Mixing it up: Interview with Goonamguayeoridingstella

With a name like Goonamguayeoridingstella it’s no wonder people have a hard time identifying just what kind of music this quirky group should be playing. Mixing just the right elements of rock, psychedelic pop, blues, surf, reggae, and even dub together to form a beautiful concoction of soul pleasing sound, Goonamguayeoridingstella (or Goonam for short) are definitely a hard act to pigeonhole.


Their 2007 debut ‘We Are Pure’ was ranked no. 70 on 100Beat.com’s 100 best Korean CDs of the 2000s and since great things have followed for the group. From acclaim from critics and fans (their Woojung-Motel’ sophomore effort was nominated for Best Modern Rock Album at the 2012 Korean Music Awards) to international performances at Japan’s Summer Sonic festival, SXSW, and Canadian Music Week, Goonam are a group that evolves and strengthens with time.


The group contains guitarist/vocalist Joh Ung, bassist Byunghak Eem and joined during live performances by drummer Taesik Park and Keyboardist Naun Kim. It was clear to see during the Camden Barfly show that this group are not only musicians but also performers, putting on a show that left even the people that had drifted in with no knowledge of them beforehand singing their praises whilst leaving.  With such a strong ability to capture the hearts of even those with no knowledge of alternative Korean music it is no wonder this group were picked to showcase just what there is to offer outside of the small idol box that is most commonly the focus of international glances.


Thanks to guitarist/vocalist Joh Ung for taking the time before starting the tour to answer our questions.


What groups or artists influenced to begin a band?

Joh Ung: We’ve been influenced by a wide range of Korean artists including Shin Joonghyun and Sanullim, and Western acts like David Bowie.


You have previously worked with Hyundai Card music how does it feel to be a part of the Korea Rocks UK tour?

Joh Ung: It feels really good.  I played a solo show at an art exhibition in London last summer and it was a lot of fun.  I’m excited about being able to perform shows in the UK with Goonam now.


Korean rock seems to be amongst the genres of music in Korea that are widely undiscovered by international fans (of Korean culture). Do you think these gigs across the UK will help you to connect with a new fan base?

Joh Ung: It would be great if they did!  It’s fun to be able to share music and dance together with new people.  We’re really excited about making new friends in the UK on this tour.


According to sources your groups’ wonderful and truly original name stands for ‘old man and woman riding a Stella car’. Can you explain exactly what this means?

Joh Ung: When I was a child, my parents owned a Hyundai Stella.  I used to go for long drives with my dad and listen to old Korean rock music by acts like Shin Joonghyun and Sanullim.  Those are really important memories to me, which was one of the reasons why I chose that name for our band.  The name is kind of difficult to say, though, so we just use the name Goonam overseas now.


You’re a very interesting group and I love the way you easily infuse different genres into your music. How would you describe your music to new listeners?

Joh Ung: I like to tell people it sounds like a flowing river to me.  But I know that description can be hard for some people to imagine our band’s music.  Other people have called it soulful, psychedelic dance music.  I’m fine with that description too.


Having previously toured internationally (in Japan, the United States, and Canada) how do you think this tour will differ from the other ones?

Joh Ung: We’re touring in a different place, with a different culture, and with different bands.  I think this tour will be its own unique experience.  All of the bands on the Korea Rocks tour – Gate Flowers, Apollo 18, Galaxy Express, and us – are really excited for this tour and to explore the UK together.  I think we’re all going to have a lot of fun!


We would again like to thank Joh Ung and the other members of Goonam for the interview and to also thank all the groups for the wonderful show at Camden Barfly.


Follow and support the group on both Facebook and Twitter. You can also check them out on Soundcloud. You can also read our previous interviews with Apollo 18, Galaxy Express and Gate Flowers.

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