Music has the ability to transcend language, space, and time. Our Archives attempts to bring to you underrated artists/music that you may have never explored or have archived in your playlist, artist that we have spoken to in the past, or music we have stumbled upon. From the first in our series, we have WINGS of the ISANG.
Wings of the ISANG is a post-rock band formed in Seoul, South Korea, in 2011, consisting of 4 members, Jung-Min Moon (Guitar, Vocal), Tae-Bong Kim (Guitar), Min-Kyu Jun (Bass), and Choong-Hoon Lee (Drums). Wings of ISANG first came out in 2006 with a digital single, containing four songs, under the name of Detuned Radio. Their songs poeticize the undiscovered beautiful side of darkness entangled in Time and Space in their own soundscape with Korean unique sensibility; Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Moment and Eternity, Idea and Existence, Meeting and Parting, Meaningfulness and Meaninglessness that are everywhere. They were honorably awarded ‘Best Modern Rock Album’ at The 14th Korean Music Awards (KMA 2017) and The 19th Korean Music Awards (KMA 2022) respectively.
Namaste Hallyu had an opportunity to interview Jung-Min, leader of the band, exclusively about their journey, and their thoughts on India, and a message for fans.
Before Wings of ISANG, the band was known as Detuned Radio. On being asked why they decided to change their name, Jung-Min responded, “There are so many bands with English names all over the world. I, as the band leader, wanted to have a Korean name. I love the Korean language so much, therefore I wanted a beautiful Korean name. We earlier decided on the name ‘날개’ (Nalgae) meaning wings. But once I was having a meeting with someone and they recalled the word ‘이상한’ meaning strange or weird. Isang has variable meanings in Korean. In the early-1900s, there was also a famous Korean novelist by the name Yi Sang, which is pronounced the same as ‘ISANG’. So we decided on the name Wings of ISANG.”
Wings of the ISANG officially debuted under their new name with EP Lost in March 2011 and then the group went on to release their first full-length double album Stream of Consciousness in September 2016. They then returned to the stage in 2021, with the album The Borderline Between Hope and Despair. We wondered if it is a deliberate effort by the band to release less music to focus on quality and to give themselves enough time to recuperate and come back with newer concepts. To this Jung-Min quipped, “We have always been focused on the quality of music we produced and delivered. If people listen to our music they would realize that our songs are much longer than an average song, lasting anywhere between 5-14 minutes. Therefore, it takes us longer to put the songs together, make conclusions on every album, and create the final cut. I like to go by the mantra “Do it right even if it is slow and slow.””
“When our fans listen to our music we want them to be able to close their eyes, concentrate or even sleep.” – Jung-Min
We were surprised when we heard that this could ever be the aim of this rock band since this genre is notorious for being loud. But then, the artists in question are anything but usual- from their name to their style, to their music, and their aim and we realised this, when we heard them for the first time. WINGS of the ISANG seem like a severely underrated band. Rock is a genre that is best enjoyed when you completely let go of everything else that you are doing and pay full attention. You need to concentrate on the song entirely to vibe to it, but with the songs produced by the band, the right touches of mellow sounds allow you to easily play them in the background even while you work. When we relayed this to Jung-Min, he expressed, “Thank you for sharing that. We intend to build our songs as such. When our fans listen to our music we want them to be able to close their eyes, concentrate or even sleep.”
The band has a varied discography but Jung-Min, the leader of the group recommends Crimson Sky as the song for a first-time listener and adds, “It is the second track on our album Stream of Consciousness. The band likes to describe through their songs a state of consciousness and unconsciousness, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, and so on. But the song Crimson Sky ties in together all the various feelings of our music beautifully and describes all our intentions with our music.”
The band was awarded Best Modern Rock Album by Korean Music Awards in 2017 and 2022 and so, we asked how it felt to win the award both times for their two and only full-length albums. To which, Jung-Min chimed, “All members were so happy. In 2017, when we were awarded for the first time, it was a part of my bucket list. We were beyond happy. And the second time, we did not expect to get awarded. We were just happy to be nominated. But after the announcement, we were all speechless. Words cannot describe what we felt back then.” After achieving such critical acclaim, what more could the band want? Jung-Min expresses, “The next thing on our bucket list is an international tour and participating in overseas rock festivals.”
Their album, ‘The Borderline Between Hope and Despair’ came out at a time when COVID-19 was at its peak. People were struggling with everything – daily chores, jobs, relationships, and health but the band was able to put an award-winning album together in such a time and Jung-Min shared the story behind it, “I am not only the vocalist and guitarist but also the band leader. I took it upon myself to do everything for our album- planning, writing, composing, mixing, mastering, art production, releasing, and marketing. Without a label, it was extremely difficult to take on every aspect of the album. But after all the hard work we came out as a winner and were awarded Best Modern Rock Album so it was all worthwhile.”
K-Pop has boomed in India especially during the pandemic. India is now among the 10 listeners of K-Pop, and we hope for such a boom in Korean Rock Music as well, Jung Min shared his thoughts on it while also talking about the possibility of visiting the country, “We can only maintain an “ideal hope” about making a boom with Korean Rock Music in India. Korean Rock Music isn’t that popular in Korea too, when compared to K-Pop. If anyone calls us or any Korean rock band to India, I think we would be very willing to go there.”
While discussing about India the artist further shared his thoughts about the country and the people, “India is a very big country located in a strategic position. My first impression of India is healing, healing of mind and body. I also think a lot of people from India are great at mathematics and many Indians love to travel internationally.” And as we reached towards the end of the interview, Jung-Min shared a message for fans, “We are extremely thankful to our fans for liking our music and supporting us. It is a surreal feeling to introduce our music to an audience in India.”
Interviewed by Snigdha Verma