Happy and irresistibly-catchy pop anthems? Yes. Soulful ballads full of love and longing? For sure. All in a wonderful mix of Korean and English? Yamsu!

You’ll remember Beomjin and Jung Jae, from “Yamsu”, SMU’s first Korean band, from their performances at Unplugged, Starry Nite and many other events on campus. Did you manage to catch their set at the recent Starry? We catch up with them for a chat about music and life at SMU.

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Yamsu at Starry Nite, in Nov 2015. Jung Jae on guitar, Beomjin on vocals.

Beomjin (B): Hi, We’re Yamsu! We’re probably the first Korean band in SMU. There are three of us in the band, and we love performing and sharing our music with everyone.

Jung Jae (J): We want to add our Yamsu colour to every song we do. We don’t set any boundaries to the kind of music we play.

B: We want to make it fun and a bit crazy. We like to twist and mix things up, to surprise our audience so that they’ll have fun.

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The band usually practices at Beomjin’s room at the Prinsep Street hostel

B: Together with Euna (who unfortunately couldn’t make it for the photo shoot), we’re the vocalists of the band.

J: We met at the hostel on Prinsep Street. Together with Beom and Shaun, one of our founding members, we found out that we all loved music and I play the guitar. They say that we should make a band, and I’m like, “Awesome!”

B: What does “Yamsu” mean? It’s like a distorted version of “yes” in Korean. Whether we ask Shaun if he’d like to go eat or grab some drinks, he’ll just say “yamsu, yamsu”.

J: We had to come up with our band name for our very first gig. We asked Shaun, as he’s the oldest in the band, for his take. He said “Yamsu”. It’s as simple as that. Even though Shaun had to leave the band for personal reasons, we decided to keep the name. That’s us!

B: Our most memorable moment so far has to be performing at Eve (SMU’s Arts and Culture Fraternity) award night in 2015. The atmosphere was really good that night. It was dark and the only lights were focused on the stage. The people were really enthusiastic and cheering us on.

J: The most memorable moment that night came during the last song, a Korean ballad that’s really emotional. My guitar string broke right before we started. We were thinking if we should just end the gig there and then.. but then we saw the crowd, so excited and fired up. So we said, just play, just play. Let’s give it a shot.

J: I had to improvise on the spot, and we gave it our best. After we finished our song, everyone there, including professors, staff and students just stood up and gave us a standing ovation. It was incredible and really, really memorable.

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B: For all international students, there are so many opportunities here in SMU for you. You’ve just got to go for it. Just take a step forward and give it a go. We wouldn’t have performed at all these gigs and concerts if we didn’t ask or if we didn’t try. We auditioned for Unplugged and Starry Nite, and it’s great to be performing with the other bands here at SMU.

B: We see some international students who just don’t join in and mix around with Singaporeans and other SMU students. Maybe it’s because you feel that you’re in the minority, with different cultures and all, or that you won’t be treated well. But that’s completely not true. You can see from us— we’re doing just fine. And we’re the ones that made the first move to connect and reach out.

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B: What’s the point of studying overseas when you just hang out with your own people and culture? It’s true for both Singaporeans and international students.

One of the most important things in life is connecting with people, meeting and getting to know people. All you’ve got to do is to open up a little bit.

J: Go out for drinks. Sake, soju or beers; all’s good! Keep it simple, relaxed and fun. That’s how I’ve gotten close to and understand my Singaporean friends better.

B: We may come from different cultures but we’ll all learn about each other, and embrace each other for who we are. Be active and just get into student life, because it’s all there for you.

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The full band, with Euna (right) on vocals

J: We’re excited as Yamsu has opened up many new opportunities for us. In the past, we’re the ones going around asking if we can perform.  Now, we’re honoured to get requests from student events, festivals and opportunities to perform and collaborate.

J: We want to share our music with everyone. We’re open to collaborate with any club, whether you’re in sports or in the arts. We sing a lot of Korean songs. I bet our Singaporean audience don’t understand the lyrics we’re singing, but they feel the song.

J: They get to have fun and that is what’s really interesting about music. Even if the actual message is not delivered, the emotions and feelings are all delivered.

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Looking for a place to jam, perform live and connect with other musicians? Check out SMU Soundfoundry and SMU’s largest campus-wide concert Starry Nite happening at the end of each semester.


© 2018 Snapshots by SMU