A music lover’s guide to discovering the indie rock band, Jaurim

Jaurim (L to R – Lee Sunkyu, Kim Yoon Ah, Kim Jinman)

With an increasing number of Korean acts going on world tours and selling out concert venues, k-pop is becoming more mainstream than anyone could have ever imagined it two or three years ago. Catchy tunes, meaningful lyrics, and synchronized dance moves are some of the key characteristics that pretty much define k-pop and captivate audiences, driving them to ‘stan’ a boy/girl band.  

However, not many international fans attempt to go beyond k-pop and explore other genres of Korean music. The genre — k-pop — itself is controversial as most global fans categorize all Korean music as “k-pop.” Speaking of other music genres, I am not a fan of rock music. But I guess, similar to k-pop, having an open mind and a few minutes is all it takes to be obsessed with a Korea-based indie rock band! 🙂

How BTS led me to Jaurim

I was first introduced to the band, Jaurim, while I was watching BTS’ leader, Kim Nam Joon (or RM as he’s popularly known), on a July 2016 episode of MBC’s Duet Song Festival. RM happens to be a huge fan of the singer, Kim Yoon Ah, who was also a guest on the same show.

Lyrics is one of the main reasons I like BTS songs and RM contributes to many of those. As I saw RM appreciate Yoon Ah on the show, it got me curious about her discography. (Side note: I’ve actually discovered many other Korean and international artists through BTS.) I didn’t have to wait long because when I watched her sing, I was officially mind blown! I vividly remember it was past 11:30 at night when I first saw her performance and I just had to hit pause and get on YouTube to check out all her songs. Her music kept me up past 2 am!

Kim Yoon Ah performing the famous Korean song “If You”

I soon realized two things:

  1. Kim Yoon Ah is a musical legend and a goddess; she is to South Korea what Celine Dion is to Canada or Lata Mangeshkar is to India.
  2. RM has great taste in music—I was already aware of it but Jaurim sealed the deal for me!  

Check out Kim Yoon Ah’s solo performances in these two songs:

Going Home

A song of well-wishes entangled with emotions that hope for a better tomorrow.

Song title: Going Home | Album: 315360 | Release: 2010 | English Lyrics

One Fine Spring Day

A song for a friend or significant other, reminiscing the time spent together, loaded with metaphors related to a warm spring day.

Song title: One fine spring day | Album: One fine spring day movie OST | Release: 2001 | English Lyrics

As I deep-dived into her songs, I learned that she is not only the lead vocalist and musician, but also the songwriter for the indie rock band, Jaurim. I cannot stop obsessing about how good the lyrics of all their songs are — there are simply so many layers of interpretation, that it leaves just enough to the listener’s imagination! The music and Yoon Ah’s vocals are so powerful in some songs, that I was overwhelmed with emotions when I didn’t even understand the lyrics; such is her charisma!

What’s ‘Jaurim’?

  • In English, the word ‘Jaurim’ translates to Purple Rainforest. In one of the interviews with Korea JoongAng Daily almost 20 years ago, Kim Yoon Ah said, “It has no specific or profound meaning. We picked the name so that people could interpret it as they wished. Some say it suggests a kind of attractive mystique. Others say it makes them think of something dark and rather frightening.” 
  • The band debuted in 1997 and has released 10 full-length albums till date, complemented by numerous other unofficial albums, OST singles, an extended play (EP), a concert album, special albums and a noteworthy list of Japanese releases. 
  • They have been active for over 20 years now, and the lead singer, Kim Yoon Ah is in her mid-40s. 
  • Most of the band’s lyrics are a complex poetic rendition on youth, human emotions, and the society. 
  • Band members are Guitarist, Lee Sunkyu (이선규) and Bassist, Kim Jinman (김진만). Former member and drummer, Goo Taehoon (구태훈), announced his departure from the band in 2017. 
  • Their latest album is called ‘Jaurim’ and was released in June 2018.
  • Lead singer, Kim Yoon Ah, has her solo albums and digital singles as well which are a delight to listen to! 

Without further ado, here are 7 songs to make you fall in love with Korean rock music and more specifically, the band, Jaurim:

Note: To heighten the experience, I chose videos that had lyrics translated into English (these are also my favourite tracks by Jaurim). Wherever available, the original music videos are linked below the main video.

Forever and Forever

A song that urges to love and be happy in this moment, because people and emotions don’t last forever.

Song title: Forever and Forever (영원히 영원히) | Album: Jaurim (자우림) | Release: Jun 22, 2018 | Original MV

You Know

A lyrical, affectionate, perspective on living life and making the most of it, while embracing your beliefs and identity.

Song title: You Know (있지) | Album: Jaurim (자우림) | Release: Jun 22, 2018 | Original MV

Icarus

A song about youth and mustering the courage to realize one’s dreams, facing it head-on like an Icarus.

Song title: Icarus | Album: Goodbye, Grief | Release: Oct 14, 2013 | English Lyrics

Twenty-five, Twenty-one

A song that reminisces youth and time spent with a beloved.

Song title: Twenty-five, Twenty-one (스물다섯, 스물하나) | Album: Goodbye, Grief | Release: Oct 14, 2013 | Original MV

Shining

A song of a lonely, wounded heart. The overall theme of this song is very similar to a poem I wrote in 2011; it’s called Reflections and Shadows.


Song title: Shining (샤이닝)| Album: Ashes To Ashes | Release: Oct 20, 2006 | Original MV

Bird

This song is a vengeful expression of a wounded heart.

Song title: Bird (새) | Album: Ode To Youth 靑春禮讚 (청춘예찬) | Release: Sep 30, 2005

Hey, Hey, Hey

A happy and fun song about finding love.

Song title: Hey Hey Hey |  Album: Man Holding Flowers OST | Release: 1997 | Original MV

This has been a long post full of videos, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it and listening to the music as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you! Comment below and let me know if this post got you interested in exploring Korean rock.

Until next time, stay happy, groove to the beats, and subscribe for updates to new posts.

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