Updated: May 5, 2021
1. What is your name and your profession(s)? Kiku Collins, trumpet player
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? Half Japanese, half German/Scottish/English/Native American - born in the USA
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry? Neither.
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 realized how Asian I looked, and am amazed that it was not often pointed out in NJ, where I was born and raised. Being half-Asian sometimes makes it hard to find a comfort zone, socially. With world travels, life experience etc., it has become much easier - and also, much clearer when people are not ready for someone who is different.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? Even though I grew up in America, I feel a very strong bond to Japan. I've been there quite a few times - as a child to visit relatives, and as a touring musician. I absolutely love the culture.
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? I had to play trumpet in fourth grade. We were very poor and my older brother played. We shared that horn for a year, and I'm guessing everyone thought I'd outgrow it (especially since I was a girl). It ended up being my safe space. I went to Interlochen Arts Academy and Manhattan School of Music as a classical trumpet performer. My mother had passed away from cancer and I was pretty much on my own from there.
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 have played so many epic gigs, that I can't really say what my proudest moments were- however, playing for the Obama White House twice was something that I still can't believe I did. I've been lucky enough to tour long term with amazing artists (Beyonce, Michael Bolton, and currently Gloria Gaynor) as well as freelance for many others.
Brands that I endorse: Edwards, Getzen, Warburton, Torpedo Bags, Chopsaver, Ultra Pure Oils, Lymphedivas
8. Describe to me your dream project. I have no idea - I never would have imagined that I would have the resume and experiences that I have 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? One incident that really bothered me at the time, was a tour to the East - China, Japan, Singapore... someone who thought they'd have the gig told me that they "wanted someone Asian", when they found out I was going. And no, it was not an Asian band.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why? Harry Kim and Eric Miyashiro are two of the most epic and iconic trumpeters out there, who happen to be Asian!
10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? I'd like for people to stop stereotyping us. Everyone assumes I'm the piano player or violinist. I hope for more safety for our community. I've never felt like a target until these recent events. It's awful. I hope that people will be able to wake up and understand how all of these racial attacks (to all communities who have been targeted) are hurting everyone.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Everyone is unique. Find your voice and do good things, without fear of what others might think or say about you.
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? Nothing epic, just hoping that these upcoming gigs will really happen! I'm ready to hit the road!
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. Cooking, exercise, activism (cancer, lymphedema, autism), and animation (my daughter is an animator and it's amazing to learn about it!)
14. Any final thoughts? (non-self-promotional). Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community? It's wonderful to see the AAPI community come together in strength, and to see others alongside us.
YouTube: Kiku Collins
Photo by Anna Y (provided by Kiku Collins)