The Brooklyn-based outfit reunites ten years later to deal with unfinished business.
Maiden Seoul is an anomaly. What else can you call a band that effortlessly fuses indie-pop, jazz and roots rock reggae? Initially the brainchild of vocalist and keyboardist Soo Jin Yi and the eclectic guitarist Ian Macaulay, Maiden Seoul, as we know it, would later be completed by the addition of Ian's friend and drummer Rashid Williams. United by a shared passion for good music, Maiden Seoul’s first album is more than a decade in the making and sees each member at the top of their musical game.
The album, cheekily titled ‘Cinematic,’ can only be described as an experience. Although initially recorded by just Soo Jin Yi and Ian Macaulay more than a decade ago, they decided to reunite more than a decade later with Rashid Williams to finish the project. Over the ten years between the initial recording and the current release, each member has matured and evolved profoundly as an artist, fully displayed throughout the project.
“Verve,” the lead single for ‘Cinematic,’ is a perfect introduction to the significant musical capabilities of Maiden Seoul. Over instrumentals that constitute a delicious blend of funk, indie and pop, Soo Jin Yi’s vocals take us through rainy scenes of uncertain affections and detached lovers.
With a visually stunning, manga-styled cinematic lyric video to match, Soo Jin Yi is in her element, casually dropping lines like “We change constantly / I’m no one that you think you know” that perfectly encapsulates the uncertainty of this love. With Macaulay’s guitar and Williams’s drums providing the perfect backdrop for Soo Jin Yi’s dreamy vocals, “Verve” is a song any indie lover will want on their playlist.
Maiden Seoul’s “Verve” is more than a welcome introduction to an incredible music album years in the making. With its accompanying music video, it’s an experience unto itself. Whenever you’re ready, tap in and stream “Verve,” available now on all streaming platforms, and also keep an eye out for Maiden Seoul’s debut album, ‘Cinemanic,’ out soon.
We loved “Verve” the lyrical video was super cool, and the song itself was such a vibe. We have to ask, where did the inspiration behind “Verve” come from? Did any of you draw from personal experiences making this track? Soo Jin: I wrote "Verve" when I was a part of the Brooklyn dating scene. A lot of mistakes were made! And I was cool with those mistakes because it made it easy for me to pour my sadness and exhaustion into musical form. The song is about slipping up, making mistakes, and continuing to make those mistakes simply because you want to. And although the tempo is up, and there’s a funky feel/dancey element to "Verve," the song is dark and sad. Your album, 'Cinemanic,' is amazingly over a decade in the making! You mentioned you originally wrote and recorded most of the original material back in the 2010s; what made you decide to revisit it more than a decade later? Ian: Well, we kind of have the pandemic to thank for that! It’s a long story, but I’ll try to sum it up as quickly as possible. We never formally split up as a band, but since this was always viewed as a studio-based project, as we all got busy, we just stopped finding time to get together. By that point, though, we already had a whole album worth of songs, which lived on my hard drive for the next 8 or 9 years. Then, when the pandemic hit and everything shut down, I decided to revisit them and use them to learn how to mix better. I got them sounding as good as I could and sent them off to Soo Jin and Rashid, but they once again sat on the hard drive for whatever reason. In the meantime, Gary and Isabella Bernard, who I’ve known for years, started Blue Collar Records and asked me to record some things. At the same time, Gary asked if I had anything else for him to check out, so I sent over the album in its semi-finished state, and he loved it. So, with their help, we were finally able to put the time and energy into finishing the album the right way, which included utterly reworking some of the songs, adding an entirely new song (actually a very old but unrecorded one), and recording all new vocals and a lot of other instrumentation. It’s been quite a process! Soo Jin: We’ve played music for a long time, but Ian and Rashid never stopped practicing, performing, touring, working on music, etc. For me, it was like a wrinkle in time. There was a good 10+ years where I didn’t practice much, perform, or do anything to propel my music career forward. I did continue to write music (it’s my creative outlet) and even recorded them (poorly) on Logic or my iPhone’s voice notes app. But music was out of focus for me. They'd still be sitting on a hard drive if it weren’t for Ian’s dedicated work and attention to these songs. Ian introduced us to Gary at Blue Collar Records and saved me from singing for myself and recording music on my iPhone. What was your favorite part about bringing 'Cinemanic' to life? Ian: The best part for me has just been getting to rekindle our relationship over the last year. When we initially started this project, I felt it would be a good match musically. Still, Soo Jin and Rashid were two of my favorite people from two different sides of my musical life that had never collided. So, even though we all kept in touch to a certain extent over the last few years, it’s been great to get a chance to work so closely again and spend time together. To have ended up with an album we’re all so proud of is the icing on the cake for me. Soo Jin: One of my favorite parts about bringing Cinemanic to life was the reunion with my band members at Milkboy Studios. We had not all been together in the same space in over 10 years, which was inspiring and heartwarming. It was what was needed to bring Cinemanic to life finally. It was such an impactful moment and sparked all kinds of new musical ideas! Plus, I had a chance to work with Justin Miller, who is awesome and re-record all of my vocals hella pregnant which was a fun and amusing challenge! Rashid: On a personal level, this project allows me to be a different version of myself, a more true version of myself. Playing for other artists, your name hardly gets mentioned without their name next to it, but this music was conceived and created in a way that allowed me to be myself and play however and whatever I wanted to play. If we wanted to see what it would sound like to hang spray cans and play them with sticks, or pile all our keys on the snare, or use glass candles as percussion, we would do it. Where did you get the inspiration to go with a manga-styled lyrical video for “Verve?"
Soo Jin: I love anime and have always loved Interstellar 5555, the animated musical based on Daft Punk’s album, Discovery. I imagined Maiden Seoul performing Verve in a dark theater, as stars (and moon) of the silver screen, as animated pop performers, a film noir twist with silent film elements to project performance while being maudlin. I really enjoyed putting together a mood board for the Lyric Videos team, and they did an amazing job bringing my vision to life! Ian: Right from the start, the video was Soo Jin’s baby, well, her other baby! I think the black and white and the film noir elements really add something special to the song. What’s next for Maiden Seoul? When does 'Cinemanic' release, and can we expect to hear more Maiden Seoul music soon? Ian: The next single, "Turn On The Lights," will be released on March 3rd, and Cinemanic will be out in late April or early May on Blue Collar Records. We just got the final masters back from Ryan Schwabe, who did the mastering, and it sounds great! We’re really excited for everyone to hear it! We have already started working on songs for the next record, so don’t worry; it won’t take another 10 years to get the next record out. Soo Jin: Cinemanic will be released this Spring, and we’re super excited for the world to hear it! We poured our hearts (and Seoul) into each track and hope to reach a wide range and diverse group of people with our music. We got so lucky, with time and distance on our side, when we recorded Cinemanic. Everything came together so organically, and the feeling was always right. And although the three of us live in different states, we hope to have as much luck and fun recording our next album, which we are currently working on!