Soundcloud Gems: John OFA Rhee
International fans experience K-Pop differently than Korean fans. With the oversaturation of artists in the industry, it can be difficult to find up-and-coming, underground artists who have yet to break into the mainstream. Western music streaming services like iTunes and Spotify are doing a better job at incorporating extensive K-Pop catalogs, but for these lesser known artists, a site like Soundcloud helps connect them with their potential audience. There are so many talented artists swimming around this platform, so we’re highlighting artists that deserve your attention.
John OFA Rhee
You may know OFA from his stage name, his English name (John Rhee), or his Korean name (Lee Yohan). John first hit the scene with his participation on Superstar K7 back in 2015. This is my personal favorite collaboration of his, alongside contestants Clara Hong and eventual winner Kevin Oh:
Fluent in English and Korean, John really only needs a guitar and his voice to sweep you away. That’s probably why he was picked up by Happy Robot Records, home of indie frontrunners like Soran and The Solutions. The indie singer’s soulful, husky tone is steeped in nostalgia, and his discography is stocked full of indie acoustic love songs that are sure to make you melt. It’s hard not to get emotional listening to him when he so strongly conveys emotion through his lyrics and his voice. His music—which draws inspiration from pop, rock, blues, and jazz—also makes it easy to appreciate how beautiful a song can be when stripped down to its bare bones. Grab a coffee and a blanket, and get swept away by John’s romantic tunes.
If you like: Sam Kim, Tom Misch, Melomance, Hyukoh, Junggigo, Ed Sheeran
This English gem is the best introduction to John’s style. “CRAZY” honestly communicates the infatuation one can have even after a little time spent together. The intricate live instrumentals are perfect to dissect; you’ll have to put this track on repeat to catch all of the details in the harmonies and melody.
With its waltz tempo and layered vocals, “Cliché” sounds like the perfect soundtrack for wandering the empty streets of Paris. The raw recording of John’s voice is briefly clouded by what sounds like a thunderstorm of sorts, adding depth to the solemn poetic lyrics. Everything sounds so present—as if he is standing in the rain, singing outside your window.
“Brightest Star (눈 부셔)” with Kim Minseok of Melomance
Two soulful voices on a track is deadly. The jazzy riffs of the electric guitar add such a tasteful color to this mellow song, it’s so easy to smile and feel warm when listening. Then you’re hit with Minseok and John’s harmonies in the chorus; there’s no way not to appreciate the musicality in this deceivingly simple song.
“TO YOU FOR YOU”
What’s really special about John is that rather than feeling like a singer singing on top of a track, John’s musical touch is written all over his tracks. He has a way of weaving his voice with the instrumental, like when he concludes the chorus with “‘Cause my momma said it was all about that bass,” which introduces a groovy mini-bass riff. There are always nuggets to extract from each track.
Find more of John OFA Rhee here: