Photo by Intissare Aamri
Peggy Gould could be recently known to the Korean public, as being introduced by many Korean media channels. Yet, it is surprising that she is still beyond the veil in Korea. The only known fact about her is that she is a DJ/producer. Perhaps, there would be not many Koreans who keep an eye on her music and its reception in the global music industry. In advance of this interview with her, I talked to one DJ working in Korea. Even, the DJ also mentioned that to be honest, he could hardly understand how come Peggy Gou (Peggy Gould’s shortened name and another stage name of her) became so famous that much. This is understandable. Because, she was being rather spotlighted along with celebrities at fashion events, than known by her music-related career. OK, then, forget about Naver (Korea’s biggest web search engine) for now, and let us google her name. You can find something cool there – at least, what you can find there will be better than the usual stories about cable TV programs. On Google, you can also read the news about her new EP that was recently released by Technicolor, Ninja Tune’s singles label. It is still up to you whether to accept her musicality, or not. Yet, you can make up your mind upon it, when finishing reading this interview till the end. Now, here we go.
Please introduce yourself briefly.
‘Peggy Gould’ a.k.a ‘Peggy Gou’.
You’re known as two stage names: Peggy Gould and Peggy Gou. What’s the difference between the two?
I’ve used the name, ‘Peggy Gould’, since a long time ago. But, it was my stage name that I used to work in fashion field. So, I wanted to make it different with my name for musical career. I didn’t think I’d need a new name, so I just shortened it for its easy pronunciation.
As I know, you started DJing in 2009 or so. Some say that you started it, because of your first love. Could you tell us about him – for example, which type of DJ he was, what made you to be attracted by him, and etc.?
He was an EDM DJ, but he wanted techno music all the times. But, he thought that techno music wouldn’t be popular in Korea. Also, he said that techno music was a difficult genre to understand; but, once one could understand it, he or she would eventually talk about music in a serious manner. At the time, I didn’t know much about music actually, so it was difficult for me to clearly understand what he said would mean. I just started music work. And, now, I think I can understand what he meant a bit. Anyway, around the time when I fell in love with him for the first time in my life, I learned DJing and producing from him so as to start my music career. Then, I also began to collect records and organise parties with my friends.
You’re possessing a number of vinyl records. Currently, CDJ and Serato are already predominant, but you’re doing vinyl DJing. Any special reason for it? Do you think such authentic way more meaningful?
I regard vinyl special. I have many reasons for it. First of all, DJs whom I ‘respect’ usually play with vinyl records. And, I love old school. So, I tend to prefer analog sounds than digital ones. For me, it’s pretty hard to ignore attractiveness of vinyl.
Where do you usually go record-digging? Can you let us know any fun story of yours about vinyl records?
I used to work at a record shop for several months, when I was in Germany. It was a second hand shop, and at the time, I could learn many things there. Also, I could collect many records of various musicians as well as so-called ‘rare’ vinyl records. Recently, I often go record-digging in Berlin. Actually, Berlin is the biggest vinyl record market in the world.
As I know, you started working professionally in music industry, since you’ve learned Ableton from Esa Williams who belonged to Highlife, the sub-label of Huntleys & Palmers based in London. What made you to abandon your job at the time, which was fashion editor, and go for the new career in music industry?
At the time, I was not an editor, but kind of correspondent for a magazine. Also, I was a student in a fashion school. But, once I experienced music producing, many things around me totally changed. For about two last years in the school, I didn’t attend classes. I paid expensive tuition fees, though. I was absorbed in music producing, and I spent most of the times at Esa’s studio. But, I handed in all the assignments I should do, so I could graduate the school, anyway.
Did you feel any special and strong emotion at the time? I’d like to listen to your thoughts that you had in the time of the change in your life.
I thought, ‘Ah, why was I studying fashion for several years? This music job is never boring, and it’s truly what I’ve wanted to do. I should start this earlier!’ But, everything happens for a reason. My past years in fashion school as well as all my experiences in London were also helpful for my life. I feel grateful for those.
I can feel that you’re always paying much attention to fashion. Do you have any special fashion style you came to prefer recently? You can explain us about any specific colour, brand, fashion trend, relevant person, and etc.
It’s true that I’m highly interested in fashion, but I don’t get inspiration from it. Often, in terms of fashion, some ask me, “From whom do you get inspired?” But, I just do styling for myself, as considering my personal preference. I can’t point out any specific brand, but usually, I prefer street brands. I prefer sneakers than high heels. Since I moved to Berlin, I came to wear easy and comfy clothing. Yet, still, I enjoy matching colours.
While you’re already well recognised as a musician overseas, in Korea you’re rather known as a fashionista or a celebrity. I think you may think that it’s a shame.
I don’t think it’s a shame. I’m not a celebrity. I think only those who understand me would support me. If one likes me, he or she would recognise my real career, my preferred music, the music I’m playing, my attitude towards music, and my serious thoughts about it – this is what I believe. In fact, at first, I thought of giving the fashion-related work up. I changed the thought a bit, though. Anyway, I’m a person working in music industry, so I don’t mind whether or not I’d be known as a fashionista or whatever. In Korea, house or techno music scene is not very popular yet. If I’d become famous, much more people will listen to my music. The biggest goal of mine is to make my music well known.
Photo by Gemma Docherty
(Peggy Gou at the Reading Rooms in Scotland during celebrating 6th anniversary of Book Club, a regular session of the club.)
Last year, you joined the DJ survival battle, Headliner, as a panel. What made you to attend it? In your thought, what is the reason that they’ve selected you as a panel, not choosing other DJs with a long term career?
I don’t think that they picked me as a panel only due to capability as a DJ or career. Even, at the time, I didn’t have any proper records of mine. As Korean DJs as well as the people who are seriously dealing with music, they might like to know about some ‘opinion’ stemming from another viewpoint. This may be perhaps the reason they allowed me to join it.
Normally, in DJ competitions, simple mixing skill or certain limited performance can be only presented. Don’t you think that it’s very commercialised? Also, I’d like to know about your honest opinion about such competition.
At first, I rejected joining it. I was not sure with which standard I should judge someone’s DJing. For me, it was difficult to understand – ‘Who can judge whom?’, ‘A DJ makes a mistake when mixing, but the audience love it. If so, is it fine?’, or ‘A DJ plays well, but the audience doesn’t like it. Then, is it bad?’ One of my favourite DJs is not very good at beat-matching, but the taste is excellent. So, the DJ is being respected in the scene. Actually, giving DJs a mission and judging them are an ambiguous way for making a competition, I think.
As time passed by, the meaning of DJ also changed a lot. It seems that that DJ survival battle only borrowed part of DJing’s original features so as to maximise them within it.
Many people have already known this. Currently, in Korea, many seem to pay much more attention to techniques rather than digging. One DJ I knew became a DJ, because he (or she) loved music. But, he (or she) told me that recently, youngsters likely came to learn DJing with somewhat different intention. DJ career may look cool. I once watched a documentary film about DJs, and in the film, it was said that DJ used to be ignored in club scene previously. That is to say, in the past, people didn’t care about DJ, and they just chilled out on their own. But, now, people go clubbing to see DJ. The meaning of DJ changed a lot, indeed.
Do you have your own creed, while living as a DJ?
I often recall the phrase, ‘If people wouldn’t be with me, I can’t exist.’ Also, I try not to forget the appreciating mind.
I wonder about your thoughts on Korea’s underground music scene. Which crew or DJ do you think cool? Tell us about any moves you’re thinking with regards to it.
First of all, it is the first time for me to be interviewed to talk about only music in Korean. I didn’t know about VISLA before, but I’m glad to see such online magazine that discusses about underground music. I like DJ Soulscape. Also, I like DJ Conan who plays all music genres. Eugene Blake also has a good taste. As for the similar genre with mine, I respect DJs from Mystik, such as, Magico, Antwork, and Sin, or Suna, Unjin, and Dji from Vurt, the techno music club in Hongdae.
You’re playing around the world. Please tell us about any city or place that was impressive to you.
I once played at Berghain/Panorama Bar, which was one of top three clubs where I’ve dreamed to play. I was the first Korean DJ who played there. It’s been my dream for a long time, so I felt nervous even two weeks earlier than the gig. I won’t forget what I felt on the day for ever. Recently, Jackmaster came down to a gig I was playing, and he stayed there for the whole two hours set of mine. I didn’t know he was there at the time. Even later, he continued to support me, and he also invited me to Master Mix Show. I joined a party in Glasgow along with my favourite musicians. This is also unforgettable to me.
Do you have any musician you’ve liked for a long period of time so far? Please let us know. I think you don’t need to be restricted within house music, when answering this.
It’s difficult to pick one person, because I have different favourite DJs by genre. I love works by various musicians, including J Dilla, Patrick Crowley, DJ Sotofett, DVS1, and etc.
Have you listened to Korean music a lot, since you were young? Korean traditional elements can be found in the tracks you joined as a producer. Does such reference result from your past experience?
In my childhood, I was usually listening to music through earphones. When being with others, I often recommended them to listen to the music I liked. To me, ‘Korean music’ doesn’t mean K-pop music, but Korean traditional music, such as, gayageum (Korean zither with twelve strings), janggu (Korean drum), and pansori (Korean epic chant). I wanted to make dance music with use of the traditional sounds. So, as soon as learning how to produce music for the first time, I made “Hungboo” in cooperation with Yoo Ah-in.
Peggy Gou – Troop
This year, you released [Art of War] Part 1 and 2, and [Day Without Yesterday/Six O Six, Art Of War] EP. From these, both ‘Six O Six’ and ‘Troop’ were featured in FACT Mag and THUMP, the music channel by VICE. What do you think about it?
I’m glad about it, for sure. It’s always honourable that my music is introduced in good media.
Your low voice counting “One, two, three, and four” in Korean, which was recorded in ‘Six O Six’, was very impressive. Can you explain about your initial idea that made you to do this?
The tune runs for 6 minutes and 6
seconds. So, its title is ‘Six O Six’. Actually, I tried many languages other than Korean for it at first, but Korean was most fun. Also, I thought counting numbers would be easy for non-Koreans to understand, too.
Peggy Gou – Six O Six
You designed the artwork for the vinyl of [Art Of War]. Is drawing one of your hobbies?
When I was in elementary school, my dream was to be a cartoonist. I much liked drawing. I wanted to put my own drawing into my first record’s cover. Fortunately, the label liked it, too. That was how it was possible.
Please let us know five artists who most inspired you in 2016.
Jackmaster, Nu Guinea, Daniel Wang, Ge-ology, and The Black Madonna.
On October 14th, your new EP, [Seek For Maktoop], was released by Technicolour, that is, Ninja Tune’s singles label. In Arabic language, ‘Maktoop’ means the destiny one can’t deny. Do you have any special reason for using the Arabic term?
My best friend, Bada, let me know about the word, Maktoop. I liked both the meaning and the pronunciation. I chose the word as the title, because she’s supported me even from the beginning.
Within the concept of ‘Maktoop’, which viewpoint or which part of your musical career do you intend to represent?
I didn’t do any sampling, but I paid more attention to its groove part through MPC3000. Still, I’m trying to develop my own sounds.
Following Rekids label and Phonica White label, now, you’re working with Technicolor, Ninja Tune’s singles label. Last time, this news was vaguely introduced at Solid Steel Radio Show. But, this time, it was officially publicised on the website. Please let us know about your beginning story related to Technicolour.
One day, the owner of Technicolour, Dean sent me a Facebook message. He asked me if I’d wish to release ‘Six O Six’ through Technicolour. After this, I was in London for a gig, and on the day, we met each other in person for the first time. I liked his vibe as well as the musicians belonged to his label. So, I agreed to send him my music. That was how it started.
What would you say, if you’d judge your new EP, [Seek For Maktoop]?
Personally, I like this album. All three songs have different styles. Also, each song uses different equipments, such as, different types of synthesizer and different types of drum machine. I intended to put each different song into one single album, and also, I wanted to convey a little message within the track, ‘Rose’. Such intentions of mine are well delivered, I think.
How do you usually write a song? Normally, where do you find inspiration for making your songs? Please explain about the process.
It’s not easy to write a song, particularly when I can’t find specific inspiration. I sometimes find inspiration, when taking after song by my favourite musician. Usually, when starting writing a song, I turn on any soul song or rare tune I like, and then, I add baseline and sound upon it. Or, I first make drum part. Then, I work on baseline, string, vocal cord, and etc.
I heard that you usually use MPC3000 and TR-606 drum machine. What are the special features of these equipments you prefer?
I bought MPC3000 from the Korean music director Mowg (Seong-hyun Lee). He mainly works for musics for Korean films and soap operas. Some of my friends working for producing told me that once I started using MPC3000, I would never use 1000 or 2000 ever again. They were right. I was indeed attracted by its various sounds and effects. I call my MPC a monster. I often use Wardolf Pulse Synthesizer, too. Also, recently, I bought an analog synthesizer, Kawai sx-420, from a friend.
Are you prepping for any further move in order to make your music and the scene known better even in Korea?
I hope that techno and house music scene will be more developed even in Korea. At times, when I play at fashion event or so, the audience ask me about the tunes I play. If I can get a chance to cooperate with others, I’ll definitely make it without hesitation. I have to make more efforts in my own way, if I hope that the scene will grow.
I can see many images of giraffe on your social media channels. What does giraffe mean to you?
It soothes me, when I feel hyped. It reminds me of peace.
Whilst working as a DJ so far, you may have some thing of you that you couldn’t show the audience yet. Which part of yourself do you wish to express more in the future?
Still, there’s a long way to go. I have many things to do as well as many things that I have to overcome. I wish to express my artistic sense, even in other parts than music.
Text | Chulbin Lee, Hyukin Kwon
Translation | Heesun Choi