Music Liaison: Glen Choi

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Interview with Glen Choi in Seoul

Interview with Glen Choi in LA

By Hellynn Jung

A trend that’s consistently held its territory in the Korean entertainment industry is the commercialized teeny-bopper group of same-sex lookers. They epitomize the youthful energy, vibrancy as well as a bit of superficiality in today’s national pop culture, otherwise known as K-pop.

Looking back to the 90s, groups like Sinhwa and SES were quite the sensation in the world of K-pop. Now, Girls’ Generation, Big Bang, 2NE1, and many more embody this great slew of Korean stars sweeping through all of Asia and slowly paving the way for future generations into the Western hemisphere.

But surely, all good groups must come to an end. So the question is… what happens to these teenage K-poppers when their 15 minutes of teen-hood fame is up?

Meet Glen Choi, former member of boy group phenomenon, Idol, who won New Artist of the Year (Korea) in 1996 and was #1 on SBS Kayo of May 1996. Many of its members have fallen fast into a pool of obscurity. But this particular ex-K-popper’s great contributions behind the scenes are facilitating the spread of Hallyu worldwide.

As famous as the then-teenage singers’ entourage was in the 90s, Choi strives to continue his pursuit of impacting the music culture as a producer of Artisans Music, a recording studio he established in Los Angeles. It specializes in mainstream music such as pop, dance and R&B. Additionally, he is a DJ remixing with his team, Mutha Dukkaz.

“My background is very unique in that I was a recording artist from the US but started my career in Korea,” Choi says.

Starting a couple of decades ago, several lucky individuals who were raised overseas have risen to celebrity stardom in the motherland. They add a colorful touch to Korea’s enterprises with a different set of mannerisms, ideas, and work ethics.

Choi, being one of those individuals has an extensive understanding of music both culturally and technically. Consequently, he has had the opportunity to work with A-list artists from both worlds, including the Black Eyed Peas and the Wonder Girls. It’s safe to say that his niche in the business is as liaison for Korea and America.

“Korea was always closed off, but with the Internet, it’s opened up and expanded culturally,” he says.

This is true in all areas of Korean culture. The bibimbap has become an international phenomenon amongst gourmet chefs, Rain has managed to star in a Hollywood film, and our beloved K-pop artists are just beginning to perform in Europe and America. Yet, there still seems to be quite the hurdle to overcome for Hallyu stars because of what is considered ‘culturally kosher’.

“It’s unfortunate because [American producers] don’t see the immediate potential in Korea,” Choi explains. “And often, it’s because of two cultures colliding and communication barriers happening.”

However, this certain Korean-American sees unlimited potential for Korea to develop into an international music hub for producers and artists from all over the world. Intercultural business deals may not persist long-term unless there is cultural awareness and respect between the existing parties. Not only does Choi have a clear understanding of where music is going in this country, he strongly believes in his role as a bridge between nations.

Other than creating smooth ground for collaboration, he has goals of amplifying K-pop as a DJ. For those who feel that it lacks a stronger presence in the party scene, Choi’s goals of transforming K-pop songs to club-worthy beats may pique their interest.

As of late, Choi is developing the remix culture through commercial pop artists, editing vocals with futuristic and ‘dirty’ sounds and beats. For instance, he is creating a dance-friendly remix for Girls Generation’s song, ‘Gee’, as well as the Wonder Girls’ ‘Be My Baby’ to name a few.

With hefty ambitions to participate in Hallyu and change music for the better, Choi has a working philosophy that has done him well thus far: “Aim for goals that have no limits.”

Avid fans of Hallyu would concur. No limits for K-pop world domination, you say? We’ll have to wait and see.

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