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Artist Spotlight: SURL talks first North American tour, interacting with fans and their evolving creative process

Korean indie group SURL is wrapping up their first North American tour with their final shows this week. After their visit to Arizona, we spoke with the band via email about the touring experience, fan reactions to their live show and carving their own space in the international music scene. 

Atlas Artist Group: You guys are currently on a cross country North American tour- how’s the experience been so far? How has the fan response been in each city?

Hanbin: I think each city has a different style of enjoying shows. Until now, there have been many fans who have fun as if they were performing together, and I remember the concert hall where there are many fans who enjoy listening to music seriously. Each city has a very different style, so I’m looking forward to every performance.

Atlas: When it comes to touring, where’s a place you’ve always wanted to play that you haven’t had the chance to yet? Is there a place you’ve visited that you really connected with?

Myungseok: Personally, I’ve always wanted to perform in Brooklyn, New York. I think New York is a great place for musicians to come together, so it’s an honor to be able to perform in Brooklyn.

Atlas:You’re on the road playing your full length from last year- what songs are fans responding to the most? On the flip side of that, which of your songs do you resonate with the most on a personal level?

Doyeon: I think the fans’ favorite song is “Fall”. It seems that there are many fans who are touched in many ways because it is the most resonant song. Apart from that, the song that resonates with me is “WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?”. I have an obsession with time, and it’s a song that I can feel well

Atlas: You guys are making incredible indie music in a music scene that’s heavily dominated by arena pop. What inspired you to pursue this genre and how are you hoping to connect with wider audiences when it comes to your music?

Hoseung: I didn’t think about a specific genre and made music, but I think the situations I experienced with so many artists inspired me.

When I first made music, I was going through a lot of mental changes. Originally, I didn’t like places where there were many people and I liked to be alone, but as time went by, I met new people and there were many people who were like-minded in them. I think we covered a lot of that in the beginning. Why I didn’t like people very much, and how I came to like them.

Also, the music I listened to at that time influenced me. I listened to a lot of artists such as Coldplay, Mew, Alabama Shakes, King Rule, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr. and I listened to Vaporwave a lot on YouTube at that time.

These days, the music I listen to has changed and I like places where there are many people.

I think it will definitely affect the music I will write in the future, and I want to make music that more people can enjoy.

And I hope that when people listen to our music, they share the feelings and thoughts we felt while making the song. It may be a short moment, but I think it would be really cool if everyone could feel the same way and communicate with each other and that’s why I do music.

Atlas: When I listen to your album, it feels unique and fresh while also tickling a nostalgic part of my brain- like the music I grew up listening to. What’s your creative process like to create songs like this? 

Hoseung: It’s very kind of you to say that. The process of making a song is similar to what I said earlier. I write down what I feel or think at that moment, or what I’ve experienced or missed before, pick a topic, make a storyboard, and make a song. It’s like making a movie or drama. I hope that when people listen to our song, not just the lyrics, but the images and videos of the scene come to mind. There are times when I go through this process first and make a sound that fits after that, and before that, I choose the good ones that came out of the band ensemble and think about the ones that fit it.

Atlas: When you think about the musicians that influence your sound, who comes to mind?

Hanbin: It reminds me of many artists. I think we’re doing well with the sounds that we got from the artists who were influenced by the Beatles, Coldplay, Jimmy Hendrix, Nine Inch Nails, Mac Demarco, etc.

Atlas: What’s a professional goal that you’re striving towards as musicians?

Myungseok: Not only is it known to a lot of people, but it’s also to be someone they can really respect.

Atlas: Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your music or is there anything you wish you could talk about more that you may not get asked?

Doyeon: We have written a lot of songs mainly about relationships between people. As a result, I had no choice but to say a lot of small parts. Now I feel the need to talk about something a little bigger or heavier. So to speak, stories about social issues or individual philosophies, or stories that run into social norms.

Catch SURL’s last show of tour in New York on April 25 and stream 2022’s of us now!

Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo credit: Cielo Perez

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