The name “Clownus” is probably as much of a new name for you as it was for us, despite the band being around since 2018 already. As the title implies, this group very much does their own things at their own pace.
But who exactly are Clownus? Well, let me give you a very quick introduction before I let the band take over for themselves: Clownus are a -and I do apologize since they don’t want to put a label on themselves, but…- metal band from South Korea. The band exists out of Irohana on vocals, Sue on guitar, Hanwool on bass and Limu on drums.
Theme wise they bring forward the darker topics of human emotions into their lyrics, which are supported by their music to bring you their version of these negative emotions.
This theme also returns in their latest single “Defect”, which was released on January 21 of this year.
But instead of me telling you about it, I’m going to give the word to Clownus themselves!
Just one more thing: this interview is a little different than you might be used to, because the answers of all members have been compiled into “one full band answer” for most of the interview. They felt like they could give a better answer this way rather than giving short individual answers, and we were totally on board with this idea ourselves.
And I’m sure you will be too once you get to read their answers. 😉
So without further ado,
Before starting off with the questions themselves, can you guys introduce yourselves and your band in your own words so the readers know who we’re talking with today?
Clownus: Hi. We are Clownus from South Korea. We’re just people who make and play the music we want based on metal music. We have Irohana on vocals, Limu on drums, Sue on guitars and Hanwool on bass.
Even though Clownus has been around since 2018, I’m pretty sure people have little to no idea who you are or what you do music wise. Can you please tell me something about your history as a band?
Clownus: The initial musical concepts were from demo tracks Limu made, which were mostly dark, gloomy, hopeless and desperate. The funny thing is, Limu actually didn’t want to start a new band after having a hard time with his previous band. He got sick and tired of dealing with people and band-related things. He just intended to make music as a one-man-band or something.
Irohana was in the same band as Limu was before, and she had a similar tough time in that band as well, just like he did. She however did want to start a new band and deal with other people, so she consistently asked Limu to form a new band with her and create their own music together. Limu refused at first, but he opened his mind eventually and decided to form a new band with her.
Based on previous experiences they decided to not form a band with a so-called “leader”.
The band was named “Clownus” by Irohana, and the thought behind this name is “Call us clowns and make fun of us all you want, we’ll still do our own things and play our own music anyway”, haha.
To sum it up: the initial concepts originate from Limu, the identity comes from Irohana, and the democratic character of the team comes from both of them. Limu does say that if it wasn’t for Irohana, Clownus wouldn’t have been created at all!
What about the theme for the project? Is there a large overall theme, or is it more like a single theme for every release so far based on what is going on in your lives?
Clownus: When a composer (which has always been Limu up until now) gives music to Irohana along with the theme or feeling he’s been thinking of Irohana will complete the theme of the song by writing the lyrics in a matching style. Like we explained already, the essential identity of the band originates from Irohana, so her thoughts and lyrics become the theme of the songs, but the music itself is equally important. So we think we can say that the emotions of the composer and Irohana become the overall theme of our band.
We don’t want to express just one particular theme through our lyrics and style of music either, we want to touch on various themes. Like human emotions such as depression, despair, anger, and ironically sometimes hope as well. But also philosophical thinking about being, existence, ourselves, the world, the universe and so on. Or just the pure confusion and chaos we feel inside of us as humans.
While Clownus is categorized as a metal band, the sound is not the typical sound one would expect to come from a female vocalist. I personally was rather surprised to learn Irohana was a female, yet able to produce these kind of vocals. Was it always intended to have a female vocalist for Clownus?
Clownus: Actually, we didn’t consider a male or female vocalist at all when we started. Irohana and Limu founded the band, and our main wish was to make our own music together.
We actually think there is only one suitable vocalist for Clownus, which is Irohana. 😉
What about you, Irohana? Why did you decide to pursue vocals in this male-dominated genre? Do you just like the style, or did you want to do something different than most other female vocalists?
Irohana: I started with metal style vocals because I came to like metal music as a student. I don’t know why I came to like it, but I think the emotional part of the genre comforted me, and I liked that I could release my own emotions with the explosive sound of metal music.
For most people the music from South Korea immediately makes them think about the very popular K-Pop genre, not about metal. Do you feel like you’re being overshadowed by this genre yourselves?
Clownus: Korea has become very well known around the world thanks to K-Pop and other genres, and as people who live in Korea ourselves we are grateful for that. Rather than being overshadowed by it and feeling difficulties, we’d like to think more positively about it. Now people worldwide have become more aware of the existence of Korea as a country we hope that fans of the metal genre will find our country as well. We hope these listeners will get to know Korea and Korean metal bands as well.
It’s always been tough anyway, hasn’t it? (laughing)
“Tinnitus”, the “Defect” from “The Time; We Purged”
Let’s talk a bit about your releases too, starting with your very first release “Tinnitus”. What were your thoughts and intentions with this release, and what did your newly found audience think of it?
Clownus: “Tinnitus” was our very first single, and also our very first release. It marks the start of Clownus, so to speak. It was one of Limu’s old school style-pieces of music, and we didn’t have any special intentions with this release. We think we just wanted to introduce ourselves to metal listeners. We think people welcomed us and liked the song, so we really appreciated that.
What about your second release, “The Time; We Purged”? Because I’m sure you’ve seen the response of the listeners somehow and that probably had some influence on your work?
Clownus: “The Time; We Purged” is the real starting point of our musical style for us. We tried different things with this song, and we really liked the results of these experiments.
The response the audience had to “Tinnitus” didn’t have any influence on the creation of “The Time; We Purged” though. Of course we always like to hear what our listeners think about our music, but since we formed this group based on the concept of “we make and play the music we want” that’s actually our top priority. We’ll also continue with this style for now too.
What about the names for both of these singles? Since “Tinnitus” is a possible result of listening to music on a too high volume for too long, and based on what you’ve already told me this does fit with the theme of Clownus, but how about “The Time; We Purged”?
Irohana: You could say that the name of “Tinnitus” fits with the style of music we make, yes. But at the same time I also intended the title to contain some “auditory hallucination”. It’s about hearing the sound or voices of temptation to self-harm and death caused by depression and anxiety, lingering in one’s ears (in the lyrics this comes back as “my ears”) like an auditory hallucination.
Perhaps this is because I think about death a lot. The lyrics of our second single are also about death. I tried to express the despair caused by the fate that can’t escape the concept of time. I remember thinking that “heaven” may actually be an illusion created by the fear of death. I’m not ignoring or disparaging any thoughts on it, I’m just writing my thoughts as they are. So I hope you won’t misunderstand me.
I guess that in the future I will also write lyrics with my thoughts on death a lot, haha.
That brings us to the latest release, “Defect”, which has the theme of “feeling defect from the beginning like a chronic illness or something that makes one feel broken”. A theme that I personally really relate to. I normally don’t talk about this subject on Arlequin Magazine, but I too have a birth defect that is a chronic illness… So I can’t help but wonder, why did you choose this time? Do you also struggle with this yourself?
Irohana: The lyrics of “Defect” are based on my own chronic illness, yes. The lyrics are about the emptiness of accepting my defect. The emptiness is kind of sad, but ironically, I’ll be very glad if people with greater pain or disabilities listen to this song and share and release sad emotions together. Either with me or with others, rather than feeling despair.
The lyrics and feeling “broken” can actually be applied to everyone, since all life can’t avoid death in the end. But it can also apply to people with pain or disabilities of some kind. However, the lyrics are very subjective and hopeless, it might be hard to comfort someone or empathize with them, haha.
I’m also really glad that 雪 (Yuki) shared her story with me (even though you can’t read this story in the interview itself). It feels like I’m being comforted together with her.
A new way of performing to a larger audience
Switching to a completely different topic immediately, on January 16 of this year you’ve actually done a live show with Madmans Esprit and Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy, which was also broadcasted live through the internet. What was this like for you?
Clownus: Even though it was our first time to be broadcasted live through the internet, we had already seen many other bands do this before so it wasn’t that different. We just performed like we always do, so the extra audience we couldn’t see didn’t bother us at all. We also believe that this type of broadcasting has benefits for everyone, not just the artists and the audience, but also for the people who work on organizing the event. And on top of that you don’t have to be in the live venue as a fan to see an artist perform, you can be anywhere in the world and still be a part of the show. We think it’s great in a time like this!
This style of broadcasting has a bit of a depressing origin as well, don’t you think? Since it’s one of the solutions artists came up with due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve spoken to many artists since the pandemic started, so readers have a pretty decent image of what it’s like in Japan, but what about Korea? Did you also run into restrictions and problems that ruined some of the things you had planned?
Clownus: We think that the situation in Korea is pretty much the same as it is in other countries. While we didn’t have a “complete lockdown” here we did get various restrictions that were implemented on private gatherings, business hours on multi-use facilities and various events like live shows and so on. Live shows and releases of artists have decreased a lot because of the pandemic, and a lot of live clubs couldn’t continue due to lack of funding and had to close their business forever. So it does feel like the scene has stagnated more. It’s probably no surprise to you that this pandemic also disrupted our plans.
It’s a very tough time for everyone on this planet. Whether the pandemic ends or is somehow more controlled, we hope that the situation will get better as soon as possible.
Introducing more listeners to the world of Clownus
Because of the pandemic people all over the world have been looking for entertainment wherever they can. And of course I can suggest readers “give the music from Clownus a try!”, but if you had to try and convince our readers, how would you do so?
Clownus: Honestly, we can’t (and won’t!) say what sub-genre or what kind of music we play. We don’t see our music as “melodic death metal”, “deathcore”, “black” or “(totally) progressive”. We see our music as “just Clownus”. Perhaps this is why we’ve given references like Gojira, Faceless and Shining. (laughing)
We’d rather want to enjoy the various opinions about our music or style from the listeners themselves.
So if you’re curious about us, or want to define us, give our music a try! 😊
And if people do want to check out the rest of your music, where can they do so? Can they find your music on streaming services, or only through physical CDs?
Clownus: You can find our music on Bandcamp, but also on various streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple Music. We unfortunately don’t have any physical CDs of our music, but we do have some merchandise that’s available through the webshop of nO aUTHORITY.
Our newest single “Defect” also has a music video, you can check this one out on our YouTube channel as well!
What about social media? Can people follow you on any platform to be informed of information and updates anywhere as well?
Clownus: Instagram is probably the most comfortable place for us, but we also have Facebook, Twitter and of course our YouTube channel. Because of COVID-19 we can’t perform live very often, so we try to communicate with our fans online as well.
It will of course be good for us if more people start to listen to our music, but it will be even better if all of you could share it with your friends as well. We really appreciate your support, even if it’s by buying merchandise or even something as simple as sharing our posts. Every little thing will be a big support for us.
There might be a language barrier between us and listeners all over the world, but we hope our music will be able to support our listeners in some ways as well as our listeners actually support us.
And what about the future plans for Clownus? Are you already planning something new?
Clownus: Ultimately, we just want to continue to make our own music and communicate with a lot of people through it. We’re working on another single right now, but we’ve only just started so right now we unfortunately can’t tell you anything about it just yet.
I only have one more question, and you can probably guess it already since it’s the very last item on my list today. Do you have a message for everyone who has read today’s interview?
Clownus: We’re ready to move, and we’ll keep moving forward.
We hope you’ll have a better year in 2022, and we hope to see the end of the pandemic together.
We know that Clownus isn’t exactly the type of band we normally cover here on Arlequin Magazine, but we really hoped you enjoyed hearing (or rather, reading) their story just as much as you would with our usual topics. As one thing we like to do is help you find new music to listen to, aside from simply informing you about the current events of an artist you might already know.
If you do decide to check out more of Clownus’ works, you can find them on Apple Music and Spotify for streaming, and on Bandcamp if you wish to support them directly by buying digital versions of their work you can download onto your computer.
And while Instagram is their personal social media of choice, you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
All of these links and more can be found in the “Follow” section below!
Follow Clownus around the web
雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin Magazine & Photography.
She started in 2009 as a photographer with Arlequin Photography, but due to a growing interest in journalism, translation and behind-the-scenes work in general the project burst out of it's seams in 2021 and expanded through the addition of Arlequin Magazine.
雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker and maintains both the English and Dutch sections of both Magazine and Photography with original content, translations and photography as well as all the behind-the-scenes work for both websites.
She speaks Dutch, English, Japanese and German.