The scope of East and South East Asian music is incredibly vast. From artists based in our motherlands to diaspora communities across the world, with so many cultures and influences combined with the digital age of the internet – it is incredibly hard to define exactly what East and South East Asian music is. Spanning genres of ambient, experimental pop, club, deconstructed club, hip-hop, each artist and DJ has their own unique taste. The list of what can represent East and South East Asian music could be infinite, but here’s 20 artists you need to know now:
ĀN JÍ, is an artist who recently relocated from Naarm/Melbourne to London. They are a vocalist and producer who draws inspiration from Chinese dance music. Using their ethereal voice and beats alongside their cultural influences, they make experimental pop music. Last year, they released their debut album No Mud, No Lotus.
Shanghai-based producer and DJ, Everlast Phantom is not only a mainstay in the music scene there, but at the forefront of pushing for more women in the industry. She co-founded Scandal, a women-led party in Shanghai that has now also become a music label.
New York City-based Laenz is a producer, DJ and video artist, known for their playful avant garde pop and experimental club heavy sets. With their productions, they work with more complex sounds and use their falsetto voice to layer with club textures, creating a gentle depth in their productions. They released their debut EP iitno in 2019 and collaboorated with Japanese producer T5UMUT5UMU on their Unsleep EP, released through Eastern Margins.
Sayang is a Malaysian-British activist, radio host and sound designer. They are the co-founder of QTIBIPoC, queer Disabled,Trans-centred party, Flesh in Tension. With shows on Rinse FM and a residency Love Muscle, they fuse their Malaysian heritage with UK music influences to bring eclectic DJ sets. Their sound productions are a mix of Penang field recordings, modular synths, EBM and industrial dance floor sounds. Sayang is also pushing for more inclusivity in the music industry by making club spaces more accessible for all bodies.
Hailing from Manchester via Hong Kong, ASJ is part of the Absurd Trax crew and an integral part of Hong Kong’s underground music community. With two albums on Absurd Trax, ASJ is known for her experimental and unique electronic sounds which take you on an unexpected journey in the club. Her 2018 album, The Road to Become One, explores various decisive moments in her life using melodies and sonic textures to tell her story. Her 2020 album 集體模像 DUPLICATE COGNIZANCE uses her composition skills to take her audience on an emotional journey. ASJ has also featured on Boiler Room’s Hard Dance series and done radio shows on Rinse FM with prominent London artist object blue.
CHERI is a DJ previously based in Manchester who has now returned to London, and is quickly making a name as one of the capital’s up and coming DJs. With a recent set at Corsica Studios for the Beatriarchy collective, a stellar show on NTS radio and a show at Risen festival, the newly Eastern Margins resident is surely one to watch.
Corin is a Filipina-Australian Naarm/Melbourne-based producer, performer and composer. Her productions vary from textural ambient to more heavier deconstructed club sounds, and the musical polyglot has a background in classical piano too! As a DJ, she takes control of the dancefloor with her carefully curated selections that showcase the extent of East and South East Asian club sounds. Recently she has released an album named Araw and has also had a podcast on Resident Advisor. You can also catch her monthly on her NTS residency.
Kloxii Li (Pronounced: Kloh-shee Lee) is a Chinese-American producer who frequents between LA and Berlin. Originally shifting from the fashion world to the music scene, in her short time as a DJ, she has created a very distinct sound, which can be described as experimental leftfield pop with a mix of traditional Chinese writing styles and modern electronic sounds. She shares a radio residency on Hong Kong Community Radio with Hinako Omori called Near Momentary and has released on labels such as Lex Records and Modern Sky Records.
Hinako is not only Kloxii’s radio mate but also an incredibly talented musician. Born in Yokohama, Japan, now based in London, Hinako was recently listed by the Guardian as one to watch. A composer and sound engineer, she uses synthesizers and field recordings to create beautiful atmospheres with her sounds. The term for her practice of music is called shinrin-yoku which is Japanese for forest-bathing. You can listen to this in her latest album ‘a journey…’.
x/o is a Vietnamese-Canadian producer based between Vancouver and Berlin. They are a multidisciplinary artist who creates distorted yet delicate soundscapes inspired by anime/RPG OSTs and 90’s RNB. They released their debut album in 2017 called cocoon egg and have a forthcoming project called Chaos Butterfly on the Precious Metals label. x/o’s work explores the themes of metamorphosis and parallel worlds whilst transcending the traditional notions of gender.
Felicity is a Naarm/Melbourne artist who uses a variety of melodies and beats to create fresh and modern sounds in the current scope of electronic music. Her work is known to defy genres as she switches between gentle ambient sounds to harder, yet still delicate, edits of Rihanna. You can catch her DJing in Naarm/Melbourne and find some of her releases on Eternal Dragonz and Fluxx.
Known for her rave-ready, dancefloor melting industrial rave productions, Kuala Lumpur-based producer and DJ rEmPiT g0dDe$$ is a force to be reckoned with. Her forte is distorted club sounds with releases on the Eastern Margins Redline Legends compilation album, the SUPERSTROBE Remix album, along with her own recent self-released EP: UNCREATED LIGHT. You can also listen to her NTS show here.
KONA is an artist, producer and DJ based in Seoul. Her EP last year Form does not shy away from combining vocals with club elements to create dance floor ready tracks. She has recently done a remix for Shelhiel on the latest Eastern Margins release. She is also the director of a Seoul based house and techno media platform called textures.
Based in Bangkok, Wanton Witch is a DJ and producer whose work often takes the listener through the dark twists and turns of industrial rave with ethereal melodies. Wanton Witch recently put out her self-titled debut album on the label Stroboscopic Artefacts with each track sitting like an installation in a sound gallery.
A self-taught DJ and producer based in Vietnam, Puppy Ri0t is rising along with the underground music scene in Vietnam. She has featured on compilations with Nhạc Gãy and Eastern Margins. Her productions are non-conforming, powerful and chaotic. You can also listen to some of her eclectic mix for Hong Kong Community Radio here.
QQBBG is part of the new wave of Hong Kong’s underground music scene. When she first released on Eastern Margins, her EP Magic Legacy was inspired by Japanese Idol culture. Her use of pink and kawaii aesthetics became her signature, and she recently revealed her range as an artist with her newly released project on Genome 6.66 Mbp. Collaborating with Kelvin T, another Hong Kong underground scene mainstay, her new project AI Core shows a darker side. Who knows what will be next from QQBBG?
London-based DJ Stem has been doing the rounds among the club and festival circuit globally. Having played at Glastonbury Festival and in Shanghai and Berlin, the internationally recognised DJ also frequents NTS and had a former residency on Berlin-based station Refuge Worldwide. Stem’s sets are elegant whilst transcending genres.
Oh Annie Oh
Radio queen Oh Annie Oh is a vital asset in the East Asian music scene of London. Formerly on Rinse FM and now on Reprezent Radio, the Korean-Canadian DJ and broadcaster not only holds up the UK hip-hop and rap scene, but she also has started a podcast series uplifting voices in the community called Don’t Call Me Exotic. Her podcast is now in its second season, and she’s playing as part of ESEA Sisters at Somerset House’s This Bright Land event series this summer.
Resident of one of the most exciting Berlin-based party series 100einhunderdt, Kanucia, now Milan-based, is still an anchor in Berlin’s music scene. With frequent shows on streaming platform HÖR BERLIN, Kanucia is one to watch in the melting pot that is Europe’s music scene.
Gadigal Land/Sydney-based multidisciplinary artist, singer and producer Rainbow Chan is one of the most innovative artists in Australia. She is influenced by her Hong Kong heritage and creates her own distinct sound of pop music. With recent releases such as Stanley and past albums like Pillar, she explores love and loss along with the diasporic experience.
So you can experience a range of sounds from musicians from across the region, I’ve put together a mix featuring some of the above mentioned artists:
Corin – Only Time Will Tell
Kloxii – DLMD
Felicity Yang – RN
Hinako Omori – Snow
AN JI – First Contact
Rainbow Chan – Heavy
x/o – Red Alert
Laenz & T5UMUT5UMU – fantasma
Everlast Phantom – On Your Mark
rEmPiT g0dDe$$ – THE PLEA TO EVOLVE ft VIKTORIA & ICAN HAREM
Shelhiel – Star 星 (KONA Remix)
Wanton Witch – The Beautiful Trauma Of Being
Puppy Riot – RaizeR (MSTD)
ASJ – 恆久 ASSIDUOUS
QQBBG and Kelvin T – No 1 Sweetheart
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