Welcome to our special music article all about singer-songwriter, Drain (드레인)! She’s an interesting folk musician who explores different ideas and sounds from a variety of genres. This means that her music is always evolving in some way, and brings the listener something more than they would expect. We really liked her style and felt that her music surprised us in a good way.
This is our review of her most recent single (바다소녀) and album EP called ‘머리에 꽃’ (Flower on my head) which contains 4 songs. We also look at some of her older releases too. There’s a lot to recommend! If you missed our interview with Drain, you can go back and read it here. She was a great interviewee!
One of our favourite pictures of Drain!
Image credit: Photograph taken by 김원일
An introduction to Drain
Drain is an artist who has been making music for a number of years now. She can even play 4 instruments! She typically writes folk-rock and involves herself in the production process, but often incorporates aspects taken from other genres into her tracks too. This is demonstrated particularly in her recent EP, which feels like Drain is in an exploratory period.
Drain’s voice has a distinct whispery quality to it which is able to blend with all these different ideas. It’s quite a soft type of voice, but the ending of her phrases disperse through the air like smoke in the wind. We think she creates a special sound! You can often find her performing with a guitar; acoustic or electric. She works very hard and fits in many performances, from flea markets to small venues.
Recently, she has even been asked to feature on the official soundtrack for K-drama ‘청춘시대2’ (Age of Youth 2)! We are very pleased for her! Remember to look out for it 😀
Image source: © JTBC. 12.09.2017. Age of Youth 2 website.
Pushing boundaries: the openness to create something new
One of Drain’s biggest strengths is how receptive she is about the creation of something new. We really like that aspect of her personality, and feel that this allows her to freely express emotions in a variety of interesting ways. It also means that her music is often a refreshing change to what is currently on the charts. It won’t be a surprise to hear that she listens to music from other countries (including Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós), which can provide a source of ideas for future compositions. She also said in her interview that she enjoys psychedelic rock, alternative rock and trip-hop – we didn’t expect that!
Within the EP released this year, you can find folk, ballad and dub styles of music. Each track displays another side and colour to Drain, and we think it’s a wonderful little collection of songs. If you are only discovering her now, we’d highly recommend that you explore the 4 tracks as a good introduction to Drain!
That brings us nicely to the beginning of the music review! Read on for our thoughts on some of Drain’s releases.
Music review and track recommendations
바다소녀 (Sea girl)
Image source: © Drain. 22.08.2017. Drain’s official Instagram
We will start with the single that was released near the end of August. This song was inspired by the sea of Jeju island (a beautiful place in Korea that Drain likes to travel to), and compares the depth of the water to deepness of the heart in the lyrics.
We love the concept behind ‘바다소녀’– that idea that someone is lost in their own thoughts with their mind wandering like the dynamic flow of water in the sea. The resulting lo-fi sound is dreamlike and hypnotising, with the guitar melody feeling like soft waves lapping the shore. It’s a beautiful song that we highly recommend!
Video credit: young-ho Jeong YouTube channel
Next we will go through the songs in the mini album!
Image source: © Blend Company. Drain 머리에꽃 EP cover. 25.05.2017. Blend Company Facebook.
The first track initially seems like it will merely be a gentle introduction to Drain’s music, with a strong emphasis on the acoustic guitar at the beginning, but it builds itself up into a spectacularly grand affair. It transitions from a melancholy and nostalgic feeling to a celebration of sound. It’s definitely a multi-layered track that allows the listener to appreciate different things about it each time.
Drain’s harmonies come to the fore at several points, and she also incorporates a very traditional, almost tribal-like ‘ooh-ah’ into the music.
Even when the piano instrumentals and drums become more prominent, we can always hear that warm strumming of the guitar in the background. For some reason that we can’t absolutely pinpoint, we love that continuity. Perhaps it is because we like the thought that this represents; that Drain (as the guitar) maintains her musical foundation but still develops ideas on top of that (with the other instrumentals and vocal harmonies).
The track finishes as gently as it started. Just singer and guitar, with that wonderfully smoky voice dissipating into the air.
Video credit: Wonpyo Kim YouTube channel
머리에 꽃 (Flower on my head)
The next track is the one that Drain recommended. ‘Flower on my head’ is fun! Drain plays with dub sounds and a reggae rhythm, which isn’t something that we often encounter in Korean music. The results are very interesting; the beat and melody bounces along nicely and we could picture people dancing to it! We really enjoyed the rhythmic pattern and all the drum components in this one, and it is very encouraging to see Drain branching out with her music and being brave to try out the things that she wants to 🙂
Video credit: BBOX YouTube channel
그대는 예쁜 사람 (You are a beautiful person)
The title song of the EP is a colourful track that features wonderful string instrumentals. Even when Drain is doing a love song, it doesn’t sound like anyone else. Her experience shines through and she is able to craft something that is distinctly her. We like how positive the tone is in ‘You are a beautiful person’ and the balance between the stronger and lighter sections. All the different instruments are also placed well, and shine in their own individual places. It’s a very good example of great teamwork and songwriting. We still love those string parts the most though! Unfortunately there is no official video for this one so take a look at this live acoustic version to get a feel for the song.
Video credit: 카페언플러그드 YouTube channel
오늘 같은 날엔 (On a day like today)
‘On a day like today’ was the song that led us to discover Drain and as such we have a special appreciation for it. We still enjoy it as much as the first day! It is the only song from the EP to have an accompanying MV. ‘On a day like today’ has a sadness behind it, but the sentiment is expressed with a lot of sincerity. In the MV, as a figure clad in white, Drain surrounds herself with nature, in the form of trees and flowers.
We love the combination of the cello and piano, and this track is just perfect for a rainy day. Once again, the music doesn’t stay one-dimensional, it does swell and advance to a peak where a magical blend of instruments mix together. Once again, as Drain does so well, at the end of the song she guides the listener back safely with her light vocals. This one is highly recommended! It was even used in the K-drama ‘청춘시대2’ (Age of Youth 2) recently – congratulations Drain!
Video source:Luminant Entertainment YouTube channel
We will finish with a few more recommendations of songs that we feel our readers shouldn’t miss!
Towards the end of the process of putting together this article, we discovered this very early performance that was part of a competition. Drain is doing what she does best, singing with her guitar, but there was something very captivating about everything in this video. It’s a song to get lost in, and what a special song this is! From that unbreaking and comforting guitar melody, Drain’s characteristic vocals, the beautiful chord progressions, to the simplicity of the stage and how Drain conducted herself, we loved it all. We actually count this as one of our favourites now! Definitely listen to this 😀
Video credit: yjhcon YouTube channel
Drain has also created some beautiful slow songs in the past. We love this one a lot too! Her voice really sounds at its whispery best here, and the stripped back feeling creates this calming atmosphere that showcases her vocals to great effect.
Video source: BLEND. COMPANY YouTube channel
This track is another great example of Drain’s versatility and ability to put a twist on her music. This is a collaborative effort, and makes use of some traditional instruments! However, overall it manages to sound modern, and really makes you smile! If you are open to something different with your listening tastes, this is one you should listen to.
Video source: Luminant Entertainment YouTube channel
There were so many good songs that we encourage our IMK readers to search for her online to find any that we might have missed!
Drain is definitely one of the most musically-interesting musicians that we had the pleasure to encounter. She has such a vast collection of music that we will very likely be continuing to explore different tracks over the months ahead! A lot of what she does is very accomplished, and that is a reflection of how hard working she is when it comes to music. The life of a musician can be a difficult one at times and she has been diligently promoting for several years now. Although Drain is humble in saying that she likes to ‘try out various styles when making a record’, we do think of her as someone who is pushing the boundaries of folk music, and developing very unique sounds to keep the genre evolving. Keep going Drain, we love your work!
How to support Drain
Image credit: Photograph taken by 이솔이
Follow her on social media:
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/songwriterdrain/
Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/___drain/
Blend company: https://www.blen-d.com/drain
Featured image and in-article images source: © Drain. All images were either provided directly from the artist or reproduced from official social media with permission. Further information/credit can be found within each photo caption.
© Drain music review. 12.09.2017. Inspire Me Korea.
acoustic guitaralbum artworkalbum reviewballadDraindubelectric guitarEP albumexperimentalFlower on my headfolkfolk-rockK-indieK-spotlightK-spotlight specialKOREAN MUSIClive versionmusic reviewMusic VideoMVOn a day like todayreggaeReturnSea girlsinger-songwritertrack recommendationsYou are a beautiful person