Korindie Brings Korea’s Underground Music to the Web with Photography, Video & On-Demand Concert Audio
If you have attended any show in Hongdae, Itaewon or Haebangchon in the last year or so, you may have noticed a tall, bearded fellow with a camera eternally hanging from his neck, snapping pictures of some of the wonderful indie music talent we currently have in Seoul. That man is Douglas Vautour, a 38-year-old Canadian who’s spent the last fifteen years in Asia, twelve of which have been in South Korea. He is the brains and sole operator behind Korindie, a content portal for photos, video and now live concert audio of bands and gigs in Seoul. Korindie is a composite of a number of different elements, but the bulk of what makes up the service are photographs taken by Douglas under his catchall photography name Douglas Vautour Photography. Alongside gig shots, you’ll also find portraiture work, snaps from indie gaming conferences, art exhibits, charity events and even larger festivals.
For the bands, these photos can be a great reminder of a fun night. For Douglas, who only started taking pictures seriously last summer, it’s a chance to build a portfolio of work and improve his skills to where he might be on people’s mind as a professional photographer. “The goal is to get to the stage where people trust me as a photographer,” he explains, “so that eventually people will think to call me…whether that’s paid or unpaid, it would be nice to be known for that skill.” Korindie also offers a wealth of video, and more recently on-demand live concert audio. A recent addition, audio capture of this nature is a unique service not offered by anyone else in Seoul, and it is especially great for bands who have not had the chance to make studio recordings. So far, live sets from Daegu-based band Mountains, Baekma’s final gig and an improv filled Club FF show from Seoul dream-pop band Nice Legs have appeared on Korindie’s Bandcamp page, but the man behind Korindie teases, “I must have around 100 sets to work through.” Douglas is quick to enthuse he is simply providing this audio for the musicians to use as they see fit, though he also admits it’s a nice way for him to remember shows that he enjoyed.
Roughly two years ago, a chance meeting with Mark Lentz (of Nice Legs) lead to the formation in Doug’s mind of what is now Korindie. He remembers, “I was working for a media company, and there was a constant flow of creative people around and I got it into my head that I could be creative as well…before then that thought had never crossed my mind.” Deciding he wanted to make videos for YouTube and take pictures seriously, Douglas used the newly formed Nice Legs as his muse, following them around and documenting their beginnings with a Sony Handicam. “I filmed him (Mark) and Lew (Lauren Walker – Nice Legs vocalist) at their second official show at Hodge Podge… later I noticed ‘Hey! The quality is crap’ so I went and bought a DSLR and started taking photos.” Through Mark’s friendship, Douglas started to meet more bands and people in the scene, which allowed for more chances to test and improve his photography skills as well as develop new friendships. “Everything goes back to Mark…he was very encouraging [with my work] and I would follow him around and that’s how I met bands like Baekma and New Blue Death. I didn’t know anyone else at first.”
Those who have pursued creative ventures in Korea may have noticed how easy it is to get involved and start something. Whether it’s the smaller scenes, or the transient nature of foreigners, it seems easier to go in headfirst and not be fantastic at it right away, but to improve as you enter the public eye. Douglas notes that, “Korea is a large incubator for everything creative…because you have time to do whatever you want to and it gives you a chance, an extra chance you wouldn’t get anywhere else. For better, for worse…”
In the few months that Korindie has existed, Douglas’ work has provided people with valuable and pleasing evidence of their endeavours every weekend. Recent ventures into writing have appeared on the Korindie Facebook page that take a personal route, talking about Douglas’s experiences around a particular show or interactions with the band members, rather than writing about the music itself. The recently launched Korindie website will house more of Douglas’ writings in the future; it is fully indexed and linkable so that everything that falls under the Korindie marker can be shared and used by bands he captures and their fans.
While there are a number of places dealing with the indie music scene in Seoul, they are often either very exclusive in what they consider to be “Korean” indie, or too broad. Perhaps not by design, Douglas looks at non-Koreans active in indie music in Korea as much as he does Koreans, where the balance of attention is rather one-sided. “Generally [foreigners] are such a small market that it’s not worth catering to sometimes, though the reason I do the foreign bands is because I’m friends with most of them…I do want to make sure I cover Korean bands as well but the foreign bands don’t get a lot of coverage.” Regardless of a band’s background, the material he gathers is important. For many of those weekend rock-stars, that return to normality on the Monday can seem an anti-climax given how much practice and preparation went into their performance. That ping which announces the arrival of a photo Douglas took reminds them that the gig really did happen. And that someone was paying attention. Especially with audio capture and more new live sets appearing, it is rather exciting to have someone collecting this content, even if it’s mostly for the bands and their friends. It’s a most precious service for us to have. “I’m happy doing what I’m doing and if someone watches it somewhere it’s served its purpose…it’s easy for me to be there and press a button, so I might as well press that button but I don’t view it as special necessarily. There’s a lot going on and a lot of talent in Korea right now.”
To find Douglas’ work, visit http://korindie.com/ or http://douglasvautourphotography.com/.