1. What is your name and your profession(s)? Cecilia Hone
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? 1/2 Chinese, 1/4 Swedish, 1/4 English. Born in Taiwan but moved to the US when I was 5 years old. US citizenship.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? Neither of my parents were involved in the music industry.
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 grew up in Utah having moved here from Taiwan at 5 years old and have lived here ever since although I have traveled back to Taiwan many times. Growing up in a predominately white state, I always felt a little out of place. There were only a handful of asians (or any other non-white races for that matter) in my schools so I definitely grew up feeling a little different. I dealt with some bullying in my younger years (and in all places mostly at church), but now as an adult I’m so grateful and proud of my differences, and having my kids be able to attend a Chinese Immersion school in the same town I grew up in, which celebrates and promotes the Chinese language and culture is extremely gratifying.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? I feel extremely connected to my heritage even though it is difficult being so far away from all my family in Taiwan and living in a state with a very small Chinese population. My mother was the youngest of 13 children and the only one to immigrate to the US. My parents did a great job passing on the traditions and culture to my sister and I by taking us regularly to Taiwan and China, and learning traditional Chinese dances as children. My parents passed away before my own children were born so it has been more difficult for me to maintain on my own, but luckily my children are attending a Chinese immersion school where they teach the language and the culture every day, and I have been able to take them to visit Taiwan several times already in their young age.
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 have always had a desire to play the piano and create music for as long as I can remember. I begged my parents to get a piano when I was 7 years old and they finally bought a cheap upright from a yard sale to see if I would actually stick with it. I started lessons with our next door neighbor who taught piano but quickly outgrew her teaching level so she suggested I move on to a more seasoned teacher. One of the best teachers in our state happened to live in my same city, so I began taking lessons with her and continued to do so throughout my college experience.
I have a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Music with a Piano Emphasis from Brigham Young University.
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? When my mother died some of her final words to me and my sister were to make sure we pursued our own dreams and not hers. She was a smart business woman who developed real estate properties, but told us we should sell everything she built and focus on building our own dreams (at that time I was in college working on my bachelors and my sister was in medical school). If my parents were around today I know they would be extremely proud and happy to see that music is still a major part of my life.
7. What are a few of your (music) projects of which you are the proudest? What were your roles on those projects? Beyond those projects, please feel free to name some of your other credits as well as any brands/companies you officially endorse. I have only recently entered back into the music scene after taking several years off post graduation to have and raise my two children. I got divorced when they were just babies so have been mostly in single mom survival mode the past several years. I always planned on returning to music once my children started elementary school and contemplated going back to school myself to get a doctorate in music or pursue the contemporary music scene instead. Ultimately I decided I wanted to work more with other musicians and musical genres outside of classical. I have been extremely lucky to be hired by 808 Mafia as part of their team of composers / producers. My first project with them was creating loops for a collaborative sound pack on Splice with Southside and Pvlace. It was one of the top selling packs of the year! It’s been so much fun taking on more of a creative role in music production instead of just a performance role as a classical pianist (not to knock it I love that aspect of music as well). Here are the links to the sound pack as well as my interview with Splice about the project:
8. Describe to me your dream project. I have so many dream music projects it’s hard to pick one! What I love most about music is how diverse it is…there are so many styles and genres and as long as I’m creating music in some form whether it be classical, hip-hop, electronic, pop (the list is endless) then I am stoked! What currently excites me the most is collaborating with other talented musicians because most of my past music experience has been quite solitary as a classical pianist. Even though I am not a great singer myself I love writing songs, so writing and producing music for singers in the pop music genre would be a ton of fun. I also love creating instrumental music and storytelling so being a score composer for a TV series or movie would also be high on my dream job list.
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 am new to the industry, but as of yet I really haven’t encountered any extra obstacles being an AAPI musician. Most obstacles I’ve faced have more to do with being a female musician than my ethnicity. Another reason I am super grateful for 808 Mafia as they are extremely aware that women have been overlooked in the hip-hop/rap industry and so have made it a priority to promote and employ more women musicians/producers. I have felt so much inclusion and support working with them and I know that is not common for many AAPI women in the music industry.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why? 10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? Yo-Yo Ma was huge when I was a kid (and still is of course) and greatly inspired me as a classical musician, especially a young one with limited life experience, to feel more of the emotional power and sensitivity in my playing. More recently, Tina Guo is such a cool and talented musician and I just want to be her when I grow up (haha). But truly she is an amazing classical crossover artist that I resonate with.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Growing up competing in classical piano, being “perfect” was always the focus of all my performances. It caused me a lot of stress and anxiety from a very young age because being perfect was not an obtainable goal for me. Even now as an adult I still struggle with being imperfect but I have come a long ways in accepting and even liking the imperfections in myself and my playing. I almost lost sight of my love for music in my younger years because I felt I wasn’t good enough. Knowing myself as a kid, it doesn’t matter what advice I would give myself I wouldn’t have listened anyway, but, I wish I would have understood earlier hat music isn’t about perfection it’s about expression and enjoyment, and to focus more on those aspects over technical precision.
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? What I am most excited about this year is to finally get to perform live again! I entered back into the music world just before COVID hit and of course haven’t done any live gigs as a result. Hopefully this year will bring more performance opportunities! Currently I have started performing regularly with a talented saxophone playing DJ friend of mine Rob Bennion from @RobotDream. We are working on an acoustic sax/piano album that will be coming out soon as well!
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. My free nights are typically spent salsa/latin dancing, and in the winter I spend as much time in the Utah mountains snowboarding and skiing with my kids!
YouTube: Cecilia Hone
Photo provided by Cecilia Hone