Kicking starting a new segment on the blog, every month I’ll be highlighting Asian artists around the world and giving you reasons they should be on your radar. This month we have London’s Drexler, Singapore’s Jason Yu and Grace Charis, and also New York’s Kaede..
I’ve also made a monthly-updated Spotify playlist of said artists, and other Asian musicians that weren’t mentioned here, down below.
(Spotify messed with WordPress’ code so I can’t post the playlist itself, but trust that every song in there is worth your time so do click the link!)
Based in London, Sydney-born multi-instrumentalist Drexler isn’t like most artists that I’ve featured on the blog. There are no soaring vocal performances or impressive rapping on his latest album Handles. Instead his music is solely instrumental, employing the use of chamber strings, piano tones, ambient synth, minimal percussion, and folky guitars.
There’s an inviting intimacy to Handles. Easy on the ears and light on the mind. Though Drexler might not be the type of artist that you’re used to listening to, but given the chance, his music might just be what you need to soothe your soul.
Last month’s “Now I Know” is one of my favourite pop songs of the past 5 years, and the man behind it – Jason Yu, is quickly becoming one of my favourite pop acts as well. Based in Singapore, Jason’s return to music this year comes after a 2-year hiatus since his last single “Hearts Release“.
Honing his skills and biding his time, the eventual results speak for themselves as “Now I Know” is a pop spectacle backed by radiant production and paired with an equally dazzling vocal performance. An improvement on all fronts which hints at a career that’s brimming with potential.
Not too many singer-songwriters would drop a 6-minute ballad as their first ever song, but Singapore’s Grace Charis isn’t here for commercial or chart success. Instead, “Hindsight” is a form of catharsis. Using her music as a form of healing, the track remains engaging throughout as she writes through ‘a flow of lamenting, reflecting and regretting.’
Quiet yet deceptively powerful, “Hindsight” is a song that begs for repeat listening.
Kaede. wants to explore all sides of her identity in her music, and “Basic Ukulele Song” serves as an introduction to who she is and how she wants the world to know her. Touching on her Japanese-American identity, bipolar disorder and bisexuality, there’s a lot to unpack on the song but it’s what makes her writing worth diving into.
The track itself is a pretty subdued affair that sounds like what its title suggests. In a stream-of-consciousness type of way, the track is revealing but presented with a charisma that makes it that much more interesting to listen to.