A Touch of Tradition: Interview with SU:M

SU:M. It means breath. And when you see SU:M perform the incandescent beauty of their music can take your breath away. (Not to mention tiny little Jiha needs more than her share of breath to keep playing that piri like the pro she is.) So it goes to show that sometimes the name for a band is just so fitting you can’t think of anything else to call them.

The exotic sounds of SU:M’s traditional Korean instruments are blended seamlessly with a new age musical composition to create timeless & beautiful music that just about anyone can enjoy. It’s soothing and relaxing, but not so droll and downtrodden that you want to fall asleep, there is a great blending of themes and feelings that are difficult to express sometimes, but SU:M manages to nail it every time. I was lucky enough to grab a few moments of the bands’ time in between shows while in Austin for SXSW, read on for our conversation.


Photo Credit: Kelsey Geiger

Hello! Can you tell us your names & your roles in the group?

Jiha: I play piri, saenghwang, yangeum, and …yeah, that’s all.
Jungmin: Hi my name is Jungmin, from South Korea, my major instrument is gayageum, a kind of string instrument.

When did you meet and form the band?

Jiha: Already 8 years we’ve [been] working together, when we graduated university we got together and formed SU:M.

The mouth organ you play is a very interesting instrument, can you tell us little about it? Is it difficult to learn, also, is it uncommon in Korea to play it?

Jiha: I think to make a sound is easier than the Piri, but the fingering was more difficult to learn for the first time, but now it is ok, and easy.


Part-time student, full-time media whore, fan of all things Asian.

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