SamSeb Kierkegaard is a singer-songwriter in the Alternative Rock genre.
As a South Korean Alt-Rock musician and composer, SamSeb Kierkegaard explores the extremes of life via his ingenious songwriting abilities.
In his youth, SamSeb realised he was drawn to the performing arts, but he had no intention of becoming an artist.
We learn more about his musical background and his most recent EP in-depth.
What is your real name?
I once confused people with my stage name, as people thought I came from a Scandinavian background.
I go by Samuel Sebastian Lee outside my artist persona. But that’s boring. I’d like to identify myself as an introverted extroverted South Korean who wants to be the guide to the light for people in the midst of darkness.
Or arguably, I guess you could also call that another persona of mine too. Well, for now, I’m SamSeb Kierkegaard.
What’s your official Showbiz name?
My Korean brain told me that I had to look that up because it didn’t know what it meant haha. My stage name is SamSeb Kierkegaard, and people usually address me as either Sam, SamSeb, or Kierkegaard.
How did you get into music?
This is a really good question. I guess I have always been interested in music. My family is very musical, and my dad bought an acoustic guitar and a Beatles compilation album for me when I was 10 or 11.
I was still back in Korea then. There was this one occasion. I was in a Korean primary school, and we went on a school trip for a week. Think it was on a Friday night when people from each class had to perform something as a part of a talent show.
I was nervous but that’s when I decided to bite the bullet and sing one of my favourite songs back then which I can’t remember. But I still remember people chanting my name, as they listened to me singing looking at me in the eyes.
I can never forget that moment. Being able to communicate my emotions and stories with the audience, in that moment of togetherness- was so alluringly beautiful.
I’ve never really had the actual chance to think about pursuing that as an actual profession till one day the UK was in its 1.0 lockdown. I was studying Philosophy at university in my final year.
Everyone left home and it was just me living alone in a flat that used to house my close friends. The only thing I could keep myself away from going insane was to focus on music. Then, one day I discovered a Deep End music video by Holly Humberstone. Both the video and music are arranged in a rather simple but delicate way.
Holly stares at the viewer in the camera and starts singing. For some reason, I found that very inspiring and mesmerizing. Then it reminded me of the childhood memory of me singing in front of probably 100 to 200 people at a school talent show.
That’s when I decided that I want to write music too. But I don’t want to do it for vainglory. I want to connect with people who would listen to my music, who must also be struggling with life undoubtedly. Life is full of suffering and pain. I want my music to be their company and a shoulder to cry on.
What field or genre are you into and how would you describe it?
I don’t even know how to answer that question. One thing I know for certain is that I’d like to continue experimenting with sound because I never want to become a typecast.
My songs are, however, persona oriented, and I create fictional characters for my songs to represent their stories. For example, my first EP which I’m really happy that I released recently is about a boy from the city of Reality escaping to a city called Dreams and Happiness.
He is chased by this monster named Uncertainty who is temporarily defeated by our heroine Luna Moonlight. It’s dreamy and quirky in a way so I’ve been listening to a number of bands like Talking Heads, My Bloody Valentine and a South Korean band called Nell for some inspiration.
But I don’t want my music to sound like my favourite bands. What I do want, however, is to see people going “yeah that’s Kierkegaard”, when someone listens to it, without me resorting to staying in only one genre all the time.
What were your first project and the people you worked with and which year?
So, my first project was doing a rock rendition cover of Forgotten Love by Norwegian artist AURORA.
That was back in 2021 last year roughly this time. I was looking for some covers that had been done for some inspiration and there I discovered that someone did a metal instrumental cover of AURORA’s I Went Too Far.
His name is Lachlan Smith, an amazing audio engineer and producer based in Australia. I contacted him that I would like to do a rock cover of Aurora’s song sometime and we worked together on Forgotten Love.
I came up with a guitar riff and a general vibe as to how I would like the song to sound, and he understood perfectly what I had in mind and actualized it. You can find it on my YouTube channel or on my Spotify.
That was really fun and personally, I think her original bittersweet lyrics resonate really well with post-hardcore-ish elements in my version.
Who or what inspires you or motivates you? And why?
The more I keep going, the more people I will be able to reach out to. As an invisible myself, I want to be the voice of all the invisible people, so that they can find reasons to keep living, trying and never give up on life. That thought keeps me motivated and gives me a reason to get up in the morning.
Any models you look up to? With reason(s) why?
David Bowie is my musical hero and my role model. I’ve always thought he was so innovative and he never repeated himself. He was intelligent, imaginative and charismatic. The visual side of him was so brilliant.
He knew how to present himself on stage but also in real life in an artistic manner but he doesn’t stop there. There’s also a musical side of him which is just as brilliant and amazing as his visual side of him. Nobody else could sing, write songs and perform like him.
He would experiment with different styles and genres every single time. His life was an amazing work of art. He would create a unique persona for each album, sing and act like that character. That is just so inspiring to me.
There are so many great people out there who would write songs and achieve many goals. But who else is there that left the same legacy as his musical work? Nobody. Rest in Peace, Starman.
What do you look out for in this line of business?
If I understood this question perfectly, ‘what do I want to achieve in the music industry or just in my musical career in general’. I want to save people. Music shapes culture within people.
Music is a company for those in the midst of suffering and pain. I want my career to reflect my passion so that people can resonate with my innermost honest feelings about life and can find comfort.
Getting signed with a major record label is important and it is something I want to do too. I want to shape and save people ultimately. But I want to shape a healthy culture within the society and save people ultimately.
What are some of the challenges you face in your career path?
It’s the same problem many unsigned artists like myself will have but it is rather hard to get noticed without the support from record labels.
Another thing I’ve found that was rather challenging is that it’s incredibly difficult to find like-minded musicians. I guess that’s why I’m very grateful for those who are willing to work with me, plug-in guitar to an amp and play some cool songs together.
Do you think the internet has impacted the music industry?
Most definitely. However, I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg of what the Internet is capable of achieving. There is more to it than meets the eyes. 30 years ago in the 90s, which is really weird to say, but people just thought the Internet was the search engine. It’s not.
It is like a form of a message that establishes the way a certain message is delivered and interpreted. The fact that music is now so accessible to the general public and goes beyond the mere physical copy of an album in the form of a CD or Vinyl, is really thought-provoking.
With the emergence of the Internet, the way music business communicated with the listeners has also changed- starting from YouTube with the use of music videos to promote songs, vlogs to show artist’s daily lives to have people interested, and now we have TikTok and IG Reels which many artists use to quickly catch people’s attention.
The emergence of the Internet has actually altered the ways in which people experience the world. And nothing like this happened before. The medium is the message.
Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters?
I’m an aspiring songwriter myself too haha but one thing I found helpful when I’m writing is to think about what stories to provide.
I guess I’m saying this particularly because my songs are fictional characters and my own persona oriented, but if your song has a story to tell, people will find it relatable.
Be honest about what you want to say but also be true to yourself, and don’t write it because you want to attract more attention. Just tell your story.
What is your current project about?
I really don’t want to give away what my next project is going to be about but I’m planning to implement some futuristic sounds in my next music project, with a new persona and fictional characters. Thus, keep your eyes peeled ladies and gentlemen.
What are your hobbies?
I like to draw for leisure. It’s rather therapeutic and helps me create characters. I also like binge-watching Tim Burton movies and God he is such a genius. I’m really fascinated by the whole aesthetics and storytelling behind all the Burton films. I like reading philosophy books too. It’s something inevitable I guess since that was my major at university.
What do you do aside from this profession?
This is a very unusual question haha. Samuel Sebastian Lee, another persona of mine, is a freelance translator who likes reading academic journals and translating all the complex information written in Korean to English so that people can understand the original author’s intentions as close to the original text as possible. He is also a shy philosopher who likes philosophising throughout the day.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
Let me share with you my personal favourite philosophy that resonated with me really well throughout my lifetime. There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future. Only in darkness, do we see the splendour of light. Life can be awful. Never give up on life. Keep living. Then there you will see an everlasting light. It will all be worth it in the end.