Asian Beat: Yaeji

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Yaeji is a Korean-American producer from Queens, NY.  Photo via   @kraejiyaeji

Yaeji is a Korean-American producer from Queens, NY. Photo via @kraejiyaeji

I’m back again with another house producer, because these ladies are freaking fire, okay? 

Yaeji’s psychedelic beats make me feel as if I should be sitting in an exclusive club when I’m really just walking across campus to the Student Union to grab a coffee. Her music seeks to explore cultural identity and self-reflection through house productions, according to her Spotify about section. The 26-year-old Korean-American producer, born Kathy Lee, found her interest in underground electronic music through college radio at Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied fine arts, East Asian studies and communication design. She moved back to her birthplace, Queens, New York, to make her mark on Brooklyn’s local dance scene. 

Her story is almost characteristic of Asian American youth growing up: a childhood of insecurity followed by a finding of oneself through music.  

“In a sense, to fit in, I always had to shut up. I felt I had to suppress my true self” she told The Fader about a move to Korea when she was nine, due to her parents’ fear she was too Americanized. College gave her an outlet for creative expression. 

What I like most about her music — something Peggy Gou also does within her music — is the incorporation of Korean lyrics into her dreamlike tracks. Her music has been described as subliminally seductive by The Fader, and I could not agree more. The underwater-like sounds of songs such as “raingurl” and “drink i’m sippin on” with Korean lyrics woven through make me feel as if I’m a part of The Upside Down in Stranger Things, Yaeji style.  

In “raingurl,” my personal favorite of her songs, following a mix of Korean and American lyrics, she says, “Mother Russia in my cup / And my glasses foggin’ up / Oh yeah hey dog hey what’s up,” along a beat that would make a whole room rap along. She’s set to play at Coachella this year, and I really hope that she plays this song for one of the smoothest incorporations of lyrics and beats I’ve ever heard in house music so far.  

Speaking of her style, I’m really impressed by how unconcerned she seems when it comes to her style. She seems to dress comfortably, often in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, a grandma chic vibe that’s always something I hope to emulate. Check out her Instgram (@kraejiyaeji).  

Her songs are almost comforting to me in a way, much like her style, especially in tracks such as “passionfruit.”  

“Listen / Seein’ you got ritualistic / Plans in my soul of addiction for now / ‘Cause I’m fallin’ apart,” she croons over top soft tempos. It’s almost ASMR-like, but perhaps not as uncomfortable as ASMR is for me.   

With the weather being what it has been this week, hazy, rainy and grey, Yaeiji’s EP “EP2” includes many of the tracks I have mentioned that make a walk around campus both calming, upbeat and at times, pensive.  

Three Songs For Your Playlist: 

  1. raingurl 

  2. drink i’m sippin on  

  3. February 2017 (feat. Clairo and Yaeji) 


Kimberly Nguyen is the associate digital editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.nguyen@uconn.edu.

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