If your understanding of K-pop conjures images of high-energy girl groups and pristine pop soloists crafting big, bright hooks and glossy music videos, then your idea of the South Korean music scene isn’t totally off. But it doesn’t represent the full scale of pop being offered by Korean artists.
As female-led big label acts like Red Velvet and Twice churn out catchy hit after hit, a new wave of emerging women lead the charge for alternative South Korean indie-pop, R&B, and electronica. Flourishing just outside of K-pop’s shiny mainstream bubble, independent artists like Yeseo, Neon Bunny, and Brooklyn’s Yaeji are shaking up the global perception of what Korean music can sound like.
Below, discover six alternative artists for fans of K-pop.
Born in Queens, New York, Korean-American rapper Yaeji (Kathy Yaeji Lee) creates electronic hip-hop that, despite this very description, truly defies definition. A frenetic fusion of rap, house music, art pop, and perhaps any YouTube ASMR mix, songs like 2017’s neon-bathed “raingurl” and swaggering “drink i’m sippin on,” off of the artist’s EP2, boast rich, complex sonic flavors. As Yaeji contemplates on topics as wide-reaching as race, self-identity, and beauty industry expectations, her tone is both reserved and mellow—a juxtaposition as wonderfully contradictory as her genre-busting sonic musings.