Some may be surprised to know that Min June Park aka DJ Soulscape, one of the best known and most respected DJs in South Korea, has been arranging and composing music under a whole other persona since as early as 2000. He’s called Espionne, and his sound is a departure from what anyone has come to expect from Soulscape.
Espionne songs are soft and sweet pop-infused instrumentals, hearkening back to music from Brazil and Western Europe from the 60s and 70s. As far as output, Park is equally active under both names, but Espionne records tend to be harder to find.
Back in 2002, we first saw Espionne’s 어쩌면(Perhaps), an EP of jazzy, laid-back remixes. Then a few years later, he came back with TEMA’65, over an hour of bossa nova with everything from Cal Tjader to Voices In Latin. And some time after that, Espionne began his compositions for Korean skincare line Belif. Check out four treatments of original scores here that include collaborations with jazz trio Second Sessions’ phenomenal guitarist Taehun Lee and bassist Moonhee Kim from Asoto Union.
Itching for a bit more explanation and a lot more music, we caught up with Park to lay it all down and finally figure out exactly who Espionne is and what he does.
Be sure to download exclusive tracks at the bottom of this interview and check out our original profile on this prolific creator. Join us at The Creators Project Seoul 2012 Event, with DJ Soulscape spinning during our Saturday evening music line-up. Who knows, maybe Espionne will even make a quick cameo.
The Creators Project: You’ve been using this moniker, Espionne, pretty much as long as you’ve been using Soulscape. Still, you are more widely known as Soulscape. Why do you think that is?
Min June Park: The music I do under Soulscape is entirely different. Under Soulscape, I make music with contemporary hip hop samples and edits. Under Espionne, I actually compose and make soft pop and instrumental music inspired by places like Brazil and more. Although it’s hard to find my work as Espionne in albums and such, I’ve been composing music for all sorts of films, dramas, and ads since 2000.
Simply put, what does Espionne do that Soulscape doesn’t? And vice versa, what does Soulscape do that Espionne doesn’t?
The difference is simply a matter of performing/playing music. My objective through Espionne is to revitalize and use the same techniques from the 60s and 70s for recording and playing music. The sounds from music labels like Odeon and Musidisc during the late 60s and early 70s or Italian motion picture soundtracks from Stelvio Cipriani is the sound and feeling I’m going for.
As it means “to spy” in French, Espionne excavates music from the past and rearranges it within the present. Can you explain why you chose to use Espionne and its relationship with the past?
I can’t remember exactly, but it’s from a film title or maybe a spy movie. Series like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and sci-fi movies have influenced me a lot, so I went for a similar feel. Also, I dig the nuance of “espionne” a lot. Being in music, I make heavy efforts to research the musical grammar and techniques of the past.
For the past several years, you’ve been arranging a dynamic array of instrumental music through your collaboration with Belif. In your fourth and most recent collaboration with Belif, duophonics, how did you address the duality in sound suggested from title while collaborating with Linus’ Blanket’s frontwoman Yeongene?
Duophonics is a technique that turns a mono recorded source into pseudo-stereo. Rather than applying this to the sound, we tried to recreate this sort of dimensionality, ambiance, or harmony felt during the actual recording sessions of those times. Going beyond just recording the drums with two mics, we even put restrictions on the performative technique of the music. For instance, we restricted the polyphonic playing of an organ into two parts or dividing the two treble clef and bass clef parts into a split construction—we put a lot of effort into this concept.
And last but not least, what can we look forward to from Espionne?
Not just in Korea but all over the world, there’s a very small amount of people that appreciate this sort of music. Yet, I’m still working with advertising, motion picture soundtracks, and various fields. Moving forward, I want to research the various methods of music arrangement and production for each country’s pop and instrumental music and make a library of them.