oh gracious, i know i promised end of may (was it may? ohhhh even more terrible) for a new translation, but, clearly, it is now end of july. sorry, all, i’ve been crazy swamped, but here’s a short translation of jong-wan mumbling about kurzweil (they manufacture keyboards; jong-wan’s specifically asked about the artis at one point). no promises about when the next translation is coming, but i’m not dropping this blog and will continue updating it, so don’t give up on me!
Hello, I’m the one who sings in Nell, Kim Jong-wan.
Q. How did you get to know Kurzweil?
In the case of Kurzweil, I don’t know the exact year, but, around 2000, I think I got my first Kurzweil, a PC2X. It’s the same now, but, even back then, Kurzweil made instruments that musicians used a lot, so, after I graduated high school, I thought they were instruments I definitely had to buy, so I think that’s when I first started using Kurzweil.
Q. What did you feel was the appeal to Kurzweil?
At that time, honestly, I would see the instruments musicians I liked during live performances — they were musicians I really respected, so naturally I’d want to use the instruments they use. When I would watch their lives, at that time on DVDs, a lot of bands were using Kurzweil, so I don’t think I really debated about it. “Of course, I need this,” I though and bought it.
Q. You’re an artist who does everything for the whole album, composing, writing lyrics, arranging, even recording, so do you have specific criteria for selecting instruments or equipment for producing work?
First, I think they have to match our music. So, according to my criteria, it doesn’t matter how good an instrument it is; if it doesn’t fit the music, whether on an album or during a live, it’s hard to use. My criteria for picking equipment — I think I use instruments that have the sound that’s necessary for the music. Especially when recording — during a live, you have to take into consideration the venue of a live, but, when you’re recording, it’s all about the sound.
Q. Kurzweil’s slogan is, “It’s the sound.” You [Nell] are famous for your sad but lyrical melodies, so, when you talk about sound, what does that mean to you?
I think sound is the tool that lets musicians express their thoughts or ideas, whatever they’ve first drawn out. For us, music is something we first hear with our ears. Nowadays, it’s combined a lot with videos, but, first, because it’s sound … I think it’s a means that let me express my thoughts.
Q. You’re a musician who communicates with your fans through themes in your albums and lives. If there’s a distinctive characteristic for your lives, what would that be?
First, music is … our music is our most distinctive thing. When we’re recording, honestly, we don’t think about anything else, but focus on the sound and the themes we want to express, but a live isn’t just listening, so we do think it’s important also to show things visually … We think that music has an image of its own. We also think that’s impossible to visualize music. We try a lot to show the attendees the images that we saw when recording music — and, to do that, what I think is most important — not only me but also our members and our staff — after the sound is the lighting. So our lives … this might sound a little arrogant, but I think that our lives use lighting in a way that’s more distinct than other lives’ might.
Q. Nowadays, we’re in a time where people make music using software instead of real instruments. What do you think of that?
Instruments are, if you look at them one way … they can be the difference between a CD and an MP3. Not only the quality of the sound, but also as something I can touch with my hands and can see — I think instruments need to have that charm. I’m sure that musicians especially will agree, but an instrument isn’t just something that gives off sound, but it could also be like an accessory to me, or there are instruments that make me happy just to look at them. I don’t have anything like a VST, though, so I think I have some regrets there — but I think that, as long as it has a good sound, it’s okay.
Q: What are the differences between the existing Kurzweil and the Artis you’re using now?
First, the sound is … Kurzweil’s distinctive feature … on the side of synths, I honestly can’t tell the big difference between Kurzweil then and now — to be honest — but, on the side of pianos, I think that it’s become much more detailed, specifically with, like, the pedal noise or the sound that it makes when the hammer closes and falls … I think it’s changed to sound more realistic. Of course, that’s the goal of the digital piano, but I think it’s gotten much more detailed, and the strings, in my personal experience, have gotten much better. You can create expressions in more varied ways, and the sound itself has a different charm than real strings, definitely. Some people think digital strings should sound the same as real strings, but, even if it isn’t exactly the same, if it has its own charm, then I think it can be a special and good sound. As I’ve been using the Artis this time, I’ve felt that this kind of string sound is something I could use often enough in an album. I think the width of expression has definitely broadened, and the strings — honestly, in the past, the more varied the sound of strings were, the more the quality would fall, but I liked Kurzweil because it had a reason for the variety. To be honest, there are many other instruments that put in like eighteen, twenty-four different sounds, with each being a little different, but Kurzweil really gives each string sound a different color, so it’s something that’s very satisfying.
Q: The Kurzweil Artis is called a stage piano, so are there any significant points to using it on stage?
The keyboard touch is good — and it’s very handy. I said before, but, for a live, there are things that we have to consider, but the thing I really liked was that the transpose button is right at the front in a place you can see easily. Usually, you have to go in and press a lot of buttons, but, during a live, you need to go right on to the next track a lot, so I think it was made really well. And of course you have your favorite buttons. There are a lot of synthesizers that have favorite buttons, but it’s so easy to set up your favorite sound sources, so, as soon as you make the sound, if you press the favorite button, it’ll go into number 1 right away. So, during a concert, I found that it’s really easy to make a sound and store it right away. Also, in a song, honestly, you can just use the piano, but there are many times when you have to transition to strings in the same song without a break, but the button is put so neatly right where your hand goes naturally to it, so I liked that. So they definitely thought a lot about it, they thought a lot about musicians who perform live — so, intuitively, if you’re performing, and the button’s over there, you have to turn like this, but, instead, you can just press a button and it’ll change, so I think I was very satisfied.
Q: What are Nell’s future plans?
Our plans are … as then and now, we want to try to make good music, and we continue to think that that process should feel fun. So, for that, we’ll try even harder. In the future, I guess you can’t know what’ll happen to people, but I think our greatest goal is to make music with the greatest joy and also with even more passion than we had when we were younger. And it’d be nice if Kurzweil would come up with better instruments. When I come across a new instrument, I get happy because it’s like discovering a new world, so I’d love to experience more of that. I think that’s all included under “goals.”