30 Artists, 30 Years – haihm
Interviewed by Head of Arts, Chelsea Pettitt in June 2020
Chelsea Pettitt: haihm, we were delighted that you took part in our At the Cutting Edge concert at Cafe OTO in November 2019, your first in the UK. It was great to showcase your incredible electronic music with visuals by Bongsu Park. Could you describe how you transitioned from a background in classical piano to such multi-layered electronic sounds?
haihm: My father was a composer. My mother, who was talented in singing, wanted to be a dancer when she was young. Under the influence of my parents, I grew up listening to various kinds of music. As a child, I naturally played the piano, graduated from art high school, and went to Salzburg to study. My professor was a strict person, and he gave me a lot of topics as I was vaguely romantic about studying the piano. I was more immersed in the piano and that deepened love for music, but at the same time I wondered if I could continue as a pianist as a lifelong career. It was a difficult and important time for me. I started looking for ways to put music closer to me in different ways. On the other hand, I was interested in sound, so I thought about studying sound acoustics, but I had to return to Korea. Since then many things have happened, and now I’m making electronic music. At that time, I never imagined that I would make music.
CP: You collaborate with various art forms including visual arts, contemporary dance, film and classical symphonic orchestras. How important are these collaborations for your music career? What have you learned from them?
h: Collaboration is a pleasure, as I get to meet great artists of different genres, beyond the stage of experiencing various fields of art. It is also true that there are difficulties as much as there is pleasure. Each of us is different and our thoughts and pursuits can be different. However, the reason why this collaboration can sometimes produce a great result is through that confusing process. Finally, we end up in one successful work. Even if we share different opinions, we have one goal and respect for each other’s work. It could be easy or difficult. We grow while meeting and interacting with others and exchanging opinions. Collaboration is the same for me. It provides me with an evolutionary change and allows me to look back on myself.
CP: We understand that you have an album coming out soon featuring a Jazz bassist and Korean traditional vocalist. What inspired the album and when and where can we see you next perform it?
h: We met a year and a half ago. It is a team of three people who perform electronic, jazz and Korean traditional music. The name is Sinnoi, which means improvisation, or Jam session, of Korean traditional music. We released the album “The New Path” last fall and will be performing at Southbank Centre on November 16th this year. I always made music alone, but this time it’s different. Very interesting, but not easy. This will be the result of another collaboration for me. I am trying to listen to what other members are playing and saying. Balance is very important in this way. Next spring, I plan to release tracks that I have composed so far for contemporary dance performances on an LP. This album will include tracks that were performed last year at Café OTO. In fact, in May, a contemporary dance performance I made music for was scheduled to be in London, but was postponed. And in November, Sinnoi’s performance is also scheduled, but it’s not clear if it can be done yet.
I wanted to add – Congratulations to the Bagri Foundation, on your 30th anniversary this year. I am grateful to be a part of this particular Interview Series. I would like to thank the Bagri Foundation for your efforts to support and promote especially Asian culture. Too many people around the world suffer from unexpected diseases. And as a result, many of the problems we have had are revealed everywhere. The destruction of the natural environment, discrimination, mistrust and hatred. We can no longer overlook this problem. We have to stop and think about how to protect the environment and have respect and thoughtful consideration for each other. This should be kept as a highest priority. I hope that everyone stays wise and safe during this period of confusion and hope we can meet on another stage when everything is stable.
haihm is a Seoul based electronic musician, producer and DJ. She was classically trained on piano and studied Klavier-Konzertfach at Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria. She has released two self-produced albums based on electronic music. Her new album featuring a Korean traditional vocalist as well as a Jazz bassist will be released this autumn 2019. She has been performing at many festivals alongside working with artists from various fields, including the visual arts, contemporary dance, film and classical symphonic orchestras. She works with interest in the energy created by pure sound.
“It takes a magic touch to make haihm’s kind of electronic music. Working with an array of glitchy elements – vocal snippets, clipped synths, cut-up samples – the Seoul beatmaker forms stunning compositions that transcend their techy roots and speak to a very human sense of emotional understanding and generosity. Powerful stuff.” – by Peter Holslin, DJmag.com