Follow the sound, let it take you on a (melodious) trip around the world.

There’s nothing better than discovering (or rediscovering) music; it is after all, part of what makes us human. As a shared experience between artist and audience, music has the power to take us where we let it. And in these troubling times filled with uncertainty, it’s as important as ever to find ways to get away — even if it’s just in our heads. Take some time to travel through the world with a playlist of these rising international artists,  all of whom are ready to take you on a global sound trip like no other. 

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1. Sirup (Japan)

Japanese R&B has become a recent addiction; you get into it once, you can’t get out of it anymore. A fan favourite is Sirup, a Japanese singer whose mellow yet upbeat hits are sung sometimes in Nihongo, sometimes in English. His hit “Do Well” has garnered over six million views on YouTube and features Sirup in an impeccable red ensemble dancing it up in a forest with a disco ball. Quirky, yes. For a more laidback listen, check out “Loop” — it’s a great listen for when you’re deep in thought, about to go to sleep, or simply at a cafe (maybe somewhere in Akihabara?). 

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2. Pink Martini (Europe)

Pink Martini is a talented orchestra of over 10 musicians specialising in classical music, Latin dance, and jazz. Their versatility extends well into various forms, languages, and genres including French ballads, Italian swing, and yes, Ukrainian carols. Their song, “Shchedryk” is traditional Ukrainian shchedrivka, or New Year's carol usually sung on the eve of January 13. 

Meanwhile, their romantic Italian ballad, “Una Notte A Napoli” is a heartfelt song of love and of loss and on the shores of Naples. Browse through their various singles in Spanish, French, and English for a truly around-the-world experience from the comfort of your home.

3. Pretty Sister (California, USA)

If you miss sunny beaches and the palm-lined streets of Beverly Hills, look no further than Pretty Sister’s “West Coast”. His discography is a fun mix of neo-soul jazz, R&B, and dance. His songs' lyrics, provocative and daring, are fun soulful — evoking the thrill of sunny beaches, young love, and hazy afternoons spent doing God-knows-what. 

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4. Liniker (Brazil)

Stylish and soulful, Liniker is a Brazilian musician best known for his emotive voice and androgynous style. His song, "Presente", showcases a wide vocal range that is, in itself, impressive to say the least. 

5. Fatoumata Diawara (Mali)

Hailing from Mali, Africa, Fatoumata Diawara's music is a homage to the less mainstream but equally beautiful side of African music. Her hit "Nterini" has garnered nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube — it's main attraction being Diawara's tantalising voice. However, the music video's impeccable wardrobe and makeup (which showcase beautiful jewellery and vivid splashes of colour) are other factors to consider too. 

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6. Crush (Korea)

There's been an undeniable wave of mania for Korean culture these days. And who can blame anyone? With dramas and shows continually pouring into our TVs (and Netflix subscriptions), we're bound to fall in love with a culture as creative as the Korean one. But while you may have already heard of a few famous K-pop bands, we're here to introduce you to Crush, a soulful Korean singer who's been featured by Billboard and Colors Studio

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7. Conkarah (Jamaica)

Jamaican reggae is famous worldwide. Its sound is distinct and — in my mind, at least — reminiscent of the oceans that Jamaica is best known for. If you're hoping to reach out beyond the shadow of Bob Marley reggae, try exploring artists up on YouTube or Spotify, one of which is Conkarah. He has a few original songs and does great reggae covers of hits by Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, and Sam Smith. 

8. S'natra (New York, USA)

The swagger of Harlem is best brought out by rap singer, S'natra. Having collaborated with plenty of up-and-coming producers and musicians (including Brasstracks, Alexander Lewis, and Ivan Jackson), S'natra's voice is rich and deep, constantly on-beat yet crystal clear. Perfect for a great dance party (at home). 

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9. Yura Yunita (Indonesia)

Earlier this year, NIKI made headlines as the first Indonesian music act to perform in Coachella. Although the annual music festival has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19, that hasn't stopped the spotlight from shining on fellow Indonesian artists — of which, Yura Yunita is one. Her mellifluous voice is soothing to the ear, yet able to tug at heartstrings. She sings mostly in Bahasa, with one of her breakout songs being "Cinta dan Rahasia", which means "Love and Secrets" in English. The video, which features Glenn Fredly, has already gained over 100 million views on YouTube. 

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