Interview: IZREAL

One of the most exciting rising talents to emerge from South Korea’s flourishing underground circuit – IZREAL – is breezing through career milestones at break-neck speed. Having already performed at some of the globe’s most prestigious events, debuting on the Resistance Stage of Ultra Music Festival (Bali and Korea), as well as performing at Bangkok Songkran and Seoul’s World DJ Festival, the burgeoning talent now unveils her debut extended player, ‘현진 (HYEONJIN)’. Read more about her music, her artistic story and the latest  four-track EP in the following lines. Enjoy!

Hello, hope you’re doing well! How would you introduce yourself to our readers?

 Hello, I’m IZREAL and I’m a techno DJ and Producer based in Seoul, South Korea. I’ve just released my debut EP “현진 (HYEONJIN)” and I am so excited to share it with you all!

What would you tell us about the music you play and make? Is there a message or an emotion you wanted to share with the listeners or any emotions your release will bring out to the listeners?

I usually like very melodic music, but I also really like the “kick” sound of techno, and so I try to combine the two opposites. For me it is all about trying to find a harmony between the energetic techno sound and a calm, beautiful melody. Often when I play music I feel a kind of sadness, but at the same time creating music always brings me such a joy so I can’t help but feel the two simultaneously and I don’t think there is any opposition to the two feelings coexisting. I like to play my music with a lot of emotion and I think that will transcend to my listeners too.

How would you describe your sound when it comes to your debut EP?

When I released my first single, “Rainy Day”, I was very self-conscious about whether or not the sound was matching the current trends on the scene, and I was worried about what other people would think about the track. Because of this it took me some time to land in the exact sound I wanted for the EP, but in the end, I finally realized that actually none of that other stuff really matters.  Music has always been such a natural way for me to express myself, and as long as I stay true to who I am and use my music as a way to communicate my feelings to other people it will always be relevant. My debut EP talks a lot about my own growth process as a DJ as well as a person, and I think a lot of people can relate to that. It was a long journey recording this EP, but I am very happy with the result!

Can you tell us something more about the story behind it?

The story behind the EP is all about going on an introspective journey of personal growth, and each track on the EP represents a step on that journey. The opening track, “In Motion”, is about a kind of wake-up moment where you realize that you are stuck in an unsustainable situation and the only way to get out of is to leave your old self behind and move forward. “Rainy Day” is a song for those gloomy days where everything feels hopeless and you just want to give up, but somehow you manage to pick yourself up and continue because you know that there are brighter days ahead. The third track, “Work On Yourself”, is pretty self-explanatory –it is about putting in the work and finding yourself. And last but not least, “Journey Into Now” is the last track that kind of ties it all together. It is a song about coming out on the other side of hardship, stronger than ever and ready for a new start. The title of the EP is “HYEONJIN” which not only is my real name, but in Korean it also has the meaning of “moving forward” and this is what this EP is all about.

How hard has it been to find your own sound and what is its unique signature and do you feel you found it?
I think I have been able to find my own sound by having a lot of important conversations with myself. It has taken some time to find it, but I think now that I have you will be able to hear it a lot more on my future releases. I believe my signature is my ability to take a sad melody and mix it with a techno beat to create a perfect harmony. My songs are never just about sadness and depression, there is always a sweetness and a streak of joy to it.

You played at ULTRA Music Festival (Bali and Korea on the Resistance Stages), Bangkok Songkran and Seoul’s World DJ Festival, which as you know are very big achievements for an upcomer. Do you feel like the festivals are ready to give a chance to new talents and fresh names?

Yes, those are all really big stages for someone who is as early in their career as I am, and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity. Festivals will of course always be about the big headline names, but it is also nice to see that festivals of that size are giving more chances to upcoming DJs. For me personally, getting to play those stages really solidified my belief that if I keep working hard, I’ll keep getting closer to achieving my dreams. I may not be there just yet, but I’m confident that as long as I keep working hard, I have every possibility to make it.

On the other side of the rave coin is the clubbing scene. What in your opinion are the highlights of your local club scene in South Korea?

I think the highlight of the Korean clubbing scene is that Korean clubgoers really know how to enjoy themselves. People know how to have fun! And as a DJ, I really get a kick out of watching their energy.

What are top 5 tracks in your sets right now?

As I am currently promoting my EP, the top 5 songs in my set are mostly my own music haha. So, track 1-4 would probably be the songs of my EP (“Rainy Day”, “Work On Yourself”, “Journey Into Now” and “In Motion”). However, Adana Twins have always been a great inspiration of mine, so I always try to incorporate their music into my sets too. These days I like to play their track “Uncompressing”.

How would you describe current situation on global electronic scene compared to your country?

The electronics scene in Korea has been quite small historically but it is growing a lot these days and it is really cool to see so many great producers and DJs coming through! Korea is definitely a new market compared to a lot of the other more established international club scenes but I think it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Any upcoming projects you would like to mention?

I have actually already started working on my second EP! For my next release you can expect to see an even more melodic side to my music. It will still be techno, just more of my signature mix of strong melodies and powerful beats. I also have some exciting collaborations coming up that I hope I will be able to share with you in the next few months.

Grab your copy of ‘HYEONJIN’ HERE.

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