Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
Photo: Dahahm Choi
IDIOTAPE is a South Korean electronic trio consisting of Dguru (producer, DJ and synthesizer player), Zeze (producer, DJ and synthesizer player), and DR (drummer).
Looking back at your music journey, is there a specific time you reminisce about the most?
DGURU: My first rave, which was about 20 years ago. I think my urge to bring back the images and memories of that moment is what keeps me going.
If looking at IDIOTAPE as a single human organism, which part each one of you represent?
DR: I think I could describe myself as the mouth of IDIOTAPE since I am the one who speaks the most when we perform on stage. I sometimes tend to make inappropriate remarks though haha.
What does music mean to you?
DR: To me music is like a lifelong friend. In some ways, it also seems like I have a love-hate relationship with music. It is what allows me to be myself the most.
There are times when you can be more honest when you are with your friends than family. Music is kind of like that friend to me.
Do you face any disagreements when creating music? If so, how do you compromise, if not, why not?
DR: I try not to compromise. Instead, I always try to have a supportive attitude when it comes to working on music. I spend a lot of time rehearsing, practicing, and studying so that I can be ready to work in any kind of situation with my members. I think this also relates to the reason I enjoy being in a band. It is interesting how different opinions can lead to one creative result.
ZEZE: If we all had the same opinions and thoughts then we wouldn’t have been able to come up with good outcomes and results. I think
the most important key is ‘respect’ not ‘compromise’.
DGURU: Even though it may cause some delay in the process, sometimes we try to work until we reach an agreement. There are also times in which we just skip or pass the points that we disagree on. Either way, we end up understanding each other eventually.
How important is your national identity to the nature of your art?
ZEZE: The weather, natural surroundings, culture, food, and everything in between of the place that I was born and raised in affected my work in ways that I hadn’t even realized. I could especially feel the influences while touring other countries. Yet, I try not to focus too much on nationality and I yearn for a world where nationality isn’t such an important and distinctive factor.
What have you learned from one another?
DR: I personally learned a lot from my members. As I mostly played in rock bands I wasn’t very familiar with the electronic music scene. To DGURU and ZEZE, the dance floor was like their home grounds, so they were like my coaches that taught me about the DJ and dance club cultures. Also as we all grew up in different surroundings, we learned a lot by talking about each other’s childhood.
ZEZE: From DGURU I learned a lot of striking ideas and from DR I learned that practice actually really does make perfect.
DGURU: I think that would be endurance. I tend to lack persistence, so when I watch how DR and ZEZE never stop working I scold myself and try to be more like them.
If you were a musical instrument, which one would you be and how would it reflect your personality?
ZEZE: I played the classical guitar for about 2 years when I was in high school. Although it was quite a short period, I was really taken up by the instrument. I think the classical guitar is a very soft, self-centered, and contemplative instrument.
What do you realize as you get older and what do you like and dislike about it?
As time passes, I get to realize that ‘Not all people are like me’. I try harder to understand that everyone is different. The bright side of getting older is that I can share more stories and interact with the younger generation of musicians. The part I dislike of getting older is that I can’t fool around as much I used to and it becomes more and more difficult to find a girlfriend. (sigh) I envy Mick Jagger.
What are some of the important things you’ve learned throughout your childhood that you still use to this day?
DGURU: Knowing how to play the piano has come to be very useful. Also through the temple-stay experiences I had when I was young, I learned how to keep my cool and be patient.
Tell us about a day or a moment you had that you will never forget.
ZEZE: It was a moment I posted on my Instagram account.
Did you ever have a paranormal experience? Did something overly weird ever happen to you?
DR: Hmmm…I don’t think I can say that I experienced something paranormal or overly weird. Yet, I think that a lot is going on in this world right now, and sometimes just watching the news is a quite paranormal and overly weird experience for me.
How are you trying to be a better human being and how do you seek the best within yourself?
DGURU: Along with efforts to keep certain distances externally, I also try to internally isolate myself as well.
What book, film, anime would you recommend?
ZEZE: I would like to recommend ‘This Is Your Brain on Music‘ by Daniel J. Levitin. After reading this book I came to understanding and loving music even more than before.
As artists from South Korea who had shows all over the world, is there something that disappoints you in the local scene? What are the pros and cons? What solutions do you think could improve the state of things?
DGURU: The lack of diversity tends to disappoint me. In order to have diversity, there has to be a certain amount of demand, which I believe is difficult in Korea because of the relatively small population. Can you think of any solutions to increase the population?
What are you most proud of?
DR: I am most proud of being a member of IDIOTAPE. After choosing to have a career in music and going down this path, fellow musicians told me to come to my senses, find a decent job, and get married. Yet, if I look at them now, they have all lost their dreams, separated themselves from the world, and either have no or split families. They all used to point their fingers at me and they would’ve never imagined that I would be touring the world as a musician. I suppose they are all green with envy now.
What was the wisest thing you’ve ever heard in your life or what truth have you discovered?
ZEZE: The wisest thing I have ever heard was a quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: ‘Change is the only constant. There is nothing permanent except change.’
What would you want to be remembered for?
DR: DR, which I use as my stage name and nickname was thought up by simply reading the first letters of the word DRUMS. Whatever I do and whatever I leave behind I think I’m the type of person that likes being a part of a certain project, setting, era, etc. So, I want to be remembered as a drummer for all the bands the I have played with so far. Rather than being remembered like, ‘He was an extraordinary drummer‘, I would like to receive comments like, ‘He was a one of a kind drummer.’
I’d like people to remember me as a gatekeeper or window between daily lives and getaways.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
DR: I never really thought about that. But I guess at some point I will be asked: ‘Are you financially stable as a member of IDIOTAPE?‘ My answer to that question would be: It’s a secret that I can’t tell.