Have you ever heard of HALLEY, an R&B band consisted of university students? Fresh “Asian soul” derived from Black music, created by a group of young musicians with unique backgrounds, is now coming into the spotlight.

HALLEY’s members: Taehyung (vocals), Haru Toyama (guitar), Shin Nishiyama (keyboards), Kay Takahashi (bass), and Naoto Shimizu (drums) encountered each other at the Naleio, a music club at Waseda University where students with deep respect toward Black music gather. The Naleio is a well-known music circle that recently produced members of BREIMEN.

The name of the band comes from the awareness of them being “yellow” (Asian). Yellah is a combination of Yella (slang for yellow) and Selah (biblical music term for pause), and is written upside down to finally make HALLEY: the name of the band.

Their goal is to represent “Asian soul” as mentioned earlier. It is the term that represents the sound that innovates beyond borders, created by such members with multicultural backgrounds from South Korea (Taehyun), Hong Kong (Haru), and Japan (the rest of the members), mixing up jazz, R&B, hip hop, gospel music, rock, and J-pop.

HALLEY started their career in 2021 and it was the venue, Kichijoji Warp where they gave their first performance. After a one-year hiatus due to Taehyun’s study abroad in Canada, they finally geared up for a full-fledged performance in 2022. From May of 2023, the band has started distributing three digital singles “Set Free”, “Whim” and “Breeze” consecutively. In September of the same year, they released their first EP Daze.

While every tune emphasizes their band ensemble, the mixing and soundscape imply that the intension lies in pop and dance music overseas. Their attitude toward music may resonate with that of WONK (Japanese alternative soul band) who goes after ongoing music in the realm of neo jazz. More to say, elegant vocal flows in both English and Japanese drifting from Taehyun’s roots in gospel and R&B of South Korea is amazing. His silky vocals textures, which remarkably reminisce Nariaki Obukuro, a singer he respects, are like candy to our ears.

And particular structures of each song are of note. For instance, a flow that reminds me of the build-up to the drop as is popular in EDM, from the hook-line of “Sugary” in second chorus to the guitar solo, is a fresh development. It is worth listening to. Live performances of the song must liven up with this idea.

Also, it is interesting to see that Taehyun, Takahashi, and Shimizu are influenced by the gospel music from a young age. Let alone the harmonic agility and gospel chops in drum fill-in, lyrics like “We know he’s the only king” that include a prayer to God and even evoke multiple takes in interpretation are quite a rare case in Japan. The Bible is a resource that gives depth to the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar and the lyrics of HALLEY have the same kind of poetic depth and dimensions as him.

And their first album From Dusk Till Dawn came out on March 8. The album is amazing, and it sounds band-conscious music-wise. I am looking forward to seeing how listeners would react. Much is expected to see the future of “Asian soul” by their definition, and that of HALLEY.

HALLEY From Dusk Till Dawn Yellah(2024)



HALLEY From Dusk Till Dawn Yellah(2024)

Released: March 8 (Fri.) 2024
Catalog no.: YLLH-1001 (PPTF-8160)
Format: CD
Price: ¥2,750 (tax incl.)

1. Daydream
2. Breeze
3. ’Cause It’s Too Cold To Walk Alone
4. Comfy
5. Sugary
6. Who Is He? (Interlude)
7. Whim
8. Set Free
9. Clear Mind
10. Lemonade
11. From Dusk Till Dawn
12. Write Me a Love Song

■Buy CD at
Tower Records: Shibuya (Tokyo) / Shinjuku (Tokyo) / Umeda NUchaya (Osaka) / Namba Parks (Osaka) / Nagoya Parco (Aichi) / Nagoya Kintetsu Pass’e (Aichi) / Online


HALLEY 1st One-Man Tour “Daydreaming”

March 28 (Thu.) 2024 at Space Odd, Daikanyama, Tokyo
Open / Start: 18:30 / 19:00

March 30 (Sat.) 2024 at Conpass, Shinsaibashi, Osaka
Open / Start: 17:30 / 18:00

Price: ¥3,500 plus drink orders
Tickets: https://t.pia.jp/pia/event/event.do?eventBundleCd=b2448507