K-indie music signifies the currently prospering independent music scene in Korea. Although it is often seen as a sub genre of K-Pop, the two are vastly different. K-Pop focuses on commercialization and promotion, whereas indie music’s core values lie in storytelling and keeping a low profile. K-indie music can often be recognized by it’s smooth melodies and light acoustic vocals.
We have created a list of 10 must-have artists so you don’t have to.
Kim Heesoo, better known as Colde, started off his career as one-half of the duo offonoff under the well known entertainment company YG Entertainment. After the group went on indefinite hiatus in 2018, the vocalist created his own label, Wavy, and debuted as a soloist with the single “Wave.” Transforming from the strictly chill-out genre offonoff produced, Colde seeks to rebrand himself as an adroit artist by releasing diverse tracks with R&B, rap, and hip-hop influences. He continues to dominate the scene with well known releases such as “Your Dog Loves You” and “WA-R-R.”
Check out his latest collaboration “My Lips Like Warm Coffee” with CHUNG HA.
Singer songwriter, Dvwn, made his first appearance in the music scene back in 2017 on SoundCloud. Soon after, fans began to swoon for his soft vocals and airy sound. After officially debuting with the self- produced EP panorama in 2018, he began to gain popularity not only for his vocals, but composing ability as well on hit tracks “fairy” and “phobia.” As a composer and songwriter, he has collaborated with famous artists such as KANG DANIEL, CHANYEOL of EXO, and Eric Nam. Catching the eye of KOZ Entertainment in 2019, the artist has since released his single series Dawn Defibrillation and his latest EP it’s not your fault under the new label. He may be under contract, but the artist continues to be the same hopeless romantic that released tracks on SoundCloud.
His latest EP it’s not your fault can be found on all streaming platforms.
The multitalented and multi-genre slchld makes himself known with his relatable, intimate lyrics about lost love and new beginnings. Vocally tender and an expressive storyteller, slchld broke into the scene back in 2018 with his single “say what’s on your mind.” The artist is best known for his hits “she likes spring, I prefer winter” and “maybe we need a break.” Deep insecurities, human vulnerability, and desire for love are all things slchld’s music combines with memorable melodies. The artist has dabbled with a variety of different genres such as R&B, jazz, and hip-hop. Silky vocals combined with aesthetically pleasing titles makes slchld a hidden gem in the indie scene.
You can find his latest single “best for you” on all streaming platforms.
Singer-songwriter, george, continues to be one of the fastest growing artists in Korea’s music scene. With multifaceted vocals and colorful musicality, george writes and performs to sentimentally express his emotions through his music. His musical duality is best showcased through his most popular tracks “Boat” and “look at me.” The artist’s ability to release upbeat dance tracks, sentimental, slow love songs, and slow reminiscent melodies show he can appeal to any mood and have a feature onany playlist. On Instagram, he promotes not only his music but his quirky and inviting personality through casual content and vibrant selfies.
Check out his latest single “something between us (Romance 101 x george).”
His newest single “inside the sober mind” can be found on all streaming platforms.
Criminally underrated, JUNNY made his solo debut in 2017 with the EP Monochrome. His music heavily incorporates Western influences as a result of growing up in Vancouver. Best known for his gentle vocals and velvety sounds on tracks such as “By My Side” and “MOVIE,” the artist continues to show his sweet side by leaving a piece of his lovesick heart in each song. Full of humility and the desire to grow, JUNNY authentically shows his gratitude for the fans that recognize his hard work. His hit track, “Thank You,” sings as an ode to his supporters.
6. Jimmy Brown
Jimmy Brown holds the potential to be the next big thing in indie music. With influences from artists such as Chris Brown and Kanye West, the singer provides a discography full of sweet and soulful R&B sounds. At the beginning of his career, he decided to become an indie artist after grasping the creative limitations that come with being under a label. He wanted to have the freedom to fully embody his persona and what he represents. Creating tracks primarily about love, the artist explains the desire to share and give back the affection he grew up with. Hit songs “Let Me Know” and “2 Things” both tell genuine stories of giving your all to someone. He expressed in an interview with KHigh India, “As I said before it’s [love] the top emotion! If we love, things get easier.”
The artist recently released his newest single “The Good Days Boys Vol.2.”
Yayyoung, most popularly known for her delicate voice and romantic melodies on the tracks “Don’t Want to Fall in Love” and “If You Only Knew,” strives to create very personal music that tells her story. Although in a casual relationship with the world of music production and songwriting, she has sought inspiration and guidance by working alongside producers and artists such as oceanfromtheblue, Rheehab, and Dvwn. In an interview with Beat, Dvwn explained after hearing Yayyoung on Spotify he knew he needed to work with her. The artist called Yayyoung “an amazing vocalist and also a superb top-liner.” Although she is passionate about making music, the California born singer has expressed that her true passion is psychology. She hopes to one day become a support system for other artists that have difficulty coping with the industry.
Check out her latest single “Reality” on all streaming platforms!
Originally debuting as a duo, 10cm took the K-indie scene by storm with their single “Americano” in 2010. After gaining recognition, the duo continued to dominate and become a household name with their hit tracks “Phonecert” and “Telephone.” Half of the duo, Yoon Cheol Jong, unfortunately left the group in 2017 due to health reasons. To keep Cheol Jong’s legacy alive, remaining member Kwon Jung Yeol decided to continue producing folk-pop music under the duo’s name, despite it originally being a reference to the height difference between the two members. 10cm proved himself as a solo artist by consistently releasing hit tracks such as “But it’s Destiny,” from the second-highest-rated Korean drama in history, Crash Landing on You and ”Where Is Dream” as heard on the drama Start Up.
Make sure to check out his newest release “Sleepless in Seoul (feat. Lee Suhyun).”
oceanfromtheblue gained recognition in 2018 by uploading his self-produced tracks on SoundCloud. According to the alternative vocalist, he wishes he could “build an island” from which he would communicate his transparent and authentic stories with his fans. A believer that the auditory sense alone isn’t enough to create a deep connection with his fanbase, he puts just as much effort into the visual aspects of music videos and cover art as he does the music. Often including ordinary sounds such as a subway announcement and footsteps in his music, he explains that he wants his fans to know the person behind the music is living a normal life just like anyone else. The artist’s stage name includes inspiration from one of his biggest musical influences Frank Ocean, creating “ocean” and the word “blue” stemming from his depressive persona. Known for music where sadness and joy coexist, he explains in an interview with OhMyNews, “[In my music] the human heart looks bright on the outside, but it’s sad on the inside.”
Check out oceanfromtheblue’s latest single “Heaven.”
In 2019, Seori gained massive attention on YouTube for her uploaded song covers. With her now well-known distinctive voice and ethereal sound, she covered songs such as Khalid’s “Talk” and Amir Sofi’s “Tango.” The videos combined racked in almost six million views, creating a solid fan base before making her official debut in 2020 with her first EP ?depacse ohw. She continues to make headlines as the first artist to feature on tracks with EAJ of Day6 on his song “It Just Is” and TXT’s title track “OX1=LOVESONG.” Focused on storytelling, her songs sparked inspiration from visual novels such as Atispaus to deliver deeper, more impactful messages. With musical influences such as Avril Lavigne and Paramore, she strives to create songs that aim to speak on the universal feeling of isolation and loneliness.
You can find her newest single “긴밤 (feat. GIRIBOY)” on all streaming platforms.