SOAS Radio Resident Interviews – Dami Eniola aka Gugak Sounds Thu, 2017-07-27 15:26

Dami and Friends

Dami and Friends

How did you end up at SOAS Radio?

I’ve been at SOAS Radio for about two years. I started in 2014 and wanted to try my hand at something new. Studying Korean traditional music, I got a lot of questions from curious people. At the time, I thought if I could do a show about these instruments, I could gain an audience that was interested in the same kind of music I was interested in.

How has your show changed from the first episode to the last one of season four?
(Check out Dami’s show here)

It’s become very diverse. When I first started, it was mainly to introduce people to Korean traditional music, but now it’s actually reviewing Korean traditional musicians and their albums, going from a more academic perspective to one more about current issues.

In the beginning, the first episode, it was my first time in radio, and I felt very awkward and kept laughing. There’s never a second first time.

What are your top three shows?

–  Bulsechul (불세출) interview. I’m a huge Bulsechul fangirl and did a review of their album. There are eight members, so I couldn’t just have them over in London for an interview. I had to send the questions to Korea, where they replied in Korean and had to have them translated. But I didn’t read the translation before the show… so it was very interesting to hear what they had to say. I also had listeners who asked Bulsechul questions.

 Ensemble Sinawi special because they had played at SOAS before. It was great going through their album and they’re such a great group.

– Christmas special, with me not talking and just four hours of back-to-back traditional Korean music.

Dami in the Studio

Dami in the Studio

Tell me about the time KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) came and interviewed you.

They came Christmas 2015 after hearing about the radio show and about another English pansori singer. They also heard about a composer who is Korean by birth and has lived in England all his life and were also interested in a particular piece of music he composed. KBS was interested in doing a show about all three of us as Korean traditional music lovers living in London, in contrast to KPop enthusiasts. They talked about the Gugak podcast and interviewed me as well.

So, you have lived in Korea as well?

That’s actually an interesting topic, I’ve never actually lived there. But I hope to study there after finishing up here.

Where do you think Korea society is going? How do you see it as changing?

It’s a bit of a mixed reaction. From my perspective as a Korean traditional music specialist, it’s a bit sad because the country seems to abandoning the culture of what it knows for what it wants to know, which is Western music. So if you look at the Western classical music scene these days, there are lots of Korean musicians who play very good classical music.

But if you ask them about traditional music they have no idea, and it feels like they’re losing their roots. And what’s ironic about that is that the West is trying to find out more about Korean traditional music, so it seems one is running down this way while the other is running the other way. I do hope people, especially in Korea, the ones who own the culture, do remain interested in it, so it can remain for a longer period of time.

Will there be any future shows?

I’m taking a break at the moment for academic studies, but I will be back after submitting my dissertation. Maybe in the future from Korea itself, especially for those who are interested in spreading the music outside of Korea.