30 Nov 2022

Amplified | Episode 5 | Imugi 이무기

From Amplified, 6:00 am on 30 November 2022

Series Classification: PG

By Breanna Tugaga-Rogers

 Jess spends a day with Yery Cho and Carl Ruwhiu of electronic-pop duo Imugi 이무기 to chat about escaping into the internet, world-building through music and remaining independent.

imugi 이무기 are somewhat extraterrestrial beings — through their music they transport listeners to another world.

Made up of vocalist Yery Cho and producer Carl Ruwhiu, imugi 이무기 is an electronic-pop duo that Amplified host Jess Fu describes as, “fiercely independent, making work that is bold and self-assured.”

Watching the episode, you can see that there is something special about the creative pair. They are defiant in their own right, refusing to be limited or confined by any means. Instead of accepting a seat at someone else’s table, Yery says she’d rather make a new table.

Through the video, we really get to know the Tāmaki Makaurau pair in a visual sense. Nostalgic childhood photos are contrasted with footage of the grown-up duo today. Floating imagery overlays more footage of imugi 이무기, making for many crisp transitions, really speaking to their combined uniqueness and to the instinct of episode director Nahyeon Lee and editor Tom Augustine.

Yery Cho and Carl Ruwhiu of Imugi 이무기.

Yery Cho and Carl Ruwhiu of Imugi 이무기. Photo: Vetiver Pictures, Apela Bell

Taking us back to the beginning, Yery says, “growing up on the [North] Shore…[felt] like a bit of a close community. If you don't fit in the norm or you're not part of the dominant culture or whatever, it can feel kind of ostracising and a bit alienating… but I was lucky enough to find a solid group of friends.”

Yery and Carl met in maths class during school and bonded over their avid love for music.

“All of our friends are super into music and would every lunchtime just like meet up at a classroom and we were lucky enough that the teacher would let us listen to music in the class. So every day was kind of just like trading music and we were always getting excited about albums that were coming out.”

Carl says it was a friend who suggested Yery and him should make music together, so they hung out once and from that point onwards, imugi 이무기 was destined to be.

“It was just an easy, fun experience, me and Yery had just become really tight mates and so it was really easy to just drop the ego and have fun making stuff.”

In 2015 they made a song and posted it on SoundCloud, the humble origin story of many great modern artists.

“[We] didn’t really think much of it and then the next day. We woke up and it had hit like 30k streams or something like that, and we were like oh my god, it’s a sign.”

As a fully-formed music duo, imugi 이무기 released their debut EP Vacasian in 2017.

They say that their art is largely influenced by escapism.

“Escapism is just a really big thing for both me and Carl, we’ve always been really obsessed over things that can kind of take you away somewhere else.”

As someone who also loves to indulge in escapism, I appreciate this immensely. You can see this influence in their music videos and in their ethereal look in general, not to mention through their otherworldly sound as well.

Yery Cho and Carl Ruwhiu of Imugi 이무기.

Yery Cho and Carl Ruwhiu of Imugi 이무기. Photo: Vetiver Pictures, Apela Bell

“Growing up and being raised by the internet, you get to find so much stuff and be exposed to so much outside of your little bubble. Being raised with that, and seeing how engrossed you become in these little worlds and settings that you make for yourself.”

I think it is a special thing to execute the inspiration of escapism in such a vivid way, and to deliver a vision that is distinctly imugi 이무기.

Carl says, “[we try to] present the visuals in a way that reflects the auditory world that we’ve created and so I've used a lot of atmospheric sounds and kind of spacey, trippy sounds. We always had this kind of- I don’t how how to describe it, spacey, cosmic idea that was influencing our visual presentation.”

The craft of imugi 이무기 is ever-evolving.

“[Our sound] has definitely changed and transformed over the years. It's still electronic, it will always be electronically based. Lately we've been incorporating more acoustic sounds into the electronic and I don’t know, I feel like we've always been a fan of fusing genres.”

The duo open up about their fight for independence and creative freedom, having signed to a big label and then deciding they didn’t want anyone else to control their art, so they became independent again.

Carl says, “we kind of realised that a lot of the stuff we would be handing over to the label for their help was kind of on the visual side of things like music videos, press photos, PR and the way that we were presented to the public. We came to realise that was all of the stuff that was part of the creative process for us anyway that we wanted to have control over and it felt a bit silly to give away that creative freedom to someone else.”

Director | Nahyeon Lee

Imugi 이무기 episode director Nahyeon Lee.

Imugi 이무기 episode director Nahyeon Lee. Photo: Vetiver Pictures, Apela Bell

Nahyeon Lee (@nahyeonleee) is a writer, director and theatre producer of Korean descent based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She has a Master of Arts in Drama Directing from the University of Auckland (First Class Hons).

She has since embedded herself in stage and screen projects that strive to dismantle the hegemony - in narratives about identity through genre and in form.

She wrote and directed one of eight vignettes in anthology feature film Kāinga (NZIFF, MIFF 2022) and further filmmaking credits include Homecoming Poems, Sixteen, and Myth of the Model Minority. In 2021 she took part in the DEGNZ Emerging Female Directors Incubator.

She is also the writer of The First Prime-Time Asian Sitcom set to open with Silo Theatre in November 2022

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