For the last four years, the South By Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW Conference) music, arts, and technology festival in Austin, Texas has been including Korean acts in their lineup, but 2017 already sees them upping their game. The first three waves of announcements included not only some intriguing indie artists but also some big names originating from both sides of the Pacific.
In the first few articles of the SXSW 2017 Series, we hope to introduce to you a little more of the Korean artists that will be performing at this world-renowned music, arts, and technology conference and festival.
Big Phony—whose real name is Bobby Choy—is a Korean-American indie singer-songwriter originally from New York City and now living in Seoul. He released his first album titled ‘Fiction and Other Realities’ in 2005 after having left seminary school in favor of studying his first love of music. Choy says he chose the name Big Phony because, originally, he didn’t want his picture on his albums, because though “it sounds silly … growing up I didn’t have any musical heroes that looked like me, and I thought it would be hard for anyone to accept me.” That wasn’t quite the case—starting out in Los Angeles with his parents, Choy quickly built a loyal fanbase playing small LA gigs and, after moving back, with gigs in New York and Boston. In 2011, just after his 2010 sophomore release titled ‘Kicking Punching Bags,’ Choy visited Seoul. He felt an immediate connection to the place his parents were born that he’d never quite felt in the USA, and decided to stay.
Choy has become a mainstay on the growing Korean indie circuit, promoting art and passion over popularity or commercial success. His usual fare is something of a mix between folk crooner Elliott Smith‘s light tenor and bluegrass singer-songwriter Sarah Jaroz’s thoughtful, nostalgic lyrics, though 2014’s ‘Long Live the Lie,’ his first album in Korea released simultaneously with self-titled ‘Bobby,’ earned accolades from a number of outlets for its foray into blending electronica with folk. But when asked, the man himself describes his music simply as “‘unpopular.’ Haha. This question I get often, and it’s never easy to answer. I guess it’s sort of indie singer-songwriter modernized folk? It’s not folk. My stories aren’t good enough to be. It’s the best I can do.”
Judge for yourself—have a quick look at ‘But I Will, Everyday’ – a song in his more usual style –
or try out the electro-folk ‘Long Live the Lie’
and you can peruse most of his discography on his SoundCloud, too.
Stay tuned for our upcoming articles in this series for the rest of the lineup along with exclusive coverage from the esteemed music, arts, and technology conference and festival!