Tokyo 20XX Present ‘Machina’ Posted on | Branding in Asia


Red Bull Documentary Charts the Journey of ‘Machina’ from K-Pop to Electronic Artist in Tokyo

As part of Tokyo 20XX, Red Bull recently partnered with MullenLowe Group Japan for the creation of “Machìna” – a 12-minute documentary charting the course of a former K-Pop singer who ditched the industry to pursue her passion as an independent electronic musician in Japan.

Traversing rural South Korea to Tokyo, the documentary, which is aligned with the Red Bull Music Festival, tells the story of Yeohee Kim, described in a release as “a former K-Pop idol who turned her back on the factory-like rigors of the mainstream music industry to pursue her passions.”

Back in 2009, Kim first made a name for herself as “Apple Girl”, singing popular western covers on YouTube. Her cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” has logged more than 5 million views since she posted the home recording of her singing along with her iPhone composed instrumentation just over a decade ago.

In the documentary, directed by Paris-based duo, The Bardos, Kim, now professionally known as “Machina”, paints a less than flattering portrait of her stint in South Korea’s music industry, saying it made her feel she was “performing like a doll”, adding that “this world I’m in isn’t about music, it’s just a business”.

While offering up little detail, at one point in the film she recalls being shocked to turn on the TV to hear her recorded voice track being lip-synched by another girl in the group.

“Two weeks after I recorded the track I turned on the TV at home, and the song was playing. I heard my voice, but it was being sung by the prettiest girl in our band. That was the last straw, I was devastated.”

It was, however, the push she needed to “reflect on myself, and my music” and start from scratch in Japan, where she decided “to be selfish” and create music that she wanted to hear.

Coupled with Machina’s narrative, which additionally features interviews with her supportive parents, the film is a visually enjoyable piece of filmmaking. The camera work and editing, at times rapid and retro-filtered, artfully guides the viewer along Machina’s musical journey. The Bardos toss aside a conventionally linear narrative in favor of what is described as “an ethereal bricolage that profiles Yeohee Kim, a.k.a. Machìna, and her career to date.”

The film is scored with music from Machina’s recent album, “Archipelago”, which was released in February 2019 to critical acclaim. Patrick St. Michel, reviewing the album over at Pitchfork, wrote:

“After placing the emphasis squarely on her vocals in her K-Pop days, and continuing to put them front and center on initial Machìna releases, she’s found a balance between blending in with her synthesized churn and soaring above it.”

We’re good with that assessment – she’s got a lot of talent. Check it out. (Turn on the subtitles for English)

Who doesn’t love great ad work that you don’t even think of as being an ad?

Tokyo 20XX has been a strategic partner with Red Bull Japan for their music strategy since the inaugural Japan-edition of the Red Bull Music Festival in 2017. This video marks the first creative collaboration between the two, said MullenLowe in a release.

You can learn more about Tokyo 20XX here, and listen to Machina here.

This article was originally published on Branding in Asia