If you've ever gone clubbing in Bushwick over the past couple of years, there's a pretty good chance you've encountered Greem Jellyfish. The 20-something Korean producer and performance artist is a fixture on N.Y.C.'s underground electronic music scene; she's part of techno trio Dust, and regularly DJs at nights including Purple Trax. But above all, she dances, often wrapped in tendril-like materials that make sense of her name, and never without an aura of infectious joy. Tonight she'll DJ and perform at the opening of a new art exhibit called Dreamlands at the Whitney, and to mark the occasion, she's made a hypnotic video for her recent track "Shattered."
"I created the song 'Shattered' after feeling shattered by a broken heart," Greem told The FADER over email. "Dancing freely like a jellyfish was my way of overcoming the pain of a broken heart, it was almost like my medicine. For the listener, I want them to imagine they are floating in the water connecting to the hypnotic sound of the vocals as 'Shattered' resounds over and over."
Watch above, and read on to get to know the enigmatic artist a little better.
How did you get your name, and what sparked your affinity with jellyfish?
In my work, I reflect my cross-cultural identity as a Korean from Seoul living in New York. Even as I travel globally, my identity is hybrid, never fixed. I adopted the surname “Jellyfish,” because I come from a mixed family of many names, often feeling as an outsider and a misfit. I find freedom in the symbol of a deep sea creature that roams about, fluidly, transient; its very form made from the same water in which it lives.
Can you please tell me a bit about the art exhibit you're performing at?
Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 is an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art organized by Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz. I’ll be DJing for the private opening reception. The title refers to science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft’s alternate fictional dimension that can be accessed through dreams. The exhibition connects different historical moments of cinematic experimentation via video installation, sculpture and 360-degree camera projected against a cardboard geodesic dome. Some of my performances are inspired by Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet from 1922. Schlemmer’s costumes and collaborative experimental theater work felt like it could have been my own personal dream world. I imagined singing hypnotically, dancing with weird creatures in costumes of various colors.
Why do you value dreaminess in your music and performance — and how do you try and achieve it?
Dreaminess gives me an outlet to create and relax from the mundane daily life, school, home, and work. Dreaming allows me to escape the sadness. By creating experimental dance music and costumes, I create a journey from this reality into a dream world. Through dance and play, my friends and I can release, relax, and let our imagination take hold.