Hailing from the bustling but relatively musically quiet South Korean port-town of Busan (where I once ate some of the weirdest seafood I’ve ever come across), Say Sue Me might sing in English, but when they drop in on Dublin in May, they’ll be a long, long way from home.

It’s rare that a South Korean act make it to our shores, and rarer still that one is backed by niche indie label Damnably, and featured on Pitchfork. They might be playing the modest Grand Social venue, then, but Say Sue Me are well worth a night out. I talked to vocalist Choi SuMi ahead of their show… 

Note: there’s a little ‘Konglish’ in the replies to this interview, which I decided to leave in, as it’s all fairly easy to understand, and adds colour to the interview, I think. 

I look forward to seeing you in Ireland – what is it like to come and play shows so far from home? 

We look forward to seeing you, too! Every time we tour overseas, it is always wonderful to know that there are people who listen to our music in such a far away place. It is difficult to go so far, but it always feels better after the performance.

Do you have any special expectations for this tour?

We go to Ireland for the first time. Trying for the first time is always exciting. 

I remember my life in Korea (I lived in Seoul for two years) as being a lot about drinking. You write a lot about drinking. Do you enjoy the feeling of fun this gives your songs? 

There was a time when I drank lots of alcohol. I can not help but the lyrics contain things that have dominated me at the time of creation. It is good to remember myself at that time.

Most of the world sees Korean music as K-Pop. You are certainly not K-Pop. How do you see that kind of music?

There is a reason for the world to pay attention. It is a great ability to grasp the taste of the public in a rapidly changing world.

Obviously most of your shows take place in Korea. What made you decide to sing mostly in English? 

At first I tried to write lyrics in Korean but it was too difficult. It was like being naked to express my thoughts in the language I know best. I chose the easy way to complete the song.

I understand Se Min became quite ill after a fall during the writing of your last album. How is he? Has this had a strong effect on the band?

We’re always cautious about referring to Semin because we’re not currently working together. We just want you to know that we are always with Semin in our hearts.

I can hear some very indie-rock influences in your sound. Does life in Busan have an impact, too? 

It seems that living in Busan and indie rock have no influence on each other. We were born in a country where IT was developed so fast that we could easily find American and English music when we were young.

I read you met because the other three members loved Su Mi’s speaking voice in a tea shop. That must be one of the strangest band origin stories I’ve heard. How did that conversation go? Was it odd?

It was not the first time we met, but we just knew each other through some acquaintances. Of course, all the things were so sudden, but we had no expectation. We were just looking for some fun things.

How have you found life on Damnably?

Damnably’s George accidentally watched a video of our gig at a club in Busan. He said he liked our song ‘My problem’ a lot and then contacted us. He suggested that we apply to SXSW, but we refused at that time as it was too short notice. Then the following year he contacted us again and suggested a tour of England. That’s when we started to work together. 

Let’s imagine for a minute that the average reader checks out one Say Sue Me song while they read my article. Which song would you like them to listen to, and why?

We recommend Old Town’. It is the title song of our second album and the song shares our feelings about our hometown. It seems to be a song that has made many people more aware of us.

Which Korean bands should we check out?

You should check out folk song singer-songwriter ‘Kim Ildu’ and a guitar-pop band ‘Cogason’. 

What are your plans for the future?

This year, more overseas tours are planned than last year. We’re going to make songs whenever we get time and release singles.

Say Sue Me play The Grand Social on May 10, 2019.

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