Preview: Canadian Bands at Zandari Festa 2017

It’s no secret that I think music festivals are a ton of fun and a great way to see bands you love, as well as discover new favourites. And the Zandari Festa tops my list of music festivals I would really love to attend (fingers crossed for next year). But this year we thought we’d do something a little different in our preview. Rather than talk to a couple of Korean bands about the festival as we’ve done before, and did earlier this summer, we chatted briefly via email with the Canadian bands who will be playing Zandari Festa (September 29 – October 1).

Now I’ve written about Zandari Festa before, so it’s no secret that I’d love to attend, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with the music festival that happens every fall, let me tell you a little about it. Zandari Festa began in 2012 in Seoul’s Hongdae area (a fabulous neighbourhood for live music and nightlife) and quickly grew into a truly global music festival. This year, there will be over 120 bands performing from 25 different countries. And looking at the lineup, if you’re in Seoul that weekend, you definitely won’t want to miss it.

Poster courtesy of Zandari Festa

Mini interview with the Canadian bands attending

But enough from me, keep reading to find out why they’re going to Zandari, what they are looking forward to doing, and who they are looking forward to seeing.

What made you choose to perform at the Zandari Festa?

Jonathan Lyte from Pseudo: We wanted to perform at Zandari Festa because we were planning to tour in Korea, but we weren’t sure where to start. So, with the help of our friend Ken – he suggested the festival to us – we used Zandari as the anchoring point for this tour and it made routing and planning a lot less daunting.

Niva Chow from Dearly Beloved: We were invited to play another festival in Korea called Mu:Con so it only made sense to perform at Zandari as well. It’s a great opportunity for us to play Seoul and get a taste of Korean culture.

Arlo Maverick: My road manager heard about the festival and suggested I apply. I’m trying to take my music worldwide and share it with new audiences. Seoul is uncharted territory, but from what I’ve seen with other Zandari performers like Kimoki Fuckingmadness and MC Sniper, they love hip-hop music there.

Geoff Smith from Gunner & Smith: I saw someone post that Zandari was taking applications, maybe it was Liverpool Soundcity or some other festival? Anyway, I knew that there was a music scene in South Korea, but had never considered going. I knew we would be putting out a new record around the time of the festival and thought that it would be really fun to try going somewhere new. So I applied and didn’t really think much of it. We started planning our release tour and then we got an email from Zandari saying we got in. The dates actually worked out perfectly with our album release schedule and Canadian tour, so we thought it would be a great way to get introduced to the music scene in Seoul. Festivals like this are excellent ways to really get into a music scene and see what it’s all about. You get to meet bands and industry people, and you can really get a good sense of what a city is all about. We’re always looking for new places to play and ways to connect with new fans, so we’re extremely excited to be playing at Zandari this year.

What are you looking forward to doing/seeing in Korea?

Jonathan Lyte from Pseudo: We’re avid hikers so we are looking forward to doing some of that around Seoul. Aside from that, we just plan on eating a lot of good food that we don’t get at home.

Niva Chow from Dearly Beloved: We’re looking forward to tasting as much as we can! Noodles in soup and stir fry, Korean stews, dumplings, kimchi … there’s too much to mention!

Arlo Maverick: I’m interested in seeing the culture of South Korea and learning about the customs. It’s all very new and I hope it will help in my writing.

Geoff Smith from Gunner & Smith: Well I really love history, so I’m excited to see some interesting sites and beautiful architecture. Realistically though, I’m mostly excited about the food! For me, touring is really about two things: playing music for people and trying food I can’t get at home. Seoul has a great reputation for good food and I can’t wait to try a bunch of things I’ve never had before. So if anyone has recommendations of great places to eat please let me know!

Are there any Korean bands you are looking forward to checking out at the festival?

Jonathan Lyte from Pseudo: Wasted Johnny’s are the main one we’re looking forward to seeing! Other than that, we’ll be doing a lot of wandering during the festival and hope to discover some cool new bands that way.

Niva Chow from Dearly Beloved: We’re interested in checking out The Lemons from Mongolia, DTSQ from Korea, and Afrikan Boy too. We’re in the midst of a Japan tour so we haven’t been able to delve into this as much as we want to. But I’m sure we’ll find lots of cool bands while we’re there.

Arlo Maverick: I’m really interested in checking out the two Korean hip-hop acts that will be playing showcases. I’ve had a chance to check out their music and it sounds pretty good.

Geoff Smith from Gunner & Smith: I was going through the website the other day and there were a couple that I thought sounded pretty cool that I will definitely try to check out. I thought that Howaho and Guten Birds both had pretty cool sounds. Also DTSQ seem like they put on a really fun show, so I’ll be trying to catch their set too.

Just the facts: Zandari Festa

Canadian bands playing Zandari Festa

Pseudo | Courtesy of Zandari Festa

Toronto punk act Pseudo

Dearly Beloved | Courtesy of Zandari Festa

Toronto rock band Dearly Beloved

Arlo Maverick | Courtesy of Zandari Festa

Edmonton hip-hop MC Arlo Maverick

Gunner & Smith | Courtesy of Zandari Festa

Saskatoon indie-country-rock band Gunner & Smith


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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