Part 1

Name: cotoba
Members: Dafne (guitar/producer), DyoN (vocal/guitar), SEI (bass), Minsuh (drum)
Nationality: South Korean
Occupation: Musicians, composers, producers
Recent Release: cotoba's 4pricøt is out now.
Recommendations: Dafne: Charles Baudelaire - fleur du mal / toe - the book about my idle plot on a vague anxiety
DyoN: cocco - 風化風葬 / celestial photos from NASA
Minsuh: Anime series <Cowboy Bebop> and its OST tracks.

If you enjoyed this interview with cotoba and would like to know more, visit the band on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

Dafne: My first song was born when I was 20. An acoustic guitar was the only tool. I fell in love with the band “Ellegarden”, especially the vocalist playing the guitar. It made me want to play the guitar too.

DyoN: I started to write a song in middle school, because becoming a singer was my dream since I was a little kid. In my grandparents’ clothing store, I was asked to sing in front of their friends. They gave me a big applause which made me want to sing.

SEI: I started music when I was 20 years old. It was interesting to record the melodies that came to my mind. I used to work as a sound engineer assistant. The large volume and high-resolution sound from the PA fascinated me. By applying the feelings that come from listening to good music in a good environment to the music that I made by myself, I started to make something pleasant to listen to.

Minsuh: I started playing music when I was 18, freshman of the university. I just wanted to express emotions inside me through music that cannot be expressed in other ways.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

Dafne: No fantastic changes to me. I think that is because various steps are needed to accomplish one song, which makes me feel every music counts. At the same time, I constantly listen, study and analyze diverse music. Those actions affect my music making.

DyoN: I see the landscape, and feel the atmosphere and temperature of them. It made me sing my own songs by imagining those sceneries.

SEI: While listening to music, I get exposed to an environment that I have not experienced. Feeling of other’s love, farewell, losing, life, it changes my own direction of life little by little.

Minsuh: I usually imagine the music player's motion, face, and expressions when I listen. And I try to copy those characteristics I admire when I play.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

Dafne: It is not necessary for me to find a personal voice as an artist. My work can be more described as a combination of my study and research.

DyoN: I would say that it was finding a way to express my ideas more effectively. Math rock was a great way to play my angular, atypical emotions.

SEI: The objectified self. I don't think it means anything if you don't look back at yourself.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

Dafne: I discovered and decided on my artistic identity as a “Biased person”. I like that point because I decided it after spending a long time exploring and studying it.

I have a fixed field of favorite music and art genres, and other works tend not to touch my heart. It’s inevitable since my creativity is not infinite in every direction. But at the same time, that does not mean lack of creativity. It is more condensed in a certain way. So I make my favorite form of art work with my un-infinite but fully concentrated creativity.

DyoN: Insecure and drowning has been my whole identity all the time. ‘As an artist’ means I take the role of a person who influences others, so I kind of try to add positive conclusions because I want everyone to be happy. (laugh)

You can find the lyrics from cotoba’s song ‘melon’, “I have been waiting for too many nights from me, too many nights.” end with “Now it’s dawn.” which means the night will end soon. Also ‘reyn’ sings “I will give you this meaningless world. Let’s make the meaning of it together.”

SEI: I am an honest person. Honest with emotions and expressions. Ironically, as a music listener, I prefer music with metaphorical and beautiful meanings hidden, trying to discover something genuine in it.

On the other hand, when I work as an artist, I interact with my colleagues as honestly as possible. And hoping the result being possible to support the theme of the song sufficiently.

Sometimes you would think that my bass line is very intuitive to listen to, but it will surely give you lots of fun. I feel like becoming a treasure-hunt game designer.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

Dafne: I think it depends on inspiration that comes to mind at the moment. Therefore there are no fixed key ideas. Or maybe that means the inspiration is.

SEI: I think it's a physical mental condition that recognizes emotions. Everyone feels emotions. Depending on how an individual feels as an emotion, the result of encountering music and art varies significantly.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

Dafne: What would “music of the future” be? I haven't figured it out yet.

Music has long been a tool of capitalism. My goal is to make good music while maintaining the identity that I’ve decided through my efforts, not to be influenced by the situation. It’s good to be innovative, but it’s okay not to.

The point is to cherish the people who play music with me, and increase the number of people who sympathize with that music.

DyoN: The original, innovative output with perfection becomes timelessness doesn’t it? (laugh) It is all about combinations, like how to mix and match to me. My interest is ‘how can I express my emotions in the most exact way’ with a contemporary vibe. That brought me to math rock.

SEI: “Continuing a tradition” may also be interesting to some, but not for me. In the future, my music may become a tradition, haha. Timeless themes bring good inspirations. Music sometimes can be very touching. It comes to my mind as thoughts toward life that people commonly feel.

Minsuh: Well, I think both of them are not quite my interests. I don't (want to) care about the future or the past either, I just care more about what I feel at this moment, and what I want to express now. I don't know a lot about music history or tradition and how the music industry will become in the future ... So I just want to keep doing what I can do now.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Dafne: Macbook and Logic Pro allowed me to produce lots of songs. The strategy is to listen to a lot of references in the form I want to make in advance, and add my ideas and style when composing it. I’m not trying to invent something completely new out in the world. Restructure in my style, by taking influences and inspirations from things I like, that is my work.

DyoN: A sea containing lots of words, waving by emotions. Encountering many things so that those are submerged in them. And fishing them until the right one comes out.

SEI: DAW. And to deal with it effectively, studying is the only answer.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

Dafne: I get up, go jogging, and then drink coffee. After that, I read a book, take some rest, or practice. I also do some band tasks such as drawing up a document. I enjoy walking, too.

DyoN: Wake up, roll around my bed thinking I should wake up right now and exercise. Do the jobs that can be done in bed like answering the emails, sending some files, and replying on social media.

After finally escaping the bed, eat some light breakfast in the afternoon. Go to mountains or galleries, watch movies, read comics or books, play the piano, practice Schumann - Traumerei (over 2 years, no progress), go to band practice. Singing weird operas in every movement I make for 24 hours which is totally a Korean thing haha.

Before going to bed, write a diary. Playing mobile games or memorizing English vocabulary helps me to sleep.

SEI: I wake up in the morning and check up the task list. After completing the list by the afternoon, I go to band rehearsal or practice personally. Before I go to bed, I burn incense. Prepare what I have to do the next day and give myself a good night’s sleep.

Minsuh: I wake up around 11AM, make my bed, drink some water I left the day before, take a shower, eat some toast for lunch with a cup of milk, and go to my drum practice room and it's around 1PM. Then I do my work (practicing, making music, some paperwork, etc.) and have dinner, then return to the office and keep working again, or sometimes we have a band practice. I go to bed around 3AM, with a cup of water for tomorrow.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

Dafne: All the songs I or we have made are precious. But at the same time, I’m not obsessed with each of them. That’s because I want to create new good things which means leaving what I’ve already accomplished behind and moving forward, constantly. This bias makes me not care about achievements or results. You might think I am too harsh but actually, the moments of making songs with the members and performing on live stage are very precious and emotional to me.

I try to put my underlying ‘heart’ in my creation. It goes without saying that the creation must be satisfactory. I believe that listeners cannot be touched if the creators are not touched by their own creations, and that impression comes from both the heart and satisfactory composition.

The process varies by case. Some are easily completed using Logic Pro, while others take months to make it by jamming together.

DyoN: My particularly dear one is our song ‘disparition’. It actually started from the piano! I played some chords I like in 11/8 rhythm, and other members added their instruments little by little. And I moved to guitar since I have not made progress on Traumerei (check out Q,8).

As a math rock band, I suggested reducing the beat, 11 to 9 to 7, 5, 3, 1 and to null half joke, half serious. They said “Show me” and I played those reduced beat variations of the main arpeggio. It was quite persuasive to them, so we started to arrange it into the song. As the beat kept decreasing, someone suggested “extinction” as a title, and the other one said “then how about ‘disappearance of extinction’” - all members laughed at the idea. Those are the good parts of the process, and now the bad part comes.

Arranging is a tiring process, especially when it does not end soon. Ideas kept coming to me but other guys were exhausted. So they became less cooperative, and looked not happy at all with my new suggestions that keep coming and coming. It was quite frustrating so I almost cried, but I did not give up and continued asking because I knew that this song would be a masterpiece.

And, voilà! “Disparition” was created. Satisfied DyoN and our dear listeners.

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