THERE ARE a handful of independent artists that I would recommend to those who want to take a break from mainstream music. Not only do they create songs with color, but they are also memorable with peculiar names that stick to your mind immediately. K-indie is not just HYUKOH and MeloMance, the two most popular artists in the genre. Hopefully this article will serve as a guide for music listeners ready to discover new tunes.
92914 is an indie-rock/R&B duo that debuted in 2017. Its members Lee Joon-ki and Kwon Joo-pyeong first met at church. According to an interview with ICONtv, Lee was a drummer in the church ensemble and he instantly became immersed in Kwon’s guitar skills. Lee then asked Kwon if they could collaborate, and the duo became a joint project since.
They are best known for their singles, “Okinawa” and “Moonlight.” Fans enjoy the band for the calm, tranquilizing ambiance of their music. It is not the lyrics or the melodies that attract the listeners; instead, it is the atmosphere their music creates. They have released one EP —Sunset—consisting of five tracks. All songs are greatly soothing and minimalist, as the artists used only a few instruments in the production process.
You may ask what 92914 means, and many fans have speculated that 92914 is related to the year 1992, assuming the members were born in that year. 92914, however, is the address code of their first studio. Lee and Kwon liked its uniqueness and the group stuck with 92914, attracting many with its distinct name.
I recommend 92914 to those who enjoy slow, relaxing artists or jazz artists such as Bill Evans. They are currently working on a new single, according to their official Instagram account. Lee revealed that the single may be released in March, so stay tuned.
CAR, THE GARDEN
The Incheon-based artist first started music as a hobby, initially performing as Mayson the Soul. He joined Finest Records to release his first EP Jackasoul. The album received recognition through rapper Beenzino who featured in one of the tracks. The artist then transferred from Finest Records to DooRooDooRoo Artist Company, a label which manages other popular artists such as Jang Kiha and the Faces.
He later changed his name to CAR, THE GARDEN circa 2016, as the artist expressed to have felt limited to the “soul” genre performing with the name Mayson the Soul. To experiment with other genres and expand his musical spectrum, he decided to rename himself. Artist Oh Hyuk from HYUKOH helped him out in the process, as it was his idea to directly translate CAR, THE GARDEN’s Korean name to English. If we take his Korean name Cha Jeong-won, and break it down bit by bit, Cha means “car” and Jeong-won can be translated to “garden.” CAR, THE GARDEN therefore came to place—a comical fusion of two irrelevant terms.
APARTMENT (2017) was the first album released under his brand new name. The tracks in the album are a must-listen, as the album features fellow indie musicians such as Jin-Sil of Life and Time, Oh Hyuk, and Seon-Woo-Jeong-Ah. The album received positive reviews, scoring 7 out of 10 points on IZM, a pop review magazine.
CAR, THE GARDEN’s music resembles Vulfpeck and Junggigo. I recommend his songs to those who enjoy both upbeat jazz and R&B. The artist’s music receives much attention with his catchy melody-line and captivating rhythm.
Pronounced as “Oh-John,” the artist debuted in 2016 with the EP [O]. The artist revealed in an interview with Mint Paper that his interest in the career as a vocalist first sparked in high school, when he discovered his talent during his frequent visits to karaoke halls. He then decided to take his interests seriously in the winter of 2014, when he got his friend Se-ha, a guitarist in the band Xin Seha and The Town, to play guitar for his productions. After releasing the songs, O3ohn immediately entered the military, and there he was encouraged by fellow musicians to settle on the path to music.
O3ohn received mass recognition through his feature on the K-drama Mr. Sunshine. He released “Shine Your Star” in its Original Television Soundtrack album. This was not his first experience with K-drama soundtracks, as he had previously released “Somewhere” in The Guest (Original Television Soundtrack Pt.1).
O3ohn is the right pick for those who enjoy John Mayer’s clean guitar tunes. In the same interview with Mint Paper, the artist revealed that he grew up listening to Mayer, and such influence is clear in his tracks. “Untitled 01” is one example, and the song was inspired by the 2013 film Her, so this is an exciting news for those who enjoyed the movie.
Se So Neon
Formed in 2016 and debuted in 2017, the psychedelic rock trio coined the name Se So Neon from the 70s magazine of the same name. The term Se holds a double entendre—it can be translated into both “new” and “bird” from Korean to English, expressing energies of novelty and freedom. Se So Neon received recognition especially for the members’ young ages, its youngest member being 21.
The band is best known for songs “The Wave” and “A Long Dream”. Their album Summer Plumage is a 10/10 recommend to those who enjoy experimental indie-pop like Sunset Rollercoaster or psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd.
The band is unfortunately going through a rough transition, as two of the three members have entered the military last January to fulfill mandatory conscription. They performed their last concert SSN#009 on December 30th last year. Their last standing member, Hwang So-yun, carries the weight of bringing the band’s future further.