Philip Chuah Interview
1. What is your name and your profession(s)?
Philip Chuah and I am a Professional Bass player.
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship?
I am Chinese-Malaysian, and I am a Malaysian Citizen with a US Permanent Residency.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry?
Neither of my parents are musicians.
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 an international school and an English speaking environment in Tokyo, Japan, so believe it or not, immigrating to America was actually not much of a culture shock. Having grown up in multiple cultures and countries, I definitely identify as a Third Culture Kid.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)?
Honestly, I do not feel very connected to my heritage or 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)?
I picked up the bass because it was laying around the house, and I used my previous knowledge on flute in concert band to start learning it by ear. My church, as well as my school's Jazz band, was in need of a bass player, so I was thrown into the deep end very quickly! I majored in Performance at Berklee College of Music.
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 took a gap year after graduating high school to work part time as an Aikido Instructor and to gig professionally as a bass player. It was during this time that I decided that pursuing music professionally was something that was viable. My parents definitely tried to suggest other fields to work in, but I was adamant about pursuing music, so I didn't really give them a choice. Yes, they support my career 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.
Some of the gigs I am most proud of are, being the touring bass player for Quinn XCII, getting to play with Gospel legend Israel Houghton, working with Rickey Minor, Kane Brown, and Alessia Cara on CBS' "A Home for the Holidays", being featured on Janet Jackson's IG page with India Shawn, as well as getting to play with Jamie Foxx.
I am an Aguilar Amps Artist.
8. 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 or in general?
Being an AAPI in the music industry definitely has its challenges. Especially as a bass player, who loves playing soulful music, I often experience situations where people look at me and assume that I don't understand the music. A close friend of mine, Oscar Brown III, has told me that he would recommend me for different gigs and a reply that he has often received is "but he's Asian." I don't think I have experienced a situation where being Asian has helped me in the music industry, or at least, I was not made aware of it if it did.
9. 9a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why?
Previously, the musicians that inspired me the most were all African American. Especially because it was taught to me early on that all American music has its roots in African American culture and history. Nowadays, I have been around many AAPI musicians who inspire me, such as Elijah Kai, Sam Yun, Renny Goh, Haein Kim, Cody Dear, Cory Ng, and many more.
9b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general?
10. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate.
I love playing Video games as well as following Esports, particularly First Person Shooter games such as Apex Legends, Halo, and Overwatch.
11. Any final thoughts? Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community?
Support Philip online :)
Image courtesy of Philip Chuah