The Micro Playlist You Need Beyond K-Pop

No matter how big, colorful and Tsunami-like K-pop seems, it cannot overpower other sounds, artists and movements rising from the same spaces.
August 9, 2018, 11:04am
Zion T and Busker Busker are on playlists alongside K-pop stars BTS and EXO, but sound markedly different.  

We're getting very up close and personal with the love for Korean pop music love in India, and its surrounding industry. Let super fans power your soundtrack, tell you how to talk and walk K-pop style, in the best that K-pop fashion has to offer. Read more here.

If you thought K-pop was all Korea had to offer to music, you need to reload your playlist. Last year K-pop sensation BTS released their song "DNA". But someone who has delved deeper into Korean music preferred listening to Colde’s version of this hit song. Akanksha Ahluwalia, a K-pop fan from Delhi, recommends electronic music artists Colde and 0Channel, who together, are called Offonoff. "I heard offonoff’s album Boy last year and what hit me was the vibe," she says. "Their music is always so chill and so calm. It’s not like generic K-pop where you need to mix different banger genres together in one song."

Explaining the rise of Korean music’s popularity in india, Anurag Tagat from Rolling Stone India says, “I think there are discerning listeners in India who love hip hop, R&B and a lot of other genres, who don’t really think of this as an extension of their K-pop fandom.”

Music journalist Uday Kapur adds, “I think the Indian audience is riding on the coattails of what is turning out be a seminal moment for East Asian music in the West. K-pop might be leading the charge, but hip-hop stars such as Keith Ape and Dumbfoundead, along with the 88 Rising crew, have managed to make the American hip-hop circuit take Asian hip-hop seriously. I think it’s great, and hopefully the end of the myopic view that the West always has to lead the charge when it comes to guiding the music industry.”

Like Offonoff there are many artists in the South Korean music scene who may not be as famous as mainstream K-pop artists but they have managed to find their admirers in India.

Twenty-five-year-old Ahluwalia has been following K-pop for years, and discovered indie, lesser known artists from the South Korean music scene who deserve a place in your playlist, and whose presence is a drop in the ocean compared to the tidal wave that is K-pop. One of them is Calm Swizzlely.

Working as an independent artist, 23-year-old Calm Swizzlely spoke to VICE India, “Korea has a lot of artists in its underground music scene. So it’s hard to be under a spotlight in the major music industry.” Describing the underground music scene in Korea he adds, “Six out of ten people give up music.” Talking about his latest song ‘Seoul Drift’ he says, “It’s about the feeling of ‘drift’ that I feel living in Seoul.”

"Seoul Drift" also features J Yung, another hip-hop and rap artist. Swizzlely has also worked with other independent artists like DAWN, Childdiahn, D2EAR, PLZY, and G Nine.

Ahluwalia also tells us about her favourite Korean R&B artists Zion T, Dean, Heize, and Jay Park. “I honestly love everything Dean has ever released, plus he has a song with Anderson Paak and just the fact that he made a song with him really lured me in. ‘130 Mood:TRBL’ is honestly a masterpiece.” Having been hooked to Jay Park’s ‘Me like Yuh’ for months, she says, “What I really like about Jay Park’s music is how catchy everything he makes is. Like it’s a very normative vibe and you don’t know what to do but just like head bang to his music.”

Another K-pop fan, 25-year-old Evania, who has been following K-pop for nine years, recommends Korean indie rock artists like Nell, Busker Busker and Hyukoh. Evania came across Nell and Busker Busker because, “These guys were excessively promoted back in the day when I was still discovering K-pop."

Twenty-two-year-old Aradhana Sriram’s Korean friends introduced her to artists like Lim Changjung, Crying Nut and 10cm. “Both of them [her Korean friends] give me ‘judgy’ looks when I mentioned I like K-pop. They prefer slow songs, mostly indie.”

This article originally appeared on VICE IN.