Yi Sung Yol
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Yi Sung Yol

Seoul, Seoul, South Korea | Established. Jan 01, 1994 | MAJOR

Seoul, Seoul, South Korea | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 1994
Band Rock Rock




"Album Review: Yi Sung-yol – V"

The change occurred around Why We Fail (2011). That was a plenty difficult album already, not only to write about but just to try and comprehend.Yi Sung-yol threw off the restrictions of ballad and rock, blues and folk; instead he embarked to tell a massive spiritual narrative, embracing memorable melodies and abstract soundscapes alike as but tools. The result was an album unlike any other – an enduring milestone in both storytelling and meaning.

V (it’s his fourth and not fifth album, by the way) doesn’t bother with narrative: this time, the focus is on sound and what that does to people. We often say artists “use sound to tell a story”, but that’s not quite appropriate here – the object is musical composition, chaos and order itself, and whatever is evoked in the listener is purely visceral. He doesn’t completely eschew lyrics, like a post-rock band might, but in many tracks they are much too cryptic for us to believe that Yi intended for them to be interpreted literally.

The album is drawn in broad strokes. There are many devices that are designed to stand out at the forefront: a French excerpt of Camus’ The Stranger found in Minotaur, extensive usage of dàn b?u in the first half of the album, exotic and sometimes ritualistic utterances, and Satin Camel‘s dreamy guitar outro are all easy to characterize as hallmarks of high art, if we are to make such distinctions. The devices are tremendously effective, of course: the narrations and gutturals build stormy atmosphere, and Le Hoai Phuong‘s performance in We Are Dying could not have conveyed insecurity and discomfort any better ... - hellokpop.com (06.10.2013)

"Yi Sung Yol Returns with New Album"

Launching his musical career in 1994 through modern rock duo U&Me Blue–sometimes called Korea’s first indie band–Yi Sung Yol made a celebrated solo debut in 2003. His third full-length album Why We Fail came out two years ago and on May 24th he stands ready to offer new album V.

Not a typical studio album, its ten tracks have been produced under the lead words ‘ambience’, ‘muddle’, ‘estrange’ and ‘emancipate’. There’s the ambience from recording at a live venue. There’s the muddled sound that comes from recording all the instruments of the band together instead of having one microphone for each. There are the English lyrics, making the songs freer and overall estranged from the Yi Sung Yol of the past (‘I take myself too seriously’). There’s the emancipation from the strict studio recording process.

As a consequence of how the album came into existence, Yi Sung Yol has been performing several of the songs live before the release. Fluxus Music has already published a set of ‘recording’ and ‘live sketch’ videos. The song “Fear (Don’t Let It Get The Best Of You Darling)” was released as a digital single on May 21st while the recording video was published on YouTube: ...
- KoreanIndie.com (05.21.2013)

"Korean Indie Musicians to Hit London in June"

Three Korean indie musicians will introduce their unique and refreshing sounds to England, in celebration of 130 years of diplomatic relations between two countries.

Korean bands Uhuhboo Project, Kiha & The Faces and solo artist Yi Sung Yol have been invited to the K-Music Festival 2013, a week-long showcasing of Korean music in London starting June 14, the showcase’s directing partner FLUXUS Music said through a statement on Wednesday.

“The great interest in Korean music made this festival possible. It’s a golden opportunity in which to introduce Korean music,” David Jones, the C.E.O of the festival’s promoter SERIOUS, said during the press conference for the showcase at KT Olleh Square in Seoul the next day.

Chang Kiha, the frontman of Kiha & The Faces, one of the iconic underground bands in Korea, said, “It’s such an honor to perform in the U.K., the home of rock. We’re ready to popularize Koran rock in London.”

Starting with the National Orchestra of Korea’s London debut at the Barbican on June 14, Korean avant-garde pop duo Uhuhboo Project will have a joint concert with local London bands at the Scala on June 16. Kiha & The Faces will share the same stage with modern rocker Yi Sung Yol the next Thursday.

In the meantime, London’s Cardogan Hall will be filled with Korean traditional music on June 19 by cross-over band Geomungo Factory and on June 21 by master Ahn Sook-Sun’s Pansori Night.

With this festival as momentum, the festival’s organizer Korean Cultural Centre UK, which has held “The London Korean Film Festival” with success, is planning to introduce a variety of Korean culture in the U.K.

Reporter. Lee Hye Ji hjlee@tenasia.co.kr
Editor. Jessica Kim

Courtesy of FLUXUS Music, DRDR amc - TENASIA (03.05.2013)

"Hello Asia! at SXSW interview: Yi Sung Yol (South Korea)"

the AU review talks exclusively at SXSW to solo Korean artist Yi Sung Yol, who is perhaps best known for his work with the rock duo U & Me Blue, and is now enjoying a successful solo career. He talks about this and more!
Interview/Edit/Camera: Johnny Au
http://www.youtube.com/user/theaureview - The [AU] Review (03.24.2013)

"Yi Sung Yol - SXSW 2013 Interview"

Yi Sung Yol talks with Blastro about his SXSW. He talks about "Why We Fail", his new album, his path is his own K-Indie, and ambition to tour the United States. - Blastro (03.12.2013)

"Yi Sung Yol: K-POP in USA for SXSW"

Yi Sung Yol: K-POP in USA for SXSW. - Billboard Korea (03.11.2013)

"K-Pop Stars at Center of Limelight at Music Matters"

K-pop artists will showcase their music and performances at an international music festival that kicks off in Singapore this week.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and its affiliate Korea Creative Content Agency, eight groups of K-pop stars will perform at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Hotel in Clarke Quay, Singapore, on May 24.

The list of artists includes Tiger JK, Yoon Mi-rae, Bizzy, M.I.B, BtoB, Clazzi and Rhythm King.

During "K-pop Night Out at Music Matters Live 2012," Tiger JK, Yoon Mi-rae, Bizzy, M.I.B will bring hip-hop while Rhythm King teams up with R&B singer Bumkey to present urban soul music.

Clazzi, one of the three-member project group Clazziquai, will collaborate with singer Lee Seung-yul at the opening stage of the festival on May 24 along with other international artists. Boy band BtoB also makes its international debut through the festival.

Music Matters, founded in 2006 in Hong Kong, introduces emerging and established artists around the world.

It also holds conferences attended by global promoters, record companies, media and industry experts.

This year's conference programs include a session on K-pop's past and present with Rob Schwartz, editor in chief of Billboard Japan, Rasmig Hovaghimian, CEO of Viki.com, Kim Byung-chan, president of Flexus Music, Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective and Korean hip-hop artist Tiger JK on the panel.

Troy Carter, CEO of Atom Factor and manager of Lady Gaga, and Bob Ezrin, an acclaimed producer for Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd, will also join the festival as keynote speakers, officials said.

K-pop artists have been making inroads through Music Matters in Singapore, partly supported by the Korean government. The Culture Ministry and KOCCA have been supporting Korean artists performing in music markets around the world, including South by Southwest in the United States and MIDEM in France. Last year, rock band Crying Nut and R&B group AZIATIX participated in Music Matters in Singapore. - Asian News Network/The Korea Herald : AsiaOne Showbiz (05.22.2012)

"Music Matters 2012: The Mini Discussion"

Kim: So, I’d like to start by taking back something I said on day one of Music Matters – this year’s acts weren’t a letdown. I attended more gigs in 2011 – more as in a selection of bands as well as nationalities – but they definitely upped their game in the Korean department of things. “Jungle Fam!”, as Maryse has been chanting since we saw them… Hahaha

Mar, would you like to briefly introduce the whole concept behind Digital/Music Matters?

Maryse: Digital Matters / Music Matters is a yearly conference where several industry experts come together for seminars and talks. They also invite some of the biggest acts – Jason Mraz and Simple Plan in recent years – but they also favour lesser-known artists as the purpose of this event is to spotlight new talent. We’ve actually seen a number of Korean Indie acts participating in this annual affair; with the Korean Wave making its mark globally, this year’s Music Matters encompassed a majority of K-pop acts – more of K-hop in fact, with Jungle Family singers headlining the event.

Alright, enough of this boring introduction. Let’s talk about what went down!

To lay it all out, the line-up consisted of Tiger JK, Tasha, Bizzy, Clazzi, Yi Sung-yol, M.I.B, BTOB, Jinsil, MYK, J’Kyun and Rhythm King. Personally, since hearing about their LA concert, I’ve been dying to see Jungle Family in action. Their inclusion at Music Matters came as such a surprise, but left me scratching my head as to why Leessang was left out (boo-hoo). To be honest, breathing the same air as Tiger JK and Tasha got me in jitters throughout the entire press conference. You cannot imagine the knot in my throat as it came to my turn to relate my questions. But it was all good! It was an extreme delight to have been able to meet them and get some answers, so here goes a short transcript of what we got:

To Clazzi – Coming from one of the most unique labels with a large pool of talented and creative artists, who in the label would you consider a competitor and why?

Clazzi: There’s no one, but if I had to choose, it’d be Yi Sung Yol. He’s not really a rival, but more of someone I look up to and draw inspiration from.


Prior to K-pop Night, I’d only been looking forward to seeing Clazzi, Tiger JK, Tasha and M.I.B in person. But K-pop Night surprised me with Clazzi’s collaboration with Yi Sung Yol, Jinsil and MYK. That one left a HUGE impression on me. Cheesily put, it was simply amazing. I’d never come across such an aesthetically beautiful musical combination before, I was completely in awe with the musical genius that Clazzi was, and still is. - Seoulbeats.com (07.10.2012)

"Korean Music Awards 2012 - Winners"

Best Modern Rock

Best Modern Rock Album: Yi Sung Yol – Why We Fail
Best Modern Rock Song: Yi Sung Yol – Up

Once known as one half of one of Korea’s first indie duos, U&Me Blue, Yi Sung Yol has since launched a successful solo career backed by Fluxus Music. Why We Fail is his third solo album, released in August 2011. ”???? ??” is the album’s main track. - KoreanIndie.com (03.01.2012)

"Rocker Yi Sung-yol ‘Runs to Stand Still’"

Singer-songwriter holds month-long concert to celebrate his third album

While idol-centered K-pop has been heavily covered by the media, the Korean indie scene has received relatively little attention. This is the eighth installment of a series of interviews shedding light on the scene. ? Ed.

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Yi Sung-yol, 41, has been far from clear about his direction in life, although it has been already 17 years since his 1994 debut in rock duo U & Me Blue.

After releasing a solo album “This Day, This Moment, This Time Around” in 2003 and sophomore “In Exchange” in 2007, it took him four years to release the third one, “Why We Fail,” because he has been busy producing or composing soundtracks for Korean movies such as “Duelist” and dramas including “Que Sera Sera,” “My Lovely Sam Soon” and “The Secret of Keu Keu Island.”

The 17-year musical journey in Korea made him grow as a musician and become more mature as a person. However, he is always pondering which direction he should choose.

“As a writer, I’m writing a fiction. There’s a character there, who is like a traveler, searching and walking down his path. But there is no clear direction,” Yi said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

“My dream is to keep going and ‘running to stand still’ like Bono said. I’m still in this game to keep doing music,” he referenced Irish singer Bono’s song, although he hates to be labeled “Korean Bono.”

The title of the new album “Why We Fail” has been a type of question Yi has been asking himself for a long time.

The 41-year-old was honest enough to share why he named the album that way. He called himself a failure in his personal relationship with his family, who live in the U.S.

“As a son, I think I’m a failure in many ways. I left my parents back in the states and they’re 70-something and still working. I can honestly say I’m not supporting them financially,” said Yi, who came to Korea with his college roommate from New York in 1993 to become a musician.

“Another aspect of my life I think is sort of failure has to do with my (two younger) sisters. I used to think I was close to my sisters but I realize that I’m so far apart. One of them just got married but I couldn’t be there (because the wedding was in the states).”

Yi added that he failed at quitting smoking, he sometimes drinks too much and he remains alone.

“I don’t want to say this is a failure but I still don’t have kids. I wonder, will I be a father one day?” Yi said.

The singer-songwriter was inspired by a Japanese poem written by Kobayashi Issa to write the title track, “Doraoji Ana (Not Coming Back).” In the poem, a person is watching a butterfly sitting on a flower petal and taking off to fly off somewhere. The flight signifies meaninglessness of a life ? there is no more to do with this world, Yi said.

The song begins with lonely acoustic guitar sounds, sad but beautiful voice of the singer. It later develops with organs, drums, clarinet and finally with symphonic sounds.

The album also includes a hidden track on No. 14, which is 10 minutes long, and has a massive but surreal sounds and English lyrics.

“The latest album pretty much reflects the way I am now. My music is who I am. In my youth, I was more rebellious, playful, distracted, bitter, cynical and unsophisticated,”

“Compared to that, I’m more mature, relaxed, series and generous.”

Yi called the overall tone of the latest album “sad and beautiful,” because he thought human nature was inherently sad but every human being had elements of beauty at the core.

“It’s depressing and it’s a downer. But it is my wish for some one, who is nice enough to get my CD, to find some beauty in there.”

Marking the release of the third album, Yi is holding a month of concerts through Sept. 24 at Sogang University’s Mary Hall.

The stage will be in the center so that the audience can see him from all directions, while two black screens will be installed separating the band from the audience.

“We’ll project visual elements on the screens. While the band is facing the audience, three cameras on four corners of the top of the stage will shoot us so that the audience could get a glimpse of the inside view,” said Yi, who prefers using his Fender Telecaster guitars on stage.

The concert will take place through Sept. 24 at Sogang University’s Mary Hall. Ticket is 55,000 won. For more information, call (02) 511-0380.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com) - The Korea Herald (08.30.2011)

"Top 100 Greatest K-Pop Albums of the 20th Century : #86 Yi Sung Yol"

Yi Sung Yol's debut album < This Day, This Time, These Days > has been selected as #86 in a critics poll of the top 100 greatest K-Pop albums of the 20th century.

- KyungHyang Newspaper (06.26.2008)

"Yi Sung-Yol Wins KMA Musician Of The Year Award"

At the 2008 Korean Music Awards, modern rock artist Yi Sung Yol wins the coveted Musician Of The Year category.

- Yonhap News Agency (03.05.2008)

"Rocking Back To The Future"

Singer/songwriter Yi Sung-yol, 34, is a revived modern-rocker whose style of music has remained constant since he debuted in 1993 as part of the rock duo "U & Me Blue." He is back this year with his first solo album, "This day, this moment, around this time," after a decade of waiting for Korea to appreciate his sound.

Yi`s title song, "Secret," is topping the charts - a catchy but melodramatic tune with a strong message about personal struggle and displacement.

"We all have secrets that we don`t tell. I wanted to talk about secrets that when revealed will change your world. I am asking others what that secret is. We learned to see things and behave in certain ways. We develop and follow a pattern. We want to break free, but we don`t know how," Yi told The Korea Herald.

In 1993, Yi and his college roommate from New York City formed "U & Me Blue" and released two albums in an era when Korea was still grooving to "cha-cha-cha" backbeat folk songs.

"Compared to 1996, back then, there was a live band underground club boom, until 1998. Live bands were popular, but all of a sudden, the dance club trend took over, giving the word a whole new meaning," Yi said.

Like a true underground rocker, he played at the "DGBD" club in Hongdae, the area near Hongik University, from November until March. His performances there will resume in May after a brief hiatus to promote his album.

U & Me Blue has a devout cult following - with the release of his solo album, the Internet-driven fervor of his fans was the catalyst for a re-release of the band`s two albums by his current production company, Fluxus Music.

"One of those two albums became a collector`s item, at 100,000 won per copy, after we disbanded," Yi said.

"There were so many fans of the U & Me Blue albums, and since Yi is going solo, we want to make all his work available," said Marketing and Promotions Manager Lee Kang-woo.

Since breaking from U & Me Blue, Yi has kept busy - his distinct rock style and thick voice can be heard on the popular movie soundtracks "The Coastline" (2002), "Wonderful Days" and "...ing" (2003).

Having moved to New York City at 13, Yi went on to major in art history at the State University of New York. Though he was never trained in music theory, Yi had natural talent and passion for playing his guitar. He attributes his musical success to his tech-savvy.

"You don`t need heavy training for what I do. It would help you if you had theory and all the training, but this is not classical music or jazz. You don`t need to be able to read music. I think you need to know more about computers than music theory," Yi explained.

Yi has seen tremendous changes in the Korean music industry since he began traveling back and forth in 2000, eventually marrying his Korean long-distance girlfriend and settling in Seoul in 2002. "It`s a totally different picture now. There are so many forms of music out there, and the musicianship is better. I listen to Loveholic and Nell," he said.

A concert will be held April 17 at the Mapo-gu Culture and Sports Center, with two show times: 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

For more information or to check for upcoming concert dates, visit www.syblue.co.kr or www.fluxusmusic.com.
- The Korea Herald (04.01.2004)


2014 V
2013 V [LP]
2011 Why We Fail [LP]
2011 La Di La [Digital Single]
2011 Them Blues [Digital Single]
2007 In Exchange [LP]
2003 This Day, This Time, These Days [LP]


2008 Stand 4 U (MBC 'Spotlight' TV Drama OST)
2008 Dangerous Romance ('Some Like It Hot' Movie OST)
2007 Us (MBC 'Que Sera Sera' TV Drama OST)
2006 Reason (MBC 'One Fine Day' TV Drama OST)
2005 Be My Love (MBC 'My Name Is Kim Samsoon' TV Drama OST)
2005 Time's End (MBC 'Reincarnation' TV Drama OST)
2004 Tower ('Woman Without A Face' Movie OST)
2003 Waiting ('...Ing' Movie OST)
2003 Soaring ('Wonderful Days' Movie OST)
2003 Waves ('Coast Guard' Movie OST)



Since his 1994 debut as part of the pioneering Korean modern rock duo, U & Me Blue, New York City native, Yi Sung Yol, has soared as a solo artist by making his name and making his mark as one of Koreas top modern rock icons. After featuring in a series of high profile Korean movie soundtracks such as The Coast Guard (2002), ...ing (2003), and Wonderful Days (2003), he released his first, self-produced studio album < This Day, This Time, These Days > and received nominations for 'Album of the Year' and 'Musician of the Year' at the 2004 Korean Music Awards. His hit streak continued with his sophomore solo effort < In Exchange >, <Why We Fail> as Yi scored Musician of the Year and Modern Rock Song of the Year accolades at the 2008 Korean Music Awards. With his latest 2013 release < V >, online fans and critics felt it was far from a failure as they voted it as the #1 Korean Album of Year on Naver Music (Korea's #1 online portal site) and the acclaim amplified even more as Yi Sung Yol successfully nabbed 4 nominations (Album of the Year, Musician of the Year, Modern Rock Album of the Year, Modern Rock Song of the Year) at the 2014 Korean Music Awards.


2012 Naver Music (#1 Korean Album of the Year - Online Fans & Critics Poll)
2012 Korean Music Awards (Modern Rock Album of the Year)
2012 Korean Music Awards (Modern Rock Song of the Year)
2012 Korean Music Awards (Album of the Year - Nominee)
2012 Korean Music Awards (Song of the Year - Nominee)
2012 Korean Music Awards (Musician of the Year - Nominee)
2012 Korean Music Awards (Male Artist of the Year -Nominee)
2008 Korean Music Awards (Musician of the Year)
2008 Korean Music Awards (Modern Rock Song of the Year)
2007 Top 100 Greatest K-Pop Albums of The 20th Century : #86 Yi Sung Yol (KyungHyang Newspaper)
2004 Korean Music Awards (Album of the Year - Nominee)
2004 Korean Music Awards (Musician of the Year - Nominee)


Monsoon Music Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam [2014]

Hongsung Rhythm & Barbecue Festival, Chungnam [2014]

Soundholic Festival 2014 EXIT, Seoul [2014]

K-Music Festival in London, UK [2013]

SXSW in Austin, US [2013]

MU:CON Showcase, Seoul [2012]

Grand Mint Festival, Seoul [2012, 2010, 2007]

Pentaport Rock Festival, Incheon [2012, 2007]

Rainbow Festival 2012, Nami Island [2012]

Music Matters Live in Clarke Quay, Singapore [2012]

Green Plugged Festival, Seoul [2012, 2010]


Jisan Valley Rock Festival, Gyeonggi [2010]

Artland Asia in Shanghai, China [2008]

Daemado Friend Music Fest’ in Tsushima, Japan [2007]