Interview: Love X Stereo (at SXSW)

Annie and Toby from Love X Stereo
Annie and Toby from Love X Stereo

I had the chance to catch up with Love X Stereo before the Seoulsonic showcase at South by Southwest. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard them perform or spoke to the lead singer, Annie Ko (she’s lovely by the way, so friendly and down-to-earth) so I was excited to chat with her again. Definitely check them out if you haven’t already – great music and lovely people! Keep reading to see what they had to say.

The interview

Hi there, can you introduce yourselves and tell us a little about Love X Stereo?

Annie Ko – My name is Annie Ko, I’m the vocalist and synthesizer player.

Toby Hwang – I’m Toby, I play the guitar and I’m the producer

Annie – Right now our bassist isn’t here with us.

Love X Stereo is an interesting band name, how did you come up with it?

Annie – We like the word stereo for sure so we came up with Love Stereo. But then again, there was an Australian band called Love Stereo so we thought we’d put an “x” in it. The meaning of it is love goes sideways, both ways.

Where do you usually get your songwriting inspiration?

Toby – 80’s synth-pop and new wave music, and 90’s punk rock and alternative music.

If someone wasn’t familiar with your music, which song would you recommend they start with? Why?

Annie – Definitely “Seoul City.” Yeah, because that song is the reason we are here, I think. We didn’t realize that it could have that much power. To think about it, it’s the best song, so far, that we can actually recommend that, yeah, this is our style. When we went on our North American tour last year, we really realized that “Fly Over” might be a hit in a way, because a lot of Americans really liked it.

You came to North America last year on your own and are touring with Seoulsonic now. Do you have any interesting stories?

Annie – Yeah, about Canada. We had to drive about 24 hours to get there. And passing a border by land is really ridiculous to us because our country is divided in two. So just crossing over into another country by land was huge, it was really cool.

What’s the most unusual thing to happen to you while performing?

Annie – Last year at Indie Week Canada. I have lots of stuff to say about Canada. I mean, it was kind of a bummer because we didn’t have much set up time. They gave us about 5, and it usually takes us about 15 minutes so we had to cut a lot of our songs. The venue was a little weird. Maybe next time we can get a better venue, a better opportunity. We were so bummed.

Yeah, I felt bad when I arrived there, because it was a horrible venue. We have much better venues in Toronto.

Toby – Toronto is very cold. I have seen pictures of Niagara Falls frozen. Very crazy

You guys are truly an indie band because you represent yourselves, what are the challenges and benefits to doing so?

Annie – Well, the challenges are that we don’t have that much money. So financially, it’s hard to maintain our lives and do music. That’s the biggest challenge. I guess all independent bands suffer from that. But you gotta do what you gotta do so that’s that. The good thing is we can do whatever we want. Like managing stuff, it’s really hard to manage a band but we have a lot of freedom in it. It has good and bad, definitely. As far as we think until now, it’s really good to have that independence. But yeah, we’d like to have some financial support in the long run.

Fun question: which is your favourite band?

Toby – Too many. New Order is my favourite band. Too many more!

Annie – He is like a punk rock kid so he knows all the punk rock bands from the 80s and 90s. Vocal-wise I really like Cyndi Lauper. New Order, yeah, that’s the best band for us.

I follow you on Twitter and Facebook so I know you are active on social media. Do you have any other accounts?

Annie – Instagram, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Have you ever had any interesting stories from being online?

Annie –  Oh yeah. I just sent a random email to Viva radio, I think it was in early 2012. I got a reply back from a DJ from Viva radio, Ted Schumacher. And now we’re good friends. That was really cool.

Is there anything else that you want to share with our readers?

Annie – Thanks for interviewing us! We’re going to try to make another EP this year, probably before August or September. So we’re going to try to get back here this fall so stay tuned with that. We’re trying to make better music. You know, we’re still developing our style. It’s going to be a fun trip again.

Thanks so much to Annie and Toby from Love X Stereo for their time. It was a fun interview, more like a conversation. Definitely check them out and support them!

Love X Stereo in a nutshell

Editor’s note: It’s no wonder that I love Love X Stereo. I own everything New Order ever released and they’ve been one of my favourite bands ever since high school. It’s super cool to hear that we share some of the same favourite music. ^^ I also reassured them that Canada wasn’t always cold and that Toronto had MUCH better venues than the one they played at. 

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday – this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it’s taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I’m the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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