Hayarobi (H): Would you introduce yourself?
Mid Air Thief (MAT): Hi this is ‘Mid-Air Thief’. Person who makes music.
H: What’s your musical position and concept?
MAT: I recode my music in my home alone. I bought recoding gears including mics to the home and started making music with my computer. I compose mine, and sing.
H: So, you are like cottage industrial artist, isn’t it?
MAT: (laugh) Yes, I am
# About name ‘Mid Air Thief’
H: You’ve changed your artist name a lot so far, is there any motivation for that? Shall we begin with the name ‘Hyoo’?
MAT: Well, nothing actually popped up in my head about what to use for my name. So, I asked my mom which name will be great for the artist name. then, she suggested the name ‘Hyoo’ will be great.
[‘Hyoo’ means rest and relax in Korean language]
H: Is there any bad memory with that name ‘Hyoo’?
MAT: My friends sent me photos like “Motel Hyoo”, and when I was dj-ing in club, the video screen behind me showed the big letter ‘Hyoo’ and it looked like sigh or something. Therefore, I found he name is really bad and I changed it to ‘Public Morality’.
H: Then what was meaning behind ‘Public Morality’?
MAT: When I used to draw comics with my best friend, and the comics title was ‘Ethics’. However, if I just name it ‘Ethics, it would be hard to find and not funny, so I changed it ‘Public Ethics’. Then later, it became ‘Mid-Air-Thief’
[His artist name in Korean is ‘공중도둑’ and it used to be ‘공중도덕’. It is punchline that the Korean letter ‘공중’ both means mid-air and public. Therefore since he changed ‘도덕’ to ‘도둑’ with little change, it twisted whole meaning of the word.]
H: Your fans are calling your name in English as ‘Mid-Air-Thief’. Do you satisfy with that name?
MAT: I satisfy.
- MAT 'Ahhhh, These Chains!' fanmade musicvideo
H: It seems like you don’t put huge meaning on your artist name.
MAT: That’s true. I don’t really care on names.
H: The reason why you changed ‘Public Ethic’ to ‘Mid-Air-Thief’ is because of that song, right?
MAT: Yes. Actually, I was bit pissed off at the first. I was like “why the hell they copy my name even though I used it first?” but later I found that they actually released the song with that name previously than me. So, I was like “oh man, I can’t do that” then I changed my name.
H: You released your music very actively, and there are people’s supposition that ‘Shadow Community’ is ‘Mid-Air-Thief’.
MAT: Yeah, that’s me. That is a project group of me and my friend who sings.
H: So, can we understand ‘Shadow Community’ is in same context of you saying “I want to release variable style of music” in different magazine interview?
MAT: Well, I just wanted to make music with person who sings pretty well. That was closer to naturally jammed musical style things… rather than variable style of music…I don’t know how to explain this.
H: So, it was like let’s just make some fun thing’ rather than ‘let’s make that style’ right?
MAT: Yeah, but there were few things that I was like ‘I gotta do that style’. For example, I thought it would be interesting if I make long and powerless music.
(MAT’s another artist name ‘Shadow Community’ and its album)
# Start of making music
H: Can you tell me how you started to make music and what kind of music you pursue?
MAT: I just played some guitar for fun because I was bored. And I searched some artist who I like on internet then I got deeper and started my own music. There is no special story.
H: Since you played guitar, were you in band before?
MAT: Yeah, I used to play a lot in amateur messy band when I was in middle school.
H: What was the main genre of the band?
MAT: You know, just middle school class band. I covered Weezer’s ‘Island In The Sun’ and played mainly funk music.
H: So, you moved to your own personal music after the band?
MAT: I didn’t play a band often while high school. After first year in high school, I started to make music with my computer with a program that I don’t even know still exist or not.
H: There are some electronic sources in your music, is there any motivation that you started to mix electronic sound to acoustic guitar sound?
MAT: Well, I started it naturally. Yeah, since a long time ago.
H: Were you interested in electronic music before you even started to make your music?
H: So, you started to mix electronic sound with guitar sound because you’ve done it for long time and thought it would be great to mix those?
MAT: Not really. I like both, but I wasn’t kind of intended to mix those because I like both. I just naturally started to mix those. Because I quit doing band and started to make music through computer, I think it is natural consequence of mixing that two music.
H: Since there are many kinds of electronic music, is there any artist that you got inspired a lot?
MAT: Every song I listen, I got inspired. Of course, I love Aphex Twin really a lot. I used to listen it really a lot. It is hard to pick one because I listen to electronic music a lot.
- Aphex Twin 'T69 Collapse' musicvideo
H: Most of artists who started music from their bands are proud of ensemble and take that as their musical identities. However, you decided to do your own personal music. Was there any motivation or turn-point that you decided to do your current style?
MAT: Well, I don’t have such a stereotype that I should do band ensemble since I started with that. I’ve been made my own music alone for very long time. It is also exhausting to find people who have play together with. Making music alone is the thing that I feel most exciting and most good at. Actually, I’m not that confident with playing instrument in band. So, that’s how I got my current style.
H: Then, is there any benefit you get from the previous experience playing in band?
MAT: Not really…
(MAT’s another artist name ‘Hyoo’ and its album)
# About recent condition
H: Let’s talk about your label. Are you currently in ‘Foundation Record’?
H: I found that you were when you were ‘Hyoo’.
MAT: At that time, I was. 3-year contracts may be. When I first started music. At that time, I didn’t know how to start music. I don’t remember exactly how I found, but, the electronic music record that I found was ‘Foundation Record’. I went to the office and gave my CD, then we contracted.
H: Therefore, you don’t belong to any label or records. Right?
H: It seems like you don’t like to be belonged to somewhere. Aren’t you?
MAT: Actually no. Frankly speaking, I don’t know what to do. I have no idea about such an environment including music market or industry. So, I just make mine. That’s all.
H: I think it is similar reason with the fact that there is no photo or video about you in internet at all. Is there any reason about it? Mysticism?
MAT: Well, there are some photos or videos…
H: Well there is no official release or interview.
MAT: Yeah that’s right. I think it is funny to take photo in interview and such things like that.
H: So, you are feeling kind of unwelcome attention with interview environment rather than ‘I gotta hide myself’.
MAT: Yeah that’s right. But I won’t do any kind of mysticism such as wearing mask at concert in future.
H: Do you have any plan about upcoming concert in future?
MAT: Yeah, I got some plans with it. In the show, there will be incredible players in a band, drummer and pianist and so on… However, after ensemble I listened to recorded one, it wasn’t satisfying as I expected. Therefore, we are re-directing our direction.
H: Is that clear that you having concert with those members?
MAT: Well… actually it is not crystal clear. If the new direction is also not satisfying, then the show will be cancelled.
H: Is there any reason that previous direction was not satisfying?
MAT: Those members are really good and professional in their instrument. After we played the song that I made, the song wasn’t good. Since my song cannot follow those high leveled members because it is not great enough, the previous direction went wrong.
H: Is it hard for you to get satisfied with your own music?
MAT: Yeah. It is really hard to get satisfied. Even though I make really a lot. It is hard to release a single one.
H: That means there are a lot of songs that you finished making but unreleased. Right?
MAT: Yeah. Too many. Since they are all bad, it is kind of fun to listen after long time. There are a lot of songs that I feel like it is worth not to release those songs.
# About people’s reaction about the album ‘Crumbling’
H: The previous album and latest album ‘Crumbling’ got really good compliments among many critics and listeners. Do you care or mind those reaction?
MAT: At August right after the release, I searched through Twitter and Instagram for reactions and I was like ‘okay’ and after that I don’t really find for those.
H: Even though you don’t usually get satisfied with your music, reaction was pretty good. How did you feel with that?
MAT: There is one of my friends who finds bluffs and send me haha. Comment like ‘This is so bad’. However, since a music is for people who listen to, it feels good when people likes it.
H: The foreign reaction was also great. How do you feel about it?
MAT: Well, I don’t really think so…
H: Was it hard to feel it? I saw it was pretty great, making your English name ‘Mid-Air-Thief’ hot on the internet.
MAT: I don’t think it was hot. Well, people listen 2nd album more often than 1st one, but still I really don’t feel foreign people are enjoying my music.
H: It took almost one and half year to finish this album. Is there peculiar track that you like most?
MAT: It’s hard… I don’t think I have
# About genre MAT play
H: Many people call your music’s genre as ‘Folktronica’ which is combination of folk and electronic. Also, in 2017, your 1st album got award as ‘Modern Rock’ genre. It seems like your music is considered as variable genres. What is genre of your music in your personal opinion?
MAT: Well, genre is the things that I think really a lot. I think there are plenty of people doing similar genre of mine. Acoustic and electronic… I don’t think it is modern rock by the way…
H: If there are people doing similar genre of yours, would you please give us an example?
MAT: Well, it doesn’t mean that I know professionally but, if I give an example it would be ‘Shugo Tokumaru’ in Japan. Guitar sound is tape recorded and it is really good. The latest album is the best in my personal opinion.
H: Is there any name of genre that include those kinds of music?
MAT: Usually folktronica. I don’t know more detail about it.
- Shugo Tokumaru 'Katachi' Live
# How MAT makes music
H: Is there any purpose or main aim of music in your creation before you actually make it?
MAT: Well, first, chord progression must be good. The one thing I really consider about is that. Since many people say one copied the other’s song if a singular chord progression is similar, I’m bit afraid of those criticism. Therefore, I always try to progress chord differently at least a little. I start making music from chord progression rather than melody and other procedure.
H: Was there any change of style or genre after you changed your artist name? or was there any motivation of change since you started making your music? Well it seems like you would have because you changed from band music to current folktronica music which is pretty unique genre in Korea. I’m talking about a change while you were making your album in your whole career.
MAT: Well… I don’t know. I think there was to motivation or turn point with it. By the way, I don’t really care whether people call my genre as folktronica or independent pop or acoustic or something or not… I don’t know 😊.
H: Do you get inspiration of music from outside of yourself like the environment or landscape? Or do you get inspired on internal thinking of yourself?
MAT: Well, there is a lot that I get inspired while I walk or hang around. But, I think it is hard to tell exact where I get inspiration from.
H: For example, there are some artist who get inspired from the book they read, or the story that friends tell them, or even movie or poem. Is your inspiration come from external influence or internal?
MAT: I think the most of them comes from internal.
H: While you were mastering your music with cassette tape, I think there should be multiple risk from it. However, what was the reason you choose that method.
MAT: Yeah, you’re right. There is a lot sound that have been cut off during mastering. However, the sound that came out from the mastering sounds really good. One of my favorite producers called Richard Swift does cassette tape recording too. Therefore, I started experimenting cassette tape recording to make good sound like him. There is clearly different sound by such method, mixing sounds that came out from computer more vigorously… like making hair on arm…like that…
H: So, you do record on digital and use cassette tape mixing on mastering sending source to it?
MAT: Not really. I bought analogue mixer and I use it for tape recording and then send it to computer. Therefore, it is more like analogue to digital and to analogue again. Some sources are only made on computer and then switched to analogue signal. Or there are some sources that even go through analogue tape three or four time.
H: It seems the procedure is pretty complicated. But it is for the good sound and music, right?
MAT: I don’t know whether it is good sound or not. But it is the sound that I like. It is pretty annoying and takes long time.
H: The sound of synthesizer and acoustic guitar mix very naturally in the latest album and I really liked it. Do you consider a lot about the texture of the sound? Because it seems that the procedure that goes over digital and analogue is kind of journey finding your unique texture of sound.
MAT: Yes. That’s correct
H: Do you record analogue style not only voice but also instruments?
MAT: I think I can say it is hybrid. I use audio interface and computer and record, so, the final input is digital. Therefore, I use the device called ADD. It is not 100 percent analogue. That is hard.
H: It is kind of trend to mix one’s music with Apple’s air-pod or any kind of popular earphone since those are the device that people mostly listen music through. Do you care such trend or do you have any intention to follow that trend?
MAT: Not really. I just mix to the sound that I think it is good. I think the trend of mixing for popular listener is very interesting. I even heard that some artists mix their music by boosting low-pitched sound so that most of listeners can listen better through their laptop speaker. However, I’m not that delicate or considerate to fit my listeners. I just do what I think it is good to listen.
H: When your song proceeds the volume of sound enlarges and decreases. Even the tempo gets faster and slower in a one song. I found these features are the unique identity of ‘Mid Air Thief’. What is the purpose of such technic? Does such technics are intended before making music in planning step or do you improvise naturally while making a song?
MAT: I think it is close to improvising. Of course, it doesn’t mean that I don’t plan at all, but I think the improvising is more often.
H: So, it is bit far from drawing the picture that you already have in your mind?
MAT: Well there are some songs that is clearly planned and intended before making, and there are some that I try variable things while making based one the things that I planned or intended before. I also borrow some good ideas from others.
H: The length of song is usually very long. It that intended? Or is that naturally becoming long?
MAT: There are some songs that were intended to be long, but this time it was natural. When I was younger, I used to make music all day. However, getting older, it is hard to concentrate if I work more than ten to eight hours. So, I struggle to fight myself by making long songs in this album. Also, I tried to make intro section naturally linked to outro section as if it is puzzle or lego, but I think it wasn’t that great like I first thought. And there is a track that I intendedly made really long like I did on the first album.
H: Do you set bpm before you make song, or do you set it while you make it?
MAT: I think I find it latter while I making the track.
H: In the album, many critics and listeners said the vibe of the album changes between the track ‘쇠사슬 (Ahhhh, These Chains!) how do you think about it.
MAT: Well, I don’t think I intended it. However, if I cut album as half, the former half’s vibe is going up and the later goes down. Later half has slow and short tracks. Therefore the last track 무소식 (No Answer) is very short and ends fast.
H: Do you make album with consistent concept? Or do you fill tracks then make overall concept by deducing the track that are not consistent.
MAT: There should be overall concept that can bind whole tracks in one album. Therefore, I make music for complete album, not making music then gather those which has similar concept. Sometimes I make some tracks for fun not for album. Those are totally different style.
H: That mean you don’t release your album until you got enough tracks to fill the album with consistent concept. Right?
MAT: Yeah. Therefore, I rate album as very high efforted art.
H: Is there other feature of song do you consider a lot except the chord progression?
MAT: Well, in this album, I cared about lyrics really a lot. I think I’m not that writer in lyrics, and I don’t really like writing it. Therefore, I thought I could get or learn something if I try really hard on lyrics this time.
H: Why don’t you like writing lyrics?
MAT: Because I’m bad at it. I think I’m bad at it.
H: On previous album, lyrics are not provided on online streaming platform. However, on the latest album, lyrics are provided this time. Is there any reason with that?
MAT: After I released the first album, I searched on internet like twitter. And what people said that where the lyrics are. Therefore, this time I posted lyrics and gave more consideration on them. Because people gonna find them.
H: Is there reason why you didn’t posted lyrics in first album?
MAT: When I listen to music. I actually didn’t even care about lyrics. I thought other people would be same, but I found they are not.
H: While you collaborate with Summer Soul on latest album, I heard you communicated a lot with her about lyrics. It that for kind of same purpose which is writing better lyrics?
MAT: Actually no. There was one person who was supposed to sing in my second album, but that person gave up at the middle. May be because I was too picky. So, I was looking for the person who can fill the place that I came up with Summer Soul. Since she used to message me on Soundcloud, I heard her songs and thought she would help me a lot since she has beautiful voice. So, I contacted her and we made it.
H: Some listeners said that it seems like your lyrics are not that much focused on meaning like as if they are kind of instruments.
MAT: What do you mean lyrics as kind of instruments?
H: It means like it seems like you focused more on nuance rather than the message that word gives.
MAT: That’s right. It is not kind of purpose for giving a message to listeners. I agree with that. Even though I cared pretty much on lyrics in the latest album, but it still doesn’t mean that I has a peculiar message that I want to deliver to listeners.
H: Your lyrics would be translated to many different languages to many foreign listeners. How do you think about that part?
MAT: It is freaking me out haha. Maybe I should care about it more haha.
H: Do you think an acoustic guitar is your main source of music?
MAT: I think it is main. I mainly used an acoustic guitar except some songs with piano.
H: Is that because you are good at that instrument?
MAT: Well it is actually one and only instrument that I can play. Not even professional though.
# About the album ‘Crumbling'
H: Let’s talk about your latest album ‘Crumbling’. In the latest album, the vocal by Summer Soul took a lot place in the album as if it is almost a main. Is there special reason you used female vocal on the album?
MAT: I’ve been always loved the mixed voice of man and woman in the song. For example, there is the song called ‘The Long Lost’ and it is the love song that a married couple made. I loved the song so much. I think album becomes more colorful if there is voice of more than one sex. It is rather monotonous if there is only one man or woman in the album.
H: Then, you had an idea of making album with female vocal before you even contact Summer Soul.
MAT: Yeah. Always. At the first album, I asked one of my female friends that I know since I was university student, and I asked to female vocalist call Cosmos Superstar.
H: There we might could say the collaboration with female vocal is the point of your music rather than the concept of latest album.
MAT: I don’t know. Recently one of my friends said “why you always collaborate with woman?” to me. I thought about that, and I found actually I do. There was only man collaboration on instrument field such as drum and base. I think it would be great if I collaborate in the vocal field too.
H: The artwork of album was interesting. Tell me about it.
MAT: My lovely nephew made it for me.
H: Would you introduce your nephew a little?
MAT: Her name is Hyejung Shin and she is university student in Hongik Univ. she majored design and very lovely.
H: So, when your nephew gives you artworks, then you decide the one you get satisfied?
MAT: Well, while family meeting, she shows me a few, then require my request from them. The final artwork was finished through such procedure.
H: Was there any special request that you required to her?
MAT: Nothing but fonts. She rather suggested me some good ideas.
H: Do you care visual things a lot like you care on auditory things?
MAT: I just want music and music video both natural. Of course, I think the visual part is important since I have to release the physical album. However, if I can only release the music, I may only care on auditory part.
(MAT’s another album released with name ‘Hyoo’)
# Ending of interview and MAT’s daily life
H: Is there any other occupation or things you do except music?
MAT: I just wanna keep it secret 😊
H: Where do you listen to music most?
MAT: I listen with monitoring system in my home. Or sometimes I listen with my headphone. I don’t really use earphone.
H: Is there any feature of music that you consider most while you are listening to music?
MAT: Lyrics. I listen to lyrics a lot recently. Since, I had not cared it a lot…
H: Can you tell me about any upcoming album release or concert?
MAT: I may try something with my band. I don’t know exactly how long would that take, but it should be great to be released. Also, I may try myself as a producer or composer for others.
H: Have you ever tried to work as a producer or composer for others before?
MAT: I wanna keep that as secret too. haha
H: Last words for the readers?
MAT: Thank you for listening my music. And thank you again for reading this interview.
- MAT 'Curve And Light' Audio
Interview : Haram, Xxiyeon, SONG FOR HER
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