EP Report: Autor Frank Lev / Seoul

Aktualisiert: 19. Nov 2018

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

Taking Off and Landing About a year ago in June,2017, I was playing street music in Seoul with the Everywhere Band. As we were playing, an attractive blond-haired woman walked by with a guitar. I motioned to her to join us as I often do. I love getting people involved and collaborating. I was surprised when she stopped as she was with a group. She said she would love to play with us.

She has an interesting story. Her name is Katya Von Bauska (sounds almost like busker) and she is from Germany. She is a flight attendant for Lufthansa Airlines but her real passion is music. She sings, plays guitar, and writes songs. Yes, a singer/songwriter. She sang 2 songs with us in German, and was really excited about it. One of the songs she sang, she wrote the day before her first flight as a flight attendant. It was about taking off and landing. About starting new paths in life. Reassuring that for each take off there will be a landing somewhere. A nice metaphor, for her especially. We all had a great time meeting and playing with her. We exchanged information because well you just never know.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

After that, every time she had a layover in Seoul she would contact me and ask if we could play together again. It never worked out though. But she had other things going on. As she traveled around the world getting 1-2 day layovers all over, she would go to open mike sessions, and generally interact with the local musicians. I got an excited message a few months ago in which Katya told me that she had a new dream and that was to record a song in each of the cities around the world where she stopped over. It was something like the movie “Begin Again” but on a much larger scale. She asked if I could help. At that point I had 2 choices 1: just blow her off; Why should I waste my time on her dream. I had my own dreams, my own songs to write, my own take-offs to attempt, or 2: Help her.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

I decided to help her. People talk so much about finding your passion, following your dreams, staying focused etc. etc. It’s almost become this sacred thing, and I agree with that. But has anyone ever asked you to help them with their dream? To me that is also a sacred thing. In the past someone asked me to help them with their dream, but I didn’t do anything to help, and I still regret that. Sure it can be distracting, but it seems like a great thing to do. If dreams are so sacred that isn’t just as sacred to help someone else follow their dream if you can. So now when someone tells me about their dream my ears perk up. So, I said yes I would help her. In my case that meant asking people I knew, other musicians and people involved in music in Seoul if they were willing to help, and endless messages with Katya about people, times, dates, etc. First I asked Doyeon Lim for help. Doyeon is a woman in Seoul who is an independent music producer. She brings indie bands to Korea (bands that are not famous except for a small group of people) and arranges tours for them. She was willing to help. She gave Katya the name of studio that would help her at a reasonable price. She ended up renting the studio for 2 days, June 3 and 4th. I gave her the name of Zoe Yugami, a violinist, singer/ songwriter who I knew from the streets. I thought they would hit it off and they really did. The guitar player in the Everywhere band Kyo Hyun was up for it to. The Jimbae Player in the Everywhere Band, Joan, was also a good photographer. He signed on to record the event. The drummer, Katya found on Craigslist. He was a recently arrived guy from San Francisco.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

It’s not like we were doing this for free. We were getting some money, but it wasn’t much really, but that didn’t matter, it was a token of her appreciation. I think everyone involved was doing it out of the same spirit of helping that I was. Let’s help her follow her dream! Truthfully, I really didn’t think it would actually come together, but due to Katya’s determination, it really did. I went to the studio at 10 am Sunday for rehearsal with Kyo Hyun. We went back on Monday from 2-5 and recorded our parts. There were some tense moments, like when Katya couldn’t get Kyo Hyun to get the sound she wanted. He is an amazing guitarist, so much so that it was hard for him to confine himself and follow instructions. Finally I told Katya to just tell Kyo Hyun to play what sounded good to him. That’s when it opened up. He is so musical that beautiful sounds just poured out of the instrument. Katya was amazed and beamed the biggest smile that lit up the recording studio.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

Originally the plan was to do a live recording (one in which we would all play at the same time) but that quickly got changed. It went to the standard way of doing one player, one track at a time. That is more time consuming., and that is like playing under a microscope. Each little sound , each little defect stands out. It can be difficult to do because you really hear yourself and all your flaws. It can be deflating pretty quickly. Also there are other people in the other room that are also picking your playing apart. My part was pretty simple though, just a 16 bar solo and a few background lines. Still it seemed like it took forever. Finally, they said I was done. I heaved a big sigh of relief.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

Then there was plenty of time to hang out while we were waiting. I got to talk to Zoe a lot, and the recording studio owner and producer was someone I had met 10 years before when I taught at Kaist. Back then he was a hippie looking Korean teenager with dreglocks who spoke perfect English. He reminded me when I saw him otherwise I would never have recognized him.

When I left at 530 pm. I realized I had gotten a lot out of the project. Helping someone fulfill their dream, getting a chance to play in the recording studio, meeting old friends, meeting new friends, some money, a great time just hanging out, and a big German Chocolate bar that Katya had brought for all the musicians and people involved. Now we wait again for the editing and the final cut. Someday in the not too distant future there will be an international album by Katya.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

The song we made that day was the same one we had done in the streets, about taking off and landing. We joked that it could become the theme song for Lufthansa, and maybe even the slogan, “Fly Lufthansa, where each takeoff has a landing. We guarantee it!”

There was one other thing I got from that day; the song, because my life is changing radically now. After teaching in universities in Korea for the last 14 years (yes that’s right and I still don’t speak Korean well!), I am going back to the USA to help take care of my father; back to my hometown that I left almost exactly 40 years ago; back to an uncertain future. Yes that is right, I am taking off. Where will I land? Who will I be? Can I find a way to be happy? I think of the song and I feel reassured. There will be a landing somewhere and it will be ok. The song sticks in my mind and reassures me.

picture Joan Belec / Seoul

If you have a dream, follow your dream. If you can help someone else with their dream, help them too. Somehow dreams have a way of mixing and matching and you may get something for yourself that you never imagined. If not, at least someone else is following their dream better. And remember, every take-off has a landing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV3rgqWHdYU&feature=youtu.be a video of the original meeting and the song about taking off and landing

Autor des Textes: Frank Lev

Hier schreibt Frank über seine vielfältigen Reiseerfahrungen! Und immer dabei: sein Saxophon!


All pictures by: Joan Belec / Seoul

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