The band “Akdan Gwangchil” was formed in 2015. It was an experimental unit of “Jeonggaakhoi,” a progressive gukak (Korean classical music) organization, which was established in 2000 with an aim of modernizing gukak. The band name “Gwangchil” is an abbreviation for the 70th anniversary of independence in Korean. The members of the band told The Dong-A Ilbo that they chose the name “Gwangchil” because they liked the freakish nuance it had.
One can fully enjoy the freakishness of the band by listening to their signature song, “Yeongjeonggeori,” where three vocals singing a round while shaking their arms and legs in unison. It is a ghastly scene, combining mastery in playing musical instruments and perfect combination among the members.
Akdan Gwangchil’s music was introduced as “Korean shamanic funk” at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) held in Tampere, Finland in October last year. After performing on the stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on Jan. 11 and at the GlobalFest on Jan. 12, their music was described as “K-folk pop.” The New York Times praised the band by saying the band is a giddy show band, which combines K-pop and traditional Korean music.
“After 10 years of effort at Jeonggaakhoi, we reached a consensus that we need to create a unit focused on modernizing and popularizing gukak. So we formed the band,” said the leader Kim Hyun-su. “We decided to do folk music from Hwanghae Province because there wasn’t a creative gukak band focusing on the area at that time
The members of the band said the years of busking on the streets of Hongik University and the giddy rituals (gut) they performed at facilities for the old in rural areas have helped them grow as musicians. Although they all majored in gugak, their interest in hip hop, club music, guitar, and beat-making have helped them experiment with their music.
“We aim to do modern rituals. Watching rock festivals at the age of 20, I never thought I could perform on stage at rock festivals because I’m a gukak major,” said the band member Park Hye-rim. “I was wrong. I really like who I am now.”