Madmans Esprit is an avant-garde metal band from South Korea that incorporates elements of visual kei into both their sound and aesthetics. The band started as the solo project by independent artist Kyuho in 2010, but since its formation has evolved into something bigger.
What’s currently ahead is the third album that will be released on October 22 titled “Naneun naleul tonghae ulileul boneun neoleul tonghae naleul bonda” (나는 나를 통해 우리를 보는 너를 통해 나를 본다, I see myself through you who see us through me). This release marks an ending of a chapter, but at the same time, it’s the beginning of a new one. We are excited to see what this album and the future will bring.
Vocalist Kyuho took the time to speak with us about the upcoming album, his influences, and the future of Madmans Esprit.
We hope you will enjoy this interview and listen to “Naneun naleul tonghae ulileul boneun neoleul tonghae naleul bonda” when it releases next week.
Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview! First off, for those who are unfamiliar with Madmans Esprit, could you give a quick introduction in your own words?
Madmans Esprit is an avant-garde/alternative metal band with visual kei elements.
Even though Madmans Esprit is based in South Korea, it is influenced by Japanese culture in various aspects. Could you tell us about these influences and in what way they’ve affected Madmans Esprit?
I would not say Madmans Esprit has Japanese cultural influences generally. There are a handful of Japanese bands we really like, but other than that I see no connection.
But we do have a strong personal connection to some Japanese visual kei bands, both musically and aesthetically.
Together with bands like Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, and some extreme metal bands, some Japanese bands were the heaviest and most extreme music I could listen to while I was growing up.
What some of the Japanese visual kei bands from early 2000 were doing is still one of the core influences we have as a band.
So how did you first get familiar with these bands?
The first visual kei experience I had was actually a Korean band called “The Trax”, which was produced by [the South Korean entertainment company] SM Entertainment and Yoshiki together. Naturally, I started to listen to X-Japan. I dug deeper and deeper after that.
You have a new album coming out next week called “Naneun naleul tonghae ulileul boneun neoleul tonghae naleul bonda”, can you tell us more about it?
The title means “I see myself through you who see us through me”. We are the mirrors of each other. That concept creates the entire perceived universe. When people listen to the album, they will make a certain observation of the world through my perspective. That will be reflected on the actual world, which will be observed by me again.
The album art was done by someone else, who listened to this idea. But I think it expresses the music well.
With such an interesting concept, how does that translate to the overall sound of the album?
One thing I really wanted to avoid was making it sound like any other self-replicating metal albums these days. There are some doom metal and post-metal influences on the guitar sound. It was quite a challenge to make it brutal and dirty, but also warm, fuzzy, and organic.
I wanted to make it sound still very “pop” (in the sense that it’s not 12-minute-long pink noise), but also very cult.
It’s not long until we get to hear the album, but what differences can we expect with the upcoming album compared to previous ones?
I wanted to complete “Madmans Esprit so far” with this album, so we can move on to a new chapter.
If the previous single releases were my experiments of combining different elements to create something new, I wanted to put a dot at the end of the sentence this time.
I always like to try new things, but this time I also intentionally tried to think of what my musical root is.
I am trying not to forget it.
With that in mind, we also noticed that previously released songs made it into the album, but more importantly, they’re re-recorded! How much has changed for those songs?
Some are almost not changed at all, some have a pretty big change. It has been a few years since the songs were originally released. So we naturally rediscover something as we play them live for the past years. Now without those changes, it feels like the song’s not complete.
On the other hand, the feeling from certain songs just stayed the same all those years.
We’re also impressed by your ability to write lyrics in English, German, Japanese, and Korean. Is there any reason for choosing a certain language over another for a song?
It sometimes can be a marketing strategy, sometimes it’s about the flow of the language.
Most of the time it just happens automatically.
Got it! And considering Madmans Esprit is a solo project where you, Kyuho, essentially create all the music and manage everything, what do you find the most challenging?
There is a lot of work and I am only one person.
But we’ve been talking about working together as a band in the future, I am very much looking forward to the chemistry of us five.
We were pleased to see that you have been performing live in Korea quite a bit in the past year. Many of these shows were also livestreamed, which gave fans from around the world an opportunity to watch as well. Are there any plans to tour outside of Korea in the near future?
More than 95% of our audience is from outside of Korea. We are happy to perform in Korea too, but we’ve always been aiming for overseas activity. If we don’t tour and stay in Korea, pretty soon we will have to stop making music just solely to make a living, as there’s a very limited opportunity here.
The COVID-19 situation was holding us back a lot, but we already saw a big possibility with previous tours in Europe and Japan. I believe Madmans Esprit has to be re-exported to Korea. Of course, I want to be active in Korea too, but I don’t have hopes of making the band big domestically. The music industry in Korea is very monopolized and the underground scene here is devastating.
That’s quite sad to hear, but we’re of course looking forward to seeing you perform overseas! When that happens, which Japanese band would you want to bring along—if you could pick any?
I’m not sure what other band members think, but personally: Dazzling Bad, Deviloof, and DIR EN GREY.
It’s funny that they all start with the letter “D”.
[Laughs] indeed. Considering the amount of effort that is needed to tackle a project like Madmans Esprit, what are some of the ways fans can help support your work?
The most obvious one is buying our merchandise. That’s how we afford to make albums and music videos, organize concerts and all.
But honestly, what’s most important is that the fans talk about the band. Talking about us on social media and to their friends, sharing our music to their surroundings and letting more people discover us.
It’s the biggest support we can get.
Let’s end this interview with a message to Madmans Esprit fans around the world!
I’m not sure if the album is already out by the time you are reading the interview, but please enjoy the album. I hope this can be a meaningful album to you.
Thank you all for the support.
We would like to thank Kyuho again for taking his time to allow us to learn more about his work and the upcoming album “Naneun naleul tonghae ulileul boneun neoleul tonghae naleul bonda”. It will be out on October 22, and you can already pre-order your copy from No Authority‘s webshop.