Story By: Emma Kalka / Photos by: Steve Smith and Daniel Kim
Love X Stereo embarks on year-long, ambitious project
The pressure to release albums is real for many an artist. For electric duo Love X Stereo, it’s no different.
“People, especially critics in Korea… whenever we released a good EP, they always say they want to listen to our LP. And it’s kind of a standard requirement to be heard as a serious artist,” said vocalist Annie Ko. “We don’t think that, but they do.”
She said that, last year, she and guitarist/producer Toby Hwang decided they wanted to finally release an LP — their first — but were looking at a few obstacles.
“Releasing an LP actually costs a lot of money and time. And back then we had a label, but now we don’t. So we had to figure out a way to be relevant and be engaged with our fans as well as producing a good LP,” she said.
So, the two came up with an ambitious, year-long project on website Patreon called “37.” The basic gist is that they will release 37 songs throughout the year — typically three a month — through their Patreon site, along with three videos a month. While some will be official music videos, more often than not they intend to release more personalized content that doesn’t require “fancy editing and stuff.” Once they’ve put out eight to nine tracks there, they intend to release an official LP via other music platforms.
Love X Stereo just released their first official LP under the project on May 12 — “37A”. The LP includes nine tracks as well as a bonus track — a remastered version of the single “Rage is Not Enough,” which they released last year.
Shortly before the album release, the duo released the official video for “Rage is Not Enough” on April 21. The powerful video was created by writer/director Pablo Fuentes and a cinematographer, who Ko said deserve all the credit.
“That wasn’t us,” she said laughing. “The guys did a great job. They have the full credit. We did nothing.”
She continued that one of her favorite parts of the video were the scenes shot at the recently ended candlelight protests that started in South Korea in November, which fit in with the theme of the track.
“We discussed that together. We thought it would be nice to have those scenes,” she said.
Ko said so far their subscribers on Patreon, who get exclusive access to all the releases as they come out, have enjoyed the tracks, but she hopes after the release of “37A” more people will go over and join the team.
It’s an ambitious project for the two, who said they intend to do everything themselves.
“We wanted to try something very personal. We wrote all our own songs. He (Toby) mixed and mastered all of our songs. The cover art and videos will all be done by us. It’s very DIY,” Ko said.
She described the new LP as more of a mix of a collective playlist, mixtape, and LP. “It’s not like a traditional LP,” she said. “It’s a very casual piece.”
Hwang added that, so far, time has become an issue with getting content ready and up, and sometimes it can get tiring. Touring has already pushed back the schedule a bit. The two traveled to the U.K. for the first time to perform at Wrexham for Focus Wales and a couple shows in London, in May, which means they weren’t able to release consecutive tracks that month. But Ko said they explained to their patrons, and added with a laugh that “because we’re going to the U.K. the songs can be London-y.”
Besides these shows, Ko said for the most part their strategy for this year is less shows and more making music.
The entire project is an exercise in creativity for the two, and allows them to be more natural and spontaneous with their music.
“Before this project we usually had a strict concept for an album — like an EP or a single. But this project is more spontaneous. If we have an idea, we go straight ahead. So people can expect very various songs that they haven’t heard before from us. That’s a big point of our project,” Hwang said.
“We don’t even know what’s coming up as well,” Ko admitted with a laugh.
She added that typically they look to current events for inspiration, as well as seeing movies, going to exhibitions, even just listening to people. Beyond that, “37” is very personal to Ko and Hwang, which is something they hope fans will catch on.
“The sound is very important to us as well as the lyrics. Just try to, you know, listen to the music twice — not once. Let it sink in. And if you want more to know about these songs, join the club,” she urged.
Using Patreon means that the entire project is funded by fans. Patrons can sign up for a monthly subscription, ranging in tiers from $1 to $1,000 per month. Each tier comes with special access to the project — the lowest allows just access to the project feed where Love X Stereo routinely interacts with their fans, all the way up to the group coming to wherever the patron is and performing a show just for them.
Ko said so far most of their patrons are from overseas, but they do interact with them often.
“We send weird videos to them. We do! We do! We send videos monthly,” she said, giggling.
She added that they prefer it to other crowdfunding platforms because it is subscription-based which makes it more casual. And they have nothing to lose.
“Whenever we try to do crowdfunding for a CD or vinyl or whatever, it’s kind of hard to convince people to chip in. The hardest part is the waiting,” she said. “You never know if you’re going to succeed or fail. But this project is more… very casual. If [you] want to join, please do! And see how it goes.”
To support Love X Stereo on their “37” project, visit their site at www.patreon.com/lovexstereo, and sign up for a monthly subscription. “37A” is currently available on various music sites such as iTunes. And to keep up with the band, follow them on Facebook and Twitter by searching “Love X Stereo.”