By Eric May
Eddie Kim hasn’t been in the scene for very long, but he’s certainly making a name for himself with several free projects spanning the gamut of progressive metal to ambient post rock and of course, his death metal project in Billboard Death Metal, as well as his progressive/djent project in Deadfall. Having discovered this very talented musician by way of YouTube and free song downloads, I was immediately impressed with Billboard Death Metal’s pop covers and find myself still impressed by his unique touch to djent in Deadfall. He even covered some classic video game tunes!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been making music and what bands or projects have you done before these current ones?
My name is Eddie Kim and I’m a Boston based musician and producer. I grew up near Denver, Colorado and moved out to Massachusetts to attend the Berklee College of Music in 2006. I’ve been playing music since I was a child starting with the piano, but didn’t get serious about music until I picked up the guitar at age 11. Throughout middle school and high school I played a lot of hard rock and jazz music. When I got to Berklee I started playing a lot more technical music such as jazz fusion and progressive metal, as well as starting to grow a love for the recording/producing side of music.
What was the inspiration behind making Billboard Death Metal? What do you think it is about pop music that lends it to be parodied in such a way?
BDM honestly started out of sheer boredom. I had just finished Berklee in 2010, and the prog metal band (Over Legend) I had been playing with all throughout college just had disbanded so I needed to do something to keep myself musically challenged. It was around that time I had discovered a love for death metal, mainly through the discovery of the Adult Swim TV show Metalocalypse. I thought I’d give death metal music a go. The marriage of boredom and wanting to give “YouTube-Stardom” a shot lent itself pretty well to doing Billboard Death Metal.
Radio pop music is inherently recognizable to the public’s ear, though it is completely empty of substance. When it gets parodied, it gets noticed. Weird Al made a goddamned career out of it. In the case of BDM, metal fans took it as a way to give the finger to the pop industry, and for the fans of pop music, it was just a really weird way to hear their favorite radio tunes. The response from both worlds was interesting to say the least.
What was the recording process like for Billboard Death Metal? What did you use to create it and how long did it take?
I used an Ibanez 6 string and 7 string to track all the guitars through a Behringer V-Amp 2. The vocals were done with just a Shure SM57. Everything was plugged into a DigiDesign audio interface firewired into a MacBook Pro running Motu Digital Performer. All the drums were sequenced using sounds from Sonoma Wire Works DrumCore 3 and ToonTracks products. In the beginning when I was doing all the instruments myself, the writing/recording/mixing/filming/editing process would take anywhere from 2-3 days. As my friend Sean Dusoe was starting to do more for Billboard Death Metal, the process extended to about a week or so.
Originally, you guys were going to do a cover for every track that hit the Billboard Top 100 music charts. But you stopped when almost half of the record was done, to pick it backup later. You also offered a link to download the record via Youtube. What happened? Did you get in trouble with the music industry?
We never got in trouble with the industry; we just ended up getting busier with other projects. Doing BDM attracted a lot of new subscribers and attention to my YouTube channel and I wanted to start working on completely original music again to show to my new fan base. I started writing a solo melodic death metal record and an ambient/post-rock album, which both can be downloaded for free at eddiekim.bandcamp.com. It was also around that time that Sean and I began work on Deadfall material. Billboard Death Metal definitely went on the back burner but you never know when we’ll end up doing another.
I also heard a breathtaking version of the underwater theme for the first Donkey Kong Country game (out of all the versions I’ve heard, yours is definitely the best of them) as well as Dr. Wily’s castle theme from Megaman 2. Are you planning on recording an album of video game covers?
Thank you! We’ve been asked a couple of times to do more video game music, but I’ve been so out of touch with video games for more than fifteen years that I would have no idea what to do. Those projects were just fun to do and who knows, we may do more. I know there are plans to put the Donkey Kong cover, along with other covers we’ve done as Deadfall on a deluxe version of Deadfall’s full length record which is due out late fall. There are also plans to include that particular cover on our set list in the future.
Are you familiar at all with Britain’s Ten Masked Men? They did the same thing that you did with Billboard Death Metal and achieved a certain fan base having released three full albums and an EP from 1999-2006. They did record a fourth record, but no one claims to have a copy of the disc and only the cover for Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” and Tupac’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” remain. It’s definitely one of the metal world’s most rare releases. Did you take any inspiration from these guys?
I’ve never heard of them actually, but now I’m very interested in checking some of that stuff out.
You’ve recently unveiled a new EP in the form of an ambitious djent project by the name of Deadfall. Can you talk to me a little about this band?
Deadfall is a project that features music written by both Sean Dusoe and myself. He and I have been writing music together since high school. The music itself is our reflection on discovering bands like Periphery, Tesseract, Cloudkicker, Meshuggah, and Animals As Leaders. We started out as an instrumental duo up until about a year ago when we got other members in the band. The band currently has Marc Brennan on drums, his brother Kyle Brennan on guitar, Sean’s brother Keith Dusoe on guitar as well, and our newest member Chris Greene on vocals. The music itself is a departure from the normal technically/shreddy based music that both Sean and I were used to writing. Deadfall’s music is meant to be fun to listen to and watch. Our goal was to make everyone head bang. The best way to describe our sound would be Meshuggah meets Deftones. You can download Deadfall’s music for free at deadfall.bandcamp.com
What is the meaning behind the Sentinel EP? It sounds like some very deep subjects are being discussed.
The Sentinel EP is just a reintroduction of the band as a full group whereas previous released music was only instrumental and produced by only Sean and myself. It’s meant to be a sampler to the upcoming full length release due for late fall. The opening title track is a brand new song to help our existing listeners get a feel for our new sound with a singer, as well as give new listeners an idea of who we are. I can’t say too much about lyrical content of all the songs as that whole department is taken care of by our singer Chris Greene.
Will we hear anything from Billboard Death Metal in the future, or is this just a one-off? Pop music keeps on circulating, so I definitely think another round could be in order.
As of right now there are no plans to do more Billboard Death Metal tracks. But like I said before, you never know if and when we will decide to pick it back up once in a while.
What bands are you currently into? What are some acts you might recommend?
Meshuggah and Periphery are always on rotation in my headphones but I’ve also recently gotten more into bands like Vildhjarta, Skyharbor, Monuments, and Uneven Structure. I think the album Tesseract released earlier this year is fantastic and I still need to pick up the new Born Of Osiris record as I’ve really dug their last two albums. I was once a huge Dream Theater fan but kind of lost touch with their newer sound, yet I’m interested to see what their upcoming record sounds like. I’m also waiting for a new Opeth album as I’ve become a huge fan of theirs within the last eight years. When I’m not listening to metal music, I’m always listening to classic rock. I absolutely love bands like Camel, Steve Miller Band and the Eagles.
Have you ever performed any live shows?
Deadfall has been hard at work over the last eight months getting our live sound sharp by playing out. We try to play at least two shows per month. We just recently opened up for Ever Forthright and Auras on the “Do You Even Riff? Tour” in Providence, RI. By the way, both of those bands are really fucking awesome and everyone should go check them out! We’re adding more shows as the year is coming to a close and everyone can stay up to date with that on Deadfall’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/deadfall1
What do you do when you’re not making music? What are your hobbies?
It’s kind of funny, 90% of what I do is music. But I guess aside from music I’m really into cooking and finding good local cuisine. Finding good local beers also goes with that. I also like to catch good movies from time to time and like finding really odd or weird videos on YouTube. I guess there isn’t much aside from music. I don’t even play video games!
What is your opinion on the “great Illuminati conspiracy” that seems to “pop up” in pop music acts like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and others that you’ve covered? Could Justin Bieber be the fucking antichrist? What are you going to do if the world as we know it grounds to a screeching halt?
I’m a little unfamiliar with the Illuminati references in pop music since I distance myself from anything that’ll malnourish me musically. But let me go on record here to say that if Katy Perry were to ever sing in a metal group, I’d listen to that shit all day long!
Finally, what first inspired you to play metal music? When did you first pick up an instrument?
I guess I picked up the piano when I was 5 or 6 years old. When I transitioned to guitar I wanted to find music that would make me an amazing guitarist. Rock and Metal music lends itself pretty well to gaining technical prowess over the instrument. Some of the best guitarists in the world today belong to the world of metal. Where I was first drawn into the music for its speed, technical and aggressive sound, I find that I’m more drawn to more of the musicality, aural and groove oriented aspects of more modern metal. I just know that I’ll probably be listening to metal music for the rest of my life.