place annually in Seoul’s hub of youth culture and indie music: Hongdae. For three days each October, Zandari Festa brings together acts and industry professionals for concerts and conferences. An impressive 261 acts from around the world will perform as part of Zandari Festa this year, with over 20 clubs and two outdoor stages as their venue!

Not only does Zandari create a stage for both establish acts and exciting up-and-comers from South Korea’s thriving indie scene, the festival is also growing as an important global event. Last year’s festival has more than a dozen other countries represented at the event.
In interesting news this year brings the collaboration of Zandari Festa with Liverpool Sound City, giving the British Indie festival the opportunity to take even more acts to Seoul.

READ MORE: Liverpool Sound City teams up with Hongdae’s Zandari Festa

This year Zandari Festa promises to be the most exciting edition of the festival yet! We decided to get the lowdown on Zandari from artists themselves.

[su_heading size=”18″]So we decided to get the lowdown on Zandari from the artists themselves![/su_heading]

Here’s what Annie Ko, vocalist and synthesizer player for Korean electro-rock band Love X Stereo, had to say about the festival. The group played Zandari in 2012 and are returning this year
[su_expand more_text=”Show what Annie Ko had to say” less_text=”Hide” height=”40″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”dotted” link_align=”center” more_icon=”icon: arrow-down”]The Korean indie scene has always been underrated by the media and the industry.  But Zandari Festa showcases how Korean indie music survived for years, and clearly indicates the present state of where we’re heading – so it’s pretty damn important. It’s a great chance to build up friendships with other bands and people in the music industry. And if you get lucky, you’ll end up playing one of the best shows of your life at the festival. At least that’s how it was for me! For international bands, Zandari Festa can be your next Music Matters Live or SXSW. It’s a great chance to experience Korea’s indie scene and network with lots of people here.  But I suggest before you come to do a bit of homework and connect with some Korean acts and music industry professionals to make your trip more worthwhile.  To reach out to Korean bands, Facebook or Twitter is the best way to go.[/su_expand] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#2867a5″]

Jun Ryu, guitarist for Korean rock band Pavlov who previously played Zandari in 2012 and 13, told us the following

[su_expand more_text=”Show what Jun Ryu had to say” less_text=”Hide” height=”40″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”dotted” link_align=”center” more_icon=”icon: arrow-down”]I think Zandari Festa is good because it plays an important role in promoting the musicians of Hongdae, Korea’s epicenter of indie music, at home and abroad.
Most big rock festivals held in Korea focus on sponsors and major international acts. However, Zandari Festa is different. It strives to provide equal opportunities to all artists in the lineup regardless of their popularity.
[On Pavlov’s previous experiences at Zandari] We loved hanging out in the festival’s artist lounge! It was great to meet new acts that we didn’t know and to get free drinks!
[This year] We’re going to be showcasing some new songs that we’ll be releasing digitally soon. [/su_expand] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#2867a5″]

Junhong Yoon (Guitar & Vocals) and Seol Kim (drums) of Korean rock band 57 previously played Zandari in 2014, they told us why they like Zandari, and their fond memories of playing last year.

[su_expand more_text=”Show what 57 had to say” less_text=”Hide” height=”40″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”dotted” link_align=”center” more_icon=”icon: arrow-down”]Seol Kim: Zandari Festa is one of the most anticipated events of the year for us. Zandari is a festival where people can enjoy lots of different gigs all over Seoul’s Hongdae area and meet other music fans of all different nationalities. Zandari is a festival for all music lovers!
Although we haven’t had many chances to participate in other festivals, the good thing about Zandari Festa is that all participating bands are treated equally regardless of their popularity or experience. Zandari Festa is also a showcase festival. While some may treat the show as just as regular gig, I think because it’s a showcase it’s better to have a different attitude. This makes Zandari Festa different too. If it was just a regular gig, you could simply do the things you’ve previously done. But if you do something different and creative, wouldn’t it be a more special show for your band?

Junhong Yoon: When we played last year, it had only been a year since we formed. So we were still full of rookie spirit and didn’t have a lot of experience. But playing at Zandari Festa 2014 helped us grow up a lot as a band. We were living in Jeonju at the time but came to Seoul and stayed at the festival for all three days. This allowed us to observe and enjoy all the different aspects of the festival and gave us time to plan our show and discuss the concept of a showcase and how to best use our given time slot. After we played, we also had the chance to meet artists, promoters, and producers. Speaking with them helped us grow up too. So 57 grew up so much that weekend all thanks to Zandari Festa. We have lots of good memories from last year’s festival.
We’re going to be showing the crowd many different sides of 57. And we’ve written many new songs based on our experiences since moving to Seoul, so we’ll play some of those too. People who saw us play at Zandari Festa last year will notice how much we’ve grown since last year! [/su_expand] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#2867a5″]

Southway are a British/Korean band that describe themselves as an Indietronica Cyberpunk Britpop duo, formed of [the now married] Shaun Jason and Shiun Kim, They’re no strangers to the Korean indie scene, but 2015 is their first time playing Zandari. Here’s what Keyboardist and vocalist Shiun Kim told us they’re looking forward to

[su_expand more_text=”Show what Shiun Kim had to say” less_text=”Hide” height=”40″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”dotted” link_align=”center” more_icon=”icon: arrow-down”]We’ve heard a lot about Zandari in the past, as some musician friends of ours have been involved before. They were really excited to be part of it and said to us that we should get involved in the future as well. We love the international aspect of the festival.
What makes Zandari different is the fact that it is a festival in the city. For most festivals, you have to travel to a location that is temporarily set up just for the festival. Zandari uses some of the best live venues in South Korea as its stages. That’s special. Also, in addition to live music, lots of seminars and events are programmed with interesting music personalities from around the world. For anyone working in music, that’s a great chance to meet other people that have music as a professional common interest.
As a British Korean band, we are looking forward to seeing and meeting other bands and music industry people. Most of all, we can’t wait to perform. We are getting some new songs ready to play for the first time at Zandari so we’re excited to make it a special performance. Hopefully people that haven’t seen us perform yet will come and check us out. That’s really what it comes down to for us – to keep reaching out to new audiences and music industry people through our live performances.[/su_expand] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#2867a5″]

Natalie McCool hails from the Merseyside area of England. She is an electro-infused alt-pop singer, and this will be the first time she plays Zandari Festa.

[su_expand more_text=”Show what Natalie had to say” less_text=”Hide” height=”40″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”dotted” link_align=”center” more_icon=”icon: arrow-down”]I have never performed as far away as Asia before and I am really excited to see how my songs are received by that audience. K-Pop is so huge – and as my music is pop with an alternative edge I am really looking forward to bringing it to South Korea.
[On her expectations for the trip and festival] I am expecting amazing food! I think the festival will be run to a T – and when you are a performer it is so great to be part of an event so well organised. I am also looking forward to the conference part of the festival and meeting different people – I am excited about who I am going to meet there!
[On what to expect from her Zandari set] An alternative pop sound with an electronic edge – my drummer plays all electronic sounds and samples and triggers tracks, and I play electric guitar and sing. My vocals and guitar are the only organic elements of my live set so it is a really interesting sound and balance. I might also learn a few phrases in the native language to throw out there on stage![/su_expand] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#2867a5″]

Hyde & Beast are a British rock band fronted Neil Bassett & Dave Hyde (of The Futureheads & The Golden Virgins fame respectively). They too are playing Zandari for the first time, and drummer Neil Bassett told us what they’re looking forward to doing in South Korea

[su_expand more_text=”Show what Neil had to say” less_text=”Hide” height=”40″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”dotted” link_align=”center” more_icon=”icon: arrow-down”]We can’t wait to come to South Korea. We have never played outside of the United Kingdom as Hyde & Beast and none of us have travelled to Korea as tourists before so we are very excited to soak up the sights and sounds of Seoul for a few days. Dave our singer was the drummer in The Futureheads so he has played in Japan a few times with them, but Korea is going to be a new experience!
We are really looking forward to playing a show to a Korean audience and feel privileged to be one of only a handful of UK bands to have been invited to play. In our free time, we are looking forward to sampling some local beers and can’t wait to try some authentic Korean food especially some good bibimbap and yangnyeom tongdak. Hopefully we will get a little time to visit a temple or two and just take in the local culture.
I guess we have no idea what to expect! This is a first for us so we are going in to it with an open mind. We are really excited about playing in front of a totally new audience, but we are equally looking forward to getting to see many Korean bands play and hopefully finding our new favourite band.
I hope that we confuse and delight Korean audiences! We are a many-legged band – 14 legs in total along with 3 guitars, piano, bass, vocals, saxophone, trumpet, and drums. Our sound is steeped in the fuzz and beautiful harmonies of the early 1970s. Fans of T-Rex, The Beatles, Parliament, and Tame Impala will hopefully be very happy! When we play live we like to get people moving, we like to smile, and we like it hot. We literally cannot wait to get there![/su_expand] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#2867a5″]

So if you’re in Seoul October 2nd to 4th why not grab yourself a ticket, and immerse yourself in Hongdae’s exciting indie scene [Full line up here] Otherwise, maybe you’d like to keep up to date with the festival via social media, and remind yourself why Zandari Festa needs to be on your bucket list!

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About Author

Founder of BritROK. Graphic Designer and lover of all things Punk and Indie!