Korean Indie Interview: Peterpan Complex

With their first UK performances coming up in less than a fortnight we felt it only right that we find out a little about about the group that all Korean indie fans are currently talking about, Peterpan Complex. Debuting in 2002 as a indie rock band the group you hear now has a very different sound from the band you would have heard more than a decade ago. However as you will discover in this interview, that is just something that comes along with the growth that is expected if you are to survive in the alternative Korean music scene. Unlike the beloved K-pop scene in which the groups appear to be never ageing and the sounds barely change, the alternative crowd must continually fight to evolve and stand out amongst hundreds of equally talented artists.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how your group came together?

We are Peterpan Complex a band from South Korea. Peterpan Complex consists of Jihan Jeon on vocals and keyboard, Kyungin Kim on rhythm and Chiwon Lee on guitar and keyboard. At first when Jihan made the band all the the other members go into mandatory military service. That’s why he needed men discharged from military service or women instead. For that reason Kyungin, who is female and therefore exempt, and Chiwon, who was already discharged, joined the band. Now we are a band of three – Jihan, Kyungin and Chiwon – although members have been replaced several times throughout the 10 years we’ve been together.

Where does the name Peterpan Complex come from?

Peterpan Complex was not the band’s name but a song title created in the initial stages of the band coming together. We had been creating music without a name and needed to have one urgently to participate in a contest. So temporarily ‘Peterpan Complex’ was used as the groups name and unexpectedly we won the grand prize. That’s how the band name came about!

How would you describe the music you make in three words?

Electronic dance music.

What inspires Peterpan Complex whilst creating music?

We get a lot of inspiration from the communication we have with the people around us. Socialising with people in many different occupations for example, computer programmers, fashion designers and architects gives us good inspiration through looking at the way they work and the ideas they come up with. We can miss out on these kinds of things whilst we are focusing on music.

What do you think about the increase of interest from international fans towards Korean Indie music?

Korean indie music’s history is very short. Initially it grew from copying the Anglo-American style of music. But now there are many bands performing different genres of music containing that unique emotion that Korea gives off. Listening to the music of these bands hopefully gives an unusual pleasure to the many listeners around the world.

Is the international interest visible in Korea?

There have been a lot of musicians to participate in overseas music festivals like SXSW over the past few years. Also there have been a lot of opportunities for collaboration with overseas well-known musicians in domestic music festivals. Through these musical exchanges we can feel the presence of international interest and attention.

As a group you took a 3 year hiatus between your 4th and 5th albums and came back with a cleaner and clearer sound. Do you think that break allowed you to develop as a group musically?

During the break each of us had a variety of different experiences. Jihan worked in collaborations outside of music with architects, fine artists and fashion designers , Chiwon went back to his original profession as a computer programmer and Kyungin worked as a session musician for other musicians playing various genres of music. This series of events inspired us to make our 5th album much more electronic and danceable. We’re not sure if we can call it progress but thinking positively about it, it definitely impacted our music.

With so many new groups gaining higher recognition (both in Korea and elsewhere) by riding the ‘idol train’ have you ever felt tempted to do the same?

Korean idols are very young and have great looks. Of course we also have our own distinctive appearance but we don’t look like them and anyway, people coming to see idols probably won’t pay us any attention. Becoming well known is important but the way in which you become known is even more important.

This month you are playing two shows in London alongside label mate Huge Keice and supporting acts at the Islington and AAA. What can fans expect from the show performance wise?

Most of the music we have been playing recently is much more danceable and exciting. We hope the audiences will enjoy the music itself in the venues even though the language is different from their own.

What are the groups plans for the rest of 2014?

We plan to release the 6th album before this summer. (DONE)

Do you have anything you want to say to our readers?

Hi, UK audiences and Beyond Hallyu readers! We are very excited as it will be a great pleasure for us to be performing in the original birthplace of the rock music we have been listening to since childhood. We hope you all enjoy our music as much as we enjoy creating it. If you like our music during the show please search for our other songs via YouTube by typing in ‘Peterpan Complex’ and keep enjoying them! Thank you ^^

Peterpan Complex will be playing two gigs in London on the 24th and 27th February with Hugh Keice. You can find more details for that event here. Make sure you also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date will all their latest goings on. Thanks once again to the group for taking the time to talk to us!

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Sasha

Co-founder and Editor at Beyond Hallyu
Lover of Korean hip-hop and indie music...and Unicorns.