Video Premiere: “KPOP Band” by The Nghiems

Longstanding OKC brothers of indie music fantasize a Korean reboot in leisurely sing-song single

It’s been 10 years since The Nghiems literally dreamed up an arcade game for its celebrated stop motion music video for “Dum Dum Dah Dah”. Now, in 2021, the brothers are still dreaming on camera. 

Formed around the understated songwriting and vocals of David Nghiem and anchored by James Nghiem on drums, the brotherly duo has filled out its roster with assorted musicians over the years. At present, The Nghiems have settled into a quintet of Oklahoma City scene kid veterans rounded out by Derek Moore, Dylan Eubanks and Mike Allen. Together, they continue to ride the wave of indie music from its quirky multi-instrumentalist roots to its more recent drum machine and dreampop phase. Through it all, the group has tapped into an emotional slipstream that effortlessly carries the listener through mid-to-down tempo feelings.

Though the music has its ponderous moments, the band finds a more immediate grounding in its shared enthusiasm for fandom subcultures and nerdy nostalgia. Not only has it made appearances in album art and imagery, such as the featured nods to Back to the Future and Akira during The Nghiems’ Soulmatic album cycle, but it extends to the members’ community engagement as well.

Prominently featured in the “Dum Dum Dah Dah” music video was New World Comics, a local store that continues to be a favorite spot. James Nghiem has hosted plenty of comedy events there, amongst others. James and bandmate Mike Allen have also built a popular following for their one-night-only charity shows at 51st St. Speakeasy which bring visual arts, live music, custom culinary dishes, and other art forms under one roof to pay tribute to an evolving series of pop culture themes. Past icons have included Cowboy Bebop, Wes Anderson, and Banksy.

One fandom that hasn’t entered the Nghiems canon before is K-Pop music, but that changes today with the release of “KPOP Band”. Watch and listen to the brand new single and music video in this Make Oklahoma Weirder premiere.

Easily one of the most carefree songs in the band’s catalog, “KPOP Band” is a delightful daydream about literally moving to Korea to start a new K-Pop band. Why not?

The way The Nghiems picture it, taking a flight around the world seems as simple as taking an impromptu day trip out of town. Breezy guitars and beachy percussion keep the song light and fluffy as the lead vocals casually consider a basic to-do list: write some songs, hop on a plane, and give it a go in Seoul.

The music video, shot in a glorious widescreen aspect ratio and directed by Jarod Evans, is even more matter-of-fact about it. The two brothers are shown doing routine housework and exercise, and this is intercut with deadpan singing from David Nghiem. The lighting here is particularly domestic in the soft, unassuming afternoon hues it brings out. All of this changes, however, once the boys fall asleep in front of a television playing a K-Pop music video.

Soon, the full band is together, glammed up and wearing matching white outfits in a spare yet stylishly lit studio. This is the dream sequence, and it’s a lot of fun. The members invoke K-Pop imagery through their pseudo-choreography of airplane imitations, which reflect the wanderlust lyrics. There are no instruments in sight, though David plays some low-effort air guitar for kicks.

There are a lot of nice musical touches with “KPOP Band”. The chorus sneaks in a little Korean, and it’s just the right length and phrasing to suggest a ground level knowledge of the language. The brothers’ immediate family members also get brief, passing mentions here and there that add personal fingerprint. Perhaps the best choice is that the group never feels the slightest pressure to include K-Pop sounds in the arrangement, instead sticking with its signature vibe. This is not a K-Pop song, after all. It’s merely a song about K-Pop.

In reality, of course, the band’s loose approach to a notoriously rigorous slice of the music industry wouldn’t fly, no pun intended. That’s not the point, and that’s what makes “KPOP Band” so enjoyable. It’s the embodiment of a passing fancy, and it’s also something more.

When the music video ends, notice that it never cuts back to the brothers asleep on the couch. It doesn’t have to. As the lyrics linger on its resounding final word, a daydream unto itself, the scene stays in this realm of imagination. It’s a reminder that The Nghiems are and have always been dreamers, and through art, they have the power to make those dreams come true.

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aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.

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