An active player in Japan’s underground rock scene from his teens (he performed alongside Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto on TV while in high school), Tokyo-born guitarist Yukie Sato began to tire of his beloved genre in his 30s. His passion was renewed in 1995 after discovering Korean classic rock. Instantly enamored with the country’s 1960s and ’70s musical output, he formed Kopchangjeongol, a psychedelic act that plays covers of old Korean songs. With their 1999 “Annyoung Hashi-mu-nika?” debut, they became the first Japanese rock band to release an album in South Korea. Shortly after that, Sato relocated to Seoul.
Kopchangjeongol soon split, so Sato started making improvised and noise music, and quickly established himself as a leader in the city’s tight-knit experimental and psychedelic rock communities. He arranged Seoul gigs for likeminded visiting pals such as avant-prog group Ruins and Seiichi Yamamoto from postrock band Rovo and in 2003 founded the long-running Bulgasari, a free monthly open mic-styled concert series for established and fledgling improvisational performers from Korea and abroad. That same year he reformed Kopchangjeongol with new Japanese members including drummer Koki Ito (from rock group Soul Flower Union). Visa issues in 2005 resulted in Sato being deported from South Korea; however he was allowed to return nine months later. In 2008, Japanese and Korean friends helped him make his first proper solo disc, this spring’s makgeoli (Korean rice wine)-fueled folk effort “Sarangseureoun Geudae.”