Thanks for sparing time to look at these questions. We can't forget the dreamy and amazing moments with you last year. You always make our heart go pit-a-pat. How are you doing there?
I’m fine and I enjoyed our amazing moments too.
As fans of both Seo Taiji and music, it's an honor to send you, one of the most widely respected musicians, the list of questions. We all are well aware of that you are busy, but the thirsty we are having about the Symphony and You made us to dare to send this. We hope that these lists would not bother you too much and will look forward to your reply.
1. Is there something or someone that inspires you in your creative work? What kind of music did you listen to as you grew up? We wonder what sort of music or stuff made you dream, be inspired and finally become a great musician as a conductor, and a composer.
I have always found music to be a link to emotion. When I was growing up I played music by ear. I would sit at the piano and recite songs having heard them one or two times. It soon became apparent that this was a talent that would later become the foundations of my career.
When I was a child I heard a lot of different folk songs and received encouragement and inspiration from my parents.
Music is simply my passion, I am always amazed by the thoughts and feelings that music can provoke.
There have been times in my life that have been a little turbulent, particularly when growing up and leaving Cyprus to escape the conflicts. During this time I found that music was my escapism, somewhere for me to express my inner most thoughts and feelings.
I listened to all kinds of music when growing up from the classical greats such as Bach and Mozart through to rock music. I like to embrace all genres and identify with them. Music brings people together and that is ultimately, I believe, why it is so powerful.
2. Although you're educated and trained as in the world of classical music, you have tried to compose pop-symphony like Queen Symphony and work with pop-musicians like Elton John and Seo Taiji. Your unbiased attitude for various sorts of music deserves respect. Could you tell us what made you to try this cross-over, if we can call it like this? Which part made you excited and amazed most?
Music to me is not one given concept. It is to one person something entirely different than it is to another. In that respect, I have always found it exhilarating and exciting to try something new and to push the boundaries.
In many different compositions, including the classical greats, if you listen you will hear a line or a melody that will spark something within you.
That is what often happens to me. I listen and then hear something that I know I can work with. Ultimately it’s about being creative and finding what works and what doesn’t. There’s always a magical mystery to music that transcends time and place. When I was with you in Korea I felt that we were united by Seo Taiji’s wonderful music.
The Queen Symphony was exactly this. Looking for ways in which different tastes in music can come together and work in harmony. Innovation keeps things interesting and my passion for music is very much engrossed in the concept that it is constantly evolving. It never stops.
3. You said "Music is neither good nor bad, and music can't communicate unless be communicated heart to heart" at the press interview for Seo Taiji Symphony. We're a little surprised to hear that, because it was similar to what Seo said before. Could you tell us more about that?
It is a feeling, a passion and a belief that I have and continue to hold. Music is a powerful means of communication. However if your audience is disengaged you won’t feel that connection with them, that excitement, energy and enthusiasm is lost.
Yes, musicians that I have worked with both here and of course Seo Taiji, I believe come from the same world where we’re dealing with communication beyond words.
Music is about a person, not just what genres they like or dislike. It’s in their heart and to connect with that you have to understand what will inspire, encourage and transform them into another place. It means that the music means so much to the listeners, that it creates feelings of being any where they want.
4. What kind of music do you listen to when you take a rest? If it's classical music, what is your favorite these days?
Again, I listen to all types of music from classical to rock and chart. Within the music business it is important to engage with all principles. In my mind there is no wrong or right kind of music, it’s all a journey. It’s about constant evolution, finding something new – often from the old - and working with it to create a different sound, something innovational.
It can be seen in pop and rock music today. Many bands are bringing classical elements into their work to create a distinct sound or something slightly unusual that will capture the audience’s attention and engage with them on a different level. This is making classical music more acceptable to a mass audience.
The lines are becoming less defined and this is where the internet will play its part, providing access to those with the talent and ability to compose unique sounds.
5. What do you think your strength as a musician? We have to admit it would be a little stupid question, though, when do you feel pleased most as you're called as a composer, conductor or producer?
I am honored and very humbled to be in a position whereby people can refer to me as one or all of the above.
I am very aware that the experiences and opportunities that have been presented to me during my career, including the work with Seo Taiji Symphony, have allowed me to express my passions. My work is my love and I am grateful for that.
I am a composer, conductor and producer and my work within each area is what I am proud of, not the title that is given to me as a result of it.
7. What is your ultimate dream as a musician? You established the company called "Lightsong", which you said is aiming to ethically change the music industry. What do you mean? If it is involved with your future vision, can we ask what it is?
Lightsong will use the latest digital technologies to communicate with a global audience. We are embracing the evolution of the communication process and adapting the way we work to synchronize and develop alongside it.
We will offer fair deals to artists and work with those who have raw talent. We want to provide open access to music for people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, ages and ethnicities.
Coming together and considering the world as a whole, not in equal part, is what I believe in and sharing experiences, cultures, beliefs and behaviours is what makes life so rich. That is what Lightsong is all about.
*We have read the article about your company ‘Lightsong’ on Yorkshire Post published 26 October 2009 at http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/features/Music-was-a-great-liberator.5767923.jp We would like to translate part of this into Korean language and publish along with this interview for Korean fans who want to hear about you these days. Is it OK with you? If it is OK, is there anything you want to add on the article?
We will have to ask for the permission of Yorkshire Post however we would like to clear up a few minor inaccuracies. I am actually a UK born citizen and moved to Cyprus in my early years, before having to come back due to the conflicts.
Though we are Seo Taiji's fans, we don't know well how Seo Taiji Symphony was planned and prepared. We bet Seo Taiji Symphony was a historical event in South Korean pop culture. To be honest, we were very thrilled only to see you, greatly talented composer, with South Korean rock legend Seo Taiji in one concert. Could you tell us about preparation for Seo Taiji Symphony?
1. Who asked you to work with Seo and have a symphony and when was it? Did you know about South Korea and Korean pop music at that time?
Of course Seo Taiji is known across the world and I was really honoured when he and his management asked me to consider working with his music. I made a lot of journeys to and from South Korea and we discussed at length how his wonderful music could be worked with orchestra and my arrangements in mind.
2. Have you heard of Seo Taiji before? If you have, how did you know him? If not, how did you feel when you listened to Seo's music at first? Was it from internet or from CD?
I first heard Seo Taiji on CD and found it truly inspiring and exciting.
3. What made you decide to work with Seo most?
His warm personality and timeless gift for music. He made me feel welcome and I learnt a lot from his process of working.
4. Was your feeling similar or different between what you imagined before you met Seo and after you faced him? Tell us about how you felt and the episode when you met Seo at first.
We had some fun times, sometimes just joking around and eating great Korean food. I must admit I almost lost my head to a chili at one point!
5. Which pieces of your music did Seo say he listened to? How did he say he like it?
He really enjoyed the Queen Symphony and other productions that I’d worked on for film. I think he enjoyed the scale and variety of my arrangements.
6. Did you listen to all the songs from Seo's first album to the first single album (eighth) for the Symphony? Who chose the songs for Symphony? It would be also a little stupid, though, weren't there any problems in understanding what all those songs mean due to the language barrier?
Although initially I didn’t understand the words, after a while working with the English translations and particularly hearing Seo perform them, I got a sense of the deep meaning in his songs.
7. How long did it take you to arrange all the songs? How did you communicate with Seo while you worked?
We did a lot by e-mail obviously and the whole preparation process took six months. It was hard work!
8. You composed the symphony of six movements and played it as only form of orchestra for Queen Symphony. You worked by yourself for Queen Symphony and surviving Queen's member didn't have any artistic input at all. Since you worked with Seo for Seo Taiji Symphony, you might have to communicate with Seo a lot. How different was your work with Seo compared to that for Queen Symphony?
It was great to have the artist directly involved in this project. He was the guiding influence for this symphony.
9. We heard that the performers were made up by your recommendation and advice. World renowned violinist participated in the concert as a bandmaster. It might have been hard to persuade her to participate in the symphony with little-known far-east rocker Seo Taiji. What kind of difficulties were there and how did you settle them?
I had to be very careful picking the right musicians who would understand Seo’s music and would be able to work closely within a rock context. Although everyone was from different backgrounds, we felt that we were performing as one family.
10. Did you make any arrangement for Seo Taiji band playing at the symphony? Or was the band arrangement totally up to Seo? The rehearsal in England must be the first perform together. Was the sound-all-together-for-the-first-time good enough and similar to what you expected?
The arrangements were integrated and I heard Seo and his band rehearse quite a few times before making my final considerations for the orchestra arrangements.
11. Which part was the most important when you worked for Seo Taiji Symphony?
All of it. Obviously, when you work on a piece there are moments that are particularly special but in this case I feel the whole experience was like living a story. It was all so special and was dream like because it worked so well.
12. Is there any song that you had difficulty in arranging? Is also there any song that you had difficulty in performing? Are both the same or not? Why do you think you had difficulty?
Luckily Seo’s experience in front of large crowds and his ability to communicate helped us through any problems in the performance. Obviously arranging music is a little bit like sculpture when you are trying to extract a pleasing shape from the marble.
13. "Heffy-end" is the song in which we could find the biggest difference between symphony and the original version. The original version is about rather criminal stalking, you know, but in Symphony it became like vivid march music. Is there any special reason?
“Heffy-end” was great! I just felt it had really strident feelings and sometimes it’s good to bring something new to a song. I hope I did it with “heffy-end”.
14. You composed "Tik Tak Fantasia" from "Tik Tak" and "Adagio" from "I know". We wonder what inspired you to arrange these pieces like those.
To me, tik tak suggested a nostalgic romantic piece. Maybe it was Seo’s lyrical tendency coming out!
15. Seo's music is based on rock and roll, but he's very interested in a variety of genres. He showed his interest for classical music through "Eternity" and "Zero"-you played this in Symphony Encore in December. Both were played in the concerts last year. Did you make much arrangement for those two to play? We'd like to ask for your opinion about Seo's sense for classical music.
Seo really understands a wide range of musical styles and was very comfortable singing with orchestra. This is not true of most artists.
16. Did you tell the performers to do anything special for Seo Taiji Symphony? Did Philharmonic show their capability completely and was the performance satisfying?
The Philharmonic always play at their best and are amongst the world’s greatest orchestras, but they were also really cool and loved hearing the band next to them.
17. How did you feel when you worked with Korean Orchestra members instead of yours last December?
I work with talents from around the world and the Korean Orchestra were no exception. My passion for music encompasses the need to meet new and interesting people, to see how they work and how their styles differ from others. It’s about a coming together, a shared love for making music. I was proud to work with the orchestra and the results, I believe, speak for themselves.
1. We wonder if you listened to all of the songs which are in Seo's recent album (8th Atomos), which was released this year and has more songs than in the single album last year. If you did, are there any special songs you like or songs that you would have wanted to arrange for symphony?
I am waiting to listen to it. I am very excited to hear what he has done recently.
2. What do you think the strength and weakness of Seo Taiji are? We'd like to know your opinion as a musician.
His strengths are so many I can’t possibly list them all! But he is truly a great artist.
3. Have you heard of Korean traditional music, which is called "Gook-ak"? If you have, how did you feel?
I love all forms of folk music, my own is Turkish. We share a lot of common values with the Koreans, particularly the bamboo flute is very moving to me.
4. Seo's fans prepared some gifts and delivered them to you last year. Many of Seo's fans were willing to participate in preparing them even though they are not that big. We would like to hear how you felt when you received them.
I was overwhelmed by the generosity and affection that all the fans showed us and I’m very grateful for the support of our music making. I wish everybody happiness and peace in their lives.
5. You have said that Seo's fans are good and neat. We wonder how you felt when you encountered Seo's fans. Is there any difference between us and fans of other musicians, or between Korean audience and those in other countries?
I was knocked out by the excitement and enthusiasm of the fans!!
6. We wonder if your impression about South Korea was changed after Symphony. If yes, how did it change?
On my several visits to South Korea, I was inspired by the positive and forward looking nature of its people and making music there has made me want to visit again very soon.
7. Is there any other pop-musician in the world you'd like to work with?
Too many to list!
8. If you had another chance to work with Seo, would you be willing to do it?
It would always be a pleasure to work with Seo.
9. Did Seo send you a Christmas greetings last year? Are you keeping in touch?
1. Is it possible for Mr. Kashif can say something about Seotaiji's 8th album? What is his favourite? What number of track sounds good enough to be arranged into Symphony again?
Thank you for sending me Seo's latest album. It's brilliant! Seo's talent is so great that any of the songs would work as an orchestral arrangement.
2.Would you like to have short new year's greetings to Korean fans?
I wish all your readers and Seo's fans a very merry Christmas and hope they all have a wonderful new year.
ⓒ 태지매니아, 무단전재 및 재배포금지
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