This weekend marks the fifth year of the Zandari Festa in Hongdae. From Friday, September 30th through Monday, October 3rd, people of all sorts, musically and cultural, will come together to see more than 160 acts playing in a dozen venues.
In October of 2013, I went to my first Zandari Festa, where there were only about a handful of bands from two overseas countries now in 2016, this festival welcomes bands from 18 different countries along with many Korean bands. Zandari Festa is showcasing international talent from South Africa, Madagascar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Taiwan, China, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Estonia, France, the UK, and the US. An exciting addition to the festival this year is the fest’s panels. Speakers for these panels will include people from different Western and Asian music festivals and international music companies. There will be two special showcases, the “Sound City Takeover at Zandari Festa” British Night and the “Esprit Français” French Night during Zandari Festa
I find myself saying every year that Zandari is no longer a “small bridge” as the name means in Korean but a huge bridge supporting the Hongdae music scene and connecting music internationally.
This year, I was able to talk to two Korean bands and three overseas bands about Zandari Festa.
I really appreciated hearing from acclaimed Korean electronic artist Aseul and high-energy rock Korean band National Pigeon Unity about their experiences at Zandari, what people can expect and also how they have seen this festival grow.
What are some of your favorite things about Zandari Festa?
Aseul: Whenever the festival occurs, all of Hongdae has a great festival vibe to it, I really like that feeling.
Young-Mok Park (National Pigeon Unity): Lots of people come to Hongdae for Zandari Festa and the festival is a lot of fun. I love that we can watch and meet bands from around the world during the event. And during Zandari Festa, I think Korean musicians feel very proud of our scene.
What can people expect from your Zandari Festa set?
Aseul: I’m not a DJ or a band, but I play instruments and sing songs as a solo performer. I’ll be playing music from new album, “New Pop,” during my Zandari Festa showcase.
Young-Mok Park (National Pigeon Unity): They can expect a great performance from a great duo! We’ll be releasing a new album very soon and will be performing some tracks from that release. We think everyone who sees our showcase will enjoy it and will want to hear our songs again in the future.
How have you seen Zandari Festa change or grow since you started playing at this festival?
Aseul: I’ve performed at Zandari every year since 2013. and The festival is growing and continuing to develop with each passing year. Zandari Festa has become a very important event in Korea.
Young-Mok Park (National Pigeon Unity): More and more promoters from abroad are coming to South Korea for the festival. It seems people in other countries are becoming more interested in South Korea’s indie scene. Zandari keeps flourishing and helps to create opportunities for acts, which is great to see.
Thank you so much to Aseul and National Pigeon Unity to taking time to answer my questions. If you are interested in hearing Aseul, she plays on October 3 at Club Steel Face at 7 pm and National Pigeon Unity will October 2 at Club Ta at 9 pm.
I was also really lucky to be able to talk to three of the overseas bands playing in Zandari. Cambodian rock band Batbangers French rock band Teleferik, and France-born, China-based electronic/folk act about why they wanted to play at Zandari, what people should expect from their performance and their favorite reasons for touring overseas.
Why did you want to travel to Seoul and play at Zandari Fest?
Sao Sony (Batbangers): We are the first Cambodian band to play at Zandari Fest. That is a huge honor for us and we are excited about bringing Cambodian music to a new stage. Traveling and sharing our music is our dream, so we are really looking forward to coming to Korea.
Arno Vincendeau (Teleferik): I’ve wanted to bring Teleferik to South Korea for a while. I’ve been very passionate about South Korea for almost 10 years now. When I traveled there for the first time in 2007, I discovered a new energy there. I liked everything that was related to the culture and the history. I was lucky enough to meet awesome people there too and now I try and visit every two or three years. We are signed to the label Chili Music Korea who distribute our music in South Korea and our relationship is very good with them. They introduced us to the Zandari Festival.
Djang San: I came with my band to Zandari Festa last year and I really liked it. Travelling to Seoul is a way to escape the pollution in Beijing and get into a different Asian music scene. South Korea has a burgeoning music scene and it’s always nice to see it grow. I have been making music for 15 years in China and Asia, and 38 albums later I am still motivated to see what is happening in the music world around here.
What can people expect from your Zandari Festa set?
Sao Sony (Batbangers): We are a high energy band. A recent live performance was described as “power riffs, pumping drums, chunky bass and strong melodies, combined with a mesmerizing and frenetic stage presence”. This is what we want to show people at Zandari Festa!
Arno Vincendeau (Teleferik): They can expect to experience a unique show. We are inspired by many genres of music including rock, blues, soul, punk, pop, folk, and psychedelic and traditional music too. I think it isn’t easy for people to classify our music aside from saying we are an indie rock band.
Djang San: This time I will be presenting my “One Man Live Orchestra.” I have shared this performance in many places and festivals in China but never in Korea. I will be bringing a Chinese instrument I have modified, a guitar, and of course all the equipment needed for my “One Man Live Orchestra.” My set at Zandari will be accompanied by videos playing in the background. The videos and short movies that will be played were made by myself and French artists such as Sebastien Mahon and Jean-Marc Laurent.
What is one of your favorite things about touring overseas?
Sao Sony (Batbangers): We do not get the opportunity to travel a lot, so we love experiencing a new country, learning about other types of music, and performing in front of an international audience.
Arno Vincendeau (Teleferik): We love to travel and we love to meet people. Touring overseas is a unique experience. We’re very excited about being able to present our music at Zandari Festa soon to a new culture thousands of kilometers from our home.
Djang San: My favorite thing about playing in different countries is being able to show something new to people who haven’t been exposed to the kind of music I do. It is also always a great way to see new places, new sceneries, and get new inspiration. I always carry a machine to record sounds and another one to film as many things as I can when I tour. Afterwards, I use what I have collected for recordings and videos. Last year when I came to Korea with my band we recorded a live performance at the Thunderhorse in Seoul. You can listen to it here: https://djangsan.bandcamp.com/album/a-live-in-korea
Thank you to Batbangers, Telefrik and Djang San and I hope they enjoy their time at Zandari. If you would like to see these bands; Batbangers will play Oct 3 at Club Ta at 8 pm, Telefrik on October 1 at Evans Lounge at 5 pm and Djang San on Oct 2 at Freebird at 6 pm.
And more information about Zandari Festa, go to their English website at:
Ticket prices are as followed:
One-day ticket: 30,000 won in advance / 33,000 won at the door
Two-day ticket: 50,000 won in advance / 55,000 won at the door
Special Pass: 100,000 won in advance / 110,000 won at the door
To purchase tickets purchased online here: http://ticket.interpark.com/Global/Play/Goods/GoodsInfo.asp?GoodsCode=16008838