The leaders of the South Korean (and international) music world could be a certain group of seven members right now, but Korean music is as diverse and innovative as it is powerful, and you can’t look beyond the K-indie scene to attest to that.
Originally, South Korean independent music referred to the independent music scene that developed in the 1990s in Hongdae, a bustling urban area in northwest Seoul. K-indie artists would release their music independently of management companies, publishing companies, or distribution companies – think garage or basement bands. While K-pop, South Korea’s most successful cultural export, is inherently focused on marketing and promoting the artists behind the music, K-indie brings music to the fore.
Nowadays, as with the concept of “indie” in general, K-indie refers to the musical sound itself rather than its origins. K-indie is characterized by its soft and ambient sounds, its light and sullen vocals and its aesthetic designs. However, don’t be fooled by this description: K-indie serves a wide variety of musical genres: alternative, R&B, hip-hop, rock, and pop. Whatever your tastes, there’s a K-indie song for it.
For lovers of R&B and Hip-Hop
When it comes to fantastic Korean R&B and hip-hop, musicians like Dean and Loco are pretty much well-known names in Korea and around the world. Their new artistic vision, groovy soundscapes and moody lyrics have defined and redefined their genres. However, indie music label DPR is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and LEEBADA is a fantastic addition to the KR&B and K-hip-hop genres.
Take Dean’s “instagram,“eg. In this dark black and white song, Dean talks about feeling lonely and numb after scrolling through Instagram, in a digital world filled with glamorous images of people’s lives (” I’m sinking now / in an ocean square”). In a one-off interview, Dean explained that “instagram” was written after realizing how depressed he was after using the social media platform, where he got into a bad habit of comparing himself to famous artists. Despite how he felt, he continued to scroll thoughtlessly and aimlessly. As someone who has definitely felt this way after opening Instagram, “instagram” is not just a great song, but a source of comfort.
DPR, abbreviation of “Perfect diet dream”, is made up of members DPR LIVE (Hong Da-bin), DPR IAN (Christian Yu), DPR CREAM (Kim Kyung-mo) and CMA REM (Scott Kim). DPR is not just a musical act, but a fully independent entertainment label, as the members of DPR write, produce, edit and direct all of their own musical and visual content.
This type of independent organization is rare for a music industry as tightly controlled as that of South Korea, and even rarer when you consider that DPR is essentially a bunch of friends who stream music and connect intimately. to their fans. The quality of this group comes from the fact that, despite the authenticity of their music and their connection to the fans, their music has the same production quality as the biggest artists in the industry.
DPR IAN and The icon of K-pop CL’s collaboration on “No blueberries”Wowed fans with his curious lyrics (“ I like no blueberries in my ice cream cake / No air to breathe with that masking tape ”) juxtaposed with his serious themes of trauma and battling his inner demons. In the song’s clip, the futuristic-slash-retro setting is shot in tones of subdued neon lights and twilight blues, which makes IAN’s blueberry monster even more trippy.
“No Blueberries” is part of the same universe as “So Beautiful” and is part of the storyline of the trilogy on which DPR IAN worked. The song was written by DPR IAN and DPR LIVE, and arranged by DPR CREAM. In terms of a K-hip-hop song, it’s a pretty mundane “cool” song. The vocals and verses from CL and DPR LIVE complement the song’s relaxed tone, making it a great fall listening or perfect for days of introspective reflection.
LEEBADA is a singer who amazes her fans in every song she sings. Whether it’s her recent vocal ballad “Lonely Hearts Club” (which she wrote in collaboration with the Swedish singer-songwriter) Winona Oak), or the lively and fast staccatos of “High” (with PENOMECO and GroovyRoom, who are also fantastic KR&B artists), LEEBADA’s voice is both sweet and sharp, and swells in all the right places. His songs suit his aesthetic with dreamlike hues perfectly.
As LEEBADA explained in an interview with Bandwagon Asia, “colors” are the theme of her artistic vision, which she uses to describe the different facets of her personality and each song she creates. His 2019 album “THE OCEAN“Evokes the image of a painter’s palette: the songs” Red Rose “,” Blue Rose “and” Watercolor “evoke a Kinemacolor fancy. If you are looking to embark on LEEBADA’s musical career and don’t know where to start, “Night Dream” is certainly a great song to check out, as well as LEEBADA’s favorite, “Diana”.
TAEK, also known as “I am TAEK” on his YouTube channel, released less than 10 songs, but all of his songs have an imaginative artistic sense. His songs, which all share a delicate sound and voice, range from slow ballad-like croons (“Everywhere, Bad People are There”) to sharp electronic riffs (“Liar”) to soft lo-fi-like whispers on his songs. most recent work (“My status”).
For rock and alternative lovers
If you are a fan of Paramore, then you will definitely enter Loveholic, a modern rock band formed in 2003. Comprised of Kang Hyun Min, Lee Jae-hak and Ji Sun (former singer), the band has that signature early 2000s sound in their previous albums, such as the eponymous “Loveholic” (2003) and “Beau rêve” (2006). Their songs have also been used in many famous Korean dramas, such as “200 beauty books,“”Boys above the flowers“and as an outro song for Japanese anime”Black blood brothers.“
NELL are an alternative rock band formed in 2001 in Seoul, with a dark and psychedelic sound. NELL is the result of an amalgamation of influences – their name comes from the movie “Nell“ (with Jodie Foster), and their sound is influenced by British rock bands such as Radiohead, Placebo, Travis and Muse. In 2016, they became independent and created their own label, Space Bohemian.
Under this new independent label, NELL released their first independent album, “C”, with the song “Dream Catcher”. While their song “Everythingoes” with RM from BTS is the most popular in terms of Spotify streams, it is really their songs “Green Nocturne” and “Glow in the Dark” that stand out the most for their superb rock-themed twist. classic.
As the popularity and talent of artists like Dean, DPR and NELL have shown, there is a unique dynamism and experimentation from Korea’s independent music scene that music lovers would benefit from listening to. Hope this inspires you to add new songs to your shower and daily playlists.