Genre-shredding, experimental hip-hop duo Y2K92 beam an exclusive performance of their new, as-yet-untitled, EP, from inside onit.life, Seoul Community Radio’s virtual art and club space.
For Y2K92, life under lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to have been extraordinarily productive. Against the apocalyptic background of enormous disruption to public life, the shuttering of local clubs and relentless curfews, Jibin and Simo have spent their days making tracks, writing lyrics, modelling, shooting and editing videos and telling stories. In spite of it all, it sounds like they had a really great time. “We had fun with the people and stuff,” they explain. This might sound counterintuitive, but once you’ve heard the disparate mixture of sounds the duo corral under the Y2K92 banner, a name which refers to the year in which Magnetic Rose, the first episode of cult anime trilogy Memories, takes place, their unique approach suddenly makes perfect sense.
Across a handful of self-released videos, SoundCloud uploads and Bandcamp one-offs, Jibin and Simo are perfect examples of artists whose tastes were forged predominantly in virtual spaces. Dusty breaks, queasy drill bass, bit-crushed trap hi-hats, shuffling trip-hop drums and autotune-drenched vocals swirl together in a heady sonic palette that draws as much influence from the underground electronic sounds championed by Seoul Community Radio as it does the US hip-hop sounds that have become a huge part of Korean musical culture. All of these sounds are approached with an off-kilter levity that has become the duo’s signature, something that fuels every aspect of the project, from their idiosyncratic visuals to their surreal performances.
“For good music, you need people,” the duo say of SCR, which they describe as “full of love for music,” yet it is the online community aspect of the platform that is so crucial to Y2K92. Though they count the station’s founders, as well as many of the DJs and artists that make up Seoul Community Radio, as close friends, for Y2K92, meatspace is absolutely not essential to their musical universe. “We don’t think it’s required,” they explain, “but it’s very important. Jibin learned a lot from the internet community when she was young, but when she heard music at the club, she appreciated it!” Fitting, then, that for their contribution to the Seoul Community Radio Fact Residency, Jibin and Simo present an exclusive, premiere performance of their new, as-yet-untitled EP, beamed to you directly from onit.life, the station’s virtual art and club space. Tearing through seven new tracks, most of which don’t even have names yet, the duo deliver an impromptu soundsystem session, surrounded by the digital avatars of some of Seoul Community Radio’s regulars. Absurd, hyperactive, yet light-hearted, onit.life is the perfect environment for Jibin and Simo to get weird and wild.
Built by digital media studio Nose Studio, onit.life was the online location for ‘A Decade of Seoul Parties 2010-2020’, a multimedia virtual art installation celebrating Seoul’s incredible club culture while highlighting aspects of it that are under threat and are essential to preserve. Featuring photography from fixtures of the Korean club scene, including Stillm45, Hansy, Kaipaparazzi, Hyunkeem, Chosen1 and Sung1, as well as music from 15 Seoul producers, the exhibition sought to translate the energy of a fiercely passionate local scene into an online setting. “It’s local people helping other local people,” say Seoul Community Radio. “We’re five years old, so when we celebrated a decade of Seoul Parties, we’re right in the middle of that decade. We’re part of a number of collectives taking the baton on to the next decade. It was so enriching to look at the photos and learn about the scene which had preceded us.” However, the experience was a complicated one for the community, as it served as a stark reminder of the dire situation the underground electronic music scene finds itself in. “At the juncture we’re at, that scene is more under threat than it ever has been,” they admit.
“Seeing the vibrancy of the scene that has gone before us was bittersweet, in a way. One of the reasons we actually did that exhibition was partly because it was the right time to do so virtually, but also because we were given a grant from Trippin and Tommy Jeans. They gave us a chance to do something which would help our scene.” Presented with the opportunity, Seoul Community Radio decided to showcase the station’s core values, imbuing every inch onit.life with an attention to detail that seems to perfectly capture the warmth and communal spirit of the scene. “We really wanted to draw attention to the fact that the scene, which has developed all the artists, some of whom have gone on to bigger things, has received no help, from anybody!” SCR continue. “It’s a purely organic scene, which never received any help from any government or any support. In fact, they probably profited from it because Itaewon has become a very vibrant area as a result.”
Y2K92 are just one example of members from this community making their own opportunities, building a musical universe from the ground up on precisely their terms. When asked what they have learned from the last decade of parties in Seoul the duo say simply, “Made a lot of good friends. Listened to a lot of good music. Had a lot of fun times.” When asked about what their hopes are for the next decade, they reply, “If 10 years ago we were crazy about techno, now we are crazy about Mongolian hip-hop. We want people to be crazy like us.”
You can find Y2K92 on Instagram, SoundCloud and YouTube. If you want to listen to their new EP, you can direct message either Jibin or Simo on Instagram and they’ll send you the tracks. Tune into Seoul Community Radio via their website and YouTube and for more information follow the station on Instagram.
Y2K92 (Live @ onit.life) Tracklist:
01. ‘Curse Me Out’
06. Kim Ximya – ‘Uaintrealli’ (Y2K92 Remix)