Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How in the world did I not put this up sooner....

When I left Korea, someone at the Korea Times, a national newspaper, got wind of it and thought it was newsworthy. I was humbled.

Popular expat artist leaving for US

By John Redmond

After 10 years of living in Korea, working as a teacher and freelancing as a journalist, photographer, music editor and music promoter, Summer Walker has decided to move back to her native Dallas, Texas.
Follow the link to the article or continue after the break

Like many expats here, Walker decided to come to Korea for one year and work as a teacher. This soon turned into an experience working with some of Korea’s hottest expat publications and being a regular on the booming indie music circuit.

The Korea Times spoke with her and gained valuable insight into how photography and a love of music led to a unique stay in Korea.

Question: How did you get into photography? 

Answer: For a while I worked at ROKON magazine as the “Hongdae Producer.” I still don’t’ know what that means. Anyway, each story needed a photo, and most of what was turned in was terrible. I dropped a bunch of money on a camera thinking that it would produce better results. I can honestly say that a better camera doesn’t make a good photographer.

Q: Your freelance work has led you to work with Groove Magazine. How did that come about?

A: I have always been a Groove Korea reader. I used to send a few band reviews in. Back then, they didn’t do too much with music. One day I drank way too much coffee and I emailed then-managing editor, Tracey Stark. I told him it would be a good idea to have an all-music issue. I pitched him ideas about articles and photos. He told me it was a great idea and that I should be in charge of it. The next week I had Groove business cards and I was with them for four years and two more music issues.

Q: Your passion for the local indie music scene has led you to be very active in that area. How do you see your role? 
A: It started out as the manager of a great little expat indie band, The Bellows. By booking their shows and managing their every move, I met a lot of club owners and promoters… both Korean and expat. After that, I helped a few other bands out. If they needed a gig, I could tell which club they would most suit them. There was time when I would call Club FF, suggest a new band, and the manager would fit them in the same weekend. If the band had a new CD, I would contact DGBD. That bar is so awesome, they let bands book the entire night and charge them nothing at all. Anyway, for every single show I ever booked, I made sure there was a 50/50 expat/local split where the bands where concerned. I wanted to bring Korean bands and expat bands together on the same stage. I think I succeeded.

Q: Where do you see the alternative music scene going? 

A: It’s getting wilder and freer. There are more tattoos, hairstyles and leather jackets. I know that doesn’t say much about the music, but the fact that people are doing whatever they hell they want shows up in the music. Korean pop music is in our faces, polite, and on the radio. Independent music is loud, lewd, and on stage until 6 a.m. The alternative music scene is going to continue to stick it to the Apgujeong identically-cut “musicians” who continually pump out CDs in the hope that they will hit the States. Guys and girls that play Cub Spot don’t give a damn what happens in Los Angeles, they are there for the music, for the scene and will continue to push the envelope.

Q: Why are you moving back to Texas after a decade?
A: I’ve been away for 10 years. I love it here, but it’s just time to hang out with my family again. I miss them. I have only good memories here and will treasure them.

Q: Any regrets/advice? 

A: I regret that I didn’t know my limit. I spent so much time in clubs and bars, breathing in secondhand smoke. Everyone does that, but I have asthma. I spent time in hospital, and now have a lung injury that will be with me forever. That caused me to give up the hobby that meant so much to me. In our situation, it is easy to succumb to a lifestyle of excess. Moderation would have allowed me to continue promoting indie shows and bands.

Q: Having lived here for such a long time, what will you miss the most?

A: That’s easy. I’ll miss the food. I’ll miss heated floors, public saunas, cheap public transportation and my friends.

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