Fusing together his different musical influences, Oan Kim takes us on a journey of stylistic exploration with his new album Oan Kim & The Dirty Jazz. The former Film Noir and Chinese Army members’ new direction is jazzier and more experimental, whilst nodding to his past so far in contemporary classical music and electro-rock. Oan explains ‘ It was a deliberate decision to give the jazz saxophone a front position on what would otherwise be an indie music album’.
Writing, recording, and producing the record in his home studio in Paris, the multifaceted musician and filmmaker’s DIY approach allowed the tracks to evolve freely ‘without ever knowing where they would take me, operating almost in a vacuum of space and time gave me a lot of freedom’.
‘Pop music will never have that miraculous improvised flair of a good jazz solo, while jazz rarely has the enthralling efficacy of pop music. But who said music had to be as polarized as politics? So I wanted to bring together the best of both worlds.’
From the memorable motifs of ‘Agony’ to the atmospheric noisy sound, beds heard in ‘Smoking Gun’, and the free-flowing jazz saxophone of ‘Quintet’, Oan’s music feels assured yet honest, imaginative, boldly creative and daring. Also contributing to the album are acclaimed French jazz musicians Edward Perraud, featuring on “The Judge” and “Wong Kar Why,” and Nicolas Folmer playing trumpet on “Quintet,” “Symphony for The Lost At Sea,” and “Fuzzy Landscape.”
Throughout the album, Kim takes influence from a range of artists including but not limited to Kurt Vile, Stravinsky, and James Holden, whilst taking note from classic jazz artists such as Miles Davis. On his style, Kim explains he puts himself ‘somewhere between Pharoah Sanders and Radiohead’.
Such influences can be heard throughout the album, with an array of different sounds and styles established. ‘Agony’, inspired by Cold War Kids, features a catchy ostinato with the piano neatly interplaying throughout. Further along, the album tracks such as Thelonious are more atmospheric, with intricate details and noises, and an emotive ambiance with delicate vocals to match. The track titled referring to his son’s second name (a homage to the great Thelonious Monk) is described by Kim as ‘like a lullaby’.
Having also worked as a photographer and filmmaker, receiving awards such as the Swiss Life 4 Hands Award, Silver Horn of the Krakow Film Festival, Emerging Documentary Filmmaker at DMZ festival, and more, Kim also takes inspiration from films throughout the album. Reflecting on his writing process, he explains ‘Hitchcock used to say: once you’re finished with the screenplay you can write the dialogues. I feel the same way about songwriting. The themes of each song come out of the music itself towards the end of the songwriting process.
With a visually-driven imagination, film references to Wong Kar Wai, Fight Club, and Naked Lunch emerge on the album. The first two singles from the project Wong Kar Why and Mambo also followed with music videos directed and filmed by himself. The video for Wong Kar Why? A documentary short described as a chronicle of a romance features candid shots of his wife Katherine that have been taken between 2016 to 2021 in various locations including Paris, Seoul, New York, and Marseille, described by Kim as a ‘video of a portrait of the person I met and fell in love with over the years.
A melting pot of sounds and influences, Oan Kim & The Dirty Jazz is sure to set Oan Kim as one of the most exciting talents to emerge on the jazz scene.