Korean American artist Yaeji’s music would seem a complete whole lot different if it weren’t for technological improvements of the last number of decades. When the genre-mixing singer, songwriter, producer, and DJ very first started off creating waves in the mid-2010s, she was juggling a whole-time career and had to rely on her cellular phone as a songwriting tool—something that would not have been probable even a decade in the past.
“I would have to perform on audio immediately after do the job, all-around the weekends, or on the coach,” she tells Genius. With her cell phone, Yaeji could “lay down suggestions actually speedily wherever,” but her beats had a substantially far more unpolished seem. “I was utilizing apps on my phone, and I did not know about engineering or mixing that considerably,” she states. “So matters sounded muddier.”
That muddiness can be read on Yaeji’s self-titled 2017 debut EP, as well as on her breakthrough abide by-up, EP2, and it helped foster an intimacy with listeners that certainly performed a purpose in her early achievement. On EP2’s “Raingurl”—perhaps Yaeji’s most streamed song—the fuzzy texture of the house-infused beat helps make you really feel like you are in a crowded club with Yaeji as she raps in both equally Korean and English.
Yaeji can trace technology’s impact on her songs all the way again to childhood. Escalating up, Yaeji moved all around a ton, paying out time in New York, Atlanta, Korea, and Pittsburgh, where by she attended Carnegie Mellon College. Although her household base was always shifting, just one factor remained continual for the multi-hyphenate: the web. By on the internet blogs and videos, Yaeji honed her eclectic style, finding artists like Radiohead, Missy Elliott, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. You can hear that hip-hop influence all through her catalog—especially on tunes like 2020’s “MONEY Can’t Buy,” the place Yaeji trades bars with Oakland MC Nappy Nina in excess of a thumping bass-major defeat.
Video video games also opened up Yaeji’s globe to new sounds. She credits Korean online games like Elancia and the Japanese recreation Katamari with introducing her to electronica. And with simple accessibility to a myriad of instrumentals as a result of music manufacturing program like Ableton, Yaeji naturally commenced mixing things of people early influences into her own perform. “I’m a very impulsive creator,” Yaeji says. “I don’t are inclined to imagine much too considerably about, ‘This is what this is likely to seem like.’ It really just feels like an extension of me.”
Yaeji is one of several genre-defying artists born from technological enhancements that have adjusted how people make and consume audio. In the early 2000s, the rise of Vehicle-Tune encouraged a new wave of rappers to trade hard-hitting bars for far more melodic flows—and from time to time even flat-out sing. Considering the fact that then, it’s grow to be the norm for stars like Lil Nas X and Doja Cat to climb the charts by mixing hip-hop with factors of pop, R&B, and even region.
Audiences feel to be more open to experimentation, also. With streaming platforms generating wider entry to songs, followers are much less involved with language obstacles and the confines of genre. As of 2022, for illustration, the typical person of just one major streaming assistance reportedly listens to 40 distinctive artists from all more than the globe for every week. This globalization is why bilingual K-pop teams like BTS now routinely leading the U.S. charts. About the final couple a long time, buyers of the very same streaming platform have also come to be a lot more probable to research for playlists primarily based on temper than on genre, a trend that’s specified increase to sub-categories of audio that are especially named for the inner thoughts they’re meant to evoke. Enter: chillhop.
Artist-pleasant electronic distribution expert services can benefit artists, much too. Right before audio-sharing web-sites dominated the sector, critics, labels, and listeners had most of the handle around assigning genres to audio when it was distributed to the environment. Now, with direct accessibility to these electronic distributors, artists can choose out of document bargains and add their new music independently, enabling them to take back some of that ability. As illustrations, Yaeji cites SoundCloud and BandCamp, both of which present a characteristic for artists to build their very own genre hashtags when they add tracks to the web-sites. “There’s absolutely worth to it,” Yaeji states. “I feel in some more compact scenes, that’s how all those new genres and subgenres seem.”
As she proceeds to hone her capabilities with the technology accessible to her, Yaeji appreciates her audio will only go on to evolve. She’s by now seen different sonic layers in the new songs she’s functioning on in the studio. “I’ve just learned so a great deal much more, and that is possibly broadened my assortment, mainly because I have more options and equipment that I’m relaxed with,” she states. “My understanding of how to use every little thing is additional expansive, so I’ll go for additional experimental or wilder possibilities and not be scared to test more things.”
In an best world, Yaeji’s upcoming venture could possibly not be labeled by genre at all, but in some other way solely. “I definitely wrestle with genres,” she suggests. “If there is a widespread thread throughout all of the new music I’ve made and I’m creating now, it’s that there’s duality to it. The most literal way that manifests is the fact that I talk two distinctive languages in my lyrics. But there is also usually two opposing feelings or two opposing designs that exist in most of the tunes I create.”
Reaching a fully genre-totally free entire world is a tall order, although, and Yaeji appreciates that. For now, she’s material with her newfound command in excess of her artwork and the enhanced accessibility to technological know-how that’s authorized her to develop it. “It’s rather empowering,” she states.