I met up with Heng this weekend in her new neighborhood, just around the corner from Hongdae. It's been a while since I've trekked over to the Hongdae area. I had almost forgotten how cool it is. I'm especially drawn to all the quirky little cafes, which is strange, because I'm not big on coffee.
After sharing a bowl of super-sized ramen, Heng and I went to check out the new (at least new to me) multi-story SangSangMadang building. I don't think I've got a handle on everything that SangSangMadang has to offer, but it seems to be an intersection point for art and commerce.
I may have my facts a little mixed up, but here's the breakdown of the facilities, from what Heng and I could determine:
Basement: Cinema (indie Korean & Foreign films, I think) + Live Performance Hall
First Floor: Stationery Shop and handmade crafts
Second Floor: Gallery (This part was still under construction when we went)
Third Floor and Up: Recording Studio, Film School, Record Shop, Photo Studio, and Cafe.
If you sign up for a membership with Sangsangmadang, Heng says that you can access the gallery for free. I'm sure there are other perks, but Korean membership cards still tend to baffle me.
Heng and I spent a couple of hours at the record store, Label Market 2 (I presume that there's another Label Market somewhere else in Seoul). This is all conjecture, but I think the store is named Label Market because the albums are arranged according to record label. (Just call me Sherlock Holmes!).
You're not going to find any Wonder Girls or Big Bang at this shop. By virtue of the fact that I've never seen most (if not all) of these bands on MNet, I'm assuming that the featured bands belong to the Korean indie music scene.
With colorful CD Walkman spread throughout the store, you're invited to sample any album at your leisure. You can essentially listen to every album in the store. It's pretty awesome. I only listened to a small handful of albums, but I already found a number of bands that sounded interesting. I was particularly interested in a band called Sugarbowl and another one called, Funny People. They both have a bit of an Maroon 5 kind of vibe.
Label Market also features music from artists around the world. [Cyndi they have all the albums for Mocca and Olivia. Want anything?] I, for example, got to skim through the entire She & Him album, and as a result, have decided to purchase it off itunes (because I have a bum CD player). I also picked up an album for my sister by a band called Sunshine State.
I have no problems admitting that I love me some k-Pop, but the genre can get a little tiresome, so if you're looking to explore the diversity of the Korean music scene, you should definitely take a trip to Label Market.
See the red stage behind me?
Label Market also boasts a calendar of in-store performances by many of its featured artists. On the day we were there, we were treated to a free(!) performance by an indie band called, Achtung (악퉁). I do not mean this as a slight at all, but the band kind of reminded me of Hanson. I quite enjoyed their performance (even though I found the lead vocalist's pama and glasses distracting).
This intimate, non-bar venue is a great way to experience live music in Korea. You just have to put up with all the amateur photogs. I swear, everyone and their mother in Hongdae has a DSLR camera. Nah, I'm just jealous...
I did momentarily take out my little snap-n-shoot to record a bit of Achtung Live at the Label Market. Take a look if you're curious.
Achtung - Live Performance in Hongdae from Annalog on Vimeo.
Edit: I forgot to mention that Sangsangmadang is right next to Su Luxury Noraebang, the one with the windows. I'm terrible with directions, so that's the best I can give you.