- Words Colin Graves
- Photography Dasom Han
- Styling Seyoung Kim
We catch up with the multi-national alternative K-pop band, record label, and Asian music collective, Balming Tiger, are a pack of actual creative geniuses in Notion 87!
Based within 30 minutes of each in Seoul, the nine-strong team came together in 2017, lifting their name from the famous Asian tiger balm ointment of the same name. The versatile group’s debut mixtape, Balming Tiger vol.1 : 虎媄304, is a prime example of the groups comic-style Balming Tiger universe that stretches into their videos, artwork, and beyond—expect the unexpectable! Balming Tiger executive producer, CEO and DJ, San Yawn, gives us the 411 on South Korea’s finest.
How would you describe the Balming Tiger sound?
Even from the name ‘alternative K-pop’ (a genre that shows the musical idealism we pursue), you may know that nobody can predict our next musical path. We live in chaos, not knowing what music we will make, not knowing what work we will do. We simply have our Vision and our Ideal to carry on. Trying to describe this is meaningless, it’s only how others will interpret it.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Busan, South Korea. Right now we are all in Seoul, South Korea, but we are outsiders of this City, all gathered from different environments.
What’s the best thing about where you’re from?
South Korea is a small country in the corner of Asia, but is one of the most culturally active places in the whole world. The youth of South Korea quickly absorbs new trends, and they are extraordinary at blending these with what they already have, making a whole new output. It is a total bliss that you can pursue art in Korea, in a time like this.
Is it important for you to do things DIY?
DIY is one of our core values. However our values fluctuate, this core will never change.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
I remember watching the music video of t.A.T.u. “All The Things She Said” when I was in elementary school. It was a late night, and I instantly fell in love with that music. Still, when I remember that melody, my heart pounds like crazy.
Have you ever broken the law?
I live freely inside the lines of not breaking the law.
Are you tiger balm ointment users?
Anyone who was raised in Asia would’ve experienced their grandmas using it whenever you were hurt. I don’t use it now, but I still strongly remember the scent of it. If they sponsor us, I’m willing to use it again!
What’s the Balming Tiger manifesto?
We want to become an organic platform, one big group that provides chances and fluid communication for underground artists over Asia and young artists with their own visions. Making something as high quality as those of America or Europe, the center of culture, is now more than possible in Asia as well. We want to become a team that experiments progressive art into the world market, becoming the issue and inspiring the western culture.
Do you identify as a K-pop band?
I believe all the pop music made in Korea or made by a Korean is K-pop. We are proud to say we are rooted from K-pop.