It’s safe to say that the Korean wave has officially taken over. K-pop behemoths BTS and Blackpink have become household names, while titles like Squid Game and Parasite have left an indelible mark on the global entertainment scene. And the influence doesn’t stop there, with Korean variety shows getting global adaptations and a growing list of Korean idols snagging ambassadorships with luxury fashion houses.
It was only a matter of time. After all, K-pop in itself is a spectacle to behold. Every artist’s performance is a symphony for the senses, pulling you in from the first second. Infectious pop tunes? Check. Synchronised choreography? Check. Compelling visual narratives that sit at the cutting edge of music and technology? Done and dusted. Not to mention the flawless hair and make-up and avant-garde stage outfits to match.
But amidst the K-pop goliaths, the indie genre has also carved a name for itself, gradually splitting the mainstream sea. The enigmatic music scene brings an eclectic mix to the table, as Korean indie artists explore varying genres to create a sound they can only call theirs. Self-producing musicians seem to be a valuable currency in the Korean indie landscape, with artists viewing music as a reflective journey, unleashing their own colours on common experiences. And once you’ve heard one artist? You’ll find your eardrums itching for another.
Encapsulating a vast range of moods, melodies and genres, it might be a challenge finding a good corner to kick off your journey into the indie abyss. So to help you get started, peruse Vogue Singapore’s picks of Korean indie artists.
1 / 6
It’s hard to refute that indie rock group Jannabi has broken new ground in the Korean music realm. Characterised by a fusion of pop and classical with a retro undercurrent, the band’s songs often bring a wave of nostalgia to its listeners; aligning with their preference to be referred as a group sound (rather than a band), a popular term for Korea’s music scene back in the ’60s and ’70s. Their second studio album Legend touches on themes of youth and coming of age, with lead single ‘For Lovers Who Hesitate’, sweeping all music charts in South Korea.
2 / 6
Wave To Earth
Despite being a Korean band, Wave To Earth’s songs are mostly in English. This stems from the group’s desire to be “the new wave” in music, and to expand its universe across the world. From composing lyrics to creative direction, all three members are heavily involved. Their first studio album O.1 flaws and all is rooted in a blend of indie rock and guitar pop; one that evokes an immersive lo-fi euphoria.
3 / 6
Singer Meenoi sets herself apart with her soft and dreamy vocals, evident in her uplifting and entrancing discography. Though known for her R&B tunes, the artist has dabbled in ballads and jazz genres as well, proving her versatility. Get acquainted with the enigmatic artist with ‘Tea Time’, a song of comfort drawing parallels to rekindling with an old lover over tea on a cold day.
4 / 6
Sole strikes a balance between power and play. Her songs, often a playground for her compelling voice to run free, as she explores with diverse genres and vocal textures. Her most recent EP A Love Supreme is a collection of remakes originally sung by other artists. But what’s worth noting is the artist’s distinct ability to create a unique sound that can only be called Sole’s.
5 / 6
Everything about George exudes ease, from his discography to his carefree Instagram posts. Encapsulating a wide musical spectrum, George’s songs are like cotton candy to the ears—soft, sweet and reminiscent of summer. His first full-length album FRR, featuring artists such as Thama and Big Naughty, gathers inspiration from daily life in an easy-going tempo.
6 / 6
Pronounced ‘dawn’, Dvwn gained popularity on Soundcloud before being discovered and signed by rapper Zico. Known for his quirky style and charming performances, the singer-songwriter has also written and composed for esteemed K-pop artists with the likes of NCT Dream, Shinee and Kang Daniel. His recent EP It’s Not Your Fault is a soulful testament of the singer’s delicate vocals, as he delicately touches on themes of bittersweet love.