It’s been a long time coming but Korean underground music finally seems to be getting the place it deserves. This isn’t a blatant refute to k-pop, but rather, a complement to the mass genre that’s commonly characterised by highly synthesised audiovisual effects, key dance moves, exaggerated styling and overstated camera movement to name some. Oh, and of course, the artists and personalities themselves garner true fanatics worldwide.
But k-indie is another animal altogether. Over the next few weeks and beyond, we’ll be unpacking the many subgenres and talented musicians that make up the scene. Some are up and coming, while others have been around for years and years – even before Hallyu (k-wave) caught on.
It would be a crime not to mention R&B group Urban Zakapa (어반자카파), which started as a group of 9 in 2009.
“Zakapa” is an abbreviation for Urban + Zappy + Kaleidoscopic + Passionate, a fun fact that makes it a tad less cool to me but hey, have a listen.
Their 2009 debut track Cafe Latte never fails to lighten the mood, but I first knew of it because of Geeks’ remix:
Due to musical differences, the group has since downsized to a trio in 2012, consisting of Park Yong-in (박용인), Jo Hyun-ah (조현아) and Kwon Sun-il (권순일). They’re now represented by Make Us Entertainment.What remains is the group’s soul and simplicity, working with naturally great vocals that shine on laid-back instrumentals.
Fast forward to 2017, aside from their song on the soundtrack of k-drama Goblin (another conversation altogether), Urban Zakapa’s latest release is a mini album Still in 2016 with title track I Don’t Love You, which topped all of Korea’s 8 charts.
So yes, that’s about all I have to say about the first band we’re introducing. If dreamy acoustic heartbreak isn’t your cup of tea, stay tuned for some of our favourite rock and jazz rap artists to come. You can take a trip through Urban Zakapa’s discography here: