May 26, 2016
Korean Pop music (or K-Pop, as it’s more commonly known) may have taken the world by storm in recent decades, but that doesn’t mean it’s all the Korean music industry has to offer. Genres like K-Hip Hop/Rap and K-Indie have always been popular in their own circles, but with the all-powerful Internet, international audiences are now able to enjoy the music that these artists have to offer. Whether you love or hate K-pop, these artists will definitely provide a breath of fresh air.
She remains relatively unknown in South Korea, but that’s because she’s chosen to remain rather anonymous, opting to use her baby photos for her debut EP, “Girl Sense”. There’s no denying that OOHYO has an immense gift for music. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter has been writing songs since she was in high school, and her unique voice gives her tracks an edge that allows her sound to be both soothing and somewhat melancholic. You can expect the kind of songs you would listen to on a rainy day spent indoors, but with a slight electronic twist. The track above is from her first full-length album “Adventure”, which was released last year. You can get it on Bandcamp.
Adorably named after the height difference between them, Kwon Jung Yeol and Yoon Cheol Jong’s band, 10cm, burst onto the scene in 2010. Their stripped down sound, consisting primarily of an acoustic guitar and percussion, allows them to create a variety of tracks that showcase their confident, silky-smooth vocals. They’ve already received a number of awards under their belt and done a few K-idol collaborations, but we couldn’t leave them out considering how renowned they are for their hit song “Americano“. But when they’re not creating catchy tunes, the duo also slow things down with lullaby-esque ballads, as proven on the aptly titled “The First EP”. You can find their music on iTunes.
Consisting of singer/guitar player June-One Kim and bass/synthesiser player Hyuk-Jun Kang, the sound of Glen Check is an interesting mish-mash of electronic-rock and indie-dance-pop. Their songs are all sung in English and have been described to be influenced by various Western artists (both band members having grown up outside of South Korea). They’re currently part of a collective known as The Basement Resistance, which is made up of various Seoul-based musicians, fashion designers and visual artists. The group isn’t necessarily that unknown – they’ve even performed in Singapore last year – but they definitely live up to the hype. You can check out their SoundCloud for more.
Neon Bunny (야광토끼)
Im Yujin a.k.a. Neon Bunny is known for her haunting sound: a mix of indie rock and synthesised pop. While she’s no rookie in the music industry, she’s definitely the person you want to look out for if you’re into slightly eerier, slower songs that sound like they could be the soundtrack to your sci-fi dreams, as evident from her most recent album. Her latest music video for “빌딩의숲” or “Forest of Skyscrapers” is a kind of homage to the Japanese animated smash-hit Akira and the films by Wong Kar Wai. It’s trippy, but definitely interesting to watch. You can also get the song on Bandcamp.
Toeing the line with a little more Korean Rock than the previous artists mentioned, the music of Nell is endlessly dynamic, thanks to the unique voice of lead vocalist Kim Jong-Wan. Along with Lee Jae-Kyong on lead guitar, Lee Jung-Hoon on bass guitar and Jung Jae-Won on drums, the band’s various releases have been hailed by both critics and fans alike. While they’re mostly renowned for slower, gloomier tracks like “기억을 걷는 시간 (Time Spent Walking On Memories)” and “그리고 남겨진 것들 (The Day Before)”, songs like “Ocean of Light” off their sixth album “Newton’s Apple” prove that they’re just as good with upbeat tracks as they are with ballads. Having recently left their longtime agency Woolim Entertainment to begin their own independent label, we’re curious to see what’s in store for them.
If you’re into a synth-rock sound that leans mainly towards purely instrumental, Idiotape are the guys you need. Their fast-paced, energetic tracks are definitely set to get you moving, or at least make you feel like you’re at a pretty badass concert. Most of their songs have layers upon layers of instruments, so the songs sound huge and undoubtedly epic. Their latest release, “가지마오 (Don’t Go)”, is a super fun blend of Tron-esque synthesisers and a good ol’ fashioned rock show, and also sees the unexpected – but nevertheless heightening – use of (minimal) vocals. Be sure to check out their SoundCloud, where they also have some pretty cool remixes of K-Pop songs.
Featured Image: Young Generation MV – Glen Check