XIV. Clazziquai and My Inspiration to Write
Late 2007 was a great time to be into Kpop. So many memorable hits came out back then. And all of this went down at a very pivotal time in my life
As I mentioned, I took six months off from college from April till September of 2007. I came back to school in October a reformed 21-year-old.
In those six months where all I did was work as a delivery driver, I began my journey into working out and losing weight, dealing with a very truculent yet adorable love interest…and during this time I discovered one of the most important things about life. Purpose.
When you wake up every day where your sole purpose is just to make money in order to pay for gas and rent and that’s it…it’s like, what am I doing with my life? Why? Even if I graduated with my degree, what would I do with it? Why do I need it?
Figuring out these questions and coming to my own conclusions really did help me to spread my wings. And, hahaha! I guess I could credit it to me being a more calculated individual. This was back before the whole YOLO crap went down. When the rest of the world picked up on that phase, I had just come out of it. You only live once, yes. But why ruin it with a single stupid decision? The world is so much bigger than the here and now. And what you do often leads to consequences you wished would have ended at the “here and now” point in your life.
If anything, Big Bang inspired me that August of 2007. Before their “Always” album, I had hope that they’d take over the industry dominated by pretty boys…but I wasn’t sure how they could do it if their talents and artistry remained the same as it was in 2006. Seeing how much they improved and transformed themselves inspired me to do the same.
Without even realizing it, I had been staring my “purpose” in the face ever since I was thirteen. During that six month haitus from college, I’d still go to the school. All students had passes that gave us access to the computer lab 24/7. On my own…not because I was tasked to do this or because I’d be graded on it…I’d go to the school to write.
One of my first short stories was a murder mystery where my narration was a cheap imitation of Frank Miller’s “Sin City.” I was just feeling it. Inspired by the fact that I was up all hours of the night where some parts of the city looked shady as hell, I just dreamed about being a rookie cop with a sharp detective mind, coming across a murder in a dark abandoned house in a gang-ridden neighborhood. My veteran partner was an underestimating asshole, of course, but would go on to respect my deductions. Basically, nothing new. A story you’ve probably already heard. But still…I enjoyed writing it.
Music was my personal transportation device. A gateway of sorts. Even while driving, I could listen to music, have my mind focused on the road and where I’m going, while daydreaming of another time, place, and situation. I know. That sounds incredibly dangerous. But my imagination…I’ve been doing this ever since I could remember.
To be able to write down my thoughts, my stories, my dreams…it’s a record of it. Not saying all of my stories are good or deserving of publication. But it’s simply how I breathe, like a whale coming up to the surface. When you have so much going on inside your heard and mind, you need an outlet. Even my closest friends didn’t have such patience to listen. Not to mention, I doubt I’d want them knowing all the fucked-up thoughts swirling around in my head. And so, I write.
Thus…when I went back to film school, I had a purpose. I had a goal. I knew from then on out that I’d only take classes and soak in the knowledge I need to be a writer. Specifically, a screenwriter. I had heard that a single screenplay could sell for six figures. Of course, I wouldn’t learn till years later that every production assistant in Los Angeles has some screenplay in their closet that they sometimes spend their whole lives trying to get made.
Either way, with a degree in Digital Movie Production, the field is broad. I could have focused on being a director. A lighting director. A Director of Photography. Or all of the above. But I discovered I had a talent that the rest of my peers lacked. More importantly, what they saw as a task or a chore, I took pleasure in it and it eventually became the number one reason why I loved being alive.
CLAZZIQUAI – YOU NEVER KNOW
I took creative writing and introductory screenwriting class during my first quarter at the film school, but to be honest, my head wasn’t in the game back then. I was still high on being a freshman and enjoying that college life. I didn’t take it seriously. But upon my return, I took an advance course and knocked it out of the park.
Everyone has their preferences, their taste, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to lose a passion for it thinking that you’re wrong and someone else is right. But being artist sometimes means straight up rebellion, even if it means going against your teachers, your masters.
For example, real quick, but for example… I’m not a huge fan of the whole back and forth story-telling where you keep going to flashbacks to give your audience pieces at a time. They call this non-linear story-telling…as opposed to linear story-telling where you follow the timeline, giving the audience a beginning, middle, and end in chronological order. That’s what I prefer.
With a few exceptions, like “The Godfather II,” I thought the non-linear was so pretentious and subconsciously insulting, as if the audience is too stupid or lacking in attention spans that they have to hit you with action or sex before flashing back to keep you interested in the exposition.
The point of my mentioning all of this, is that I have to credit Kpop to helping discover my passion. Some people require silence. Some people require classical music. For me…all of my best stories, some you’ll see on this website (Stage in the Sky), they were all inspired by the music I heard.
And the first group that had the greatest impact on me during this early stage was an electronica band that went by the name of the Clazziquai Project.
It was just by chance that I heard this group. I was watching an award show program, basically just like in the states, they have end-of-the-year music festivals in S. Korea. MAMA is one of the most popular, putting on some of the best performances and collaborations you’ve ever seen. And during one of those pre-show montages where they honor the music that topped the charts throughout the year…I heard this tune:
This is what I’m talking about, when it comes to diversity in the music. Back then, you had solo artists, hip hop rappers, and creative groups like Clazziquai, SG Wanna Be, Dynamic Duo, and MC Mong. Jumping to today (May 2019) let’s be honest, it’s saturated with idol groups, all producing the same music, mainly competing for best performance and looks, like it’s a high school talent show. But I digress.
Clazziquai caught me completely by surprise with “Lover Boy,” and I was curious to hear more. Consisting DJ Clazzi (the composer), Alex (the suave crooner), and Horan (the sultry singer)…Clazziquai has produced some of the most dream-inducing hits I’ve ever heard.
Honestly, “Lover Boy,” was off of their 2007 album, “Love Child of the Century.” But their previous two albums were full of songs just like it, if not better. I’d go on to discover more of their music throughout the years, but I figured I’d go ahead and mention the grand scope of it now.
Because Clazziquai isn’t one of those groups that’s meant to dominate charts. If you heard some of their tracks, you wouldn’t be wrong to say to yourself, “I could listen to this on an elevator” or in the waiting room of a dental clinic. I know that sounds weird or that I’m slighting them, but I’m not. This is the diversity of sound that I enjoy.
Everyone can’t be Usher or Chris Brown and the radio stations can’t continue to play people who sound like them, non-stop. People will get tired of it. There’d be no reason to look forward to anything else because you’d know they’re all doing the same thing.
Between Clazziquai, the soundtrack of “Samurai Champloo,” and another group called Mystic Puzzle, I remember countless nights clacking away, putting words to paper. I’d have the computer lab all to myself with the hallway lights off, writing story after story until the sun came up, dazed and transported by the music.
Those were good times that improved my outlook on life. I know this might sound sad…but it isn’t a stretch to say that the best memories of my life are the ones I created.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this song. It’s called “I Will Never Cry” off of their “Instant Pig” Album.
I first heard that song in late 2008 when I was in full bloom and preparing for graduation. I remember playing it on the way back from a gym session. Back then I had a crush on a Japanese gravure model named Nonami Takizawa. Lol, when I listened to that song, I dreamt that Nonami and I were the only two super powered humans in the world. There was a love hate relationship with us (story of my life). But during the song, we’d chase each other, flying through the star-lit night, soaring around the buildings of downtown Tokyo until we ended up in each other’s arms high in the sky.
I know…silly. But such dreams got me through otherwise bleak and seemingly eventless nights. On the surface, if you asked me about my day, it would seem a bit boring if you just had a camera following me around. But in my mind, heart, and soul, what I was learning, what I created, how I was growing based on the knowledge I attained…there were supernovas erupting every night. I was gaining more experience than the greatest explorers you could think of, precisely because in so many ways my mind has no limits.