POC In Punk: Meet Yising Kao

Interview questions by Yara Al-badri

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 currently photograph shows for my magazine, Galaxy. So far, I’ve noticed that many artists’ touring crew have mostly white men and I’d love to see more POC/women representation. In the photo pit during the first 3 songs, I’ve met many other female photographers who shoot for their publications, which is awesome! I hope that artists will hire more POC whether it’s for tours or projects.

As cheesy of a question, what inspired you to work in the music industry and what do you hope to achieve?

I grew up listening to music, mostly Disney Channel artists and watching music videos and seeing concert photos inspired me to want to work in the music industry as a content creator. Justin Bieber’s photographer, Alfredo Flores inspired me a lot because I watched his music videos all the time and loved them. I hope to get hired as a content creator on at least one tour and also work on music videos. It’d be amazing to collaborate with an artist or band and help make their creative vision come to life. As long as I do what I’m passionate about, I’ll be happy, because that’s what matters most.

Growing up, did you feel like there was a good amount of representation for you? If you had someone who you looked up to, who is this person?

Growing up in Orange County, I didn’t know any Asian Americans who worked or wanted to work as tour photographers, and a lot of (but not all) Asian parents have a mindset where they don’t want their kids to work in the entertainment industry. On the television shows I watched such as on Disney Channel, there wasn’t a lot of Asian American representation and I wish there was because the media has a huge influence on kids who should get to see people who look like them on screen. I did look up to Alfredo Flores, a Puerto Rican photographer who was working with Justin Bieber at the time, because his work was and still is amazing. It was nice to have a POC to look up to in the music industry.

What are some ways non-POC allies can support POC?

Actively listen to POC when they’re talking and even when they aren’t talking, for example if they’re in a room with white people and they’re not speaking up because they might be afraid or shy to. Ask them for their opinions on stuff or engage them in conversations. Hire POC for your projects and refer them to your friends! Also, call out people for their microaggressions, no matter how small you think a joke is. Racists aren’t cool, so let them know what they said is wrong.