This week’s K-Crunch Indie Playlist is a special edition in lieu of the South by South West concert happening in Austin, Texas next week. The reason why this is important is because a few Korean Indie bands are playing at the festival, so we thought it would be perfect timing to talk about them!

A lot of people who move to Korean and aren’t into kpop feel frustrated and claim that Korea has no good music. It is really unfair to say that, since Korea has tons of talented musicians that play almost every genre of music, but it’s still true that it’s not easily accessible, partly because Cyworld, Naver, and Daum (the Korean search engines and blog sites) aren’t open to be browsed by outsiders. Search for a wildly popular K-indie band and you’ll get like five good hits on Google, and those hits are often not even related to the band’s real website. On top of that, the radio is pretty much dominated by either trot music (new and old) or kpop (new and old) but there isn’t really K-rock or less popular Korean hip-hop playing. Even when you go to coffee shops, they play English speaking jazz or an easy listening cover of classic Top 40 songs. I always imagined that when I came to Korea I would hear Korean jazz and Korean Top 40 hits, but I was very mistaken.

That’s why I’m so happy for YouTube! It has really opened up Korean music to the rest of the world. I can search korean rock music and get a bunch of random bands, even fan cams of these bands playing in Hongdae. But still, a lot of these bands don’t have their own page nor have they added tags with their names in Korean and English to help in being found. Unless you’re music geeks, like us, who love to actively seek out new music all the time through browsing other nerdy music websites (like Pitchfork or Korean Indie) it’s pretty tough to discover Korean music outside of kpop. I’m hoping this will change over time, and more people will be blogging about their favourite Korean indie bands that they found easily on iTunes, myspace, and wherever.

Ok, enough of that. This week we have a special playlist for the Korean Indie bands playing in South by South West. Hopefully they’ll get boatloads of recognition, come back to Korea praised as gods, and crack open the mainstream to get some K Rock in there. YES! Well, maybe that won’t happen, and maybe you’re not into K-Rock that much, but we don’t talk about it all too often. So…yeah! On with the videos! Check out the videos in the playlist above, or check them out below, if your playlist won’t work!

3rd Line Butterfly – A Heavy Night Fog


Galaxy Express – Jungle The Black


Bonus: Check out their super fun Noraebang version here.

Yellow Monsters – Riot!


Crying Nut – 말달리자


  1. I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove Yellow Monsters!! I saw them twice live in Hongdae when I was in Korea, and it was the best night of my life. Actually, the best moment of my whole life hands down is when Yongwan yelled out “Do you wanna RIOT? Do you wanna FUCKING RIOT ?!!!?!??!!” I adore those guys…I even got all their albums signed and they’re really nice guys. We’re FB friends :)

  2. They’re playing tonight at the Soho Lounge on 6th! ;D
    8:00PM Yellow Monsters9:00PM 3rd Line Butterfly10:00PM Crying Nut11:00PM Galaxy ExpressSo totally going. ^^

  3. i’ve only known of crying nut before this playlist..
    i never liked any of the underground/indie/unknown rock bands from korea so i’ve lost hope for all of them. lol but omg i love yellow monsters!!

  4. Hey Simon,
    Did you know you were the Jungle The Black video? lol. Look at 1:59. 

  5. I just realized that you guys referenced SXSW in Austin. I go to UT so it was a pretty surreal moment when I realized that this whole playlist was for groups going to the event. I might actually have to get out of my dorm room for break then. Thanks guys :’D

    • I really miss living in Austin. I graduated from Westwood High. I remember when SXSW was not as big a deal as it is now. It was a huge deal in the early ’90s, just not nearly like it is these days. Never got to go to it then, as I was either too young, too far away, or too busy — or some combination thereof. Now I’m stuck in Odessa; if there’s a bright spot to the universe, this is the town farthest from it — except maybe for Pecos.

      • Im a couple of hours away from Austin Myself but never been to SXSW :'( now that i have read that there were going to be some korean indie bands this year I was supprise and sadden :( Well maybe next time :)

  6. AUSTIN, TEXAS?! Omggg, how could I have not known this?! I live a few miles from there!! *O* 

  7. I liked all of them on this one! Especially Galaxy Express-Jungle the Black and Yellow Monsters-Riot!

  8. I’ll be taking that three hour drive to Austin.
    Finally Texas has something to offer me every spring break. Love SXSW.
    Lots of great bands. Hopefully i can find what venue they are playing at since there’s so many those days!

  9. This list seriously did my soul some good. I was on cloud nine especially with that first one. Her voice is just…epic. SO appreciate and love these playlists. Even though I’ve never liked pop much (I was at just the right age to adore NSYNC in their glory days, but just…didn’t), K-pop somehow drew me in, but rock and all its branches is still my first and biggest love so I’m LOVING this stuff from a country I’ve grown to love. Oh how I wish I could go to Austin ;_;

  10. thank you so much for tackling this SandM, knew it was out there but for us not familiar with korean it’s completely in stealth mode… keep them coming, love every shade Korea has to offer… and they do deserve to be displayed for everyone to see and appreciate…

  11. Wow. Crying Nut is STILL around?! When you started the k-indies thing, I was thinking about suggesting them, but thought “no way THEY’RE still around!” I literally have only four songs by them, and you managed to pick on of the songs that I have. And seriously, you picked a song that is over 13 years old?

    And thanks for the list! I haven’t heard Korea REALLY rock before. All the indie music has been rather pop-ish or like slow paced. Still stinks it is so hard to find these bands.

  12. oh! all ur picks are bands that are going to be playing in Toronto!

  13. A friend who’s music teacher in east Texas knows of the band, told me I should go see Galaxy Express. I had never  heard of them before, but besides the SXSW shows they are also going to play at a few restraunts this week. I may make the attempt to see them on Friday. Ah, Galaxy Express and fish tacos, that just might make my week.

  14. <3 <3 <3 can wait for the next indie playlist :D 

  15. The second and third paragraphs summarize perfectly my struggle to get access to K-indie, and how YouTube is the only (yet awesome) real way to find out new tracks and bands.  Therefore, thank you Simon and Martina for this playlist in particular because I loved every track on it!  They each went directly into my ‘favorites’ playlist and have been on repeat since.  <3

  16. I just heard 나인씬 – Frozen Heart and it was awesome! You should hear it.


  17. ooh~great songs~

    http://indiefulrok.blogspot.com/ has lots of news and stuff on the korean indie scene too!

  18. Wow, I’ve never seen this side of Korean music before. Give those Yellow Monster cats an anime series to open for!  Galaxy Express was dope too!  Good picks!

  19. The thing about mainstream though; if they do make it into mainstream and get loads of recognition, the haters and antis will soon follow…

    Perhaps it’s a western thing? The culture that encourages individualism means that having unique interests makes you a cool person, whereas if you follow mainstream, you’re just…dumb. K-indie may be cool now, but if they make it big, they too will fall victim of all the insecure youths who are trying so hard to be cool by putting down what everyone else likes.

    And what’s sad about this is; many people make it into mainstream precisely because they are THAT good, and yet people nitpick their weaknesses in order to make themselves look superior. I think it’s a sad phenomenon.

    So while I’m happy that the things I like get more recognition, I also would rather they never went mainstream – lol, because that way I’ll always be the ‘cool person’ (I LISTEN TO BANDS THAT DON’T EXIST YET!!!)

    •  I think the problem is that when a lot of people go main stream, they just abandon their style of music. A good reference is BEG. They are really vocally talented. I know someone who stans BEG and their non mainstream songs are amazing! They harmonize so well and have an amazing balance. When I decided to try k-pop, I stumbled across abracadabra and that to me was a crappy song. Yeah, everyone liked it but that to me was horrendous and it did very little to show case how amazing BEG was. It wasn’t until Sixth Sense came out that I was like wow, they can sing! Then again, the music industry is pretty complicated especially in America. This is why different styles of music consistently alternate as main stream. Record companies look out for what might make it big, take it, package it and sell it. Hip Hop started out as something completely different to what we see today. It wasn’t about whores and money. However, singing about anything but that won’t really sell. K-pop has the same formula. It first of all is even more powerful because of band loyalty. There are people who will like what a band puts out regardless of whether it is good.  Also, the big three are pretty much a brand. Regardless of what the big three put out, it will sell.

    •  Haha, I hear what you’re saying.  I’ve had so many friends in band, and I think that every band wants to be successful enough (ie: to make enough money) so that they can continue making music for the rest of their lives as their full time job. If they remain in the indie scene, they have to play music on the side and get another job, and they can’t focus fully on music as life.

      I think what annoys me the most is when a band has like 3 albums and the sound changes as they get older, and then one day, album number 3 is on the radio and fans are like “they sold out and changed their sound”.  Yes, I’m sure they didn’t grow or anything, they just decided one day to make a song that would be perfectly received by the radio and cause them success.  I’ll tell you what’s funny though, sometimes you think you’re listening to a band no one knows, and then one day you find out it’s mainstream in another country.  That just happened to us with The Knife. Weird in North America, mainstream in Sweden. :D

      • “you find out it’s mainstream in another country”
        The day you discover some new awesome music feels like decades of music being invented over night. That’s how it was when I discovered Koyote, Cherry Filter, Wax, The Witches (got to love Korean ska/rock), the Blue Hearts, etc. What’s really funny is when the popularity of a cover song makes you discover the lesser-good original (i.e. Yu Chae Young’s Emotion). 

      • re: ” they have to play music on the side and get another job, and they can’t focus fully on music as life. ”

        This is the never-ending story of artists. Most people would be freaked to find that the average Club gig amounts to about $80 dollars per group member. (based on local indie stats) …by the time the bar bill is paid and the sound tech loads his equipment….most everyone goes home with JOY in their hearts and an empty pocket.

  20. WOOOOOOOT !!…(..if I happen to be nearby…)  chuckles to self.
    I’m 21.2 miles from 6th street….and I KNOW where to park cheap…then ride the armadillo.
    (sounds like a porn reference….but actually, it’s the FREE city bus)


    SXSW is CRAZY. People who haven’t been before just don’know.

    p.s. the club that Aziatx is playing at is the size of a postage stamp. I’m really baffled by that.

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