Name: Enyang Ha
Occupation: Producer, mastering engineer
Nationality: Korean    
Current Release: Enyang Ha's 1997 EP is out via System Records.
Recommendations: I love to dig into this magazine called ‘Gruppe’. They invite a ton of talented artists and I discover satisfyingly many inspiring weird, brave, geeky works through them. They manage to bring up politics or a topic from absolutely non artistic area and narrate that from a more artistic point of view which I find so interesting.
And I recommend to check out this music label ‘Carousel’. It’s a label by the club ‘Cakeshop’ in Seoul. You can discover so much fresh experimental electronic music from this place and I heard there will be interesting new things coming. The experimental electronic music scene in Korea is growing so steadily and sounding so new in its unique way! I am so moved by the scene. It is really built with the genuine passion of young people. I love to be connected to Korean culture and I let myself be surprised by their innovative way of thinking through their music.

If you enjoyed this interview with Enyang Ha and would like to stay up to date on her music and creative activities, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.

We also recommend visiting the website of her mastering studio, Urbiks Mastering.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I was trained in classical piano as a child. From an early age I was competing in these student contests until my early teenage year. I loved how I could express myself on stage by my movements. I took it more as a performance than simply playing nice piano pieces in front of people.

These years of my life made me discover the joy of performing in a certain role that I wanted to tell a story of. This really shaped me as a playful performer now. Piano was also the very first tool for me to write songs. And after a while, when I gained some confidence, my voice was going on top of the piano. Later I also started to learn bass after I got one as a birthday present which joined in my songwriting.

The songs sounded pretty different from now but you really see that I am more and more going back to the constellation of using these instruments and workflow of early days and trying to complete the story that I wanted to tell back then.

For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?

I like to observe how certain great artists have developed over time as a person and embraced their spirits. Their art is a result of this transformation.

Powerful art is for me a result of an artist who constantly attempts to grow, demolish and reflect. I get very inspired by seeing this process.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

I left South Korea at the age of 14 to work and go to school in a little village in Kentucky. After that I was an expat in Tokyo and then moved to Berlin.

For quite a long time I felt like an outsider and foreigner who could never be fully integrated. In the early years I thought I had to be like the people around me to be part of a certain society. This was putting a lot of stress on me. As time went by, I understood that being myself with an open mind is even a more powerful way of being part of a society. In this way I am not just part of it, but influencing my surrounding in a positive way.

I guess this way of thinking really helped me and nourished my creativity in the way that I am fearless to express myself as an artist and I just want to hand out good things and value to people by doing this.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

In the beginning I was very careful in making sure that all my songs sound similar to each other, that there is coherence in all my sound, if all songs were going into one direction.

Now I became more free from this way of thinking. Everyday is different and everyday I have different thoughts and feelings. It won’t ever repeat in the same way. So I learned to go with the flow and don't think about this consistency too much. If I stay true to myself it will sound like me anyways.

As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?

I am of course a big fan of analog synthesisers and modular systems for my productions. But I have to say that I used to be more rigorous with producing every sound myself in the past. Oh and it had to be all analog. I felt like I was cheating if I didn't produce everything myself.

Over time my interest in music production shifted. I like to carry out my ideas and feelings fast so I can keep them very fresh and pure. I like to tell more stories than spending time on making each kick and bass sound. I like how digital tools can save your time in producing and let your ideas and feelings flow out into a written format immediately.

Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

I don’t like to plan too much before making music. I like to go with the flow. I like to be inspired by the sound of randomness and probabilities that certain inputs create. Perhaps that is why I got into modular synthesis in the first place.

Earlier this year I was introduced to Leimma and Apotome for the performance I participated at CTM. Leimma and Apotome were launched during CTM 2021 and several artists worked with these tools there. Both are browser-based public music making tools created by Khyam Allami. Leimma is for creating your own microtonal tuning systems. On Apotome, which is a generative music environment, you can launch your own tuning system from Leimma or work with built-in microtonal tuning system from around the world.

I really like getting myself into transcultural generative sounds. I like to tweak them into my own sound universe and merge them with my style and workflow. I like to pair these new technologies with the modular system. I am so grateful that these great pieces of software are now public and online. I just need my laptop and my modular box to get started.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

I like to visit friends’ unfinished projects and contribute with my vocals. I like to ask them what the song is about and translate what they want to say into Korean, putting the words in rhyme. Then rap or sing, whatever the song needs ... whatever the mood feels like ...

I also like to invite friends over to my studio and record what they improvise. I take these recording materials and start producing with them. Or I use them to complete existing productions. It’s always a magical moment for me when a new recording fits perfectly into my unfinished production and completes the overall sound.

To me this format of collaboration really pushes things forward, helping each other in a creative yet very productive way.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

I wake up very early in the morning and I do have an everyday morning routine, a bit like in a monastery. Then I go to my mastering studio at 10am. Having this routine keeps me healthy and gives me a mind space and time to develop creativity.

I am very thankful that I work in audio mastering. Mastering for me is not only the final step in music production, but it is polishing sounds and giving greater depth to a piece. Good mastering really pulls out the persona of a musician very well. Often people categorise this under engineering but I take mastering as an artistic and creative process. It was never simply an engineering job for me. That’s probably why it could coexist with my music in parallel so well and is constantly bringing me so much musical inspiration. Sitting in a quiet, wooden mastering room alone and diving down to the wave of frequencies on a mission to find the important details allows me to be focused and absorb music in a different way. This really endlessly stimulates and educates me.

More importantly I really love being connected to other artists through mastering. Hearing their stories and understanding their perspectives makes me feel so alive. I am just really happy that I can blend different inputs in my life and create something new that excites me from that.

Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

Playing at CTM early this year was a very special event in my career. Lucy Railton, Nene H, Tot Onyx,Tyler Friedman and I were playing the compositions that were written by Khyam Allami and Faten Kanaan using Apotome which I mentioned earlier. These pieces were basically used for generating MIDI notes. With this input information, we were controlling and manipulating the sounds of our modular setups. We were like an electric sci-fi orchestra!

What meant most to me was that it was a performance by seven people in harmony. Often our music scene focuses on individual artist’s presence and fame. The maximum when artists get together is when they feature on each other’s song for social, musical or marketable reasons. I really enjoyed the time we spent together as a team during the rehearsals, especially counting the fact that it was a socially distanced covid time in winter.

During the performance at CTM we were very connected, perhaps because we were simply focusing on bringing the sound in harmony together.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

On a general level my strategy is to keep myself healthy. At the same time I like to go with the flow of every emotional state of mine and don’t really think about an ideal state. Because even the crazy moods or sloppy states of mind can tell a damn good story if we accept them. The trick is to then connect to your intuitive way of communicating these states musically.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

I left South Korea at the age of 14 and went to Kentucky by myself. I was living in Tokyo until I moved to Berlin 9 years ago. I was always the person with a dictionary. I was always the person who spoke like a child. I was mistaken often enough because of my language! Now I can deal with it but at a younger age it left some scars on me.

Understanding Ableton for the first time was a liberation for me. Being able to record and produce any sound I wanted with my own hands really gave me power. I could finally fully express myself through producing music and without the need of language. That was all I needed to heal myself.

There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?

Sometimes being an artist without putting the focus on any cultural, social, political or gender specificity makes us feel like we lack intrinsic identity as an artist for people to remember us. On the other side, it feels like cultural exchange and only retranslating these experiences into art also doesn't feel like enough to grab the public attention with your work.

I guess there are quite a lot of artists who feel they don’t get enough attention, although their work deserves a lot of appreciation. However understanding how you want to present yourself as an artist of course makes you look back and think what your values are, where you belong and who you are, which can be a big development for oneself as an artist as well as personally.

I believe it is most relevant to put your heart in doing things. Tthen it will move people. Otherwise there could be a danger of your art simply being seen as copying and using cultural signs. It needs to be authentic.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?

I often use my phone's voice memos in songs. Recordings from my everyday life, including sounds of chickens from my friend’s backyard and our old car dying in the hottest summer day in Berlin, become textures in my songs. Also the snapping of an ear can become hi-hats and my pelvic bones turn into the baseline of a song. The recordings are like my sound harvest and a sound diary.

Going through this sound diary triggers a lot of the sensations of that exact moment. When the memory is triggered I start to remember the temperature, smell and feeling of that moment. I am still impressed that so much information can be pulled out just from remembering certain sounds. I couldn’t do that from looking at my old photos!

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

I want my audience to take a healthy path, live a healthy and joyful life and don’t think that what they have in their life is an obstacle but a gift and a chance to transform into what they actually want. I want this message to be subtly delivered. I want the message to be light and easy to digest. I don’t want it to be serious at all.

I think I could deliver this message the way I wanted through my new song "1997". The song narrates my memory of a day as a child in that year. I sing in Korean:

"You are happy as you are without that clothes.
You are happy as you are without that hair."

I grew up in culture that I had to wear short hair in ponytail and a modest uniform to cover my body and to go to school where teachers were waiting at the entrance with scissors in their hands in case your hair was coming down the shoulder. Our individuality didn’t exist nor were we able to express ourselves openly. It took me a long time to claim the power and joy in expressing myself with my look, with my identity, status and background. I wear no make up nor clothes on top for the music video of 1997. I am as transparent as I can be, only looking into the reflection of my true self.

Breastfeeding to my child, delivering this wish to the next generation, to the people ... I want people to recognise the abundant gifts within their lives.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

Producing a song for me is like a whole life cycle.

I usually have difficulties to start off and gain momentum in the beginning. It is like being in a newborn baby state, being very sleepy and still learning to establish one’s rhythm and sensual perceptions. But as soon as I have a foundation and developed a feeling for the song, like a grown up who finally found passion in one’s life and going for one’s dream, it starts to build up more quickly. Then I am always really into it so I even forget to go to the toilet! And I always finish the songs I start and come to an end. The end of one life cycle!