1. What is your name and your profession(s)? My real name is Haein Kim, people call me Haeinsane.
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? I am a South Korean, green card holder in the States. Lived here about 11 years now.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry?
My parents both love music so much and they do play instruments as hobbies.
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 was born in Korea and left to Fiji island when I was 11 years old due to my skin disease I had when I was young. My whole family decided to move to New Zealand after that, and we lived there about 4 years together. Long story short, I really wanted to go to the states to pursue my music career and I wanted to go to music school. My family was very supportive of me and they somehow figured out how to move here back in 2011 and I've lived in NJ since then. I have to say, it definitely wasn’t easy for me to fit in at first because I came from such a different environment and culture, but because of music, it wasn’t hard for me to communicate and adjust to the American culture. I am grateful that there are many people out there supporting my journey and respect where I came from and what I do.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? Because I was born in South Korea and my parents were born and grew up there, I feel very connected towards my heritage/culture. I enjoy Kpop culture and It definitely affected my musicality in a way too.
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)? 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? My mom owned a piano academy back in Korea, so she taught me how to play piano when i was young. I graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Contemporary Writing and Production Major.
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 was blessed enough to play my original song called ‘ Coffee 4 me’ for Nord keyboard recently. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pouJdjod5iE . I am also a musical director for DRO X YANI and I was lucky enough to expand my musical journey with them since last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4nMraNN4fk
8. Describe to me your dream project. My dream project... my goal is to release my E.P soon, I want to tell my story through music and I cannot wait to share and see people vibing into it. Also, I want to be able to keep composing for film/tv while still producing for other artists.
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? People tend to judge me by my first impression(race), they instantly think that I probably can’t play Jazz/RnB/gospel etc. They automatically think that I play classical music only. But I have to say, I like surprising people and I have been. Another obstacle I had was that because of how others look at Asian women, I did get racial/ weird comments by fellow musicians and the audience. It hurts me the most when people around you hear what others say to you and they don’t say anything or try to help. It would be very helpful if other female musicians are getting attacked by someone, if people can actually stand up for them.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why? From the Berklee Community, I found out about Big Yuki and Doc Skim; they are both amazing keyboardists that I look up to. I remember practicing and imitating their playing in the practice room. They are both doing big things in the music industry and their work definitely inspires me and encourages me to do my thing.
10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? I hope that AAPI music community can come together and support one another. I do know some musicians with asian descent, but It would be great if i can reach more people who are in the music industry just like me. Not just to support, but to encourage one another and even collab to create music together as well.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? I want to say, be confident and don’t be afraid to BE yourself. We all know that working hard on your craft is very important but being consistent with whatever you do or want to do is very very important. Consistency is a key!
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? DROXYANI are having another virtual show in July with legend, Wyclef and I am very excited about it. I will be arranging/directing the music for them with my female band. There are more but I cannot share it at the moment so stay tuned:)
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate.
I know it's very important to find something enjoyable not including music, but I am still struggling to find one. But I am trying to get into cooking because I love FOOD. On the other hand, I do have a passion and love for immigrant families.I know that there are many immigrant families in the states that are struggling with financial difficulties and their children that are struggling to achieve their goals and dreams because of financial issues. Because I’ve been there and I know the struggle very well and I was lucky enough to have people around me that were very supportive towards me, I got to achieve one of my dreams, which was to graduate from my dream school, Berklee College of Music. I really hope that I get to do the same by setting up more scholarship opportunities for immigrant children. That would be my goal!
14. Any final thoughts? (non-self-promotional). Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community? Thank YOU so much for having me and I cannot wait to see and read other fellow musicians' journeys!
Photos provided by Haein