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Tyson Dang Interview



1. What is your name and your profession(s)?

Hello! My name is Tyson Dang. My artist name for both social media & solo music (where I play guitar & sing) is "tysondang" all lowercase, all together! I also play drums in Canadian (Toronto) Metal band RED HANDED DENIAL, where we recently completed a month-long tour with Unprocessed, supporting their first North American headliner!


2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship?

I was born and raised in Canada. I'm a Chinese & Vietnamese mix. Both parents are from Vietnam, one of my grandparents is Chinese. I definitely grew up on Chinese culture, influences, mannerisms, etc.


3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry?

Both my parents are musicians to some degree, as well as music lovers! Mom is a singer and would sing with a local band back in Vietnam. Dad played guitar at home. Both of them would often listen to music very loudly at home. Many weekends I would wake up to blaring music over the home speakers, and many nights would end with the mom & dad karaoke. It was never a quiet home!


4. Please tell us a little bit about your experience, either growing up as an AAPI in Canada, or as a person of Asian descent who immigrated to Canada, whichever applies.

I'd consider myself a little lucky growing up in Toronto, Canada- a very metropolitan area & melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Of course with every fine place there are always pockets of racism, some of which I faced as a kid. School children really are the worst, and amplified when schools haven't yet shined the spotlight on empathy or coexistence. With my parents or extended family, we haven't completely been faced with negative experiences based on our race. I remember once the other person had assumed we didn't speak English, but nothing that was a personal attack.


5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)?

In recent years, I feel more connected now than I did growing up. Much of it is attributed to my aunts & uncles recounting their stories & memories to my wife. I've also been finding out more of my family's history while listening in on the stories they tell my wife. I guess, as a kid, we never bothered to ask.


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)?

Because of my parents, I always had a soundtrack to my life. I never really cared to actively play music until late grade school/early high school when my school had a winter showcase, and another student (who was also Asian) played drums on it. I think it was the first time I had heard acoustic drums in front of me, and it was booming. Shortly after, the drumkit appeared in my music class in grade school and I was always interested to try it. The music teacher didn't want me behind the kit unless I was part of the school band. I didn't join it. Fast forward to high school and, again, a drum kit in the music room. This time around, the teacher encouraged students to play on it during lunch hours or after school, whenever it wasn't being used. I hopped on the kit one lunch break and- so began the rest of my life!

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?

Towards the end of my high school days I started participating in the annual 'Battle of The Bands' held at my school. It was exhilarating to perform in front of a crowd. Even after high school, I floated around local acts, friends, and was always active either writing or performing. Around this time RHD started generating buzz among the Toronto scene, catching attention to some other notable bands and outlets in Toronto. My goal was to emulate the buzz, or at least be part of it! A few years later I would join the band as their 2nd drummer! My mother wasn't initially fond of the idea of being a musician- as it's often associated with drugs, alcohol, etc. But still supported the "if it's what you want to do, I'll be there for you" role. Over time she realized the positive impact my passion for professional music had manifested, and continues to support my musical decisions this day!

 

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 proudly endorse Los Cabos Drumsticks, Vratim Drum Shoes, 64 Audio IEMs, Protection Racket drum cases! I've been with each one for various amounts of time, and have stuck with them for their love and support towards myself & their artists! I write, record, and have performed original acoustic music under "tysondang" and will be releasing more solo music in 2024/2025. Each of those releases will latch on to a different genre. I have a dance song, a rock song, even a hip hop song- all ready to be released! I'm most proud of my drumming career with Red Handed Denial. I've met so many awesome people (musicians & fans), been to so many places I never thought I'd end up in, and have been told by many I've inspired them musically, in entertainment, or just personally! I've also appeared in CrazyEightyEight music videos, which really forced me to lightly act, and heavily perform- learning a song within a short timeframe. I also stream on Twitch playing drums, and even there I've been able to expand the minds of many viewers, unlocking new tastes & interests to their musical horizons!


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 has both helped and hindered many objectives personally in music. When your music is generally tied to a genre, so must it be tied to an ideology. For the same reasons Linkin Park had a rough start, RHD has been literally panned over from some larger opportunities due to the appearance of its members. In the grey area, being an AAPI in the band, some opportunities presented themselves to us, like certain festivals, conventions, and themed shows. What makes it grey is that once you get pulled into this cog, it's a little tricky to get out. I have friends who are stuck in the Markham/Scarborough music scene (2 predominantly Asian-populated cities in the province of Ontario) and they've struggled to break out of that mold, playing the same shows & festivals time and time again, with no promise of growth. On the flip side, AAPI has presented many fruitful experiences. I've interacted with many other AAPI musicians who understand the meaning of representation, and from those interactions have enabled me to travel to countries like Korea, Japan & Singapore to either attend, teach, or perform!


9. 9a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why?

Surprisingly enough, at the top of my mind there aren't any who come to mind! I'll have to think harder...


9b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general?

We're all in this together, and I really hope the idea of representation, culture, heritage & harmony resonates through the art we create as individuals, or within our respective projects, and that each piece or body doesn't treat our creativity as a means to competition. Do better & inspire more.

 

10. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate.

Well, I love playing video games (who doesn't?) I've recently been playing the Persona games, specifically Personas 3, 4, and 5. All have excellent original soundtracks. I've also been playing some survival horror games like Dead Space & Resident Evil. Love me some scary games. I'm a big Monster Hunter fan- diehard for the franchise! I'm also unhealthily obsessed with all things Marvel! Always keeping myself up-to-date with Marvel/MCU news!


11. Any final thoughts? Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community?

Thank you, Summer, for including me in your e-interview, and thank you for contributing towards a better AAPI future! Shine a light on AAPI music!


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Support Tyson online :)


Instagram - @tysondang

TikTok - @tyssondang

Official Website - https://tysondang.com



Images courtesy of Tyson Dang



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