A figure of the Toronto electronic scene for over ten years, Korea Town Acid cultivates a musical identity that draws largely from downtempo, broken beat and alternative hip-hop. Producer – her last album Elephant In The Room was just released – live performer and DJ, Jessica Cho does not hesitate to push the boundaries of music genres, and the scene is very grateful to her, as proven by the nomination of her track Sobriety for a Juno in the category of underground dance single of the year in 2022. For her second appearance at MUTEK, the Korean artist offers a live performance guided by improvisation, creating unique soundscapes.
PAN M 360 : How would you describe your relationship with Montreal ?
KOREA TOWN ACID : I feel like Montreal treats me really well. Obviously, Montreal has very prestigious festivals like MUTEK, Pop Montreal and Osheaga. I’ve played at Pop Montreal, as well as MUTEK, I’ve done a Boiler Room at Piknic Electronik. I’ve had ones of my best showcases in Montreal, I feel very connected to the city. The intention behind an event is very important to me and I feel that there is no festival like MUTEK that focuses on digital and creative arts and that is really about the audio interactive experience.
PAN M 360 : What does a festival like MUTEK mean to you ?
KOREA TOWN ACID : You know, l was working for a long time to be on stage like MUTEK. A part of me wanted to play hardware and live. I was so inspired by a lot of artists that played there that I wanted to be a part of it. I actually debuted in MUTEK 2018, so I’m really excited to go back because it was pandemic and during pandemic I haven’t like really focused on playing live PA stuff because the way I interact with my live PA has to do with reading the vibe at that moment in the room and everything. So yeah, like I’m really looking forward to having that connection with the people. I feel that the type of audience that MUTEK brings is the people who really care about this kind of underground and original music. It’s really exciting when people are there to see you and they’re just receptive about what you do.
PAN M 360 : What can we expect from your performance at MUTEK ?
KOREA TOWN ACID : Basically no computer. It’s very hardware focused and I’m using drum machines, samplers, FM synthesis and modular synthesis, bringing stuff in and out. I already have pre programmed stuff but I’m orchestrating it live. Let’s say like I have a song already, but then I’m mixing it and I bring things live. It’s kind of like a DJ approach because I want it to be cleaner and have a smoother transition. I want it to be more dancefloor oriented. I’m playing a Saturday outdoor stage at 7:00 PM so it’s going to be a sunset kind of vibe. I’m picturing this kind of energy.
PAN M 360 : I know some people use the word hybrid for a performance mixing DJing and live, would you say your proposition is hybrid ?
KOREA TOWN ACID : I wouldn’t, I would say it’s absolutely not hybrid because I’m playing original live music, but just the way I’m approaching bringing in and out of tracks is a DJ approach. But it’s completely original so I wouldn’t call it a hybrid.
PAN M 360 : A big part of the live will be improvised. Is this approach for improvisation coming from your background in jazz ? Are you trying to recreate a dialogue between the machines ?
KOREA TOWN ACID : Yeah, basically my approach for the music is really about capturing that moment. It cycles through the moment and the improvisation aspect is that when there’s a sort of happy mistake comes in within my set. I try to navigate, if there’s something good, I stay there, and then it evolves. Definitely, the energy sort of goes out and shifts. That’s when it comes where I can feel the audience is digging in more than others sometimes. Improvisational aspect is where I could bring up different stuff, depending on what people are digging. I have pre programmed stuff in the machine but what I would actually perform will depend on the mood, the situation and the day.