South Korean newcomer and multi-hyphenate creative Ithys makes a strong impression with his debut single “LOVE ALL NIGHT (Modern Walks),” a smooth blend of rap, pop, and R&B led by the rising act’s hazy vocals that sways effortlessly between Korean and English.
Mellow but equally punchy in its instrumentation, the track captures Ithys’ lived experiences of homelessness and depression framed by grit and hope that encourages you to overcome your own struggles.
Channelling his mental health struggles and other personal obstacles into hard-hitting but pleasing creative experiences, Ithys has also earned acclaim as a Visual Designer, having created motion graphics and 3D visualizers for acts including K-pop heavyweights BLACKPINK.
As he comes into his own in music, the aspiring act chats to Earmilk about his debut track, battling through depression using his craft, how the world perceives Korean music besides K-pop and much more.
What is the inspiration/message behind “LOVE ALL NIGHT (Modern Walks)”?
This song draws inspiration from two sources. "Love All Night" was inspired by the Japanese anime "NANA!" It tells a story of youthful love that is atypical and focuses on living in the present moment.
As for "Modern Walks," it originated from contemplating the difference between trends and modernity. While trends are a crucial element in the music industry, I started feeling discomfort in creating music solely based on trends. This led me to question the concept of trends and instead define modernity as something distinct. The song was created with the intention of pursuing modernity rather than trendiness.
If you had to describe your artistry in three words what would they be and why?
Image – When creating music, I believe the most important thing is to solidify the image in my mind and depict it in a way that allows the listener to visualize that image.
Emotion – I believe there is no song without emotion. When conveying my own story, I focus on recording with a strong emphasis on capturing and conveying emotions in a more diverse manner.
Metaphor – Korean contemporary poetry has utilized various metaphors to express freedom due to the suppression of expression. Growing up reading such works, my music also seeks to explore and incorporate diverse metaphors.
What is your ideal sonic path? How do you see your music evolving in future?
I dream of living a life where I create my next music based on the music I've made, striving to produce better results. I cannot predict how my music will evolve in the future, just as my present differs greatly from what my past self-imagined. All I can do is focus on the present. As the person I am right now, I constantly strive to embrace the current situation with a positive mindset and make efforts to move towards a better direction.
I believe that unfolding this process through metaphors and storytelling will shape the future of my music.
The track produced by Jordan Lewis and engineered by Thomas Ross Johansen as part of a collaboration to show that Korean artistry and musicality beyond K-pop. In your opinion, how does the world perceive Korean music outside of K-pop?
K-POP encompasses a wide range of musical genres and has reached a remarkably high level of achievement. It is a sensitive topic because it raises questions about whether K-POP should be classified as a music industry or a fandom business. Due to its sensitivity to mainstream popularity, many Korean artists who create atypical and experimental music often feel excluded and begin to doubt their own music. Personally, I am proud of the global consumption phenomenon of Korean content. However, as a creator making music, I believe that consistently producing music that is marginalized and overlooked is a lonely and solitary path.
You’ve battled through depression, how would you say your music helped through your tough times and how do you continue to protect your mental health?
I have extracted the words that were deeply buried within my abyss through music.
If I didn't even think that anyone would listen to my music, I could speak honestly and openly. Then, I metaphorically portrayed those emotions and painted the images associated with them to create my songs. As the songs accumulated one by one and went through the process of refinement, I was able to dilute my negative emotions. That's how I could endure through music.
Along those same lines, how do you keep yourself creatively motivated and enthusiastic to keep making music?
I studied Digital Art at Seoul Institute of the Arts, which allowed me to explore various fields of art. Through conversations with students majoring in different art disciplines,
I was able to broaden my approach to creation by sharing their working methods and artworks. If we consider music as a means of expression, there are various ways to express oneself, including film, writing, and painting, among others. Through their passion and dedication, I often found motivation for my own creative endeavours.
Besides music and graphic design, what’s something you’re super passionate about and/or something creative you’d love to experiment with in the future?
In truth, my graphic design was created for my music, so if I were to follow my passion, I'm more inclined towards music. Therefore, it seems that my future projects will revolve around creating videos for music or doing something in service of music.
Who inspires you both professionally and on a personal level?
At different times, but I think the person who had the biggest influence on me is Tyler the Creator. He demonstrates boldness, delicacy, and even fashion, showing an ideal progression in every aspect. I've been a tremendous fan since my teenage years.
What’s been the most memorable moment in your musical journey so far and what’s on your bucket list for the future?
The most memorable thing is the day I collaborated with Jordan and Thomas. I was truly happy. On my bucket list is performing on stage with an audience singing along to my songs. It would bring me immense joy.
Connect with Ithys : Instagram