[OP-ED] Danny Oppa's Top 5 - Indie Artists

Danny Cho, Feb. 19, 2016, 6 p.m.

I’d like to start off by saying that I’m a Korean music expert. I am sure that most of the readers might know more about about Korean music, particularly K-pop, than me. But I wanted to compile this list because I feel that the world needs to know more than just boy bands and girl groups. 

So here are my top five indie artists that I'd listen to more than most K-pop today.

No Brain

No Brain is largely considered one of the godfathers of punk rock in Korea. The punk scene wasn’t and still isn’t a popular genre in Korea. I first got introduced to No Brain while I was watching an old Korean movie called 'Radio Star'. They played an indie band that was obsessed with the main character in the movie who was a washed up rocker. The leader and lead vocal of the group, Bulldaegal, has such a harsh, raspy voice, I’m surprised that his vocals haven’t given out on him yet. I like these guys because despite still being relatively unknown compared to many of the boy bands like CNBLUE, they still keep making music and even have their own label where they have many indie artists like Rose Motel. Also, from personal experience and many nights of drinking with them, they are some of the most down-to-earth Korean entertainers I’ve ever met.

Here is probably their most famous song and also the song I sing at Karaoke just so I can scream like a maniac:

Oh and for all you VIPs, No Brain was featured in the song 'Oh My Friend'. They are the dudes rocking out in the Scooby Doo Van.


Glen Check

Glen Check is a two-man indie group. Their style can be described as electronic, electronic rock, and indie-dance-pop. I caught these guys live at the SXSW Music Festival a few years back. I was so ignorant about Korean music at the time (I’m still pretty ignorant now) and was shocked to hear their refreshing sound. I liked their music so much, that we used their music in my movie 'Ktown Cowboys', releasing this coming March. Their album 'Haute Couture' won the award for 'Best Dance and Electronic Album' at the Korean Music Awards in 2013.



The first time I saw EE perform was last year at SXSW. I didn’t know anything about them but when I saw their set I was blown away. I can’t really describe their style of music because they are so experimental. They are known as the total art performance group. I didn’t even know what that meant at first, but holy crap! Their set was out of this world. If I had to say who they are similar to then go look up Die Antwoord. Sure the music is good, but their performances take them to a new level. Not sure if Korea is ready for a group like this, but they should be.



Jaurim makes the list because I love the lead singer’s, Kim Yoon-ah, voice so much. It’s slightly haunting. I first heard of them while watching the show 'I Am A Singer' years ago. I was like, "Who the hell are these people, and where did they come from?" Well, Jaurim (translated to Purple Rainforest) started out in 1997. As all indie bands, they didn’t get recognition despite constantly putting out pretty solid albums. All good though, they are still plugging away. Oh, and I personally think Kim Yoon-ah’s talents make her very sexy. It’s pretty amazing to know that she is in her 40s now. There’s probably something special in that Purple Rainforest.

Check out Jaurim on the show 'I AM A SINGER'. It’s pretty damn awesome.


Big Phony

Last on 'Danny Oppa’s Top Five' list is Big Phony. Although most of his songs are in English, he has been living in Korea for the last 5 years. I’ll put it out there, Big Phony is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for about a decade. And since this is MY list, I’ll put whoever I feel like putting on this list!

Big Phony is a singer-songwriter from New York. He has put out 5 full albums. Recently, he released 2 albums simultaneously. The album called 'Bobby' goes to more of the style he started off with. A dude with a guitar singing mostly depressing material, but it comes from a real place. It's perfect for long solo drives when you just need to think. The other album called 'Long Live the Lie', was more of an electronic album and it actually cracked the top 10 on iTunes for the Electronic Music category.

Big Phony is one of the lead characters in 'Ktown Cowboys', coming this March! His music is also definitely used throughout the movie as well, so go check it out! 


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