Photos by Michelle Rose
For you personally, what have you experienced as a POC in the music scene (either good or bad). What’s your perspective on POC in the scene?
I’ve always been motivated and driven to make music, and I had a fantastic upbringing with two supportive parents. So when I look at my experience in music from a birds-eye view, I do so with tremendous gratitude, and the awareness that not everyone is awarded the same kind of opportunities.
That said, over the years, there have been moments that have served as reminders that I am a POC in a Caucasian-dominated scene. We’ve been called the “Asian Green Day” on occasion, and were once heckled and mocked on stage prior to singing a song in Mandarin, to name a couple. From the years of 2012-2014, our lineup consisted of all Asian-American members. I remember discussing with our bassist about how we didn’t want to be viewed as an “all Asian band,” because that might seem like a “gimmick,” and people may not take us seriously.
But despite those experiences and conundrums over the years, my identity has always played a major part in our music, both on the road and throughout the writing process, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s allowed me to create and share personal stories, many of which have resonated with our Asian-American and POC fans.
What inspired you to work in the music industry and what do you hope to achieve?
In 2019, I started a mentoring practice to help aspiring musicians to finally write and release their music. We live in a world where we are paralyzed by vanity metrics, that many don’t want to take that leap towards doing what they love - music.
We’ve totally misconstrued the idea of what it means to be “successful” as an artist, and I want to redefine that meaning for those within my reach. My journey has been absent of fame and fortune, but through various DIY methods and a bootstrapping mentality, I’ve been able to live out a most musical life that I’m incredibly proud of.
Growing up, did you feel like there was a good amount of representation for you in the media and/or music scene? If you had someone who you looked up to or still look up to, whether they’re a musician or not, who is this person?
When I started getting into pop and punk, I don’t know that I really thought about it all that much. I was so taken by the music, that I would lose myself in the countless videos on FUSE and songs over the radio airwaves.
I think the first time I really thought about it was when I saw the music video for “In the End” by Linkin Park, which of course featured Mike Shinoda. I remember being surprised by seeing him, because up until that point he was the artist who I felt looked most like me.
Then when I was in middle school, I took my first trip to Taiwan. That experience changed me. My cousins introduced me to all of these Taiwanese artists, some of which were Taiwanese-American, including Wang Lee Hom, who is arguably the biggest Taiwanese pop star of all time. Listening to those CDs and learning more about those musicians, was inspiring, and I became obsessed with exploring my Taiwanese roots. I also then decided that I would have to learn the language.
What are some ways non-POC allies can support POC?
Make sure your shows, record labels, tours, etc. are inclusive, so that anyone can feel welcome. This may even mean taking a backseat at certain moments (myself included) in order to contribute to progress in the arts.
Most importantly, LISTEN. The mic is meant to be shared.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Humble yourself to ALWAYS assume the role of a student. None of us are experts, and there’s always more to learn. If you do that, you’ll relieve yourself of the pressure to be “great”, and you’ll just create. By making music and getting yourself out there, you’ll generate opportunities which will lead you to meeting new people and seeing different places. But to do all that, you have to just start. :)