Lo-Fi, which is an abbreviation for “low-fidelity,” is a musical genre that emphasizes the deliberate imperfections in sound quality that are typically only present during the recording process. As a result, muted tones, vintage effects, and vinyl static are frequently employed in this aesthetic choice to elicit a sense of nostalgia and calm in the minds of listeners. It’s no surprise that lo-fi channels like Lofi Girl, formerly known as ChilledCow, are seeing a steady increase in viewership due to the music’s calming quality, which is frequently used as background and studying music.
From its early beginnings with pioneering artists such as Nujabes to its more recent incarnations with newly launched labels such as Bluewerks, lo-fi has experienced its own revolution, and it appears to be here to stay. We’ve compiled a wide-spectrum listening guide to the lo-fi universe that originated in Asia for your enjoyment.
Aside from being known for its pearl milk teas, beef noodles, and night markets, Taiwan is also home to a thriving indie music scene that is worth checking out. Lo-fi music, in particular, has gained popularity in recent years, with the music of local band Sunset Rollercoaster being described as “ethereal and comforting.” Even their visual style is light and airy, as evidenced by the grainy album covers that contrast with their vintage-inspired color palette. Despite the fact that they are based in a Mandarin-speaking environment, the band prefers to sing in English as a matter of stylistic preference. This has enabled them to broaden their horizons and expand their reach into the international market, resulting in a truly global following.
This new low-fi collection, which is the result of a joint collaboration between legendary record labels Astralwerks and Blue Note, combines downtempo electronica with jazz music. While they are still in the early stages of development, they have already hosted a pop-up shop at FabCafe in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. With their first volume, titled “Up Down Left Right,” they introduced up-and-coming artists such as Zmeyev, Sebastian Kamae, and tysu to the world. The album was released in February and features an introduction by BBC Radio 1 DJ, Pete Tong. Bluewerks‘ debut album is both dreamy and vibrant, and we’re looking forward to hearing what they have in store for us next time.
In collaboration with the fashion company UNIQLO for their LifeWear Music project, the Japanese musician has released a total of nine lo-fi songs, each of which is accompanied by a music video on UNIQLO’s official YouTube channel. Surprisingly, the first, second, and final songs on the playlist were all written on the fly while filming the video! So if you’re looking for something chill and relaxing, STUTS is unquestionably your best bet!
Originally from Malaysia, the lo-fi producer’s music has been compared to “a combination of Flume meets Kanye West with a heady dose of chillhop,” according to him. He began dabbling in the music industry while still in high school, and he now has over 22,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, according to his profile. OnlyM‘s tracks are both soothing and melodious, and they are expertly crafted to keep you moving throughout the day. He’s also collaborated with Blahza, an Asian-American hip hop artist based in Los Angeles—so if you’re a fan of Blahza’s work, stop by and say hello!
Nujabes is considered a pioneer of both the chillhop and lo-fi music genres, as he is ethereally connected to the lo-fi movement and, without a doubt, he was the root essence of the genre. It was in Tokyo that Jun Seba was born, and it was there that he developed his impeccable amalgamations of jazz, hip hop, and soul to create music that was both mellow and atmospheric. Despite his untimely death in 2010, Nujabes’ lasting influence, particularly through his work on the soundtrack for Shinichiro Watanabe’s critically acclaimed anime series Samurai Champloo, has helped to shape the anime side of lo-fi, particularly on YouTube. Aside from Metaphorical Music (released in 2003), Modal Soul (2005), and Spiritual State (2007), he has three solo studio albums to his credit (posthumously released in 2011.)
Science Noodles are a Hong Kong-based indie band that is just getting started. The band, which describes itself as a “Hong Kong-Taiwan mixed indie-pop baby,” usually releases more dreamy lo-fi music, which is sometimes accompanied by a music video that looks like it was made in the early 2000s.
The Filipino indie musician, whose real name is Ralph Lawrence “Polo” Reyes, rose to internet fame in 2017 after releasing his single “Dancing” and “How Was Your Day?” on both YouTube and SoundCloud. In fact, Dancing, a video uploaded to YouTube by TheLazylazyme, has received more than 3 million views to date! The Manila native, who describes himself as a “internet artist”, was inspired to write his debut album, “Jazzie Robinson,” (2017), after ending a four-year relationship while still in college, according to his biography. Mellow Fellow‘s music, which is inspired by his passion for the sound of old records, has the appearance of sounding like a radio song—warm, bright, and intimate. Due to the fact that the majority of his songs are about love and heartbreak, the low vocals and relatable message are sure to help you get through your tough times. Additionally, the singer-songwriter has collaborated with other artists, including Clairo, Floor Cry, and Vansire, among others.
CAFE MUSIC BGM CHANNEL
This Japan-based lo-fi music channel was established in 2013 with the goal of composing, performing, and recording music every day! The band consists of a pianist, a guitarist, two bassists, and a drummer, with the addition of saxophonists, trumpeters, and vocalists on occasion to enhance the sound of certain songs. The channel has more than two million subscribers on YouTube and has received over 900 million views. It is viewed in over 200 countries and has more than 900 million views. This is a fantastic channel to keep on while you’re working or relaxing!
MERRY LAMB LAMB
What’s not to like about a freelance model who also happens to be an indie music artist and a self-taught producer and songwriter? The Hong Kong-based synth pop star’s songs are usually about love, loss, and solitude, which is in stark contrast to the general impression of her music, which is often described as dreamy and electronic with house beats and electronic beats. It is in fact, Merry Lamb Lamb‘s debut album Genesis, which celebrates the ability to be okay with being alone, that it is particularly relatable to the current generation of young Hong Kongers. Aside from music, she’s worked with brands such as Gucci and Simone Rocha, which is a significant accomplishment for a rising star.
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