With BTS’ incredible breakthrough in the Western music industry, many are starting to take a look at Asian groups. However, many Asian-American groups have yet to translate onto the mainstream market. Far East Movement’s 2010 single, “Like a G6,” made them the first ever Asian-American group to earn #1 on the Billboard charts. Since then, no other AAPI music groups can claim to find the same success. Pacific Islanders are even further marginalized in the industry, their voices barely heard on the mainland.
Besides the usual bands you may listen to, here are 9 groups and duos to consider adding to your playlist:
Run River North
Originally a sextet, Run River North is a Korean-American indie folk-rock trio. With their music videos, lyrics and production, they are keen on being musically independent in order to freely express themselves. Each of their songs is laced with personal experiences; from sweet romances and bitter heartbreaks to the immigrant struggles and identity loss.
Seattle, with all the musical scenes it offers on a typical Friday night, is rightfully known as the “City of Music”. Ask about hip-hop, and Blue Scholars is immediately mentioned; thanks to their immense influence over the early 2000’s youth. Advocating the struggles of immigrants, socioeconomic classes, and the youth through their lyricism and powerful rap, they continue to appeal to the masses.
The mission: sharing the aloha spirit with all and bringing the feel of home to all the Hawaiian expats. This six-member group blends rock, pop, Jamaican reggae and traditional Hawaiian music; and their style is often labeled as Jawaiian. Many of The Green’s lyrics refer indigenous lifestyle to make their culture more known.
Meg & Dia
Sisters Meg & Dia first gained popularity back in 2006 through MySpace. Their early songs took inspiration from classical artists such as Mozart and literary works. After a long break, their latest album HAPPYSAD reflects on experiences since their teenage days; laced with their signature acoustic, pop-punk sounds.
Considered to be an experimental band, Son Lux takes pride in the fluidity of their own music; inspired by soul, hip-hop, rock, and electronica. The few lyrics in their songs play a significant role, but it’s truly the band’s sounds that narrate the raw emotions felt while listening. For Son Lux, their sound is their sole identity.
Sisters Jahan and Yasmine formed an electronic dance music duo back in 2007. Their music is often categorized as EDM, dance-rock/pop, and dubstep. However, their multicultural upbringing has the duo also taking influence from Bollywood and trap music. With independent musical production, their songs freely explore the themes of sexuality, individuality, and the questioning of Eastern and Western traditions.
“Brown punk” is a blend of vintage punk, psychedelia, surf, Middle-Eastern rock and South Asian folk music. This is how The Kominas likes to identify their sounds. They extensively refer to their heritage and religion in their songs to create a political movement; establishing a safe haven for POCs in the predominantly-white music industry.
It all started with a high school talent competition in 1982. Soon after, three friends went on to be Hawaii’s top female musical group. The Na Leo trio takes traditional beats of the islands and fuses it with pop-rock and jazz. Together with their harmonious voices, one can feel the warmth and soul of the Pacific.
Initially a small musical project, Awaaz Do quickly evolved to be one of the recognizable names of Boston’s rock indie scenes. Their music is truly unique as it blends the rhythms of South Asia with punk rock and metal — a representation of their Asian-American identity.
Though these groups aren’t regularly on the radio, they still work tirelessly to make their voices, music, culture, and heritage known.
What AAPI music groups are you checking out?
Header: Meg & Dia (Pure Noise Records)