Kore Ionz
Gig Seeker Pro

Kore Ionz

Seattle, Washington, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Pop Reggae




"Come Together: Singer Daniel Pak of the Seattle-based reggae band Kore Ionz traces his musical roots and identity to his native Hawaii"

By Ruth Kim

When plans to play a wedding gig in Hawaii fell through for Seattle-based reggae band Kore Ionz, the band members saw an opportunity instead of a setback. Their flight already booked, its members decided to go ahead and make the trip and film a music video for one of the band’s new tracks during the weekend visit to the island. For lead singer Daniel Pak, a Korean and Japanese American and native of Hawaii, it all felt right. He was going home.

The track for the music video they planned to make, “Feels Good,” is part of Kore Ionz’s new work, an EP of the same name, that the group just released in April. It marks the third album for the band, which, though based in the grunge capital of Seattle, carries relaxing island sounds and vibes that are central to Pak’s identity.

“Feels Good,” in particular, captures the nostalgia Pak felt when returning to the sandy beaches and sunbathed warmth of the Hawaiian Islands. He moved to Seattle in 1998, and penned the song one cold and rainy night while feeling particularly homesick. “I just kept thinking about the island that I was born and raised on, and the song came to me in, like, five minutes,” said Pak.

The planning behind the song’s music video was almost as fast, and involved hopping into the back of a pickup truck with three different weather apps, and the crew literally chased the sun all over Oahu amid sporadic rain showers. Despite the chaotic process, the resulting video proved a perfect tribute to the island where Pak grew up. The Hawaiian native says he knows the mountain trail featured in the opening scene like the back of his hand; he used to walk up it from his childhood home built by his grandfather, along the bay.

“I spent so much time on that mountain,” he said. “And we finally got to kind of immortalize it.”

Born in Honolulu, Pak, who very much identifies as an “island boy,” grew up on the windward side of Oahu, in an area called Kaneohe. As a fourth-generation Korean American and a sixth-generation Japanese American, he comes from a family that has lived on the island for over 100 years, and throughout the generations, has adopted a “melting pot” of languages and cultures, including those of Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan and Portuguese. Yet, in the midst of all of this, there were still deep roots of Korean culture instilled in his family.

“At all of my family’s parties, my grandma, every other week, she would make her own gochujang, she’d make her own kimchi. I learned how to make kimchi at a very young age, and every New Year’s, we’d make hundreds and hundreds of mandu,” recalled Pak. “We celebrated our Korean history very much through a more local style.”

What else did this “local style” entail? Aside from enjoying the paradise that is his home, it meant hours and hours of kanikapila. The Hawaiian term for an impromptu jam session, kanikapila is what paved Pak’s path toward a career in music. These casual sessions would take place at beaches or family gatherings—whenever friends were gathered and a guitar or ukulele was at hand. But one particular kanikapila dramatically altered the course of Pak’s career.

“We were just doing [kanikapila] at USC, during that spring break,” says Pak, recalling a trip he took as a college student to Los Angeles where he reunited with old high school friends. “These folks came up to us, and they said, ‘Hey, do you guys have a CD?’” When Pak and his friends revealed that they weren’t in a band and didn’t have a CD, the passersby replied, “Well, you guys should, you guys are so good.”

“It was that very moment, that in my mind, it made the shift, like, I could really do this. People really appreciate it,” said Pak.

And as soon as he returned to Seattle, that’s exactly what he did. He and his friends started a band and called themselves INIzeysion. Later, he was asked to be in another band called Mystic Rising. But as his bandmates’ paths began to diverge toward law schools or programs abroad, Pak was the only one who stuck with the music, and that’s when Kore Ionz was born.

Strangely enough, Pak originally pursued a degree in metallurgical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, and was even offered a job as a nuclear engineer upon graduation. Amid the objections of many of his family members, he turned it down. Coming from a family very much rooted in education, with an English professor dad, a sister with a master’s degree, and a brother pursuing his Ph.D., Pak felt somewhat destined to stay on the academic path. Even after he began pursuing a music career, doubt crept into his mind, and he considered earning a teaching certificate.

But his mother calmly advised: “Daniel, don’t be a teacher. Just stick to your music. Pursue your art.”

And as the saying goes, mother knows best. Now, several years later, Kore Ionz is a staple reggae band in Hawaii and Seattle, and is continuing to garner reggae fans all over the country. Their recent performance in April at The Crocodile, a legendary venue in Seattle famous for early performances of Nirvana, was a sold-out show. While the band underwent many personnel configurations over the years, the current members represent a widely talented and multicultural group of individuals, some of whom have shared the stage with Grammy Award winners. Members include: Thaddeus Turner on lead guitar, formerly of Digable Planets; keyboardist Greg Fields; trumpet player Owuor Arunga, who just so happens to be the trumpet player for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis; saxophonist Darian Asplund; bass player Masa Kobayashi; percussionist Ahkeenu Mysa; and drummer and co-producer Teo Shantz.

Before the most recent EP, the band released Half-Hour Revolution in 2008 and World War Free in 2011.

Although creating music is Pak’s passion, the singer-songwriter’s larger goal is to contribute to making the world—which he calls a “bipolar mess” with “the red party, the blue party, the left wing, the right wing, the haters, the lovers”—a better, less violent and more accepting place. That’s the meaning behind the name Kore Ionz. Well, second meaning. What actually started out as a joke name for a punk rock band later took on something more profound. The name draws inspiration from the very building blocks of the world: molecules, which are formed by atoms that have either neutral, positive or negative charges. (Remember, Pak has an engineering background.) These positively and negatively charged atoms, called ions, attract each other to form something stable.

“So you only got two kinds of energy: you got positivity, or you got negativity. And everywhere you go, it’s gonna be one or the other,” Pak explained. “And the only way we can reach something stable is when positive and negative come together and compromise, you know what I mean?

“So that’s just how I see Kore Ionz. Whenever we play in front of a crowd, I just want to connect. Whatever we can do to connect with as many people as we can, to pass on this love, to bring people together.” - KoreAm

"An ode to Hawai‘i: Seattle-based band Kore Ionz releases new five-song EP"

Local reggae band Kore Ionz will launch its new EP, Feels Good, on April 1, with the simultaneous release of a new music video directed by Jeff Santos. The band’s new album, which focuses on digital studio production, marks a stylistic departure for the eight-man ensemble known for its live performances. The EP will be released and distributed by the band’s own independent record label Fire Spider.

Kore Ionz engaged Seattle-based director Jeff Santos in filming the musical video for “Feels Good.” Santos, who is currently at work on a documentary of the Seattle hip hop scene called The Otherside, runs an independent production company and first collaborated with Kore Ionz in making the video of the band’s 2013 single “First Avenue.”

Penned as an ode to singer Daniel Pak’s Hawaiian motherland, Santos said the visual concept for “Feels Good” evolved through conversations with the singer about his “thoughts and dreams of missing his homeland, which became the narrative.”

Pak said he returned home late one night from a gig and found himself missing Hawai‘i.

“It must have been four in the morning,” Pak said. “It was freezing cold and raining. I remember sitting in my van on the driveway. I opened up a note on my iPhone and started writing.”

When the artist woke up the next morning, Pak reached for his guitar and quickly came up with a series of simple chords to accompany his lyrics.

Feels Good brings together four new tracks, along with a remix of the band’s hit single “Love You Better,” which first debuted in a live in-studio performance on Seattle’s KEXP 90.3 FM.

“We wanted to revisit a popular song from our previous releases to apply these new production techniques, bringing new life to the song,” Pak said.

The album was recorded with support from Greg Fields at Chrystal Haze and Mell Dettmer at Studio Soli, with Pak and drummer Teo Shantz producing.

Developments in social media and access to music aggregators like CDBaby and TuneCore, which provide content for sites like Spotify, have made it possible for more musicians than ever before to distribute their work to larger audiences.

“Statistics show that in 2013, the top 1 percent of musical works accounted for 77 percent of total artist revenues,” Pak said. “What that tells us is that the old guard still fortifies and protects the castle, although anyone can pitch camp outside the moat.”

With a new focus on digital distribution and viral video marketing, the band has opted to postpone their tour for Feels Good.

“We decided to concentrate on putting out music videos as a form of ‘touring,’” Pak said.

With two young sons at home, Pak is reluctant to take the band on the road.

“I am not excited about the idea of jumping in a van and touring non-stop and submitting the band and crew to a less-than-minimum-wage investment strategy on the music,” Pak said. “We’re excited to bring the music on the road, but for now, we’re really concentrating our efforts on a new video project that will help make more economic sense out of touring.”

Demand for Kore Ionz has been high in California, particularly in San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, where the region is experiencing a reggae renaissance with several area festivals devoted to the roots reggae genre. Kore Ionz hopes to focus its efforts on bringing its show down the coast in the near future.

An album release party for Feels Good is planned for April 5 at The Crocodile at 2200 2nd Ave. in Belltown. Joining Kore Ionz will be musical guests Two Story Zori, Soul One, DK Band, and others. Tickets are $10 pre-sale, and $15 at the door. For more info on Kore Ionz, visit www.koreionz.com. - The International Examiner

"Kore Ionz Returns To Hawai`i"

By Jermel-Lynn Quillopo / Special to the Star-Advertiser

The first music video Seattle-based reggae band Kore Ionz released on YouTube was “First Avenue” featuring Prometheus Brown. Lead singer Daniel Pak conceptualized the storyline on a flight back to Seattle from Hawaii. After being away from the islands for a few years, the band returns to the state that inspired many songs for their new album for a show at NextDoor on Friday, Nov. 8.

Pak was born and raised in Hawaii. Of Korean and Japanese decent, his family’s Hawaii roots go back to 1898 when they immigrated to Hawaii to work on a pineapple plantation. Using inspiration from his roots and an intimate conversation with his Korean grandmother, Pak developed the visuals for “First Avenue.”

After graduating from ‘Iolani, he continued his education at the University of Washington where he met band keyboard player and Punahou graduate, Kylie Sulivan. Sulivan and Pak started playing together and began to assemble their seven-member band through community service work and mutual friends. In 2005, Pak started volunteering with Seattle’s youth through an organization called The Service Board, which helps under privileged kids by mentoring them and exposing them to outdoor sports and community service.

Through The Service Board, the two Hawaii boys met their drummer, Teo Shantz. Shantz comes from a family line of steel drummers. Growing up, he and his family toured to countries like Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago. By the time Shantz was a teenager, he was a professional musician.

Shantz later introduced jazz trumpet player Owuor Arunga to the band. Arunga has played with some of best such as Macklemore, The Physics and Black Stax. Born in Kenya, he tuned his sounds while living in New York. The band’s percussion player, Ahkeenu Musa, was also introduced to the group through The Service Board after working with Pak. Shantz then introduced bass player Lennox Holeness, who was born in Jamaica but raised in New York and London. Last but not least, Arunga brought on saxophone player Darian Asplund.

The diverse sounds and messages of Kore Ionz is a deep reflection of the diverse backgrounds of its members. The family bond the band has is founded on music, but what also makes this band different is their determination to spread positivity through community work. The band recently did a show for non-profit API Chaya, an organization that helps spread awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking amongst Asian Americans, refugees and immigrants.

With music comes different messages. Pak said the band’s name stands for what they believe in while incorporating parts of life.

“In life, you have the negative and the positive just like ions,” he said. “The only time that an ion can create a core bond is when a negative and positive come together.”

Using the common grounds of collaboration, Pak said you can’t avoid the negative in life and that you have to work with it whether it is regarding working with people or a system. The common goal is to work towards change.

“We see either see love or we see fear. So you can either rule people with love or you can rule people with fear,” he said. “That’s the message that we are trying to send out; you have to come with love even in the face of fear.”

The last time Kore Ionz visited the islands was in 2011 when they performed at the now closed Tropics Cafe. Perpetuating the Aloha spirit and their cultural roots, the band will film two music videos while they are here. During their flight from Seattle to Hawaii, they plan to capture one last scene to conclude the first music video and use the backdrop of the islands as a transition to the next video, “Feel Good.”

“The fact that we can go back home and creatively and visually capture that essence then putting it out on YouTube allows the public to see another part of who we are,” said Pak.

“Feel Good” will use the country side of Kaneohe Bay and will include Pak’s nostalgic childhood hangouts. He said that the song stemmed from a gloomy night in Seattle after coming home from a gig. Yearning for the warm paradise of Hawaii, he sat in his car, took out his phone and started writing. Trying to obtain the feelings he had for Hawaii, he imagined Hawaii as a girl he missed.

Using music as a forum to relate to people, Pak shared what inspired two other songs on the new album due out early next year. “Star Ship” is an upbeat song he wrote for his son with a message that anything is possible.

“Elevator” was inspired when he was at the University of Washington opening up for hip-hop artist Common. Pak had forgotten something in his car and rode an elevator with a school employee, who told him what he called her entire life story and how she couldn’t wait to retire. That made him reflect on the decision that he made when he was a recent engineer graduate. Looking for more meaning to life and looking for fulfillment, Pak decided to tu - Star Advertiser

"For and Against Kore Ionz"

Kore Principles
By Charles Mudede

A band that plays roots reggae must always play by the rules. Roots reggae is not a new form of music, it has been around for four decades—and in that long length of time has established its definite order, border, and core principles. Some of the best minds of 20th-century music (Sly and Robbie, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Roots Radics) have built this tradition, so who are you to fuck with it? The local reggae band Kore Ionz has this understanding—the tradition is more important than innovation—which is why I'm one of their supporters.

Even the title of the band's new album, World War Free, is consistent with the canon of reggae titles—for example, Hugh Mundell's Africa Must Be Free by 1983. World War Free has a solid dub track, "Pegasus Dub," a track with the sorrowful calls of a melodica "Only One" (what would reggae be if Augustus Pablo had not popularized the melodica?), and a track that explores hiphop without sacrificing the reggae beat, "First Avenue," which features Prometheus Brown of Blue Scholars.

Though old, established, and highly conventional, reggae is far from dead. You only need to hear Damian Marley's "Jamrock" to know that roots reggae still has a lot of life in it.

Like a Freeze-Dried Pet
By Dominic Holden

Reggae is dead.

This is hard for some people to accept, I understand. It had rocketed through an evolution, beginning in the mid-1960s with the R&B-rooted ska, and every couple years morphed into a distinct new sound. It was clean and commercial, it was gritty and political, it was spiritual and inspiring, it was pious and high on blow.

And then it was a corpse.

Charles is right about one thing: Roots reggae players must play by the rules. But within the straitjacket of 4/4 rhythm and off-beat clicks, reggae bands have nothing left to do that hasn't been done without making it a new genre (see: rap, hiphop). Making new songs with the old techniques these days doesn't make reggae any more alive than whisking King Tut's sarcophagus around the globe reanimated the pharaoh in the 1970s.

I understand what Kore Ionz are trying to do. They have mastered every sound of reggae's golden era and simulated the vocals of Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, Errol Dunkley, and the like. This is all fine for live performances—reggae is wonderful live. But Kore Ionz, while technically flawless, are simply a pastiche of old expressions tossed together to approximate reggae's heyday. Like a freeze-dried pet put into a familiar pose. - The Stranger

"Pumped Up Licks"

By Shantel Grace

The anti-war movement has an associated body of protest songs that, arguably, illuminated with Beethoven and detonated with Dylan. But it was black convict and social outcast Lead Belly who may have started the tradition as we know it today–disguising “Goodnight Irene” as a folk song and taking his lead from expertly crafted slave songs. “Irene” had the facial features of a proper love song, but the song’s internal structure was cleverly designed as an opposition to injustice.

Since the most famous era of “political lament by a six string” has been over for four decades now, one can’t help but notice when a band, mainstream or not, pops up delivering us something other than girls kissing girls, monster balls or moves like Jagger. In this instance, it’s the Seattle-based reggae band known as Kore Ionz and their newest project, World War Free.

“When people ask me today what the [band] name means, I tell them that in this world in which we live and try to understand, there’s always a yin and yang going on,” says frontman and songwriter Daniel Pak. “Duality. Without hate, there would be no such thing as love. Without war, there would be no peace. Ultimately, without a negative energy, there could be no positive.”

As you may have already noticed, Pak is one of those people who make you wonder if old souls or past lives maybe exist. This thirty-something local boy, a fourth generation Korean and fifth generation Japanese and whose family has been on Oahu for over 100 years, says things like, “when atoms, the building blocks of all matter that make up our world, are in their ionic state, they are charged one of two ways: either negatively or positively.” He goes on to say that, physically, ions are in a state of chaos, colliding with one another, often violently. Eventually his metaphor for war and peace, and the impetus for the band’s name become clear, “Only when oppositely charged ions come together, in agreement, and bond, can anything stable be created.”

And the Band Played On

What we know about Pak is that he came from a family of activists, scholars and musicians, and, likewise, his band members are the offspring of their well-educated, socially conscious parents whose backgrounds range from members of the internationally recognized steel drum band, Bakra Bata, to professors on both coasts and one who’s the Kenyan ambassador to Egypt. The band’s keyboard player grew up playing in Hawaii’s prisons, where his father volunteered for 40 years.

But for a reggae band composed of this many walks of life, Pak says “life” hasn’t always been easy on the big black stage.

“We once performed with a Rastafari band, and they certainly had intense pre-judgments and some racism going on before the show started,” he says. “Just really negative, negative energy. They were especially angry when the promoter told them that they were going on before us. Funny thing is after we got off stage, the whole band came up to us, eyes wide open, and admitted how judgmental they realized they were, and how they were leaving the venue better people than when they arrived.”

Pak admits that he’s felt the same negative vibe from a few local bands, and even from members of a legendary reggae group whom he asks me not to mention because, “All we got is love.” And the thing is, it’s hard not to believe him. On stage, Pak is love. His band embraces love and showers the crowd in love, and pretty soon the entire venue is covered in that word it takes some of us years to even say, let alone bathe in.

Reflecting again on moments of criticism, Pak continues, “It’s like my dad always told me, ‘You just have to have shark skin.’ Today, people from Ethiopia, Sudan and Gambia will come up to me after a show and tell me how much the music means to them, and those are some of the most humbling moments, being fully aware that we are playing music that has evolved from their history and culture.”

On War and Words

Musically speaking, these guys sound like a mixture of the Wailers and Rufus Wainwright. Baffling? Perhaps, but the band’s diverse musicianship and the clean, but not squeaky clean production, mixed with Pak’s almost liturgical voice deliver anything but what’s expected from a traditional reggae album. As songs with a social consciousness fade from the airwaves, we find refuge in the few stations that play bands like Kore Ionz, and we should thank these stations for their early impressions on musicians like the guys in this band, and others aspiring to be like them.

World War Free is a new sound for Kore Ionz, and one can’t help but examine the cover art (two bullets with flowers growing out of them) and wonder about its subtext.

“War has and always will be about competition,” Pak says. “For food, resources, energy. In the cave man days, tribes would fight to survive…then over the course of thousands of years technology advanced and now, in our modern age, it’s at the point where we could mak - Honolulu Weekly

"In Harmony: Daniel Pak - Kore Ionz Music"

By Michelle Woo

It’s a reminder that music has the power to break through walls, even ones made of steel and concrete at the King County Juvenile Detention Center.
Standing on stage with a microphone and a guitar, Daniel Pak poses a question to the audience, which on this day, consists of rows of young inmates in navy blue uniforms, many hunched in their plastic chairs.

“Do you know why we’re here?” he says, panning the gymnasium.

No one says a word.

“We’re here because of you.”

Pak is the long-haired, gentle-spoken frontman of Kore Ionz, a Seattle-based reggae band that infuses its music with messages of social awareness, global unity and hope for future generations. It’s artistic expression with a cause: Half of the proceeds from the group’s debut album, Half-hour Revolution, will be donated to The Service Board, a nonprofit organization that provides mentorship and community service opportunities to marginalized youth in South Seattle.

“We use music as a vessel for social change,” says Pak, 28, who met the seven members of the multi-ethnic band through various charity projects. “We only hope that the intentions of unconditional giving will become more viral. It’s the only way to progress to a different world.”

The musicians have gigged with acclaimed reggae artists such as Bob Marley’s Original Wailers and Jamaica’s Eek-A-Mouse, but dedicate much of their time to off-the-circuit charity performances, such as their free concert at the juvenile detention center. As part of a voluntary project with The Service Board, Pak teaches music four days a week. He says he gives back to the community not because he wants to, but because he has to.

For Pak, growing up in Honolulu, music was more than a hobby — it was life. It connected individuals. It linked generations.

“The word kanikapila refers to a bunch of friends getting together at the beach and sharing songs and just jamming,” says Pak, whose father was a jazz keyboardist. “It was just this culture we had.”

Today, he aims to teach students how to use the most important instrument they’ll ever use: their ear.

During some of his music classes, all he does is listen.

“I’ll sit with students while they cry and tell me what’s going on in their lives,” he says. “I come to class, keep my ears open and my arms open. More than anything, I like to see myself as a big brother. I always tell them, ‘You teach me more than I teach you. You give me inspiration.’”

Kore Ionz, made of Pak, Carliss “Hema” Pereira, Nermin Osmanovic, Ahkeenu Musa, Brendan Demelle, Paul Huppler and Teo Shantz, fuses reggae with dynamic rock and world rhythms, producing high-energy grooves that you can’t help but sway and wave your hands to. That’s exactly what the inmates at the King County Juvenile Detention Center started doing as the band got into the set. They were doused with lyrics of hope such as, “When we fall, we fall forward and relearn to crawl.”

“These kids were born into a situation that I will never understand,” says Pak, adding that he hopes to return to the center. “They’re born into homes with meth addicts and prostitutes. But they’re old enough to know what their dreams are. We tell them, ‘We’re here. Come search us out.’ We want them to know that outside of those walls, there are people who care about them.”

At the end of the performance, Pak asked the audience the same question: “Do you know why we’re here?”

And they knew.

“Because of us,” they shouted.

How to help: Kore Ionz is looking for motivated, energetic, and conscientious volunteers to get involved in the movement. For information, email info@koreionz.com. For information on The Service Board, visit www.theserviceboard.org. - KoreAm Journal

"Local Reggae Band Inspires Youths IN 'JUVY'"

IE Editor

At the entrance of the King County Juvenile Detention Center, a cynical, brash officer greets visitors.

"I don't know why they even bother," the security guard snickers. "Those kids are criminals and always will be."

The officer says he comes from a different generation when young people respected their mother, father and country. This view, I'd later learn, is rare among the detention center staff.

That evening, on Nov. 6, a local reggae/rock band called the KoreIonz, performed a free concert for the youths in the detention center. According to the group's lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Daniel Pak, the message was simple: "Let the kids know there's someone out there who cares about them," says Pak. "And
that their dreams are not confined to the walls of their cells."

The KoreIonz—an eclectic group of Bosnian, Jamaican, African, Caucasian, and
Korean members—performed twice that night, for two groups, while staff looked on. Some youths expressed little reaction to the music. Others bopped their heads to the beat and danced in their seats. One staff member looking on was overheard saying, "They need to come back!"

In between sessions, Pak, 28, interacts with the teens, ages 12-17, asking questions
about their interests, dreams, and whether they're familiar with reggae. He spoke to the youths as if he was an older brother, delivering the message that every individual has the ability to transform the path of their life.

The local, seven-member band, whose music is inspired by the legendary Bob Marley, performed at the popular Capital Hill venue, Neumo's last month. KoreIonz band members are an example of how people from very diverse backgrounds and experiences can 'harmonize' toward a common cause: bringing people together through music.

While some judge at-risk youth as future criminals—Pak, along with his bandmates, like Ahkeenu Musa, see the young people, regardless of the circumstances they're currently in, as individuals and members of a society were all responsible for.

"We believe that the youth can put their mind to anything," says Musa,
a West African Koreionz bandmate who plays the congos. "Music is something they can put their energy into. We want to be role models."

Aldrin Cornel, one of the King County Detention Center officers and a Filipino American, says his experience as a youth motivated his career path.

"I grew up hanging out with gang people," says Cornel. "I wanted to work in a job that could change lives. We want to mentor them—that's ideal."

Cornel, along with other staff, agree their role is that of a mentor. "You got to be there for them," says Cornel. "Here, we're like their mom and dad."

Most of the youths observed that night were Caucasian and African American–along with a few Hispanic and API youths. Cornel says Asian Americans are fewer in number and are brought to 'juvy' in a seasonal pattern. He assumes during the school year, when the Asian numbers are lowest in the detention, the API youths are in school and less likely to get into trouble or get caught. During the summer, he says, the API numbers swell.

At any given time, the youth in the King County Detention Center number between 75-90, according to Cornel. Less than a quarter of the youth in the audience that night were female. When asked how the girls felt about the music and the band's message, one female teen says, " It's powerful—really gets you to like the music." Another says, "It's nice because we don't get music here at all." The girls chattered at once, exclaiming they wanted a copy of the band's CD and appreciated the inspirational message of transformation.

According to the officers, most of the teens are in detention due to convictions for burglary and assault. Once processed into the system, youths are detained in a small cell with furnishings not a far cry from an adult prison. A thin, green mattress is their only comfort, aside from a metal toilet and mirror. Education provided by the Seattle Public School District, a library with computers, and a small courtyard round out the youth's daily activities. Few share a cell with another teen.

These young people are forced to face the consequences of their unlawful acts, but they're not lost causes. Not a single one of them. Enter Koreionz. They've been performing for two hours and Pak is sweating through his brown t-shirt. His long hair is shaken loose and he takes a moment after the performances to greet each teen.

"Although they're surrounded by concrete walls, we're here for them," says a breathless Pak. "They all have the power to make change in their lives. It's important for them to understand that there are people out there who care about them."

While a minority of people in the community—even some officers expected to serve the youth at their most vulnerable and impressionable period—will plague these teens with cynicism and judgment, the message is to think and unite as a - International Examiner

"Rub-a-Dub Style"

By Erika Hobart

It's Sunday afternoon at Daniel Pak's home in Rainier Beach. The Kore Ionz frontman has invited his bandmates to unwind over beer and barbecue in his sun-drenched backyard less than 12 hours after their concert at Red Bicycle on Vashon Island. The guys are obviously worn out from the 1 a.m. ferry ride back to the city, but they're still in good spirits.

Of course, they've got plenty of reason to be. In the two years since its inception, the seven-piece reggae band has opened for the Original Wailers, released a debut album, Half-Hour Revolution, via iTunes, and even performed at Bumbershoot last month. While the number of reggae groups in the Northwest is small, Kore Ionz is focusing on becoming one of the best. Their lush harmonies, worldly beats, and uplifting message have helped them build a core audience locally, but what's more important to them is that they are seen as community leaders as well.

"We use music to break down barriers," says Pak, who also works at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center as a teaching artist. "Kids are so divided nowadays. It's about the cliques they're in, the neighborhoods they're from, even the shoes they wear. But music is in all of our psyches. It has the power to unite us."

Kore Ionz certainly demonstrates that with its diverse lineup: Pak is a native of Hawai'i whose Japanese and Korean parents moved to America to work on a pineapple plantation. Lead guitarist Nermin Osmanovic grew up in war-torn Bosnia. Carliss "Hema" Pereira, Brendan Demelle, Teo Shantz, Paul Huppler, and Ahkeenu Musa represent the Virgin Islands, Connecticut, and Washington. They've come together out of a mutual respect and love for a genre with the power to be used as a communicative and often political tool.

"Reggae is a universal genre," Pak notes. "The image and message of Bob Marley is recognized no matter where you go in the world. There's something about it that's soothing to the soul.

"I can see us playing around the world in places that nobody else plays. We won't be at the top international venues. We'll be in the streets playing to the people."

Before they move to the rest of the world, the group has several ongoing local projects to attend to, making regular appearances at fundraisers, community centers, and juvenile detention centers. Half the proceeds from Half-Hour Revolution go to the Service Board, a Seattle nonprofit that supports youth programs and education in marginalized communities.

"We don't just play music," Pak says. "We talk to the kids about how they're doing, what kind of music they're into, what they want to do when they're out of juvie. Even something small like playing music for them and letting them know we believe in them can make a difference and be revolutionary."

ehobart@seattleweekly.com - Seattle Weekly

"Roots, rock, reggae"

By Shantel Grace

The lead singer of Seattle-based reggae band Kore Ionz admits his influences come from a childhood filled with jazz, revolutionary literature and parents who thrived as activists.

“My mom and dad met in the ’70s in Hawaii,” says Daniel Pak. “They were doing revolutionary work, protesting Vietnam, fighting for the rights of farmers, things like that. Their shelves were filled with Karl Marx and Duke Ellington. They taught me to be an independent thinker, and when I realized music was my calling, there was no question who I would be singing to, and what causes I would be singing for.”

Kore Ionz features two members originally from Hawaii, Pak and keyboardist Kiley Sullivan. Their band has shared the stage with Katchafire, The Wailers, Third World and two-time Grammy winner Common. With more than 200 hours in the studio making their second album, and 100 hours yet to go, the band is taking a break for a celebration at Tropics Café next Wednesday.

Pak and the rest of the band met while working with immigrant and low-income youth. They played hip-hop and reggae but Pak says they were fostering a more important lesson than music–that everyone has the ability to make change.

“Our band is really about love and community,” Pak says. “You could say we’re like farmers; we plant seeds, we cultivate them, they germinate and thrive.”

Kore Ionz shouldn’t be missed. If not for the reggae, for a lesson in love. - Honolulu Weekly

"Kore Ionz Comes To Town"

Reggae music and community service — two uncommon activities that bring 10 people from four different continents together, including North America and Africa. Those people are the members of the reggae band Kore Ionz.

Written by Jonathan Kull

Founding member, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daniel Pak said while reggae music is what brought the band together, community service is where many of the members met.

Pak’s former roommate volunteered with the Service Board, a nonprofit group helping disadvantaged youth create a sense of community and responsibility, and Pak decided to get involved.

“I reached a point where I was so introverted in all the distractions and temptations in life I wanted to get out of it,” Pak said. “My roommate suggested I should sign up to be an adult mentor for high school kids.”

Pak followed his roommate’s advice and his life was forever altered. Pak met vocalist Carliss “Hema” Pereira while attending the 2006 Seattle Weekly Music Awards with students from the Service Board. Soon after, Kore Ionz was born.

From Seattle to Bellingham

On Saturday, Feb. 19, Kore Ionz will play at the Wild Buffalo House of Music with Rise N Shine. The show will start at 9:30 p.m. and the cost is $7.

“Bellingham is just one more piece of the puzzle,” Pak said. “Everywhere we go we are excited to meet the people.”

At recent shows, Kore Ionz has been leading their show off with a crowd favorite called “Blue,” bassist Branden DeMelle said. Everybody who listens to it thinks it is a love song, but “Blue” is about a near death experience, Pak said.

Pak was 2 years old when he fell into the deep end of his uncle’s pool in the Hawaiian countryside.

“I fell into the pool back first, looking at the blue sky,” Pak said. “I remember sinking into a blueness. My uncle jumped into the pool and saved my life. As a 2-year-old, you don’t fight for your life, and I just kept sinking into the beauty.”

While “Blue” might be a crowd favorite now, fans will soon have even more songs to groove to.

Kore Ionz will be releasing an EP in late spring and hopefully a full-length album later in 2011, Pak said. The big surprise on the new Kore Ionz EP is that MC Geologic from the Blue Scholars joins them on one song titled “First Avenue.”

“It is so cool to have somebody (like MC Geologic) that is connected to a skyrocket, yet so humble and connected to the community,” DeMelle said.

Not all members of Kore Ionz will be playing at the Wild Buffalo on Saturday. Trumpeter Owuor Arunga will be preparing to tour with Seattle hip-hop artist Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis.

“We are blessed to have the horn players that we do. They are two of the nastiest soloists in town,” DeMelle said. “But sometimes you just have to tour with Macklemore.”

Humble Beginnings

The name Kore Ionz started as a joke because Pak and a former member were both half-Korean, but the name stuck and a deeper meaning grew, Pak said.

“In this world you have positive and negative people, you have happiness and sadness, you have love and hate, you have peace and war,” Pak said. “I think it is a good symbol that only when some kind of positive progressive energy is able to compromise with some sort of negative or opposing energy can anything stable be achieved. As the songwriter I write simple stories that teach a lesson that we all have to get along.”

During a music showcase at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle, Pak met percussionist Ahkeenu Musa. In 2008, Kore Ionz released their first album, “Half-Hour Revolution,” with the addition of DeMelle on bass. Fifty percent of the earnings from the album went directly to the Service Board.

In October 2008, Kore Ionz opened for The Original Wailers, composed of Al Anderson and Junior Marvin from Bob Marley & the Wailers.

“We were really encouraged because they listened to our music,” DeMelle said. “Sometimes when you open for a band, they hide out in their bus until their set. But they stood in the back and listened to us and were really complimentary.”

Pak and keyboardist Kiley Sullivan spent 18 years going to school less than two miles apart on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. They went to rival high schools and played in the same soccer leagues, but Sullivan and Pak didn’t meet until 1998, when they both started attending the University of Washington.

In college, Sullivan and Pak started a reggae band called Mystic Rising that covered popular reggae songs. The band lasted from the early 2000’s until mid-2005, Sullivan said. After he left Mystic Rising, Sullivan quit playing music all together because he got too involved with snowboarding and working four jobs.

In October 2009, Sullivan received a phone call. Kore Ionz was looking for a keyboardist to play Seattle Weekly’s Seattle REVERB festival. Sullivan learned their songs and began playing with Pak again.

“It was a real honor to be playing again, especially with those guys,” Sullivan s - The Western Front

"Seattle band Kore Ionz has a higher calling that involves changing lives"

Seattle band Kore Ionz has a higher calling that involves changing lives

By Marian Liu
Seattle Times staff reporter

Their members' homelands span the globe — from Hawaii, the Virgin Islands and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

But their heart is in one place.

"I believe everybody that has the power of the microphone ... has the potential to brainwash, but also the potential to change society for the better, especially the youth," said Daniel Pak, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Seattle band Kore Ionz.

Last week, the reggae band took that message of hope to kids detained at the King County Juvenile Detention Center for a free concert.

Dressed in matching navy-blue uniforms and orange plastic slippers, the inmates filed into the detention-center gym, where the walls bore posters with such messages as: "Life is not a game, once it's over there is no rest."

The boys followed each other in a single line, their heads were down, hands folded behind their banks. Guards flanked every side, as the youths were ordered to sit down in rows for the show.

But once Kore Ionz started playing, the mood of the room changed. Heads perked up, bobbing to the reggae beat. Then bodies swayed, hands waving to the rhythm, dancing without standing, following the order to remain seated. Even the guards were jigging.

"I came to the gym depressed. I got a lot of stuff on my mind," said J.G., a teen with messy braids. (The paper is not identifying the center's detainees since they are all juveniles.) "But this just made me happy. ... I hope to listen to them when I'm outs and go to a concert."

To the crowd ages 12 to 17, Pak yelled out, "We believe in you. That's why we're here."

Concerts are a rarity for the inmates. The only other music they get is at church.

"In here, music is a big thing for us," said another boy, initialed B.J., a baby-face teen with bright blue eyes. Kore Ionz is "a lot more relaxing than the rap I usually listen to. ... I feel motivated. I feel good."

The Seattle reggae band is also a regular at fundraisers and community centers. Half of their proceeds go to The Service Board, a nonprofit that offers life-changing programs for marginalized youth in Seattle. And all this generosity comes from a band $7,000 in debt from producing their last album independently.

It's as if the band has a higher purpose, said percussionist Paul Huppler. Growing up, he was causing a lot of trouble, too, but his participation in music saved him from being locked up.

"I hope to return the favor by being here," Huppler said about the band's detention-center performance.

The message of the music is based on Pak's insights (one example: "When you fall down, you fall forward). And their smooth beats and joyful lyrics are inspired by Bob Marley — fitting, as last month at Neumo's, they opened for the Original Wailers, which includes members of Marley's onetime band. And since the families of Kore Ionz are spread worldwide, Kore Ionz's music is not only played in Seattle but can be heard in Bosnia and the Virgin Islands.

The creation of Kore Ionz is a story of musicians — who met through friends of friends and impromptu jam sessions — finding harmony despite disparate backgrounds.

Besides hailing from hometowns clear across the world, their ages span three decades, with jobs that range from Microsoft project manager to farmer.

And each of the seven members expresses the beat in their own way. Drummer Huppler lays down the foundation, while congo players Ahkeenu Musa and Teo Shantz provide low-end tribal rhythms and accented beats.

Bouncing in the foreground is bassist Brendan De Melle, while rocking left to right is lead guitarist Nermin Osmanovic. The 32-year-old Osmanovic is tireless; in one day, he will ping from a pinball tournament, to rehearsal, to kite surfing, to work. He grew up in war-torn Bosnia and he doesn't take life for granted. "Every note he plays is like his last," said lead singer Pak.

At 51, vocalist/keyboardist Carliss Hema Pereira is the oldest. Pereira, who is a farmer, is also the jokester and the de facto leader of the group.

Finally, lead singer Pak serves as the nucleus, bringing a sense of "ohana," or family, from his native Hawaii, to the group. The 28-year-old teaches at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and mentors a Filipino reggae band made up of high-schoolers. Congo player Musa describes Pak as someone who always see the glass full, as a "youth crusader."

"That is the battle of our lives, to change the negative to the positive," said Pak.

Which is how they formed their name, Kore Ionz.

There are negative and positive ions, explains Pak. They are often at odds with each other, that is, until they bond together — like sodium and chloride coming together in their chaos to create something positive: salt.

"When folks ask me what I do, I tell them that I am a farmer," said Pak. "I plant seeds among the youth and hopefully they will grow."

That - The Seattle Times


Feels Good EP (2014)
World War Free (2011)
Love You Better EP (2011)
Sweet Reggae Music - Single (2011)
Half-Hour Revolution (2008)



In the new Feels Good EP, Kore Ionz continues to bring the warmth of Hawaii and the soul of reggae into their brand of pop that resonates with Michael Franti & Spearhead as much as Bob Marley & The Wailers. "Feels Good" is a song that can turn rain into sunshine and features the powerful and iconic voice of Hawaii-born singer/songwriter Daniel Pak, which the Seattle Weekly describes as sounding "like it was birthed right in the heart of New Orleans, with enough jazz heart to lead a Jamaican revolution of peace and love."

Alongside the eponymous first single, the EP includes 4 other tracks, including a remix of "Love You Better," the lead single from the band's 2011 release, World War Free. "Love You Better" hit #1 on Native FM in Hilo and Kona and received heavy rotation throughout Hawaii. The song debuted worldwide live in-studio on Seattles KEXP 90.3 FM, falling right below Death Cab For Cutie on the influential stations Top Live Performances chart.

The music video for "Feels Good" was shot on Oahu and released in April 2014. Director Jeff Santos also produced the music video for "First Avenue," which features a guest appearance by Prometheus Brown of renowned Seattle hip hop duo Blue Scholars. The videos reveal another artistic dimension to the band, whose reputation for remarkable live performances includes sharing the stage with legends such as The Wailers, Toots & The Maytals, and Steel Pulse, and playing sold-out Seattle venues including Showbox at the Market, The Crocodile, and The Triple Door.

With a multi-cultural cast of musicians that have played and collaborated with artists ranging from Digible Planets to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kore Ionz brings a positive energy that feels familiar, but takes reggae, rock, and pop to astonishingly new places.

For more information, please visit the Kore Ionz official website

"Kore Ionz has a higher calling that involves changing lives."

- Marian Liu, The Seattle Times

"Kore Ionz should not be missed. If not for the reggae, for a lesson in love."

- Shantel Grace, Honolulu Weekly

Band Members