Being an indie musician in Korea is not easy in this K-pop or no-pop world and nobody knows that better than the trio that makes up Every Single Day. Once known as the “unlucky band” due to a series of mishaps near the start of their career, from mismanagement to no management and some fumbles in between, they’ve managed to overcome, stay true to themselves and now have fans from all around the world. Their trajectory from the beginning until now has included dramas, festivals, six albums and three EPs. For them, staying true to their roots and never deviating from what they wanted to make has led them to the kind of success that few indie bands in Korea find, but if you ask them, they still feel like underdogs scratching to get to the top.
Debuting in 1997, the original members of Every Single Day, Busan natives guitarist Je Woo Jeong and bassist and singer Sung Nam Moon, probably did not see TV dramas in their future. However, for the past six years, they’ve been producing break-out music for dramas like I Can Hear Your Voice, Pasta, Golden Time, Cheongdam-dong Alice, Pinocchio and plenty more. The original trio moved from Busan to Seoul in the late nineties along with a few other Busan indie-rock groups including Rainy Sun, Ann, and Pia and together they named themselves the “Republic of Seagulls” after the mascot of Busan. Every time one of the Busan bands was booked, they would ensure that another one was there with them so that they were all making it – helping support the fact that they were living on their own in the big city up north without the family network that the Seoul-based groups already had. Literally taking on the starving artist cliché, the group pushed on and now seventeen years later, Every Single Day is still making their own music and doing it successfully.
While fans of the band, which now includes drummer Hyo Young Kim, have been able to enjoy their music on TV, the band still take moments here and there to jump into the studio and record more personal albums when they can. The band just released their sixth full length album in December 2015, Nothing of It. The album features some new songs as well as some of their drama fan favorites that they either re-mastered or collaborated on. The song “Tick Tock” was originally from the drama Pasta and was the first drama that the band wrote and produced music for back in 2010. They decided to rework the song with the female voice of Lee Sang Yu (이상유) of Rocket Tree (로켓트리). While some of the re-worked songs were chosen because the band wanted to perfect them, “Going Down,” originally an instrumental background song from the drama Miss Korea, is showcased in its entirety with vocals included. Je Woo commented that three of their most popular songs and most consistently requested tunes – “Lucky Day”, “Sonagi” and “Echo” – were also chosen for collaboration because while they’ve enjoyed playing them again and again, they also wanted to mix it up a bit for themselves as well as the fans. “Lucky Day” was reworked with a reggae vibe and the brass stylings of fellow Busan natives the Ska Wakers (스카웨이커스).
Friend and singer in No Brain (노브레인) Lee Sung Woo (이성우) jumped on board to give “Sonagi” a punk remix with Lee’s unique voice. To round out the collaborative effort, Jeong Cha Sik, another Busan native, who has the ability to sing both very low and very high octaves is used in the song “Hourglass” off of the Golden Time OST. His voice gives the song an eerie yet calming presence that it didn’t have originally. “Sweet Illusion,” one of the new songs on the album, and like many of their songs in the past, talks about the band’s perception of the world and society today. The lyrics describe how people are working so hard that they don’t even have a dream to work toward and if there’s no dream, there’s no hope, but many work toward this illusion that someday they will be able to move up. While the band doesn’t focus on the negative, the poppy song that is Sung Nam’s favorite off the album (because it is just the three-piece band playing together) does lend itself to the discussions currently happening all around the country about “Hell Joseon” and the unhappy working class. Je Woo’s favorite new song off the album, “Going Down,” has a deeper, calmer sound than the band’s usual upbeat melodies, which the guitarist liked from the start, he explained. From start to finish, the album is refreshing and fun and is a must-listen.
The band have just wrapped up working on the drama Ms. Temper & Nam Jung Gi and will be performing more concerts and shows until the next drama season starts. To find out more and follow what they’re working on, head over to their Facebook page to support these underdogs that are still working away and making it work seventeen years later, Every Single Day.
Hallie Bradley is a writer, educator, editor and more who has lived in Korea since 2006. Check out her website TheSoulofSeoul.net for more articles on culture, Korean traditions and the life of her growing multi-cultural family in Korea or follow her on Instagram @thesoulofseoulblog for photos along the way.