This music CD is a result of “Migrant Workers' Music Project-What Is Life”. We, local people, might have proceeded various projects for migrant workers in Korea from the idea that they are those to be protected and often without consideration for their cultural desires. The question has motivated me to launch the migrant workers' music project. I wanted to present an alternative rather than criticizing as an outsider. The content of the project follows.
Migrant workers wrote lyrics and professional composers made music for them. Migrant workers' music band played and sang the songs. The songs are produced on a music CD and a music video is also produced for the title song. Project presentation for the music CD and the music video will be the official debut concert for the migrant workers' band.
During the preliminary period for the project between August and December 2001, I publicized the project at various related organizations and collected lyrics for songs. Since December 2001, after a full-scale search for a migrant workers' music band, I decided to work with Eureka, a music group composed of migrant workers from Myanmar. On January 2002, the title song of “What Is Life”, written by Uche from Nigeria and composed by Jongkwan Kim, was recorded. Since February 2002, I began producing music video with the title song. Composer Wolfgang in der Wische (German, currently living in Bombay, India) composed music for two songs written by Julia (Thailand) and Sosa (China). In addition to these songs, those composed by Somotu and Sanning were included on the CD.
Even though I originally planned to have Eureka play and sing all the songs, it turned out to be a tough plan for Eureka to digest all the songs enough to play and sing them since they could practice only on Sundays when there is no work for them. Therefore, for three songs of “What Is Life”, “Handicapped” and “Hope”, another group played the music and Eureka did the vocal. Eureka both played and sang “To My Mother” and “The Road to Dream”. Jongkwan Kim decided that “Someday” would be better sung by a woman and asked Nalina Chitrakar, a woman singer from Nepal visiting Korea for a program by Nepalese community in Korea, to sing the song. The two songs of “There's a Man” and “To My Heart”, composed and originally recorded by Wolfgang in der Wische (written by Sosa and Julia respectively) were added on the CD.
The purpose of the CD is to make music in whose process migrant workers participate. Therefore, this music project has different motivation from that of commercial mainstream music where popular composers make songs and professional singers and bands join. The project's ultimate goals are also different from those of commercial songs. I'd like to call this project an ‘essay’. The essays are translated as miscellaneous writings in literature but its original meaning is ‘attempt’. Korea, even with its short history of migrant workers, has over 300,000 migrant workers on its land. Yet it lacks any cultural movement to embrace their voices. I hope that this project to be considered as its first attempt to include the still peripheral cultures of migrant workers into mainstream. Leaving the future assignment concerning musical completeness to Eureka, I‘d like to briefly introduce the group.
Eureka is an independent rock band composed of migrant workers from Myanmar. Their areas of activities are Bucheon where Myanmar community is located in, Gimpo, Bupyeong, Pocheon and Ansan. Even though it has been several years since its first organization, the band did not have opportunity to compose their own songs due to its unstable positions in Korea as migrant workers: some of the members have returned to their countries or to other countries. The production of the CD gave them a chance to make their own songs. The current leader of the band is San Naing (Base) with members of Soe Moe Thu (Gitar), Thant Zin (Drum), Kyaw Thura (Key Board), Soe Tun (Vocal), Htay Lynn Naing (Vocal) and Aung Myo Aye (Vocal). Tu Ya, the president of Myanmar Community in Korea, has provided consistent support from organizing the group to its activities as the groups's manager. The reason why I chose Eureka for my project was that the group has full members as a music band and also has musical capacity for an official debut. I am looking forward to meeting the songs from this CD album at Eureka's performance in the future.