"The Korean" of the Ask A Korean blog went to SXSW, hit all the Korean shows, and was able to interview some of the bands:
full interviews, including audio, are linked.
Rock 'n roll, yeah! Hello, I'm Captain Rock [TK Note: real name is Han Gyeong-rok], bassist for Crying Nut. [Gibberish; laughter]
Hi, this is the guitar for Crying Nut, Lee Sang-myeon. [Attempted gibberish; laughter]
I am Kim In-soo, accordion and keyboard.
Lee Sang-hyeok for drum!
[In Japanese] I am the vocal and guitarist Park Yun-sik.
TK: Please introduce Crying Nut for those who don't know you yet. How did you come to form the band?
Han: The four of us [except Kim] were all friends since elementary school, so we always played together. We met In-soo in 1995. He was a DJ at the time. We formed Crying Nut together then. We are Korea's first punk rock band. We have seven regular albums so far. And we go anywhere there is a good live stage to perform on.
Kim: We go anywhere we can drink.
TK: This is your second SXSW. How is it different from the first time?
Lee SM: We had a great time when we first came here! It was amazing to see a city full of rock music. I think we felt the pressure that we should really do well then. This time, we just want to have fun.
TK: What did you think about the audience reaction last night, from K-Pop Night Out?
Lee SM: We were surprised by the enthusiasm. It was moving.
Park: We are world stars.
Kim: But you could totally tell the part of the crowd that was there for Jay Park, another part that came for HyunA.
Love X Stereo
TK: How would you describe your music?
Toby: We play electro-rock from the 1990s.
TK: How was Love X Stereo formed?
Toby: Love X Stereo began in 2011. I have been playing music professionally since 1999. I wanted to form a band with a woman vocal, and Buldaegal [불대갈], vocal for No Brain, introduced me to Annie.
Annie: I was a trainee for YG Entertainment at the time. For an R&B act.
Toby: But she loved rock too much.[Full interview]
Blending hard rock and Korean traditional music, Jambinai is one of the most unique Korean indie bands. They were extremely well received by SXSW, as they made an appearance on the official International Day Stage as well as a number of other shows throughout the festival. The Korean met Jambinai during K-Pop Night Out for a brief interview.
TK: Can you please introduce yourselves? What does "Jambinai" mean?
Lee: We are a crossover band that combines traditional Korean music with rock 'n' roll.
Kim: "Jambinai" doesn't have a meaning. We just liked the sound of it.
TK: How did you come to form Jambinai?
Lee: We were all classmates at Korea National University of Arts, majoring traditional Korean music. We kept in touch after we graduated.
Kim: One day we got together for drinks, and decided that we wanted to play this kind of music.
TK: What bands are you influenced by?
Lee: Obviously we do traditional Korean music, so we were influenced by those musicians. On the rock side, Nine Inch Nails is a big influence.
In many ways, Hollow Jan stands alone in Korea's music scene. Hollow Jan is arguably the only screamo band in Korea. As such, they do not simply stand apart from the mainstream; they stand very far away from the prevailing Korean indie scene as well. Yet Hollow Jan presses on, playing their own style of music for more than a decade.
TK: How would you describe Hollow Jan's music?
Jeong: It's screamo. It's a rare genre and not popular. There are a few bands in Japan and Eastern Europe that do this. If you never had challenges in your life, you wouldn't really understand it. I call it, "music for someone who was abused by his mother." It's not han, though. There is an underlying message of hope in our music. [Pointing to Im,] the lyrics that he writes tend to be hopeful too.
Im: I don't think our music is that tortured, actually. I just like it. It's a stress relief.
TK: Who do you count as your musical influence nowadays?
Seo: Nowadays, I only listen to Hollow Jan.
Im: Me, too.
Kim: I probably listen to the most amount of music in the band. Since I'm an FX guy, I listen to a lot of electronica. I was also the last to join the band, which gives me a bit more objectivity about our music.
Jeong: I like Poison the Well, and Japanese bands like Naiad and Heaven in Her Arms. I also like Deftones a lot. When Hwan-taek and I began, we were a cover band of Deftones.
TK: Can you describe yourself for those who don't know you yet?
Big Phony: I'm Big Phony. I'm a singer-songwriter. I'm based in Seoul now, but I was born and raised in New York. I write sad songs.
TK: Were you doing music before you moved out to Seoul?
BP: Yes. I moved to Seoul three years ago, but I have been writing songs for 22 years and I have been pursuing music as a career for about nine years before I moved to Seoul.
TK: How did that decision come about?
BP: I have been active in LA and New York, and I was actually thinking about relocating to Portland. Then three years ago, I visited Korea just to see the country. Once I was there, I met so many indie musicians. I didn't even know there was a scene like that!
And it was not just about music. I became so curious about the country that my parents came from. I feel connection to the place as well. Plus, I was at a good time in my life to make a big move like that. I wasn't married, and there was nothing holding me back.
Also, TK's has show reports for Kpop Night Out (NELL, Jay Park, HyunA, Crying Nut, Idiotape) and SeoulSonic (Smacksoft, Big Phony, Glen Check, Rock 'n Roll Radio, Love X Stereo and No Brain)
For those of you unfamiliar with AskAKorean, his blog is a wealth of information about Korea and he hates idol pop so don't be surprised when he is dismissive of your oppa. His still in-progress "50 Most Influential K-Pop musicians" series is full of good stuff.
Sources: Ask A Korean, Love X Stereo, sxsw, hivcore138, hollowjankorea, bigphony
Glen Check, NELL, Jay Park and HyunA are referenced in the interviews/show reports if you click though, but I wasn't sure if I should tag them