1. What is your name and your profession(s)? Bryan Dawson- FKA Bryan Haha, Lead singer and Guitarist of The Ivories
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? US Native, Half Korean on my mother’s side and Scotch-French on father’s.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? My mother was a touring gayageum player in her youth. My dad loves music but does not play.
4. Please tell us a little bit about your experience, either growing up as an AAPI in America, or as a person of Asian descent who immigrated to America, whichever applies. I am from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I was always one of about 3 or 4 Asian people in my class. I really feel like my pride for my AAPI background was only ever boosted by my mom and her few Korean friends. I had a few instances of being singled out or ridiculed because of my heritage, but I felt that I insulated myself in a diverse group of friends who were all very open minded, came from different backgrounds, and connected with each other on different levels, such as with music, art, performance, or
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? Not very. I don’t know Korean, I didn’t have any close Korean friends growing up, I don’t know much about Korean history. I would very much like to learn more about the culture and be more in touch with my roots but once you get to a certain age it almost feels too late. I almost feel that I am too solidified in who I am that acquiring more of an identity based in my heritage feels inauthentic, although I know that’s not true.
6. 6a.) How did you get into music? Did you major in music in college? Where did you attend college/university (and grad school(s), if applicable) and in what subjects did you get your degree(s)? I did not attend college, I initially got into music at the age of 7 by joining my school band playing trombone and got my first guitar at 9. I am left handed primarily, and I wanted a left handed bass for christmas, but my parents got me a right handed guitar instead and i just learned on that and thank god i did because i love that i can play friends guitars and not have to pay extra for left handed instruments.
6b.) When and how did you decide you were going to pursue music professionally? What were your parents’ reactions to you deciding to pursue music? Do they support your music career now? I knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry from the age of 9. I never saw myself doing anything else once i picked up the guitar for the first time. Initially I wanted to join Michael Jackson’s touring band as the guitarist. My parents never told me I shouldn’t pursue music, probably because they knew I was so sure of it there was no chance of convincing me not to.
7. What are a few of your (music) projects of which you are the proudest? What were your roles on those projects? The Ivories’ debut album Amber that we released in December is my proudest project so far. theivories.fanlink.to/amber . We just released a video for our song Crawl, you can find it on our YouTube. I’m also extremely excited to be announcing a new project that we just signed to our label Vogue House Sounds called Screen Name. They are set to release their first single at the end of May, and they just did a debut DJ set for the 909 Worldwide Festival- find it here: screenname.fanlink.to/909
Beyond those projects, please feel free to name some of your other credits as well as any brands/companies you officially endorse. I released an album under the moniker Bryan Haha in 2018, self produced, everything recorded and mixed by me in my studio apartment in Koreatown. I have a project with my friend Ravenna called Deathstore that released two singles in 2019. Produced, mixed, and mastered by me.
8. Describe to me your dream project. My dream project is to create an atmosphere that gives the listener the same feeling that an environment from their past that the person really misses and holds with great sentiment did. I try to create that feeling with every project I release or am a part of.
9. What are some obstacles you have encountered (if any) being an AAPI in the music world? What are some obstacles you have encountered (if any) as an AAPI in general (non-music)? Conversely, has being an AAPI ever helped you in the music industry? I was definitely self conscious growing up and not having a strong sense of connection to Korean culture and people.
In the music world, I don’t really think I have encountered many situations where I felt singled out or targeted because of my race. But I have mostly stayed in a bubble of artists and scenes that are very inclusive, no matter your background or identity.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why? James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins, Mr. Hahn of Linkin Park.
10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? I have a feeling the music community will become more connected, more inclusive, and more unique, with specific niches for everyone to find people with similar interests to them, no matter what it may be. This is a result of our generation becoming more connected.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Stop smoking, stop denying your feelings.
12. Do you have any upcoming projects for which you are excited and about which you are allowed to share? Is there anything non-music-related on the horizon about which you would like to share? A new project on my record label named Screen Name, and some sculptures I have been beginning to work on.
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. Sculpture, script writing, and fashion.
Facebook: The Ivories
YouTube: The Ivories
Bandcamp: The Ivories
Spotify: The Ivories
Soundcloud: The Ivories
Photo provided by Bryan Dawson