TENGGER 天郷 텐거: “Nothing Would Make Us Happier Than If Our Music Can Bring Healing.”


TENGGER 天郷 텐거 are a South Korean/Japanese family who make gorgeous peaceful spiritual psychedelic music together. Created with minimal ingredients, their sounds seem to possess vague elements of everything from Komische to New Age and drone music, yet never adheres to one particular sound world. Using harmonium, voice, and toy instruments combined with analogue synths and heavily reverbed vocals, their music has an otherworldly quality that seeps deep down inside your very being.

We were quite captivated with their 2020 album Nomad, suggesting that ‘this tripped out elongated experiential psychedelic music feels like a tonic in these troubled times.’ You can read the review here.

Ahead of their first tour of Australia Itta, Marquido and 11 year old Raii were kind enough to respond to some of our email questions.

Cyclic Defrost: How important is your environment to the music you make? Do you gravitate to certain kinds of environments to help the creation of your music?

MARQIDO: We have the identity of two nationalities, Korea and Japan in the background. Unlike the Americas, Europe, and other Asian regions that we have travelled, I think the countries of East Asia (South Korea, North Korea, China, and Japan) are in a special relationship. Especially in the relationship between Korea and Japan, a sense of discrimination that excludes other beings is widespread throughout society. Meanwhile, none of us can say we were from a single country, so we had no choice but to turn to nature or the universe, where we could escape those boundaries.

ITTA: Those are fundamental beings, that erase boundaries. I think that idea has had a huge influence on our music creation.

Cyclic Defrost: How important is improvisation in the creation of your music? What does improvisation mean to you?

MARQIDO: TENGGER plays structured tracks, but with improvisational elements. Before Raai was born, most of our performances consisted of improvisational elements. Improvisation gives the performer a sense of joy, but in nine cases out of ten, the audience is not as impressed as the performer. This is something we have come to realise through our long playing career.

ITTA: Based on temporality, I think improvisation means living in the present, real time among the past, present, and future. The present is fleeting. So we decided to dedicate a few moments during the performance to improvisation.

Cyclic Defrost: What does it mean to be making music together and touring as a family? Do you think it creates a deeper sense of connection for yourselves? Do you think you can feel this in the music?

ITTA: I don’t think it’s anything special for a family to travel together. However, we often receive questions from many people about TENGGER making and performing music together as a family. I think this is due to the stereotype that life and art should be separated. As we travel together, we realise that each of us have different sensibilities. Rather than obsessing about having a deep sense of connection, we try to respect each other’s individuality.

MARQIDO: As RAAI was born and we began traveling together, a warmer, more textured sound emerged than when the two of us (ITTA and MARQIDO) traveled alone. I can say this for sure.

Cyclic Defrost: Is the idea of a family band common in Japan or Korea? I think about this in terms of the purpose of music, which has become mostly about entertainment, so that these days it seems like a pretty rare thing – at least in Australia. However you would be one of very few families who can say they have their own unique sound.

ITTA: Family bands are not a common concept in Japan or Korea. As we are playing works created with RAAI’s input, we feel that we are recognized as artists rather than “entertainers”. We think this is reflected in AGNSW inviting us to an art festival. Thank you again to AGNSW for inviting us to the Volume Festival and to Mistletone for setting up our first tour of Australia!

Cyclic Defrost: When I listened to Nomad I wrote that the music washes right through and that the experience was cleansing. I think I was trying to say that it felt like it was purifying me. What do you try and communicate through your music and do you think music can have healing properties?

MARQIDO: Nomad is an album with a “water” theme. We tried to express that purification you felt through music. So I’m really happy with your comment.

ITTA: Nothing would make us happier than if our music can bring healing.

Cyclic Defrost: I understand that you travel a lot. What do you enjoy about exposure to different cultures?

MARQIDO: Beginner’s mind. I think the most important point of travelling is being able to experience a new place, with the emotions and perspective of someone who does not live there. So we continue our travelling.

Cyclic Defrost: Your new album is self titled. I imagine this is because you’ve been inspired in some way by the idea of an expanded sky and space. How important are themes for you in the creation of your music. Does the concept come before you begin or does it reveal itself through the process of creation?

MARQIDO: It’s true that TENGGER works on different themes for each album. Ideas like ‘I want to try something like this’ are always discussed together before creation begins in earnest. The concept plays a major role and most often reveals itself during the creative process.

ITTA: We work on the basis of albums rather than singles; creating an album is a total art that includes not only music but also visuals and philosophy.

Cyclic Defrost: Do you feel like you are part of a new age approach to music? Do you feel like you have been influenced by specific genres like drone or komische or feel like part of any musical scene? Are those kinds of definitions helpful to you?

MARQIDO: Our music is about exploring what we can express, rather than being tied to a specific genre. So, our music may accidentally belong to any music scene, but we don’t think it matters. The “New Age” we talk about begins with the idea of the hippie movement in the ‘50s and ‘60s; a proposition to turn attention to nature in industrial society. Our output is nothing more than revealing “the moment our life and experience led to expression,” inspired by Eastern thought.

Cyclic Defrost: What attracts you to the use of synthesis in your music?

ITTA: From the beginning, we function as part of a society where different beings meet, converge, and occur, and I think it naturally led to expression.

Cyclic Defrost: What do you think about when you are playing?

RAAI: Every time I play, I think of experiences or images of each songs . For example, whenever I play PANAPTU, I think of the grasslands I saw in Mongolia.

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 22 – MELBOURNE: THE CURTIN with special guests YL Hooi + DJ Noise In My Head. Tickets here.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.