But that’s where he finds himself now, releasing a Korean-language single of his song “Be with You” this month. It follows last year’s single “Children Don’t You Play on Earth,” both of which will be included on a larger album of his original songs translated to Korean released later this year.
“I think of my Korean songs as something I am giving to the local reggae community and general community, something to leave behind when I head back to Denmark,” he said.
He first made a name for himself as lead vocalist of Danish reggae group Bass and Trouble in the ’80s and ’90s, though his original fans may not recognize him without dreadlocks down to his waist.
After moving with his family to Korea three years ago, he was quick to continue his musical activities, joining Camarata Music Company and founding Korea’s only barbershop quartet, the Barbers of Seoul.
He made quick friends in the local reggae and ska scene and has been recording with many of them. When he played a rough recording of one of his English-language songs for Kingston Rudieska trumpeter Oh Jeong-seok, Oh suggested a Korean-language version. Kingston’s sax player Sung Nock-won translated the lyrics of both songs into Korean and coached Philip K on pronunciation.
“I know what I am singing line by line, although my Korean is on absolute beginner level,” he admitted. “The few times I have performed the song, I got instant reactions from every Korean in the room. So they are responding on a whole other level compared to songs sung in English.”
He has been working on a full album this way, collaborating with Korean friends and Danish friends back home. This latest song is originally by Philip K and his producer Yo Akim, based in Denmark, and the track features ukulele from Tobias Elof.
The song is available as a digital single on iTunes, Spotify, Soribada, Naver Music, Melon, Genie, Mnet, Bugs Music, Monkey 3, Spotify and Olleh Music.
Philip K is celebrating the release with a free concert at Owl’s Rooftop in the Hongdae area in western Seoul on Friday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. He will perform with a session band of Korean and Danish musicians, including Elof visiting from Denmark. See facebook.com/2asternstandardsound for more.