1. What is your name and your profession(s)? My name is Dia Frampton and I am a singer, songwriter, actress and screenwriter.
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? US citizen. Half Korean, half Eastern European.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? No, my parents are not involved in the 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 a small town in Utah. My mother moved to the states from Seoul when she was, I believe, 25 or 26 years old. I don't remember any other Korean people in my town or school growing up, all the way up to middle school, until we moved to Las Vegas. There wasn't an Asian American community, so I just did my best to try to fit in. As a young kid, I wanted to be like my friends.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? I didn't feel connected to my heritage or culture growing up. Again, I just didn't see anyone who looked like me at my school, and my mother at the time was trying to acclimate to America. She was learning how to make hamburgers from my dad's mom. She was trying her best to learn English. When she asked my dad's family if they had kimchi at the grocery store, they brought back pickles and sauerkrat, trying to do their best to make my mom feel at home. I didn't see Asian American faces on TV or in music, and at the time, I was in love with country music. I can't think of a single Asian country music singer. However, now, I feel very connected to my heritage and culture and am trying my best to learn more about it and to educate myself. I'm asking my mom more questions. I'm connecting with my cousins and extended family in Seoul. I'm reading books. (Minority Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is a great one I just read).
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 got into music through my older sister, Meg. I never went to school for music, and I also never went to college. After high school, I jumped in a car with my sister and band and we played shows around the west coast. My sister picked up a guitar and started writing her own songs. Up until that point, it hadn't even occurred to me that you could write your own songs...I was just always singing other artist's music. Even when I would perform around town, it was always to a karaoke track. I remember some of the first songs my sister ever wrote. She'd come out and play them in the living room for me and my friends and our sisters. It almost seemed magical that she could create these songs from nothing. Meg started a band with her high school friends and I would go watch them play. I thought it was just incredible. It felt like...a good way for someone who felt invisible to be seen.
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 don't remember a tangible moment where I decided to pursue music. I just...did. I didn't even realize I was going down that path. I just knew I loved it and wanted to spend all my time doing it. And luckily, my parents were very very supportive. They actually told my older sister Meg to wait to go to college - even when she got a full scholarship for academics. I remember my dad said that college will always be there, but a chance to chase our dream and put out music was ready for us now.
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'm very proud of my work with my sister, Meg. We have a band called, "Meg & Dia" and we are working on new music right now. I also had a great time working with Joseph Trapanese on "Archis." Our music is up on Spotify now. My favorite solo album I have done would be "Bruises," produced by the incredible Daniel Heath. It was such an honor to work with him and I learned so much in the process. On all of these projects I played a role as a singer and also songwriter. I've also co-written music for other artists such as Illenium, Kaskade, The Crystal Method and Haim.
8. Describe to me your dream project. My dream project would be to work on Broadway. Watching "Hamilton" was a game changer for me. Whenever I'm in New York, I always try to make it out to a Broadway show. They make me feel like a kid again, and every time I leave the theater, I'm moved in some way.
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 think a lot of obstacles I've encountered in the music world or in acting as an AAPI have been almost...under the hood. It's not really something you can see distinctly, but, it's there. I feel it more in acting than in music. A lot of leading roles do not go to AAPI actresses. It always felt like a struggle to even get in the room and be seen or given a chance. Even now, it feels like there's not a lot of space for us.
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? My favorite singer ever is Lea Salonga. I watch videos of her singing live on Youtube all the time. In fact, I just watched a video of her singing "Higher" the other night and was just tearing up. She is so incredibly talented...one of my favorite singers. To be completely frank, I don't know a lot of other AAPI producers or songwriters. That's just fact. I've been in the room and worked with hundreds of writers and producers and very very rarely were they Asian American. There are a lot of film makers I think are incredible that I look up to: Bong Joon-ho, Satoshi Kon, Chloe Zhao, Hayao Miyazaki.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Don't take everything so seriously.
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? Honestly, Covid slowed everything down and a lot of tours and projects slipped through the cracks, but I am very happy to say that I am still working on music for "Meg & Dia" and am very excited to share new songs soon.
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. I'm very passionate about screenwriting. I've really been enjoying digging up scripts online to my favorite movies and reading the screenplay and then watching the movie after. I think writing is just another avenue for storytelling and I find it pretty fascinating. I'm very new to it, but I'm learning.
Photo provided by Dia Frampton