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Polo Reyes, frequently known as Mellow Fellow, is an independent dream-pop artist based in the Philippines. Describing his music career as a “project to release sad shit,” he already has three albums under his belt and is in the process of producing a fourth; on his latest single, ‘Don’t You Dare’, the singer explores the feeling of mistrust in relationships. He has also collaborated with foreign acts such as Clairo and Floor Cry, reflecting his status as a promising act with a growing profile in the international music scene.
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Sincerity thickens when a veteran rapper confesses his deepest feelings. Born and raised in Busan, South Korea, Simon Dominic was a former member of hip-hop duo ‘Supreme Team’; now joint-CEO of independent record label AOMG, he returns with new album ‘DARKROOM : roommates only’ three years on from the release of his last project ‘₩ & Only’.
On his past records, Dominic was known for embodying various characters and aliases; however, this time around he narrates candid conversations without any guest features, channelling all of his struggles into a melancholic album with the smooth power of his delivery, tackling themes such as the pressures of his environment and his fear of being left behind. On ‘Jung Jin Chul’, he broods over loss of his uncle who disappeared when he was a child, weaves remembrance, yearning, and his distress at reality together through his lyricism.
However, this story of the grief of separation had a remarkable happy ending; two weeks after the album’s release, Dominic shared a picture on Instagram of his father side by side with Jung Jin Chul himself, announcing that they had found and reunited with the long-lost uncle.
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Born and raised in Manila, Rome Gomez captivates with his shoegaze R&B sound. In 2017, the singer/producer relocated to the United Kingdom to further progress his career internationally, and soon began working closely with The 1975, with lead singer Matty Healy calling Rome “his muse.” On ‘Seventeen’, taken from his forthcoming EP ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’, Rome delivers enchanting vocals over a dreamlike beat, offering a tantalising taste of whats to come.
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Koreans are becoming increasingly familiar with the phrase; ‘Trust and listen to Jeebanoff’. The 26 year-old singer has gained this faith as his star has risen in recent years, winning ‘Best R&B/Soul song of the year’ at the 2017 Korean Music Awards just a year after releasing his debut single ‘Hide’. Hailing from Ansan, his self-produced songs are mostly nostalgic and down-tempo, but never lacking in energy thanks to his fluid melodies and dynamic usage of percussion. This pacing is balanced by his lilting voice, depicting personal memories of love and everyday life in his songs. Taking another step forward a full-length independent project, he announced his forthcoming album ‘주마등:走馬燈’ (Panorama) with a self-directed trailer with Japanese styling; on pre-released track ‘Good Place’, the artist bears his insecurities about a past relationship over a powerful piano melody.
Mumbai-born singer-songwriter Nikhil has travelled far, wide and within, the better to write his songs and give voice to his innermost feelings. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Jeff Buckley and Ray LaMontagne, he also incorporates a range of Indian instrumental influences to create heartfelt, irresistibly melodic compositions, some excavated during his adventures and honed over time, some with the paint still wet. His romantic lyricism and the crisp folk-soul versatility of his voice has taken him all over the world, from Singapore to the United States to London, England, where he is currently based. His album ‘Silver & Gold’, which includes the single ‘Love is a Liar’, focuses on the difficulty of sustaining modern day relationships; a hopeful ode to falling and staying in love, and a tribute to the ones who have made it last over the years.
Born in Oman and now based in the Philippines, model and singer Jason Dhakal is a serious talent. With a penchant for smooth, contemporary R&B, he’s collaborated with Iloilo-based producer dot.jaime on ‘Night In’, a debut EP built for its own name: lonely, late-night feelings. Though he originally began his music career “accidentally” during a sleepover at his friend’s house, Jason Dhakal, at only 17-years-old, now offers an impressive sound full of sultry passion.
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Born and raised in Pasadena, California to Korean parents, in 2016 Nafla moved from the US to rock the hip-hop scene in the country of his heritage. He quickly became emblematic of the resurgence in boom-bap rap among the new generation; as trap influences began to dominate the Korean hip-hop scene, fresh tracks like ‘Wu’ and ‘Locked and Loaded’ stood out with a fresh take on a classic 90s-influenced hip-hop sound. Nafla’s unique aggressive, sharp vocal tone has won him fans on both sides of the Pacific; after proving his skills on rap, he also explored other styles with songs like ‘Mercy’ showing that there’s no limit to his powerful delivery. Now seen as a trendsetter of boom-bap in Korea, in June he returned with new single ‘B.I.G’, paying respect to the legendary Biggie Smalls.
Jess Connelly is a household name in Filipino music and a rising star in the international scene. Commonly referred to as JCon, the singer specialises in delivering smooth and soulful R&B tunes, and has opened for foreign acts like Kehlani and Macklemore at their tour dates in her home country. Connelly often collaborates with some of Manila’s finest producers such as crwn, similarobjects, LUSTBASS and eyedress; despite her growing popularity, she continues to release her music as an independent artist and is passionate about promoting promising local acts to her fanbase. Building on the success of her track ‘Mine’ earlier this year, her latest single ‘On My Way Up’ is an ethereal banger, as she charts her ascendant status over distorted trap-infused production.
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Born in Mussoorie India, with roots in New Zealand and South Africa, multi-cultural acoustic singer Jordan Johnson moved to New Delhi at the age of 8. He began experimenting with open chords, tunings and eventually started writing his own songs; fast forward to 2018, and the 23 year old has recently been voted one of the top five acoustic acts in the city. A year of self and musical exploration resulted in a 4 track EP titled ‘Afterglow’ which was released in March this year; single ‘Superman’ was written in the months before he got married, when he found himself at the crossroad of family and self expectations, with the soul-bearing sound of his haunting melodies creating a somber, melancholic vibe. The artist also performs live as the ‘Jordan Johnson Trio’ alongside Akshay Deokuliar (drums) and Harshit Misra (bass) who add different elements and explore more of what the music has to offer.
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The charismatic DPR LIVE is rapidly making a name for himself as one of Korea’s most exciting new creative talents. As a member of collective/label DPR (Dream Perfect Regime) he enjoyed a successful debut in 2017 with the album ‘Coming to You Live’, weaving together a unique style of intricate raps and soothing melodies. Based between Seoul and Guam, the rapper pursuing experimental sounds incorporating future bass, trap, and soul to craft his own dream-like sound.
With his futuristic aesthetic, DPR LIVE’s visuals have a distinctive modern, technicolour quality; his latest single ‘Playlist’ fuses an up-tempo tribal drum beat with a classic bossa nova sample for a departure from his usual vibe, yet still retaining his rhythm and romantic energy for an undeniable summer banger.