이랑 - 신의 놀이 // Lang Lee - Playing God

I don’t remember how I ended up watching this music video. The only possible way that I can think of is from probably having seen Lang Lee’s tweet on one of my favourite illustrators, Nho Sang Ho aka nemonan’s Twitter.

I learned about how she won the 2017 Korea Music Awards Best Folk Song Award with this song, and how she won ₩50,000 (or ~$58) for her trophy during her thank-you speech. She said: “My friend told me there would be no reason to go to the award ceremony if it doesn’t satisfy two of the three things, money, honour, and fun.” She went on, saying how the ceremony doesn’t have both fun and cash prizes, but she greatly appreciates the honour and would like to put her trophy up for auction at that moment for ₩50,000, which is her monthly rent. And apparently someone actually did purchase it.

Just from reading about this, I already formed a fascination and curiosity for this artist, as well as respect for what she did, even before listening to her songs. She wrote on Twitter how she gained honour and money that night, and everyone else got some humour out of what she did - therefore, fair game. I would love to know how the audience, or rather the organizers/judges of the event thought about her action.

The more I read about her, the more I read her tweets, and the more I watch her performance, I am so intrigued about her character. There’s something odd and weird about her as an artist, a person, and about her aesthetic and vibe. But I don’t say it in any negative way, but to emphasize her stray away from the typical mainstream indie music scene, and her distinctive uniqueness (I feel the need to use two synonymous descriptive words to put a greater emphasis).

“한국에서 태어나 산다는 데 어떤 의미를 두고 계시나요
때로는 사막에 내던져진 것 같은 그런 느낌이 드시나요
좋은 이야기가 있어도 만들어지지 않는다면 그 좋은 이야기에 대한
신념이 무너지는 순간이 찾아오기도 하나요”

“What meaning do you give at the fact that you were born and live in Korea
Do you ever feel like you are thrown in the desert
Even if there is a good story but you can’t make it, have you ever faced
That moment when your belief for that good story collapsed”

When I first heard “Playing God,” I was drawn to her calm and composed voice relaying an endless array of words in a rhythmic manner, as if a rap of sort, which strangely and perfectly accompanies the body movements of the dancers in the music video. The aesthetic of the music video recalls Japanese indie drama films, especially the works of Naoko Ogigami and the scene in one of my favourite films, Megane (or Glasses) (2007), where the grandma leads a group of people in basic stretching on the beach. The mundanity highlights the simplicity of bodily gestures which is so serene and calming to watch.

The album explicitly points its arrow at our society. Lang Lee takes mundane stories and experiences as she renders them with a complexity of diverse instruments and sounds, playing with overlaps and taking acute awareness of the importance of pauses. She throws questions at us - questions which at first seem irrelevant - but slowly you find yourself perking your ears at the heaviness of their topic. 

“여전히 사람들은 좋은 이야기가 나오기를 기다리고 있죠
좋은 이야기는 향기를 품고 사람들은 그 냄새를 맡죠
모든 이야기는 제물로 바쳐지기 위해 만들어지는 비극”

“People are still waiting for that good story to come out
A good story harbours a scent, and people sniff that smell
The tragedy of how every story is created only to become a sacrificial offering”

Within the words of denial, discomfort, and disappointment, the sound of the cello rings melodically throughout the song. And the tinge of comedic render as she questions herself if she makes movies because she wants to “play God” adds a great charm.

“어쩌면~ 난 영화를 만드는 일로
신의 놀이를 하려고 하는지도
여전히 사람들은 좋은 이야기가 나오기를 기다리고 있다
나는 좋은 이야기를 통해 신의 놀이를 하려고 하는지도 모른다”

“Maybe perhaps, with my filmmaking work
I am trying to play God
People are still waiting for that good story to come out
Maybe I’m trying to play God through a good story”

이랑‘이라는 아티스트는 더욱 알수록 궁금증을 일으키는 매력이있다. 이랑을 알게된 계기는 트위터를 통해 이번년의 한국대중음악상 시상식 기사를 통해서다. 음악을 통해서도 아니고 트로피 경매한 이야기를 통해서 처음 알게되며, 솔직하고 현실적인 아티스트의 이미지를 갖고 음악을 듣기 시작했다.

이랑의 곡들 속에는 일상적인 테마의 가사들 속에 사회적인 질문들과 고민을 질문같지않은 질문들을 던진다. ‘신의 놀이'에서 이랑의 담담한 목소리로 끝없이 이어지는 가사와 뮤비에서 나오는 스트레칭 비슷한 기본적인 몸의 움직임이 정말 잘 어울린다. 내가 좋아하는 오기가미 나오코 감독의 _안경 _(2007) 영화에서 바닷가에서 운동하는 장면이 떠올린다. 일본 감성영화에 특유인 차분한 느낌과 색감을 딴 연출에 코메딕하고 엉뚱한 분위기가 흥미롭다.