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September 5, 2007 5:09 PM   Subscribe

Epaksa. Or Dr. Lee (a.k.a "Sinbaram" Epaksa). Purveyor of "Techno Ponchak". It's a mixture of electronic music with "ponchak," a dismissive, onomatopoeic reference to a Korean musical style known as "teuroteu" (trot). [More inside.]
posted by kkokkodalk (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Epaksa's styling of electronic ponchak is reminescent of the type of music not very highly regarded thanks to its reputation as music favored by truck drivers and bus tours, usually of low-quality with a lot of electronic sounds and sold dirt cheap on casettes at rest stops. And the genre of trot already has its own share of issues because things can get political thanks to its possible relationship to Japanese enka. Interestingly enough, Epaksa tried to target and gain success in the Japanese market first. He wanted to appeal to a younger Korean generation with ponchak, which usually considered trot more as music for older folks, usually enjoyed ironically or reserved for karaoke. Nonetheless, Epaksa was able to make his way as a cult favorite among young people and now trot is finding a new audience with "neo-trot" artists (ponchak shame even making its way into a major plot point of a recent movie).

Listen to more of his songs or become his friend on "his" MySpace page.
posted by kkokkodalk at 5:11 PM on September 5, 2007

Hey, kkokkodalk, thanks for the post! Coincindentally, I just discovered Epaksa very recently. Here's footage from a 2001 documentary (in Korean) which shows a bit of his milieu, some performance footage, backstage, etc. And check the first few seconds, including shots of his adoring audience. His fan base is wide, from little kids to middle-aged ladies and everything in between.

And just in case anyone misses your "Japanese" link in the comment above, allow me to call attention once more to his not-to-be-missed TV commercial for bug spray. To me, that little piece of brilliance might just be his crowning achievement. Those moves! Those cockroaches on the counter! Popular entertainment at its finest!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:37 PM on September 5, 2007

Oh, and... Epaksa visits the pyramids.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2007

Yea, I buried a bunch of links in this. The documentary is actually linked to by "cult favorite."
posted by kkokkodalk at 6:16 PM on September 5, 2007

posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:19 PM on September 5, 2007

whoa. never heard of this guy. thanks!
posted by Stynxno at 7:41 PM on September 5, 2007

Just as an aside, Wikipedia notwithstanding, the word is not 'pronounced as "teuroteu" in Korean', although that would be the way one is forced by the New Romanization to write it with the English alphabet.

It's much closer to the English word 'trot' if one used hard 't's and replaced the 'ah' sound with an undipthongized 'oh' sound.

That is all. I really don't like 트롯트, so I can't add much beyond that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:21 PM on September 5, 2007

That is all. I really don't like 트롯트

Since you're right there at the center of the local action (well, maybe not the center, which I reckon is Seoul, but close enough...) maybe you could tell us what groovy sounds are rocking you and/or the Koreans, stav.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:30 PM on September 5, 2007

I don't know what Koreans who tend to the not-entirely-commercial rock end of the spectrum listen to in terms of domestic stuff, to be honest. My musical tastes are a dog's breakfast, personally, but they don't include much in the way of Korean music. I've yet to find much in the way of 'popular music' here that isn't puerile, but to be honest, I haven't much looked.

I have liked some of what I've heard of the Yoon Do Hyun band, for what it's worth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:13 AM on September 6, 2007

Well, at the risk of seeming like I'm moderating my own thread, I wanted to chime in that I happen to like trot. Or maybe it's more truthful to say that I find it charming. I'm not a big fan so that I buy tapes and tapes of it to listen to, but it is great fun to sing and I do think it's an interesting aspect of Korean music that doesn't get highlighted as much outside of Korea exactly because of the proliferation of pop boy/girl groups in the mainstream, which is why I sort of made this whole FPP to show the Korean music scene isn't all Britney and Justin wannabes. And even though there are rock/pop/dance groups that do deserve attention for being decent, there's little pockets of interesting outside of that. And the fact that there still are new trot singers and songs coming out even under the crush of young groups with young music maybe has something to say about this genre.

Especially when you hear classics like "Soyanggang chunyuh" or the all-time karaoke party downer "Chilgabsan," yea they sound a bit melodramatic and cheesy, but the characteristics of trot are to be very heart on your sleeve. As comically yet truthfully pointed out in the trailer for "Highway Star," even the way a singer "turns" or "twists" his/her voice is all about bringing out the feeling. When in "Chilgabsan" you hear the singer gut wrenchingly sing from the point of a young girl bride how she left her widowed mother the day she married or in "Soyanggang chunyuh" the singer sings about "My strawberry-like, 18-year-old tender innocence" and "if though I'm waiting he never comes back, oh what, what will I do?" sure it sounds really laughably overwrought, but the singers bring it to life and a lot of times it sounds way more genuine than some of the pop songs I've heard and the almost cheesy stage presence is an interesting contrast to new groups nowadays that many times try to dazzle you and cover up their lip synching with fancy dance.
posted by kkokkodalk at 7:50 AM on September 6, 2007

Oh, I hear you, especially about the plastic crap that passes for pop music in Korea these days, kkokkodalk, absolutely. I really wish I could develop for 트롯트 the same sort of appreciation of rich cheesiness that I have for, say, Sinatra and the Rat Pack, but I just can't manage it.

Unless I'm in one of those noraebang buses with a lot of soju and a gaggle of drunken howling ajummas and ajeoshis, on the way to or from a raw fish feed at some beach somewhere. Then, if the moon is right, all bets are off, musically speaking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 PM on September 6, 2007

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