Let’s just get it out of the way: Western Kite is my favorite find of the past year.

A solo project of Park Seo-yeon, Western Kite (웨스턴 카잇) is her main project alongside her feature alias of “Kite Park”. Born in 1992, she debuted in 2017, taking off in the Hongdae indie scene in Seoul, South Korea. And….

That’s about all I can find. Without even a Naver account (about as off-the-grid as being Myspace-less in 2008), Western Kite has a shockingly lowkey presence for someone with 5 years on the scene, with three singles, two albums, and an EP under her belt. 

Her first album, Subtitle, brought in a cult following with its sweet, irreverent tone and lyrics. Written mostly throughout high school, it’s a gentle, jazzy album peppered with inspiration about a crush she had on a teacher. This is most humorously shown in her song, “Zombie”, where she imagines turning him into a zombie might save her from the embarrassment of an accidental love confession, running off into the sunset as two undead lovers.

 “I’m a zombie, so I’m curious about what you taste like,” she sings shamelessly.

Reminiscent of early Akdong Musician (AKMU)’s “Don’t Cross Your Legs,” which catapulted them to fame, her early style has a similar tongue-in-cheek, youthful writing style. 

Shortly after this release, she traveled to London for a 3-year music program to follow in the footsteps of her favorite artists, Adele and Amy Winehouse. Their influence, and the fruits of her study abroad, can be seen in the funkier, ballad-heavy ultraviolet! released in 2021. Still dominated by themes of longing and unrequited love, her sound matured with more experimentation and ultimate cohesion.

That brings us here, to her most recent EP, hi love, and its single, “I LOVE YOU”, where her shift to indie rock seems to fulfill her musical goal of creating simple, but powerful music.

The pacing guitar, light ornamenting bass, and the shining star of the drums clamoring so heroically forward all blend into the perfect indie rock altar for her sweet, lilted voice of yearning, singed and caramelized at the edges with frustration and restrained passion. 

Summertime, I’m waiting for you
I can’t survive being suffocated

The song recounts a summer of longing, of heat and repression, the suffocating sensation building in the verses. The song gains its particular charm in the dynamic changes, shifting into her harmonized “la, la, la, la“s that haunt the pre-chorus and give wide berth for the drop and delivery of the thrashing chorus.

Baby you are
the happiest thing for me […]
Loving you was easy thing
I found you every day

By the time the bridge arrives, simmering and broiling into a lower register, “Love me again, love me again / our love is running / […] our love is not here,” it’s difficult (frankly: nearly impossible) to refrain from singing along for the following, victorious chorus home. 

Acknowledging this song as her most intense yet, Western Kite may have just found her home in indie rock – and seems like she’s just starting. Already established with a strong discography and with plenty left to evolve and grow, it’s easy to understand her stage name: a small indie singer in Korea flying against the battered wind to London to evolve and thrive. I’m all too happy to point out the image of her bright red sound in the vast blue sky of the modern, global music scene. 

Perhaps you’ll only give it a passing glance. But I have a hunch you too will be carried away by her sound, all-too-happy to witness her ascent.