As Korean music becomes increasingly diverse, it’s exciting to see the emergence of young artists who are bringing their uniqueness into the scene.
One of the artists I would like to introduce as part of the ‘Unfamiliar Koreans’ series is singer, producer, music label owner Colde (콜드).
Any ‘Korean chill vibes’ playlist wouldn’t be complete without music from Colde, whether it’s his solo tracks or his past work as a member of the duo ‘offonoff.’
In this post, I’ll walk through some of Colde’s big career moments and in between introduce some of the tracks that I can’t stop playing on loop.
Jump to my YouTube playlist for Colde if you can’t wait to get to the songs:YouTube playlist for the best of Colde’s music
Debut as offonoff
The Korean R&B duo offonoff (오프온오프) debuted in 2016 consisting of Colde as the vocalist and 0channel (renamed as EOH on Korean music sites) as producer under the then music label HIGHGRND.
Although HIGHGRND has since shut down, the label was home to a number of Korean indie artists who have made a name for themselves – producer Code Kunst, band Hyuk Oh, rapper Punchnello, among others.
The group left behind just one album and two singles but there are a number of tracks that are legacies of this partnership. Here are some that I keep going back to:
The rainy day song, ‘bath’
Moody love track, ‘Cigarette’ (Feat. MISO, Tablo)
The entire song is in English here, allowing you to fully appreciate how the artists have woven the use of smoking and cigarettes as metaphors for love – a harmful and addictive one.
The lyrics are likely thanks to rapper Tablo, who has over the years crafted deep and literary lyrics in both Korean and English (‘Over’ is one of my favourites.)
For the late night playlist, ‘dance’
As chill as it gets, ‘gold (Feat. Dean)’
‘gold’ won ‘R&B Track of the Year’ (올해의 알앤비 트랙) at the 2018 Korean Hip Hop Awards (link in Korean).
offonoff hasn’t officially disbanded but Colde has been keeping busy as a solo artist and as the head of two independent music labels.
After a short stint as offonoff under HIGHGRND, Colde quickly formed his own music label ‘WAVY’ (웨이비) in 2018.
Above: Teaser video for the music label launch / Source: Official Instagram @wavyseoul
As of July 2021, the official website lists five artists under WAVY: singer-songwriter JIWOO (지우), rappers Khakii (카키) and Ahn Byeong-woong (안병우), producer APRO (아프로), and Colde.
You can get a good sense of what I think is the ‘wavy way’ in this video of Colde introducing the office. It’s filled with furniture and other items that are really just works of art, giving the office a museum-like atmosphere. The emphasis on design and visual aesthetics of the office is also reflected in each of the WAVY artists and the kind of projects the label appears to support.
Above: Colde introducing the WAVY office in Vogue Living / Source: Vogue Korea
As if being the head of a music label and an artist himself wasn’t keeping him busy enough, Colde established another music label in 2020 called ‘Layered Island’ (레이어드 아일랜드).
In his Instagram account in July 2020, he announced Layered Island would be a separate label that would provide an opportunity to expand into a different direction than WAVY.
In the same month, the label revealed its first artist – then 22-year-old Kyung Je-hwan (경제환).
In all three of Colde’s albums, he has songs that fit a range of moods: with his own brand of swag, romantic, chill R&B and moody-contemplative vibes.
I’ve picked out the songs I love that fit the above categories after considering the music and the lyrics in his albums. Have a listen and let me know in the comments what you think.
- Swag: Track 2 ‘Move’
- Romantic: Track 4 ‘Sunflower’
- Chill R&B: Track 7 ‘String’ (Feat. Sunwoojunga)
- Moody, contemplative: Track 8 ‘Please love me’
Love Part 1 (2019)
The album design for ‘Love Part 1’ is particularly colorful and artistic. According to an interview of Korean graphic designer Honno (link in Korean), the large collage of a heart on the album cover is made up of everyday photos taken by Colde himself. The photos in retrospect were all based on the theme of ‘love’ and the heart collage was used to express that.
Zoom in on your devices and take a closer look at the abstract heart and have fun playing detective trying to figure out what the photos are and what they might represent.
- Swag: Track 6 ‘You don’t need my love?’
- Romantic: Track 4 ‘WA-R-R’
- Chill R&B: Track 5 ‘Scent’
- Moody, contemplative: Track 8 ‘Don’t leave me, my love’
- Swag: Track 4 ‘Dream’
- Romantic: Track 7 ‘Blue Candle’
- Chill R&B: Track 2 ‘Wolf’ / Track 3 ‘The Museum’
- Moody, contemplative: Track 6 ‘A Song Nobody Knows’
Songs from TV and other media
‘Your dog loves you’ (Feat. Crush)
This song was performed live on BREAKERS, a Korean competition show in 2018. As of July 2021, it’s the most popular song on Colde’s artist profile. (It probably helped that it features Crush, who is a popular R&B artist. Just check out the counts on his Spotify.)
‘Your dog loves you’ is best enjoyed with the music video which is 5 minutes of adorable dog clips, featuring Colde and his French bulldog, Samna.
You’ve probably come across the channel COLORS if you watch a fair share of music-related videos on YouTube. (Here’s a great 2019 TIME article on the channel for an introduction.)
In true COLORS fashion of showcasing indie artists from around the world, they invited Colde to record in their studio in Germany. Colde sang a song called ‘Poem’ (시) which is entirely in Korean.
In a 2019 interview with TenAsia (link in Korean), Colde was asked about being the second Korean artist to be on COLORS just after singer Dean. Colde said he had actually created 2 songs, ‘Poem’ and ‘Wall’ (벽), specifically for this performance because he wanted to perform a song that was only in Korean (versus mixing in any English).
That effort was commendable but so was his overall performance in the one-take video. With his relaxed vibes and confidence, he seems to fit right in on the COLORS stage.
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