1. What is your name and your profession(s)? My name is Kev Luu and I am a music producer, engineer and educator.
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? I am Chinese American, but my parents are from Vietnam. I was born in Reno, NV and grew up in Las Vegas, NV.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? My Dad was the reason I started playing music. He’s actually a really good singer and was a finalist in a Buddhist singing competition. Growing up in Vietnam, he always wanted to learn to play guitar, but my Grandpa wouldn’t let him in fear that he would be begging for money on the streets.
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. Growing up in Las Vegas in an area not dominated by Asian people was an interesting experience to say the least. I always managed to find a way to fit in, but never really felt like I was able to be fully myself. To my Asian friends and family, I was an American, and then, to my American friends, I was the Asian kid.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? I can’t lie, there was a time in my life when I wasn’t proud of being Asian. I was tired of being different, tired of being told “You’re pretty good at (fill in the blank), for an Asian'' and tired of having to always prove myself so I could just feel like I belong. I feel like it’s fairly common for Asian Americans to have some sort of identity issue and I am no exception. I’ve grown to really love and be proud of my culture and I hope to set a good example of what it means to be an Asian American.
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)? Growing up in Las Vegas, we had a really good music program in our local schools and was even able to attend a performing arts high school for a couple of years. I am a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA where I double majored in Music Production & Engineering and Electronic Production & Design.
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 knew I was going to pursue music and audio professionally at a pretty young age, I’d say sometime in high school. Like most parents, my parents were worried if I was going to be able to make a living with music, but after they saw how dedicated and passionate I was, they just wanted me to be happy and started being more supportive.
7. What are a few of your (music) projects of which you are the proudest? What were your roles on those projects? When I was a staff engineer at the Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, I worked with Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Tyga, Carlos Santana, Gloriana, and many other artists. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/kevin-luu-mn0003246393 I am currently a recording engineer for Atlantic Records where I’ve worked with SK8, YBN Almighty Jay, 600 Breezy, and many others. I am also 1⁄2 of the Electro Pop duo, Mid City Flannel where I co-produce and engineer all of our original music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQdV2NCDQW0
Beyond those projects, please feel free to name some of your other credits as well as any brands/companies you officially endorse. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/kevin-luu-mn0003246393
8. Describe to me your dream project. I’d love to gather a group of my musician friends, go to a remote location somewhere far away and write, record and produce an entire project. Traveling really inspires me to create and being in different places can bring out different sounds and vibes that may not come when in a comfortable and routine setting.
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 honestly faced a lot of discrimination in the music industry. Sometimes in hip hop sessions where I’m the only Asian in the entire studio, I’ve often received some racially charged comments or jokes thrown my way. Also when I worked in the audio industry where again, I was often the only Asian person, I’ve had co-workers and even managers make very inappropriate comments towards me based off of my race. Being through it enough, I now know how to navigate through those situations where I can keep a balance between standing up for myself and still keeping it professional.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why? I grew up listening to the Neptunes so Pharell and Chad Hugo were big inspirations for me. Back when I was working at the Studio at the Palms, I worked with Asian American producer, Malay, and I was really inspired by his musicality, style, and how friendly and willing he was to share his experiences with others. I love the flows of Year of the Ox and really admire how they speak out on issues in the AAPI Community.
10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? I hope more AAPIs become artists and content creators. We have a voice and a story that needs to be told and heard.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Practice more ear training and stop buying so much music gear!
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? My Electro Pop duo, Mid City Flannel, will be releasing an original song with a music video in May so keep a look out for that. I’m involved with a couple film and TV projects that are in the final stages of production so I’ll definitely share those projects when they’re released.
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. I’ve been really involved with the Asians with Attitude movement lately where we’re uniting Asians and our allies to fight against racism. I’ve been involved with the patrols around SoCal and even went up to Oakland for the first AWA Unity Rally.
14. Any final thoughts? (non-self-promotional). Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community? I’d love to find a way for AAPI creatives to collaborate on a big project. Think of it like an Asian “We Are The World” I think it would be very powerful for our community during these times.
Photo provided by Kevin Luu