Image credit: Edwin Hooper via Unsplash
Do you ever think back to life before the pandemic?
It was the summer of 2017, with the Coachella festival unknowingly hitting its peak with Beyonce as one of 3 headliners, Calvin Harris releasing album of the summer with Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1, and Hurricane Harvey made a devastating impact in my hometown of Houston, TX.
I was in the middle of transferring colleges, where like everyone else, I was navigating an unfamiliar place trying to make friends, so as expected, I felt alone. One thing I love about music is that you can connect to it on a spiritual level. I was on the hunt for music that, quite literally, speaks and relates to what I was going through.
Thankfully, the YouTube algorithm finally appealed to my taste in music as I was recommended these indie artists that I still follow to this day. Previously, the algorithm was recommending the genre of City-pop, which is a Japanese based sub-genre that started in the 1970’s to 1980s in Japan. Artists like Takeuchi Mariya, Miki Matsubara, and Tatsuro Yamashita were a small sample of the City-pop genre. I knew in my heart that I would love these songs so I chose to ignore them until one winter evening that same year.
As much as I want to gatekeep these artists, they deserve to thrive and I hope they go viral on Tik-Tok soon before the app is gone (Just like the beloved app, Vine).
Image credit: coupdemain magazine
Fazerdaze (Amelia Rahayu Murray) is a muti-instrumentalist artist based in New Zealand known for her dreamlike and alternative rock songs. Inspired by bands in the 90s, blur and nirvana, Fazerdaze’s music continues to evolve and have its own unique sound while remaining truthful and vulnerable.
In 2017, a 5-year hiatus was invoked, leaving fans to wonder when she would come back and release music. In August 2022, a 14-minute documentary was released on YouTube, finally giving insight about the 5-year hiatus after releasing the critical acclaim album, “Morningside”. With the short documentary released, it coincides the return of Fazerdaze with an EP entitled “Break!” in October 2022 and a single entitled “Flood into” in March 2023.
Fazerdaze was one of the artists whose music spoke to me during that summer of 2017. I watched the “Lucky Girl” MV (Music Video) and fell in love with the aesthetics of the video, which led me wanting more (thank you, YouTube). Her song, “Little Uneasy”, captures the feeling of uncertainty as based on the lyrics. Although these songs were released in 2015, it really captured the year of 2017 pretty well for me.
Fazerdaze’s music captures the nostalgic feeling you get during the warmer summer months as you’re driving down the highway watching the sunset. I know when I’m down I have Fazerdaze’s music to heal as some of her lyrics talk about the feelings of loneliness, self-discovery, friendships, and break-ups, amongst other topics.
Standout tracks: Little Uneasy, Winter, Jennifer, Reel
Image Credit: Tei Shi’s Facebook Page
Valerie Teicher Barbosa, most known as her stage name, Tei Shi, is a singer-songwriter born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Colombian parents, who later resided to Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. Debuting her first EP, titled, “Saudade” in 2013, Tei Shi is known for her layered airy sultry vocals and has done many collaborations with artists such as, Blood Orange and Glass animals.
After the release of “Die 4 Ur Love” EP during the height of the pandemic, Tei Shi took to Instagram in 2021 to share her frustrations of signing with a label after being ignored for over 2 years. She took down her 2019 sophomore album, “La Linda”, in response to her cease and desist sent to former label, Downtown Records, due to non-payment. Tei Shi, now a fully independent artist, released her new EP, “BAD PREMONITION” in March 2023. With the song “Grip” giving insight to the hard times endured with her music labels and taking back control of her career.
Image credit: Tei shi's Bandcamp
Tei Shi’s music invokes feelings of escapism that is pleasing to the ear and is just pure pop music perfection with elements of other genres. She also releases Spanish songs which is a delightful surprise, giving Tei Shi an edge with her music. As someone who’s culture is rooted in Central America, I welcome and appreciate Tei Shi’s songs in Spanish as I’ve been wanting to feel more connected with my family’s heritage. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish fluently, which hinders my ability to connect with more people, however, I think listening to Spanish songs is a start.
I love that Tei Shi’s songs are a bit more experimental in the realm of pop music and with it being sung in two languages, I can relate to the topics she sings about such as, self-acceptance, independence, and relationships. If you happen to come across Tei Shi’s songs, don’t be afraid that it’s not in English, just listen.
Standout tracks: Goodbye, Even if it hurts, MONA LISA
Image credit: XLR8R Publication
Kllo is an electronic-pop duo from Melbourne, Australia, created by cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam. They released their first EP, “Cusp” in 2014 and released their first album, “Backwater” in 2017 to favorable reviews from Metacritic. Kllo is known for their electronic dance pop sounds produced by Simon Lam combined with smooth sultry vocals from Chole Kaul that does not sound dated. Their last release was their sophomore 2nd album entitled “Maybe We Could” in 2020.
I discovered Kllo from Spotify’s generated playlist in 2018. Normally I do not listen to Spotify’s playlists that are generated for the public because it can be filled with overplayed songs on the radio. At that time, I wanted to discover new music, not listen to the same thing. The album art for their “Backwater” album appealed to me as it was moody and mysterious. “Downfall” is a song that perfectly captures their sound, a catchy and mesmerizing beat with lyrics that talk about life moving forward while you’re stuck in a rut.
Image credit: Kllo's record company, Ghostly International
Kllo has a unique sound that is easily distinguishable among other indie artists. Although the vocals stay sultry and lowkey, the production combined with the minimalist vocals are intimate, enchanting the listener with this unique experience
Their songs deal with topics of loneliness, the end of a relationship, and the hard times in life, all on top of dance beat, which everyone can relate to. Currently, there are no news of music being released in 2023, however, Kllo has an expansive discography that you can dive right into and won’t get tired of listening.
Standout tracks: Somehow, Dissolve, Bolide
Image credit: Julio Rionaldo via Unsplash
Indie music (also known as independent artists) can be hard to come by if you’re not actively searching for unique sounds and visuals accompanied by a music video. Most indie artists build their careers from the ground up utilizing social media to their advantage to gain a following. What appeals to me the most about indie music is that it comes from the heart and soul of the artist wanting their music to be heard. It does not have to be the weirdest music ever created, instead, those in this genre are constantly pushing the boundaries of music and new sub-genres are always being created to describe these new sounds and styles.
If you’re someone looking to explore new genres, besides the obvious sites such as Youtube, Spotify, Apple music, and Shazam. Applications like last.fm, 8tracks, soundcloud, TuneIn radio, Bandcamp and others are available to discover new music in any genre.
Rest assured, (if I conducted my research correctly) the artists discussed are not Nepo-babies (I’m looking at you Grimes and Clario!) if I’m wrong please do let me know!