How Hannah Elliott Discovers New Music
How Hannah Elliott Discovers New Music
TBC Selects

How Hannah Elliott Discovers New Music

TBC's senior producer takes a treasure-hunt approach to finding the K-indie sounds she loves.

I have been digging into artists from underground scenes across the globe for years, but that group has always been a bit amorphous. It ranges daily from childhood classics like Chicago’s Poi Dog Pondering to Korean band Wave To Earth to Austria’s Fennesz. But I swear, answering the question of what I listen to and how I find new music used to be more simple. 

When the collaborative streaming site Turntable.fm launched in 2011 (it went on hiatus in 2013), I spent hours every day on the site, sometimes DJing, but mostly just absorbing. While I was in high school in Florida, a group of teens out of Ames, Iowa took me under their wing and gave me a master class in indie–we explored everything from The Antlers to Sweet Valley. The well-known New York Times analysis that concluded the songs we listen to during our teen years set our musical taste as adults certainly makes sense in my case. Those few years spent critiquing songs in Turntable.fm chat rooms laid the groundwork for my preferences (this 2013 DJ Koze FACT mix was pretty significant too), and ultimately kickstarted my passion for finding new music.

Since high school, my music discovery methods have remained rooted in simply paying attention (and having Shazam at the ready). But lately, I spend more time actively digging and have widened the scope of where I search. Aside from keeping an eye on publications like Pitchfork, FADER, and Pigeons & Planes, as well as my music journalist friends, I also enjoy embarking on a more manual excavation, like going through the Viral 50 Charts country by country. That's how I found my way to the world of K-Pop via TWICE's “Signal” in 2017, and also discovered one of my favorite songs of all time—”Graduation” by K-Indie band HYUKOH, right as it was released in 2018. 

I’ve found that the related artist feature on Spotify is also consistently reliable, and especially useful when I’m in the mood to go down rabbit holes. While watching the now-defunct Japanese reality show Terrace House, I learned that a participant was a member of the band SPiCYSOL. I went exploring on Spotify, and although I concluded that SPiCYSOL weren't necessarily doing it for me, I explored their related artists and found my way to Lucky Kilimanjaro and Helsinki Lambda Club, two bands who are now at the top of my concert bucket list.

When I dig deeper into specific niches, like indie music from Korea, I go for a more guided approach. The YouTube channel ONSTAGE, funded by the NAVER Cultural Foundation, showcases underground Korean music and has led me to artists like MPC wizard, Lionclad, and Pansori pop band LEENALCHI. The channel's constant flow of emerging artists is a valuable go-to for me, and it's great for exploring archives. I also keep an eye on Poclanos, a music distribution and management company with the goal of “supporting the sustainable activities of independent artists and producers [based in Korea].” They maintain a playlist called Poclanos Weekly on Spotify that has become a regular point of reference. 

In my post-teen years, wading deep into music from non-Western markets has become my passion, and it's vastly expanded my personal catalog. With over 100 million tracks at my fingertips on streaming services, discovering new music has always just been a matter of knowing where to zoom in, being patient, and finding people I trust to guide me when I need help.

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