One of the most exciting rising talents to emerge from South Korea’s flourishing underground circuit – IZREAL – is breezing through career milestones at break-neck speed. Having already performed at some of the globe’s most prestigious events, debuting on the Resistance Stage of Ultra Music Festival (Bali and Korea), as well as performing at Bangkok Songkran and Seoul’s World DJ Festival, the burgeoning talent now unveils her debut extended player, ‘현진 (HYEONJIN)’. Out now via CONECTD MIX, the four-track EP is a masterclass in refined techno and gives fans a distinct taste of her artistic story.
DMC WORLD grabs a world exclusive…
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today IZREAL! Where in the world are you at the moment? For those of our readers who are not yet familiar with your music, could you tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, nice to meet you! I am South Korean techno DJ and producer IZREAL and I am based in Seoul, South Korea. Making music is when I am at my happiest and throughout my mixes, I hope to transcend that feeling to my listeners. Over the past year I have been working hard on preparing my debut EP and I am so excited to finally be able to share it with you all.
How did you first get into music and who are some of the artists you grew up listening to that inspired you to get into techno?
I have been a DJ for about 6 years now and producing my own music for about 3 years. I first got into techno by listening to the Adana Twins, and I still listen to their music a lot. There is just something about their irrepressible joy that makes me so happy! They have really been a big inspiration for me throughout my career as a DJ.
You’ve just released your brilliant debut EP ‘현진 [HYEONJIN]’. What has the reception been like so far?
The reception so far has been very good! There really is no other more natural or more enjoyable way for me to express myself than through making and playing music and I think that shows. A lot of people have also expressed thatthey really like the title of the EP, “현진 (HYEONJIN)”. Not only is Hyeonjin my actual name, but in Korean “hyeonjin” it has the meaning of “moving forward”, which also seems to be a very fitting name for this EP.
Can you tell us a little about the production process behind the release?
The process of making the EP took a lot longer than I expected initially, it took almost a year from the release of my debut single “Rainy Day”. In some ways it was actually quite a difficult process, mainly because this was my first time working on a full-length release and so I ended up running into quite a few bumps in the road along the way. However, I’ve been really lucky to receive a lot of help and support from the people around me, and thanks to them I was able to finish what I started and release this EP, and I am so happy with the result.
There is a strong narrative of personal growth behind the EP, can you share a little bit more about the concept?
The overall story behind the EP is about personal growth and, in many ways, it reflects my own story of pursuing my dream of becoming a professional DJ and the hardships I have had to overcome along the way. Each track on the EP tells a different part of that story, starting with “In Motion”, which is about a kind of ‘wake-up call’ moment when you realise that the world as you thought you knew it was a lie and that the only way to change your current situation is to move forward and leave your old self behind. “Rainy Day”, which was also my first single, is a song about those gloomy days when everything feels difficult, and you are ready to give up but somehow you still manage to find the motivation to keep moving forward because you know that there are brighter days ahead. “Work On Yourself” is pretty self-explanatory, it is simply a song about doing the work and finding yourself. The last track, “Journey Into Now”, is kind of the one song that ties it all together. It is a song about coming out on the other side of all the hardships, stronger than ever, ready to start anew. “현진(HYEONJIN)” really is an EP all about starting new and moving forward.
Is there any other music in the pipeline that we can look forward to?
I am constantly in the process of making new music, so although I just finished the work on my first EP, I have already started working on my next release. You should also keep your eyes open for some exciting collaborations coming this autumn!
You’ve already performed at some pretty iconic festivals, such as ULTRA Korea and Bali on the RESISTANCE stage, as well as Bangkok Songkran and Seoul’s World Music Festival. How did it feel to play at these globally-renowned events so early on in your career?
I feel really honoured having been given the opportunity and having those big festivals believe in me. It really reinforces my belief in myself and my music. I remember the first time I performed on a big stage like that I was so nervous that I couldn’t even hear what my friend next to me was saying as we were waiting backstage. I remember my hands being all sweaty and I could hear the sound of my own heartbeat. However, as soon as I got on stage, I was just so happy and excited that all my nervosity kind of disappeared. Playing my favourite music on stage and having people dance and enjoy themselves whilst exchanging good energy with each other was such a precious time to me.
What’s the rest of 2023 looking like for you in terms of club shows and festivals?
In 2023 I will continue to perform on the Seoul club circuit and I also have some festivals lined-up for later this year that are yet to be announced. With the release of my EP, I really hope to be able to perform on more international stages. Please keep checking my Instagram for the latest show details.
If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to launch their musical career, what would it be?
Keep making music and keep having fun with it! Never lose track of the joy of creating music, that’s what it is all about.
Thanks for chatting with us – do you have any final words for our readers?
Thank you so much for listening! As long as you keep listening, I promise I will continue to make great music. I am IZREAL from Korea and this is real 😊