K-indie band SURL shares creative process, themes for future music

Angela Lim, Life and Arts senior reporter

Having performed at music festivals in Germany and Thailand, South Korean band SURL’s dreamlike sound continues to reach the ears of listeners around the world, proving no boundaries to the potential of their music. Since their debut in 2018, the rising quartet has cut across genres with songs poetically encompassing life’s niceties.

The Daily Texan sat down with SURL before their SXSW Elysium showcase on March 18 to discuss the meaning of their name and messages they hope to express through their imaginative, nostalgic rock music.


The Daily Texan: What’s the meaning behind your name “SURL”? How does your name show who you are as a band and the kind of music you do?

Seol Hoseung (vocals, guitar): We met in high school first, and our practice band name was “SEOL,” which is my last name … We were thinking about band names like “Story,” but we thought “SURL” was the best one.

Oh Myeongsuk (drums): We tried to make a band through his last name, but we tried to change the meaning. In Korean, 설 means telling (a) story, so we try telling stories to people through music.


DT: Among your songs, which ones would you recommend to new listeners and why?

Kim Doyeon (guitar): Cilla” (has) a rock sound they will love. It’s a very exciting song.

Lee Hanbin (bass): I recommend “Dry Flower” because it’s easy and lovely to listen to. I really like the lyrics.

OMS: I love “Hot Air Balloon.” It’s a beautiful song, and the last guitar solo is really cool, energetic (and) emotional, so I recommend it.

SHS: My recommendation is “Snow.” (The lyrics talk about) a special day, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, but someone is working and can’t see family or friends, so they feel sadness (and) loneliness.


DT: What’s the creative process for your songs like? Do you write your lyrics or melodies first?

LHB: (We have) three routes. We have a jam (session) – this is route one. Route two is (when) Hoseung, Doyeon, Myeongsuk or (I) write songs and develop arrangements. Route three is mixing one and two … We make a lot of demos.

OMS: We’re playing other instruments, but (they) combine when we jam. These four guys make music you’ve never heard … Because our specialty is playing instruments, we try to combine it in making our music.


DT: With plans to release a new album this year, what themes can listeners expect from the songs?

SHS: We try to make songs that we and other people can understand together. They’ll be about our stories and experiences.

OMS: We’re making experimental, great songs – sad songs, happy songs, rocking songs – there’s a lot of various songs. (They’re) gonna represent us, so it’s really important to us.