Growing up as an Asian American woman who loved music, I didn’t have too many role models. I longed to see someone from my background who was also a rockstar.

The indie music community has been a historically predominantly white-male dominated field. Pitchfork even called the genre “unbearably white.”  However, to my delight, in the last couple of years, many women of color have been coming to the forefront of the indie music world.

Why is this important?

It’s very important that diverse communities are represented in music because music is such a predominant voice in our society. These talented and iconic women of color are able to share a perspective that the indie music community has lacked for so long.

People want to see themselves represented in the art that they love. Representation offers hope and inspiration. It tells young people that they too can aspire to reach the positions that they see their role models in.

Without further ado, here are five women of color who are taking over the indie music world.

1 Michelle Zauner aka Japanese Breakfast

ENTITY Shares Indie Women Artists of Color

via Instagram/@jbrekkie

Michelle Zauner is the badass frontwoman of Japanese Breakfast. Despite the band’s name, Zauner is of Korean descent.

Japanese Breakfast came onto the scene with the release of their 2016 debut album titled, “Psychopomp.” Many of the lyrics on the album speak about Zauner’s emotional experience of watching her mother die from cancer.

In 2017, Japanese Breakfast released their second album, “Soft Sounds from Another Planet.” Both albums are amazing, but the second album takes on a more experimental sound. Her song, “Diving Woman” is inspired by an island in South Korea, where women dive to collect sea creatures to sell later on, which can be seen as a tribute to her heritage as a Korean woman.

2 Mitski

ENTITY Shares Indie Women of Color

via Instagram/@mitskileaks

Mitski Miyawaki is a mixed race Japanese American woman who has also found success in the indie music community.

Mitski’s first album, “Bury Me at Makeout Creek,”  resonated with teen indie heads everywhere. However, her second album “Puberty 2”  brought her attention from big names like Iggy Pop and Lorde, who asked her to join her tour as an opener. Pitchfork also named this album “Best New Music.”

Mitski is set to release a new album very soon. She recently released a song off of the expected album, “Nobody” and it has received extremely well-deserved, high praise.

Apart from her own personal tours, Mitski has also played at a variety of festivals including FYF, Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival to name a few.

3 Jay Som

ENTITY Shares Indie Women Artists of Color

via Instagram/@jaysomband

Melinda Duterte, a young 22-year-old from San Francisco,  creates dreamy indie pop songs, under the name of Jay Som. Jay Som is the child of two Filipino immigrants, who often serve as the inspiration for her melodic tunes. Duterte has released two albums since 2016, “Turn Into and Everybody Works.”

These women have forged a strong, supportive community of Asian indie sisters within each other. Jay Some recently toured with Japanese Breakfast. Japanese Breakfast and Mitski also toured together previously, as well.

4 Asli Omar

ENTITY Shares Indie Women Artists of Color

via Instagram/@asli.omar

Asli Omar is the lead singer of Houston based indie rock band, The Tontons. Omar’s sultry, soulful voice paired with the upbeat instrumentals of the band make for the perfect combo.

Unfortunately, The Tontons have only put out two albums, that were few and far in between. Although, those two albums received high praise from music critics and fans alike.

We’re hoping that The Tontons will release new music or Omar will go on to make solo music, so we can experience more of her magical vocals.

5 Yaeji

ENTITY Shares Indie Women Artists of Color

via Instagram/@kraejiyaeji

Kathy Lee, who goes by Yaeji, is revolutionizing electronic music as a Korean American Woman producer, singer and DJ, who hails from Brooklyn, New York.

Yaeji sings quiet, entrancing vocals over heavy club beats that will have you dancing all night. Her songs blend both American and Korean lyrics. While many of her American fans cannot pronounce or understand her lyrics, that doesn’t stop them from singing along in hip New York clubs.

In November of 2017, Lee released her second album, EP2. Following the release of EP2, Yaeji began playing festivals like Coachella. Yaeji is an unassuming gir, yet seems way too cool for us. Be on the lookout for her in coming years.

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