The image is an abstract illustration that features a background that consists of a pitch-black sky and an ocean painted with purple, yellow, pink and various blues. In the foreground are a baby pink smoke cloud and various individual people and animals. You can see various small figures, gymnasts, children listening to a teacher, a large head of a woman wearing pink glasses, a man in a yellow shirt standing on floating chairs, and a man in a green shirt wearing a gas mask while holding the halter of a horse by his side.

The Ultimate K-Indie Introductory Playlist

By Zoe Elter
Music Journalist

With the recent international rise of K-pop, many people (myself included) have positively crossed boundaries with the music they listen to. However, K-pop as a whole aims to reach out to a very specific audience.

Elaborate commercial concepts and mass-produced supergroups, while exciting and unique, might not be to everyone’s taste. While I love groups like BTS, NCT and BlackPink, a need for a more laid-back and authentic sound is what led me to K-indie.

The K-Indie scene originally blossomed in the bright and colorful Hongdae district of Seoul, South Korea in 1987.

With bands like Crying Nut, Kiha and the Faces paving the way, the diversity of Hongdae led to a wide range of musical styles within the indie wave. The musicians of this ever-growing genre chant uniqueness as well as authenticity like a mantra, existing perpendicularly with their commercial K-pop counterparts.

I’ve compiled a playlist of–in my opinion–essentials to get started and here are some of my favorites.

 “Planet” Ku One Chan

Ku One Chan was the first K-Indie artist that I stumbled upon, so it’s fitting that he is the one to kickstart this playlist. The song is a metaphor in its entirety and I believe that is what makes it so unique.

Ku One Chan compares falling in love with the likes of an astronaut settling on a different planet, unsure of whether his love will be able to withstand a new “habitat.” The way he writes his lyrics is the reason why he shines.

It’s impossible not to relate to his songs when such metaphors make them practically universal.

“Bath” by offonoff and “WA-R-R” by Colde

Offonoff is a duo comprised of 0Channel (producer) and Colde (vocalist). Released in September of 2016, “Bath” is their debut track.

I often say that you don’t need to understand the lyrics of a song in order to understand the emotion behind it, and this song is proof of that fact. Listening to this song feels like driving in the rain: beautiful but dangerous.

You can practically feel the heartbreak laced within the soft vocals and well thought out beats.

I also decided to include “WA-R-R” by Colde because his work as an individual artist contrasts Offonoff, showing that artists often have multiple sides.

Where Offonoff has a more melancholic sound, Colde creates more upbeat music with rap and R&B influences.

“Happy Kushy Days” by Land Of Peace

When I think of K-Indie, Land of Peace is always the first artist that comes to mind. As a band, their message–which can be heard in almost all of their songs– is the finding of peace and freedom.

Whenever “Happy Kushy Days” comes on, I can’t help but wish that I was spending the day lounging around in the sun at Sewell Park, not having to worry about anything.

Land Of Peace, equipped with distorted vocals and mellow guitar riffs, is an absolute staple in my k-indie arsenal.

The K-Indie scene is overflowing with all different types of sounds. Lo-fi and R&B influences are seen in artists like Ku One Chan, Offonoff, Minsu and Colde. Garage rock bands like Land of Peace, Wetter and Offing provide sounds that are a little rough around the edges.

With a diverse range of artists to choose from included in this playlist, there is sure to be something that piques your interest.

Access the playlist here.

Featured image via album art for 22 by HYUKOH.

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