American Expat on the Hongdae Indie Scene – Interview with Geoff Nostrant

Geoff Nostrant: Silvercord and Black Swan Audio

I met Geoff online through other friends in the Seoul indie community, and I found him to be an interesting and intelligent person, with a great sense of humor. And then I discovered his musical project Silvercord… thinking it would be of interest to our readership, I approached Geoff about doing a virtual interview, and he gladly accepted.

Kiko:  Hello Geoff – tell us a little about yourself…     Geoff3

Geoff:  Well, I’m a Michigan native, graduating Eastern Michigan University with a B.S. in music. I have been recording music since I have been exposed to a cassette tape recorder. Besides all things music, I love the sport of fencing and cooking healthy food. Oh, and I guess cats are ok pets. 🙂


How did you happen to wind up in Seoul?

When I graduated from EMU, I tried to find a job relevant to producing music, but to no success. I had Korean friends at the university and they often thought I would fair well in their home country. It turns out that I did. Korea was a true home for me. The moment I arrived, I hustled multiple jobs in one day. Most Koreans I know worked just as hard as I did, so it felt right and it felt great to have most people’s common respect. I’ll never forget the “정” (jeong) in Korea!


Kiko: Tell us something about your music.      Silvercord

Geoff: ”Silvercord” is the music/recording project that I have been doing since I was young. Be it field recording for samples, or inviting friends over to experiment in sound, then to arrange it into something more song-like. It’s a grand form of meditation for me, recording and arranging music. There are five Silvercord albums that can be downloaded for free on the net. I have had the pleasure of being in a few music projects in Seoul. One I always smile back on is the “Iron Mic” which was like “Whose Line Is It Anyway” + rap freestyle + freestyle band. So much funspontaneous talent!


Kiko: DBlackSwanAudioo you still have your recording production business, even though you left Seoul for Hawaii?

Geoff:  Absolutely, Black Swan Audio will be around as long as I am. Recording /mixing/mastering others’ music is a sheer pleasure for me. What better way to support one’s self than do what one truly loves! I’ve been doing it since I was a senior student at Eastern Michigan University. I would record and edit/master students’ performances and put them on to CD.


Kiko:  Any particular Korean bands or musicians that stand out for you?   Nell1

Geoff: They are legion. I’d say my favorite Korean band would be Nell as their musical integrity has been upstanding since I first heard them shortly after I arrived in Korea. A few acts among many I salute would be Apollo 18, 2nd Moon, Clazziquai and Loro’s.

As someone who truly loves indie music, it’s all of the artists out there in Korea that are brave enough to go forward and create/record their music. I always am grateful to help others make the songs that have been incubating in their emotions and imaginations. It doesn’t matter to me if the music is coming from someone that is a professional or someone creating their first song. It’s about the art of the song, and to me, that’s the reason I want to get out of bed in the morning.


Kiko: I understand you also had a bit of an acting career, including a cameo in drama “Goong”?Geoff_Goong

Geoff: The truth is, I started acting because I wanted connections into the Korean recording world. I worked as an extra for a few of the networks and English ‘edutainment’ companies. I started acting on MBC’s “Surprise”, met some super talented friends. I don’t regret a moment of it, but there can be a bit of a glass ceiling in Korea, especially when it comes to acting. I was not able to secure any music-related connection from acting, but from then on, I started focusing more on my love of recording and editing and arranging music… you know, ‘the art of the song’. That’s what I find truly rewarding.


Kiko: As an American expat, what do you think of the music scene in Seoul, and living in Korea in general?

Geoff: I must say that I have mostly worked with the aforementioned indie music scene, though I do wish to work in the K-pop scene and turn it on its head. Haha. Looking back on living in Korea for 13 years, I would consider Seoul my second home. I had the pleasure of meeting so many talented, unsung, caring people out there on their own, brave enough to follow what they truly love.

So again, I am a big fan of the indie scene (both Korean and expats). The huge entertainment industry, however, Geoff1constantly makes me shake my head in disappointment. I know, who am I to judge? But I am constantly reminded it isn’t really about music to the industry. It’s marketing, it’s image, it’s fluff; devoid of most of what we would consider life-changing when it comes to music. It’s just about the money.

My humble advice to those living in Seoul is turn off Mnet, and get yourself out to witness the multitude of live music events (both ‘major’ and indie) that cater to artists and bands more interested in expanding their musical consciousness rather than trying to fit into the mundane cookie cutter formulas that the media have been constantly shoving down our throats. Take a chance, go out and catch some indie bands in Hongdae and be blown away how much talent resides there.


Kiko: Did you find it difficult to adjust to the culture?

Geoff: Coming to Korea was the best decision I think I have ever made. I felt very welcome there and my respect for Korea grew more and more each year I stayed there. So many good memories, some bad, but I keep them dearly close to my heart.


Kiko: So, what’s next?

RydiaKim1A new Silvercord album that departs from ambient to more epic stargaze. I’ll be going all out on this. The album is to be something truly special, so that means I won’t release any song on it unless it’s nothing less than awesome! 😀 So expect the full package with the new album! Expect the debut song to have a video (that will be made in Korea) featuring vocals of the truly lovely and talented Rydia Kim. Wooha!





Links and Resources:

Silvercord’s Facebook Page
Black Swan Audio Facebook Page

Download some Silvercord music from the following sites:

{Picture of Nell: courtesy of Esthero}