☆AAPI Playlist☆

text by digital-media

23 May, 2024

In celebration of Asian American & Pacific Islander Month, the Music Department at KCSB put together a playlist in order to highlight some of our favorite songs by AAPI artists. Though this is by no means a definitive or exhaustive list, we hope that you will discover some great new artists and to inspire you to dive deeper into the music of AAPI voices.


  • “People Watching” by Sen Morimoto

According to his Spotify bio, Sen Morimoto was “born in Kyoto and immediately delivered to a Volkswagen bus” until life took him and his family to Western Massachusetts. His music combines influences of jazz, hip hop, and lo-fi pop. The beat of this song- which is reminiscent of Earl Sweatshirt’s “Riot!”- is accompanied by sparse but beautifully constructed baritone saxophone lines and playful piano riffs. 

  • “sore spot” by Kaho Matsui

The opening song to Kaho Matsui’s scrutiny portrait grows slowly toward a screeching crescendo featuring sharp violin scratches, and discombobulated electric guitar picking. This Philadelphia-based artist describes her musical practice in her Spotify bio as aiming to utilize “written texts, field recordings, speech,” in order to sonically embody her memories. 

  • “Slowness” by Ana Roxanne

Beautiful ambient track that is perfectly described by its title. This song feels like you’re slowly rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning with soft light sparkling through your window. The song features a man speaking about slowness in mathematical/metaphysical terms. Ana Roxanne is something truly special, I can only imagine what it must be like to see her live. This album makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. 

  • “Asian Gangsta Kidz” by ee

ee is a project fronted by Korea Girl’s Tobin Mori, featuring that same project’s bassist Jay Chow, and eventually joined by Seam’s guitar player, Sooyung Park. I really loved the stripped down atmosphere of this song, which features acoustic guitars, minimal guitar picking, and eventually even some soft violins. This song comes from my favorite album of theirs, which is titled Ramadan, I highly recommend checking it out. 

    • “1+1=11” by Peggy Gou

    Peggy Gou was born in South Korea but became recognized worldwide as a DJ while living in Berlin. I really love this track, it’s easy to get lost in the trance and the breakbeat rhythm. But the melody is one which definitely sticks out to me as distinctly under the genre of Euro-dance. 


    • “Under The Sun” by Korea Girl

    Gentle, lazy, and perfect for a summer afternoon, Under the Sun is one of the brighter songs off of Korea Girl’s Complete Discography. Korea Girl was a San Jose based shoegaze band on Asian Man Records that lasted from ‘96-’99. In that time they released a 7” and an album full of dreamy, lethargic songs.

    • “Bonaire” by Miho Hatori

    Miho Hatori’s solo project is eerie, disjointed, and electronic – as a whole quite different from Cibo Matto (what she is known for) but holds a similar attitude. Texturally, this song is amazing, layering flutes, synths, bells, and breakbeats. Aside from this solo project and Cibo Matto, Hatori also was on songs by Gorillaz and the Beastie Boys – she is one cool lady.

    • “Radiolove” by Tanuchikan

    This is the last song on Tanuchikan’s 2016 ep, Radiolove, and it’s one of those songs that scratches a specific itch. The noise of the distorted guitars, Hannah van Loon’s sheepish vocals, the spacy synths – it’s a perfect song. Plus Tanuchikan is Bay Area based so that always falls toward my favor.

    • “Beast” by Karen O

    Karen O knows how to write a freaking song. She sounds like she’s in another room on this track, melting her vocals over the endlessly repeating strings creating a beautifully eerie melody. This is one of the longer songs on her album Crush Songs coming in at almost three minutes. Each song on this album is like a wonderful little appetizer that all pair together wonderfully. If you don’t recognize Karen O by name, she’s the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ front woman, and if you don’t recognize the Yeah Yeah Yeahs you’re in for a treat.

    • “Libra Sun” by Rahill

    Though I only recently found this song, it feels very nostalgic. The fuzz of the waves in the and the synths sound like the backdrop of an old vhs that captures youthful moments outside. Rahill is super cool, she’s Iranian-American and started the band Habibi in her early twenties. 


    • “Within Me” by Savedhistory

    Similar to Grouper in the best way possible, savedhistory’s lo-fi, stripped back vocal on “Within Me” complement the ambient, faded guitar underneath. 

    • “I’m Every Sparkly Woman” by Ana Roxanne

    Ana Roxanne is an experimental and ambient musician and singer incorporating a  blend of jazz, choral, electronic, and Hindustani sounds in her music to create a really introspective and unique addition to the scene. Her music often touches on reflections on her Filipino descent and gender identity, which we get a glimps on the hypnotic and relaxing “I’m Every Sparkly Woman.”

    “Falkor” by Covet

    Covet is a Bay Area math rock tri led by guitarist Yvette Young, known for her intricate and emotive playing style, the band blends complex rhythms with melodic lines, creating a sound that’s both adventurous and whimsical. 


    • “Hfoas” by Mei Semones

    Based in Brooklyn, Mei Semones creates dreamy jazz influenced pop. Her voice and guitar-work weave together beautifully, perfect for a walk in the park or unwinding from a stressful day.

    • “udontwannafallintheLAVA” by Mndsgn

    Very dense and sporadic production, filled with samples and funky riffs. This entire album is a gem, combining synths, jazz, funk, and psychedelia.

    • “Strawberries” by Asobi Seksu

    Yuki Chikudate is the lead singer and keyboardist of the Brooklyn shoegaze band Asobi Seksu. Chukudate’s voice floats peacefully over the ringing guitars and heavy bass riffs. The combination of Japanese pop and shoegaze is super cool!

    • “Galaxies: The Next Level” by Mountain Brothers

    Started in the 90s, the Chinese-American Mountain Brothers are considered pioneers in Asian-American hip-hop. Styles, Peril-L, and CHOPS met at Penn State, and started making classic boom bap. Some awesome voice box synthesizer vocals on this song. 

    • “Girl Boy” by Blonde Redhead

    Lo-fi and delicate, Japanese-born Kazu Makino delivers a gentle and eerie performance on this track off of Blonde Redhead’s 1995 self-titled record. Currently based in New York, Blonde Redhead has been consistently releasing albums since their debut in the 90s, adding a unique sound to the alt-rock scene. 

    • “Mind Your Business” by Sunami

    For the hardcore fans out there, the San Jose-based band Sunami is loud, fast, and aggressive. Filipino-American Josef Alfonso’s vocal delivery is abrasive and as in-your-face as hardcore gets. If you get the chance to catch them live, they put on an incredible performance. 


    • “Rising Sun/ See The Sky” by Swarvy

    Los Angeles-based producer and beat maker, Swarvy, infuses his music with a rich blend of jazz rap influences and electronic keys. His compositions offer a unique mix of soulful elements that make you relaxed while keeping you jamming along to the hip-hop beats.

    • “Tenderness” by Jay Som

    Jay Son is a talented Filipino-American musician from Los Angeles, California. Her music is often described as a blend of dreamy indie pop and lo-fi rock. Her song Tenderness has a lush & nostalgic soundscape with soothing melodies.  

    • “RUN” by Babebee

    Korean-American singer songwriter, Babebee is an up and comer in the hyper-pop genre. In their brand new EP, Babebee incorporates glitchy & maximalist instrumentals with pitch-shifted vocals that create a futuristic and energetic EP. With their incorporation of both Korean & English lyrics, they delves into themes of escape and self discovery. 

    • “happy” by sugar plant 

    Sugar plant is a 90s Japanese dream pop band known for their ethereal soundscapes and gentle tracks. “Happy” is a soothing song that encapsulates the band’s signature style of airy vocals and tranquil instrumentation.  

    • “Della Reese at the Movies” by Michael Sayer

    Nostalgic and enchanting. From his first EP after his debut album, Michael Sayer’s “Bag O’ Bones” is an easy instrumental listen. This specific instrumental track can transport you with its gentle melodies from the synth piano that makes you feel light and as if you’re remembering a beautiful memory. His use of melodic repetition is comforting, creating a soothing and immersive listening experience that enhances the song’s nostalgic charm.

    • “Over the Hill” by Ginger Root

    If retro music embodied an artist, Ginger Root would undoubtedly be at the top of the list. His signature sound is a tribute to Japanese city pop with a discography full of music with a unique blend of groovy rhythms and old-school influences.

    • “In Perfect Time” by Xinxin

    Self described as a jazz grunge R&B quartet from the Inland Empire, Xinxin’s “In Perfect Time” is a beautifully crafted track that showcases relaxing instrumental and soft vocals. The song’s outro with the guitar riff and glittery keys being a smooth ending to a bright and refreshing song. 

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