1. What is your name and your profession(s)? zenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? My name is David Wu and my professions are Music YouTuber, former touring guitar player, and founder of Riffshop (an online music education company).
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? Ethnic Background: Taiwanese; Citizenship: American
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? N/A
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 never felt like my asian-ness dramatically impacted my ability to make friends or fit in, but maybe I’m privileged in that way and grew up in a pretty decent neighborhood. I moved to Oakland, CA when I was five which was a predominately African American neighborhood. I distinctly remember being called a ‘white kid’ for being a non-black kid, haha. When I moved to a white suburban neighborhood, I was fortunate that there were other Asian American kids that allowed me to not feel like an outsider. When I went to college, I was finally surrounded by a lot of Asians. Funnily enough, I feel most like an outsider when I'm around a lot of Asians.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? I feel very unconnected.
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 started several metal bands in high school/college. I was an economics major in college at University of the Pacific. 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 got laid off from my corporate job and decided to take a leap of faith and start a YouTub channel and do it full-time. My parents were supportive but rightfully concerned. Now that I've started making "career" levels of income, they are much more secure about my life's choice.
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 started a music YouTube channel that got 150k+ YouTube subscribers. I went viral a couple of times--most notably, I made a tutorial on how to drive stick shift that got over 11 million views. I became one of the top 15 music creators on Patreon.
I started a music education company that does six figures of revenue per year.
I toured internationally as the guitarist of a prog metal band.
I wrote an album that many metal news outlets considered an "album of the year".
8. Describe to me your dream project. Probably joining a metal band as a vocalist. I've previously only been a songwriter / guitar player.
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? Music world: Yeah, so I've generally found that being Asian has generally been an asset especially in the genre of music I play (metal). Since there's not many Asians, I definitely stand out.
Hmmm. Well, when I was younger, I used to feel like being an Asian male was sort of a penalty when it came to dating. I used to feel as if being an Asian guy made me unattractive to the opposite gender. However, funnily enough, I think with the popularization of Kpop and different beauty standards, as well as a lot of internal growth, I no longer have this insecurity.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why?
I Shot the Sheriff - a local Fremont death core band from 2009 that was 3/5ths Asian. They were SOOOO good!
Native Construct - one of the best prog metal bands of the century. Miles is a genius composer.
BTS - They aren't Asian AMERICAN, but given their influence, I think they deserve to be noted. For them to become the number one band in the world and composed of Asian males is CRAZY. Definitely very proud of them.
10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? I hope that more AAPI musicians and civilians gain the courage to go full-time and chase their dreams!
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? My only regret is that I didn’t get started on my current path sooner. I would tell them to go directly into music and stay hungry. Trust that you have a special gift and the tenacity to see it through even if you’re scared.
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? Hmm, I’m releasing an online course / coaching program that teaches people to write metal songs to go viral. Looking forward to that! If you’re interested, you can check out a free crash course I made here:
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. Marketing / Advertisting / Entreprenuership, Self-Development / Psychology.
14. Any final thoughts? (non-self-promotional). Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community? No final thoughts. AAPI musicians are cool. There needs to be more of us in public consciousness, haha.