9 Amazing Asian Musicians to Add to Your Playlists Right Now

From R&B and pop to lo-fi and indie rock artists, we’ve compiled a list of talented Asian musicians that may be flying under your radar — well, until now! Some are veterans of the industry, some you may have heard of and some are artists on the rise. But they all have one thing in common: they're singer-songwriters who know how to make amazing music. 

These artists are making moves in the industry and are a part of the wave of seeing more Asian representation in music. No matter your music taste, we know you will find an artist on this list that you’ll fall in love with. And if an artist interests you, we’ve picked three “must listen to” songs from each artist to get you started on your music-binge. 

[Read: Let’s Talk About the Lack of Asian Representation in the Music Industry]

  1. 1. keshi

    Known for his falsetto vocals and textured instrumentals, the Vietnamese American singer-songwriter and producer has become a prominent name in the lo-fi hip hop scene. He describes the genre as “a nostalgic fusion of jazz or R&B samples with very raw, and old-sounding hip-hop beats that are good for setting a mood.” Keshi started uploading music to SoundCloud in 2017 while he was still working as a registered nurse. Listening to his music feels extremely intimate in both his writing and production. Songs like “bandaids” are stripped back and feel like he’s singing right there in your bedroom. And songs like “skeletons” showcase his ability as a lyricist — “skeletons” details his anxieties working as a full-time registered nurse with dreams to go all-in on his music. In October 2020, Keshi released “always” — the last installment of his EP trilogy that serves as the perfect introduction to him as an artist. 

    Must listen to songs: 

    “drunk”

    “2 Soon”

    “skeletons”

  2. 2. Deb Never

    It’s hard to put Deb Never’s music in one genre. Although many times loosely categorized as bedroom pop, her music has aspects of grunge, emo-rap, and hip hop — the music she grew up on. Deb Never is an American singer-songwriter of Korean and Malaysian descent who started her music journey when she stole a guitar from her local church after watching a Nirvana music video. If angelic vocals over chill and unpredictable production peaks your interest, her latest single, “Someone Else,” is a great place to start when diving into her music. 

    Must listen to songs:

    “Someone Else”

    “In the Night”

    “Ugly”

  3. 3. eaJ

    eaJ, or more commonly known as Jae of Day6,  is a Korean American musician who dabbles in a little bit of everything. In addition to being a guitarist and vocalist in a huge K-pop band, Jae frequently streams on Twitch, hosts a podcast called “How Did I Get Here”  and releases his own solo music. In 2020, he began a personal non-monetized project releasing self-written solo tracks on his YouTube channel as “eaJ.” His solo music is different than the music he makes with Day6 — who already have an extensive discography since their debut in 2015. Other than being sung in English instead of Korean, his solo songs differ in that they fully explore a different sound that is much more laid back bringing a lot of comfort to his fans. He’s also collaborated with a few artists as a part of his project including keshi, DPR Live and Seori. 

    Must listen to songs:

    “Pacman”

    “50 Proof”

    “pillows (eaJ x keshi)”

  4. 4. Rina Sawayama

    It’s likely that you’ve heard the name Rina Sawayama before. The Japanese-British singer-songwriter’s debut solo album “Sawayama” made waves in 2020 and received much critical acclaim. While her 2017 EP titled “RINA” was an eclectic collection of R&B influenced tracks, her debut album completely brings something different to the table — a pop album that Rolling Stone describes as a “mash-up of Christina Aguilera-style Y2K melodies with Disturbed-ish nu-metal.” Her music completely reinvents pop music and is surprising at every turn. 

    Must listen to songs:

    “XS”

    “LUCID”

    “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome”

  5. 5. Jhené Aiko

    The part-Japanese American singer-songwriter just earned herself three Grammy nominations in 2021 including Album of the Year. This brings her total to six nominations by the Recording Academy. She’s carved her own place in R&B music with an impressive career that spans nearly two decades. Her goal for her most recent album, “Chilombo,” was to bring people peace and healing. If you enjoy artists like Miguel, Tinashe and H.E.R, Jhené Aiko is definitely an artist you need to take the time to listen to. 

    Must listen to songs:

    “stranger”

    “B.S. (feat. H.E.R)”

    “While We’re Young”

  6. 6. Beabadoobee

    The Filipino-born British singer-songwriter Beabadoobee starting writing songs at the age of 17 when she got her first guitar. Her first original song, “Coffee,” became a viral hit on social media. The success of “Coffee” helped her gain the attention of Dirty Hit Records which she signed to in April 2018. Her music can best be described in the genres of indie rock, alternative and indie-pop. With her sweet voice and relaxed guitar playing, her music will be a great addition to your chill playlist. 

    Must listen to songs: 

    “Coffee”

    “Angel”

    “Tired”

  7. 7. Conan Gray

    If you’ve been on TikTok in the past year, then you’ve definitely heard the song “Heather” by Conan Gray. The half-Japanese singer-songwriter has had an incredible year with successful singles such as “Heather” and “Maniac.” He got his start uploading vlogs and covers to YouTube and was signed to Republic Records in 2018. In that same year, he released his debut EP “Sunset Season” and in 2020, he released “Kid Krow” — his pop debut album that shows hints of Taylor Swift-inspired lyricism. “Kid Krow” from top to bottom is worth the listen. The standout of the album is actually a B-side track titled “The Story.” The song literally tells the story of Conan’s life growing up and is definitely the most personal song on the album.

    Must listen to songs:

    “Overdrive”

    “Wish You Were Sober”

    “The Story”

  8. 8. Eric Nam

    If you’re a fan of K-pop, chances are Eric Nam is no stranger to you. In addition to being an extremely popular male soloist in K-pop, he has been a television host and now hosts two podcasts with DIVE studios. Needless to say, he’s one of the most recognizable faces in Korea. The Korean American pop singer moved to Korea to pursue his dreams in music after graduating college and hasn’t looked back. In 2019, Eric Nam released “Before We Begin,” his first English album — a project he’s always wanted. If you like pop acts such as Maroon 5 or Bruno Mars, Eric Nam may be your next favorite artist and potentially also your next favorite podcast host. 

    Must listen to songs: 

    “Congratulations (feat. Marc E. Bassy)”

    “Love Die Young”

    “You’re Sexy I’m Sexy”

  9. 9. Luke Chiang

    Even though the Taiwanese American artist is just getting his start in releasing music, he’s already garnered a dedicated fan base. His rich vocals over R&B/soul instrumentals feel like a warm hug. The songs are comforting and are the perfect addition to your chill playlist. Chiang is currently on a hiatus from making music, but we will be waiting patiently for his next drop. 

    Must listen to songs:

    “Home”

    “May I Ask (feat. Alexis Kim)”

    “Used to Me”