Alternative AAPI artists, zeph, joji, rina sawayama, rei ami
[Photos via: zeph/Ashley Osborn, Joji, Rina Sawayama/Spotify, REI AMI/Spotify]

May is Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which means it’s time to recognize and reflect the AAPI artists who enrich history and culture, specifically music.

Many AAPI artists are redefining genres such as alt, punk, pop and hip-hop. They’re creating totally vulnerable and honest songs that express feelings and experiences in a way that words can’t.

Read more: 10 dark-pop artists who are proving that genres are best when blended

To celebrate, we decided to highlight 10 emerging Asian-American and Pacific Islander artists who are changing the game of alternative music.

Rina Sawayama


2020 will be remembered for many things, one of them being Rina Sawayama‘s breakout year. She dropped the genre-bending album SAWAYAMA, which was the equivalent of a musical self-portrait last year. Additionally, she’s collabed with Elton John, so she’s really just going up from here.

ASHWARYA

ASHWARYA combined Indian music and psychedelic pop with a hip-hop edge to create a totally unique sound. The Melbourne-based artist has also collaborated with Vic Mensa on the anthemic “TO THE NIGHT.” As for her other tracks, check out her mind-bending “PSYCHO HOLE,” which will command your attention.

UMI

Japanese musician UMI creates lo-fi, laid-back alternative music with an R&B flair. Her latest release, Introspection Reimagined, is the epitome of her genre-bending capabilities. Also, don’t forget to check out UMI’s biggest hit, “Remember Me.”

mxmtoon

mxmtoon is a pioneer in the bedroom indie-pop scene. The Chinese American artist is known for her dreamy vocals, often played over the ukulele. Check out her song “used to you” from her 2020 album, dawn, or her most recent release, a cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep.”

khai dreams

khai dreams is a half-Vietnamese singer-songwriter from the Pacific Northwest. They make dreamy indie-pop tracks that are modern-day love songs. Listen to “Sunkissed” or “Lost In You” for a heavy dose of affectionate tunes.

zeph

Zephani Jong, better known as zeph, makes music that soundtracks the tough feelings in life. In fact, her dreamy sound is inspired by movie scores and soundtracks, and her lyrics are an embodiment of her innermost feelings of heartbreak, sadness, loneliness, love and more.

REI AMI

REI AMI is an alt-pop/dark rapper who’s like a hip-hop version of Billie Eilish. She makes sad, vulnerable tracks such as “SNOWCONE” and “DICTATOR” that are heavy on the feels but with an experimental edge.

beabadoobee

beabadoobee was born in the Philippines, raised in London and is known around the world for her DIY indie-pop songs that make you feel like you’re floating. Listen to her tracks such as “Tired” or “Last Day On Earth,” which take the bedroom-pop sound to another level.

Lucy Park

Lucy Park takes pieces of R&B, pop, soul and alternative music to make songs that have an undeniable smoothness. To get a taste of what she brings to the table, bump “Rain” or “True To You” to the top of your Spotify queue.

Joji

Joji‘s lo-fi, electronic music is the definition of atmospheric sound. His sophomore album, Nectar, is an inside look into the brain of Joji, and its sound will swallow you up and sink you into its dreamy hold.

See more: 10 pop-punk shows we wish we could have gone to

Alternative Press Original Article

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