December/January 2020

by Ben Mollison

Fresh Talent: Imugi 이무기

by Ben Mollison

Fresh Talent: Imugi 이무기

Carving out a path from modern pop-and-electronic-influence, Auckland duo Imugi cut through their tightly produced dreamscapes with honesty and insight. Combining passion and vision, and with a broad scope of influences, the duo has earned the hype around their upcoming projects. Ben Mollison caught up with the pair.

Mutual school friends were the catalyst for Carl Ruwhiu and Yery Cho’s musical collaboration. Imugi emerged from uniting former interests – Carl’s fascination with drum and bass arrangements and Yery’s love of band music. As with many aspiring producers, Carl is self taught. Learning through YouTube tutorials, his process and methods are individual.

“I always imagined that playing music live electronically was done in a very certain way and I had to figure out that way to do it,” he says. “I feel like after lots of research, I kind of just realised that everyone’s just making it up themselves and just doing it their own way.”

Similarly, Yery has come into her own version of writing and performing, growing from a place of inexperience to playing regular shows and creating an efficient output. The pair have made great strides. Having appeared alongside Heavy and Bailey Wiley, a highlight for them was playing Auckland’s Laneway Festival earlier this year, a booking that came off the back of a wild set at Galatos for The Others Way festival.

Their 2017 EP, ‘Vacasian’, was a poetic take on immigration, women of colour, and identity.

“I feel like ‘Vacasian’ was a lot of racial frustrations,” says Yery. “So I feel like it just came out, not in a negative way necessarily, but in a very honest way and wanting to create some sort of dreamscape with that.”

Signed now to Auckland’s A Label Called Success, Imugi are working towards the release of a follow-up EP, currently in its finishing stages. Imugi again took to Carl’s bedroom studio in Grey Lynn as the base for record the new tracks, but this time through the label were able to utilise the expertise of producer and Leisure-member Josh Fountain at Golden Age Studios.

“We had all the demos recorded here and then we just went to the studio, did the vocal recording and then mixed it. I feel like it was a real learning experience for us and the EP reflects that.”

A large part of their collaboration in writing their music involves selecting the best options or crafting songs down to communicate effectively.

“I guess with each song it’s like a different experience or a different feeling or a mood we were feeling at that time,” says Carl.

“It’s like a colour palette,” suggests Yery, Carl following up by saying that once a song is created they share the mindset that their job is to make it reach its potential.

In terms of their own potential Imugi are just getting started, with aspirations of local art events, continuing to extensively collaborate with members of the local music community, touring locally and internationally. And while aiming high they have a sense of humility and composure.

“There are some specific things that we’ve been like, ‘Okay this would be really cool to do,” says Yery. “I feel like that just… once you set your intention, everything falls into place.