Track: Queen Of Diamonds | Artist: The Black Skirts | Album: Thirsty

Pay close attention when you listen to Queen Of Diamonds for the first time, and see if you can catch the exact moment when this song transforms from a pedestrian indie piece into something more. (It’s not hard.)

The Black Skirts, unlike what the band name would have you believe, is actually just one person: Cho Hyu Il, who’s been active in the Korean and American indie scenes since 2004. He hails from the United States, which might explain this song’s more than passing resemblance t0 both American pop and its heavy and expert use of English lyrics.

To call The Black Skirts K-indie is somewhat disingenuous; while his musical style definitely riffs more on the independent, alternative rock side of Korean music as opposed to the clean, produced vibes of idol pop, Hyu Il has spent time under HIGHGRND, a music label established by Epik High’s Tablo. HIGHGRND was later folded into YG Entertainment, Epik High’s behemoth of a parent agency.

As an aside, Queen Of Diamond’s Korean title—섬—has nothing to do with neither queens nor diamonds. Pronounced “some”, this solitary letter has a double meaning: either an island (its original definition), or the more modern Korean internet slang, which denotes a relationship that is neither friendship nor dating, but somewhere in between.