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Annie Ko Of Love X Stereo Discusses The Seoul-Based Electro Duo's Past And Future [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | January 28, 2016 04:35 PM EST

Love X Stereo's band bio says the group was started by a "former skate-punk rocker" and a "fugitive astrophysicist" in Seoul, South Korea, five years ago. Producer Toby Hwang and keyboardist-vocalist Annie Ko's diverse background could be one reason the duo decided to avoid the traditional K-pop route.

The electro rock duo's kaleidoscopic synth-pop anthems that caught the ears of music festival audiences across Asia and North America are something closer to EDM or other indie bands.

Love X Stereo's forthcoming "We Love We Leave, Part 2," EP was recorded and mixed with British producer Adrian Hall, who previously worked with recording industry giants Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp, Britney Spears and Alicia Keys. The band went directly to their fans to fund the upcoming album with a pledgemusic.com appeal. Love X Stereo is also taking requests from fans while planning their "Hide and Seek USA and Canada Tour 2016," that kicks off their appearance at the South by Southwest music festival in March.

Last week, Ko took the time to talk with KpopStarz about "We Love We Leave, Part 2," the band's diverse background and what their songs are about, in an exclusive interview.

"We Love We Leave, Part 1 (2015)" was mostly focused on love," said the singer. "The follow-up is more about leaving and parting, how we deal with separation and death. That's the main theme of the new album."

So, what's the Love X Stereo songwriting formula?

"Usually Toby comes up with a basic beat or a cool riff, whether it's from a synthesizer or guitar," Ko said. "Then, we add ideas, melodies and chords."

She claims she and her bandmate differ only slightly on how they would describe their musical style.

"Our music is electro-rock, synth-pop that is heavily influenced by the '90s," said the vocalist. "Toby often says that our music is synth-punk and I often say that it's electro-alternative. We're actually very inspired by '90s alternative music."

That would explain the songwriters' choice of cover songs, like the New Order classic "Temptation."

"New Order is our favorite band, hands down," Ko said. "Honestly, it was inevitable. We just had to do it. Maybe we'll cover more of their songs later on."

The two musicians also shared an avoidance of the K-pop career path taken by many of their musical peers, but according to Ko it wasn't a conscious choice for either of them.

"It's just who we are," she said. "We never tried to avoid it or anything. It just doesn't register to us that easily, that's all. But that doesn't mean that we're not interested in K-pop. We're actually very interested in the worldwide phenomenon. You have to admit that it's a phenomenon. I mean, Apple iTunes in the U.S. and Japan opened up a separate genre page just for K-pop, which is huge."

The frontwoman believes in the long run, that the international Hallyu explosion with be a positive thing for all South Korean musicians.

"It will help out a lot of underground musicians eventually," Ko said. "But we don't want to follow the trend. We never did and never will. We'll be us no matter what and that will be our strength in the end."

The Love X Stereo keyboardist-vocalist doesn't consider K-pop to be uncool however.

"Every song is too different, so I don't see the genre [as applying to all] those types of music, really," she said.

"Visually, K-pop stands out. The brightness, the energy, and the way these girl or boy groups are presented is very fancy and eye-catching. But the music production doesn't necessarily match up with that. Sometimes it's too over the top, too unfocused, or too unimportant compared to the visuals."

Though Ko says fans have pointed out the similarities between Love X Stereo's sound and K-pop acts.

"Some of our non-Korean fans do see the resemblance at some point. We think that's very interesting," she said.

"Consider our songs as an alternative or substitute for K-pop. We create songs on our own, we do live performances all the time, and we always try to present ourselves as an international band like any other bands throughout the world. Because our songs are mostly written in English, our music can be considered more universal than other K-pop acts."

Watch Love Stereo's performing the song "My Anywhere" live RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  Love x Stereo, exclusive interview, Exclusive, interview, solo interview, K-Pop, kpop

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