1. What is your name and your profession(s)? Eric Downs
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? Half Chinese, US Native
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? Neither parents involved in music.
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 rural Pennsylvania. I would say my upbringing was largely conventional and unremarkable.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? I feel somewhat connected to my heritage. I've never been to China, and I don't maintain tremendously close connection to my Chinese relatives.
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 playing drums at the late age of 16, using my elective credits at the University of Pittsburgh to take my first drum lessons ever at 19. Music quickly took over my life and time, and after graduating with majors in Philosophy, Communication, and Music, I decided to stay in Pittsburg and dedicate no less than 1 year catching up on all the practicing, networking, and gigging that I missed due to being in school.
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 transitioned to full-time professional music when I was 25 and moved to LA with a band I was in to pursue our career. The band promptly broke up shortly after arriving, but I knew I wanted to be in the amazing creative and entrepreneurial atmosphere of LA, so I stuck around, started answering Craigslist ads, and just doing anything I could possibly think of to get involved. My parents have always been supportive. Their goal was to make sure I got a degree; however, I've always been very responsible and self-reliant, so maintaining and raising my trajectory has never been an issue.
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. Two of my proudest musical accomplishments are 1) having a track from my large-scale cinematic percussion ensemble, Fine China, featured in a Microsoft Surface ad during the 2018 Super Bowl and 2) arranging, performing, producing, and mixing Gunnar Gehl's "Can't Say No (Studio Version)", recorded at Abbey Road in London.
8. Describe to me your dream project. My dream music project is simply to have the freedom and capability to create as much music as I want with the people I want to. This dream has been accomplished for several years now.
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've never encountered any obstacles being Asian. I always embrace my ethnicity and make fun of myself endlessly. Ethnicity doesn't matter - personality does.
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? I'm not really familiar with any AAPI musicians. I'm sure I'm aware of plenty of them, but again, the fact that they're AAPI is completely insignificant to me.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Time in the market beats timing the market.
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? I'm one of two drummer/producers who is producing sample packs for the acclaimed That Sound drum sample library, which was recently purchased by Splice. At the time of this interview, I currently have 4 packs released on Splice with many more to come.
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. I love investing of all forms and I am an adamant stock market and real estate investor.
14. Any final thoughts? Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community? I know I said it before, but ethnicity doesn't matter. Your personality and abilities (in that order) will always precede and eclipse what you look like or where you're from. If it ever feels like it matters, you haven't found your people yet.
Photos provided by Eric Downs