Launched on May 1st, 2021, this blog highlights stories of AAPI musicians / music creators and discusses progressive thoughts / ideology through an AAPI lens. I, Summer--a composer, orchestral arranger, and studio/touring keys player, have been thinking about this project for a few years now, and a silver lining of the pandemic is that I finally have the time to spearhead this blog and its corresponding Instagram page. Currently a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, work has slowly begun to pick up again as more people become vaccinated, but some recent disappointing music projects coupled with the unfortunate uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide convinced me to take a brief step back from creating music to set up this project. I went into my project planning phase having decided that the blog would delve into individual and community AAPI identity, AAPI representation in the music industry, perspectives as AAPIs, and progress within the industry and in general (and thus, have a progressive agenda).
Annually, throughout the month of May (AAPI Heritage Month #APAHM), I will feature interviews of different members of the AAPI musician / music creator community on this blog as well as on our corresponding Instagram. Each person who has been interviewed has been asked to respond to the same set of questions* which I crafted for this particular music-adjacent, social project (*questions may evolve year to year). Some of the interviewees are AAPIs who I know personally, others I have found via the internet, and others are people who have been recommended to me. We are a wide-ranging, diverse bunch--and I tried to capture as many different perspectives as possible, including people whose ethnicities come from all over Asia and the Pacific Islands, who play a variety of instruments, who write in and play a variety of genres, who are of various ages, who have various music-related jobs, and who have various music accolades and awards. Most of the interviews were conducted via e-mail, and thus, they have been very minimally edited*. A select few interviews were conducted in person or over the phone; in those cases, I transcribed those conversational interviews and have noted so near the start of each of those published interviews. (*Note: I have not edited any interviewee answers aside from any obvious spelling or grammatical errors. Some interviewees have chosen to not answer certain questions--for whatever reason--and that is their prerogative. Please remember that for this series, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. All interviewee perspectives are valid and based on their upbringings and circumstances, even if I can not relate to a particular person and/or do not personally agree with his/her/their statements. Please also note that not all interview participants are fully of AAPI heritage, many are mixed. I say, "the more the merrier". Half-AAPI and quarter-AAPI stories and perspectives are just as valid and even some feel more connected to their heritage than others of full-AAPI heritage. This said, it should be noted that some mixed AAPIs may be white-passing (or another-race-passing), and those perspectives and experiences may be vastly different than those who clearly appear to be AAPI or ambiguously Asian. Many interviewees, especially those who are mixed, noted to me that they had never been approached to do an AAPI-focused interview about themselves and/or their music. I also fit that bill--I am fully-Asian American: I was born in California and am of Singaporean-Chinese and Indian descent--and was never considered "Chinese enough" or "Indian enough" to have my opinion asked or my story told as an AAPI. Until I asked myself to reflect on these questions, I had not truly taken the time to deeply reflect on how my heritage plays into my identity, and how that identity, my ambiguously mixed AAPI appearance, and AAPI upbringing has affected my music career and my life in general.)
Beyond the month of May, my schedule permitting, I will be featuring the stories and music of other AAPI musicians (questions and feature treatment may be different) and will also be discussing progressive ways to advance the AAPI music community (and AAPI community in general), working towards a truly unified minority community which is supportive of its own members as well as members of other minority communities (black, indigenous, latinx, etc.). We are stronger together. Collaboration, mentorship, work opportunities, and live events will also be discussed in due time.