Kim Oki, a shorter version of the name Okinawa Kim, is one of Korean’s most promising saxophonist in the Jazz world – a name derived from his love for the people of Okinawa in Japan. He started playing the saxophone in small clubs in 2009 while being a member of the improvisation project, SMFM, led by percussionist Jae Chun Park where he met Sung Bae Kim who is now the bass player for the Kim Oki Band. They founded an independent label called ILIL Sound and published Kim Oki’s first album – “Cherubim’s Wrath”, which received the Best Jazz and Crossover performance from the Korean Music Award in 2009.
We caught up with Kim Oki Band ahead of the Penang Island Jazz Festival to hear about their latest venture and challenges ahead as a Korean band.
Q: How is Korean Jazz different or similar to the Jazz we all know?
Basically, there is no big difference. I think Korean Jazz has the potential to further develop, although it is sad that Korean Jazz does not have its own style. However, I’m hopeful that many more Korean musicians will be creative to try new jazz styles to build their own identity.
Q: You’ve received the Best Jazz and Crossover Performance at the Korean Music Award in 2013. What has happened since winning the award? Have you performed at more live events?
To be honest, the prize does not influence my income or chances of more live gigs. My music is not easy as every song contains deep messages and thoughts. I still think this style is not fully accepted into the jazz clubs or festivals because of its serious contents and thought processes. People come to the jazz clubs to enjoy and relax and this may not be as appealing as compared to other easier jazz.
Penang Island Jazz Festival will be our very first concert outside of Korea.
Q: What are some of the challenges you are facing right now, in the context as a Korean artist, in comparison to the rest of the world?
I do not exactly know about the situations abroad. Korean music market is tough and as an artist, maintenance of my livelihood is indeed a challenge.
Q: Obviously, artists are now using the digital world and social media to promote their music. Which platform do you use to distribute and promote your singles and albums?
My second album was released on the 20 January 2015 and will be performing the songs from my upcoming third album at the Penang Island Jazz Festival. Although I do have a Facebook account, I barely use it for promotional purposes. I believe the best strategy for promoting one’s work is through the word of mouth via my mania fans.
Q: How do you use these platforms or social media to interact with your fans?
Although I am not an active user of Facebook, I communicate with my fans via this platform. My fans seem to like the funny B grade comedy articles that I sometimes post.
Catch them LIVE at Penang Island Jazz Festival on 3 December, 7-7.45pm.