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Stairs to Korea Interview July 2011

Alyson Cocker


We caught up with Stairs to Korea (the Anglo-Icelandic pop genius) to talk about his DIY ethos, his music videos and his influences…

MTTM: Your music is influenced by the DIY ethos, who or what inspired you to take this path?

Stairs to Korea: Expediency really. You get more done when you’re doing and not describing, plus people have helped me. An gear’s cheap and I play a few instruments. I have an improving sense of what to do with records and radio stations and suchlike too. I just cross every extremity and stick it out.

MTTM: Can you describe to our readers what kind of DIY instruments you have designed? Do they have any specific names?

Stairs to Korea: Oh I’m not clever enough for that – I just buy things from ebay. That circuit-bending stuff looks fascinating, but I’d probably manage to electrocute someone. I’m going to make up a name now: Henryphonics, if you like.

MTTM: What are your influences when it comes to making your homemade music videos?

Stairs to Korea: My gross ineptitude with anything to do with any facet of making a video – I rather learned all that as I went along. The cameras are borrowed, even some of the friends are borrowed and the editing software was stolen from the Internet. The next video should have more dogs in. Explosions too.

MTTM: Coming from Iceland has this that had a big influence on your musical style? Are there any other Icelandic artists who inspire you?

Stairs to Korea: Johann Johannson’s great, as is Aela (if they’re still gigging), Kippi Kaninus – who’s on Brainlove – and my Mum (who’s not).

MTTM: You are on the cusp of releasing your new EP on the 18th July called ‘The Small Fractures’. What are your expectations on release of the EP?

Stairs to Korea: Breaking even would be lovely, if unlikely. It’s just really nice to have something for sale that exists in physical form. It feels like taking a leap and looks so pretty too. I’ve even had pretty metallic labels made for the back. I’d just like for a few people to buy it and fuss a little over it. It took a lot of effort.

MTTM: What is the inspiration behind the EP album cover?

Stairs to Korea: A dream I had on a Megabus – although the stars were more of an afterthought. I was at the back, near the toilet. It was harrowing stuff.

MTTM: Is there any British influence in your music?

Stairs to Korea: Loads. Probably more so than the Icelandic influences, to be honest. I think most of the songs are from a quintessentially British mindset, without being all crass and caricatured. At least that how it sounds to me.

MTTM: Is there a particular sound/sounds you are trying to replicate with your synths? Or are you striving to create new ones?

Stairs to Korea: I stumble through them like a drunk old man trying to cook. I’m terrified by the fact that there are people out there who can spot synth patches, like “Ah that’s preset 14 on so-and-so synth”. The only honest answer is that it’s horses for courses…There’s no agenda. That’d be way cringe-y.

Cheap plugins / stick 4 trumpet parts on top / spend a week agonising over 30 vocal harmonies / turn the gain up / 4 compressors on the master fader / render stems / SEND TO THE CHARTS.  <– Don’t let Oli Dremtrak read this.

MTTM: Too late, it’s out there now!