Korea’s Zandari Festa Encourages Worldwide Performers To Join In The Festivities

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While MCM Buzz has been following the growth of Korean and Japanese music in the European market, it’s not often we get chance to report on the growth of western music in Asia. In Korea, the indie music scene is constantly expanding and nurturing independent singers, bands and groups that distance themselves from the mainstream. Zandari Festa was set up in order to celebrate these performers and their diversity.

Zandari Festa began in 2012 and quickly established itself as one of South Korea’s largest music showcase festivals. The annual event takes place over 3 days in October in Seoul’s Hongdae area, the epicentre of youth culture in South Korea and ground zero for the country’s indie music scene. Zandari Festa brings acts and music industry professionals from all around the world to perform intimate, jam-packed concerts and conferences at more than 20 unique venues around Hongdae. Along with showcasing established acts and exciting up-and-comers from South Korea’s indie scene, each passing year the festival has placed a greater emphasis on becoming a truly global event.

In 2012, acts from two other countries travelled to Seoul to perform. By 2014, more than a dozen countries had artists representing them at the festival. Attracting international talent, Zandari Festa has been able to expose audiences to a wide range of musical talent and has helped build bridges which have allowed Korean and overseas artists and music companies to connect, communicate, collaborate, and learn from each other. Zandari Festa 2014 received more than 500 performer applications, with only 215 acts being invited to perform to an enthusiastic crowd of music fans, journalists, and industry professionals.

Manju Pocket

When Yongsu Choi, the guitarist/cajon/melodion member of Manju Pocket – A Korean ppongjjak soul band (ppongjjak is the oldest form of Korean pop music), was asked why he thought Zandari Festa is an important event for the Korean indie scene, he replied:

Since the line-up for other major Korean festivals is decided solely by the festival organizer, it’s quite difficult for new acts to get the chance to perform.  But because Zandari is the largest showcase festival in Korea and allows artists to apply on their own to perform, it gives all bands – regardless of their stature – an opportunity to expose their music to many listeners as well as people in the industry”. 

He also felt that the event was very important for overseas performers, stating:

Korea’s music market is one of the top 10 markets in the world, so this festival can provide opportunities for overseas musicians. Also, they can come to Korea and have the chance to bond with Korean musicians.  The great thing about the festival is that Korean fans are very passionate and a lot of fun to perform for.  I think overseas bands will definitely enjoy the experience of playing here”.

The band played at the 2014 Zandari Festa to a full audience, winning the hearts of locals and overseas fans alike. Manju Pocket’s “Go For A Drink” is certainly an upbeat yet fully chilled out song which must have been amazing to hear live.

Rebeka @ Zandari Festa 2014

Looking at the event from a different perspective, Rebeka is an electronic double-act from Poland which featured at the 2014 Festa, demonstrating the diversity of acts that perform there. One half of the duo, Bartosz Szczęsny, explained why they had decided to head to Korea:

“We were very curious about the festival and Korea!  It was a great opportunity to check out bands from the other side of the world and to play for a new audience. We had two great shows at the festival and met many great people. We were very surprised to see so many expressive bands at Zandari Festa.”

When asked if they  would recommend the event to other European bands, without hesitation they exclaimed, “Definitely!  And if any bands are travelling to Korea for the festival, be prepared to have a great time!”

To find out more about Rebeka, be sure to check out their music video for “Breath“.

Zandari Festa 2015 takes place from 2nd – 4th October and promises to be one of the most exciting events of the year for international music fans! The event will be accepting applications from acts until 31st July. Those wishing to apply to play at Zandari Festa 2015 can do so in English or Korean by filling out a form at ZFESTA. Watch the video below for a look at what might be in store for 2015.

With thanks to Shawn Despres for band quotes.

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