5 Other Kickass Chinese Women Warriors Besides Mulan

Who isn’t excited about Disney’s plan to make a live-action Mulan film? While discussing my excitement with a friend, she addressed a major point I was overlooking. Yes, the tale of Mulan is legendary for numerous reasons, but Mulan is popular in China not because she was a woman who fought. You see, there were plenty of fighting females in China and plenty of famous Chinese female warriors. Instead, the reason why Mulan is famous is because she was willing to go in place of her father, risking her life and reputation.

Having been unaware that there were other historical “fighting females” in China, I happily did some digging and found that there were many, many badass historical Chinese women besides Mulan. Here are five of them below:

 


 

1. Lady Fu Hao

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Born during the ancient Shang Dynasty (1300-1046 BC), most of what we know about Lady Fu Hao are records written on ancient oracle bones that were found at her tomb. The wife of Emperor Wu Ding, she was known to both participate in religious ceremonies and fight as a general in many battles. When she died, Lady Fu Hao had the distinction to be buried in a tomb separate from her husband, a sign of how well-regarded she was.

 


 

2. Ching Shih

Image courtesy of Anne Bonny Pirate

Image courtesy of Anne Bonny Pirate

Not all warriors have to be good, right? While female pirates weren’t unheard of in China, Ching Shih was the most fearsome and legendary of all. She started off as a prostitute in Canton where she met her husband-to-be Zheng Yi. She took over his command after he died. During her pirating career peak, Ching Shih commanded 1800 ships and 70,000-80,000 pirates under a strict zero-tolerance-or-your-head-will-get-chopped-off policy. In the end, her crew grew to be so formidable that the Emperor offered her amnesty, after failing to defeat her fleet for two years with the aid of the British, Dutch and Portuguese. Ching Shih accepted the amnesty and lived until 69 in peace, managing her own gambling house/brothel. Some people do get their happy endings.

 


 

3. Tang Sai Er

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Like Ching Shih, Tang Sai Er was considered an outlaw by the Chinese government at the time, but for a different reason. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Tang Sai Er led a peasant uprising against the Ming government after she saw that the peasants were essentially forced into slavery to help build the new Ming palace. She formed a cult called the White Lotus Sect and deemed herself the Holy Mother prophetess. At the height of the rebellion, Tang Sai Er was able to recruit 10,000 troops and the emperor sent out a warrant for her capture at any price. Tang Sai Er was able to escape and the White Lotus Sect went underground.

 


 

4. Qin Liangyu

Image courtesy of Cultural-China.cn

Image courtesy of Cultural-China.cn

So who would have been Tang Sai Er’s enemy? Qin Liangyu, one of the most respected military generals in history. Trained from an early age in martial arts and excelling in archery, Qin Liangyu took over her husband’s rank and and led her troop, The White Staff Soldiers, into battles against peasant rebellions during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644AD). Qin Liangyu was awarded the title of “Lady”, the position of “Overall Administrator of Military Affairs” and the rank of “Commander-in-Chief” for the Sichuan Province. Qin Liangyu remained loyal to the Mings to the end of her life, dying at the age of 73 after falling off a horse in battle.

 


 

5. Liang Hongyu

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Born to a family of generals in the Song Dynasty (970-1279 AD), Liang Hongyu was trained in both martial arts and the fine arts such as singing, dancing and drumming. The latter proved to be useful when her father and grandfather were put to death, forcing Liang Hongyu to work as a singer and consort. It was through this line of work that Liang Hongyu met her husband-to-be Officer Han Shizong. They fell in love, had children together and then fought together in war. Liang Hongyu is known for being a great example of a devoted wife, mother and warrior.


Japan’s Latest Beauty Trend May Have You Looking Sick

Admit it. We’ve all experienced our fair share of beauty and fashion trends that may have seemed attractive at the time, but looking back, you wonder what you were possibly thinking. For me, it was those odd leather belts with long fringes, colorful plaid shorts and teased hair that would probably make Snooki proud.

Japan is no stranger to quirky and bold fashion and beauty trends. For instance, their latest Harajuku make up trend has girls looking like adorable dolls … who seem to be running a high fever.

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Japan_RinRinDoll

This latest beauty trend is called “Me no shita chiiku” or “under eye blush.” The flushed feature creates a sickly appearance, which also consists of pale skin, puffy under eyes and a signature large doll or puppy dog eyes. However, the goal isn’t to look sick, but youthful, like the natural flush that appears after playing outside in the sun.

“Flushed cheeks are usually associated with young people.” RinRin Doll tells Yahoo Beauty. “The higher blush placement favored by Harajuku girls makes cheeks appear round and youthful.”

Japan is not the only country where youthfulness is ideal. In Korea, celebrities favor the illusion of under eye bags called “Aegyo Sal,” which gives the illusion that your eyes are constantly joyful and smiling.

These trends differ greatly from the current beauty trend in the United States where contouring and highlighting for slim, chiseled and smoldering features are in. What do you think about the youthful beauty trend? Do you prefer this over the contouring trend, which gives a more mature appearance?

 

All photos courtesy of RinRin Doll.

 

You’ll Now See A Filipina Kick Butt in Tekken 7

It felt like a dream come true when I first heard that a Filipina character was joining the other Tekken martial artists. However, after looking her over, I couldn’t help but cock my head to the side in confusion.

Josie Rizal, whose name is an ode to the Philippine National Hero José Rizal, is a fighter specialized in Eskrima and Kick Boxing. My confusion first began with Josie’s name and, more importantly, who she was named after.

José Rizal is considered one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines and for anyone who is scratching the surface of Philippine history, he seems like a very good candidate to name the first Filipino Tekken character after. However, it is important to remember that Rizal was not known for violence but rather as a man who used his words to support a peaceful reformation of his motherland. Using his name as inspiration for a combat character makes Josie a walking paradox and has caused quite some controversy. Maybe naming her after the more militant Andrés Bonafacio, the “Father of the Philippine Revolution,” would be more fitting.

Next is her fighting style. For folks unfamiliar with the Philippine martial art, Eskrima is a fighting style that incorporates both hand-to-hand and weapon-based combat. Historically, Eskrima was practiced in secret amongst the commoner/peasant class, especially during Spanish colonization. It’s most popular form includes the arnis sticks–or “armor sticks”–made from bamboo. Some have commented that they would have liked to see Josie with this this key element.

The most debated aspect of Josie Rizal seems to be her costume design. Some point out that her clothing is no different from the dress of her other female counterparts, but others argue that her costume strays too far from traditional Filipino garb. For instance, her crop top seems to emulate the Japanese kimona with it’s bell sleeves and embroidery.

Aside from that, the costume tries very hard to showcase various aspects of Filipino culture– a lavish gold statement necklace that’s shaped into the iconic sun of the Filipino flag, sampaguita flowers that hang from the side of her hips, and even the colors of her costume (red, blue, white and yellow) which match the colors of the national flag. The critique? To some, her expensive accessories and even the material of her costume clash with the commoner/peasant fighting style.

My verdict? Despite these critiques, there’s a clear attempt to make it known that Josie is Filipino and it’s a clear Tekken adaptation. Instead of Tekken’s producer, Katsuhiro Harada, deleting Josie, I would much rather have her presence there and able to open a forum to discuss these topics in a way that the masses can understand.

What are your thoughts?

Featured image courtesy of ps4france.com

 

 

 


Top Stories of the Week: Live-Action Mulan and Lana Condor Casted As X-men’s Jubilee

 

 

 

 

 
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1) Attention Boba Lovers: Here’s Our Top 5 Boba Cafes [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

 

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2) Disney is Making a Live-Action ‘Mulan’ Film [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 


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3) Newcomer Lana Condor will Play Jubilee in ‘X-Men Apocalypse’ [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 


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4) Favorite Street Style Looks From Seoul Fashion Week 2015 By Alex Finch [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5) Audrey Fashion Show 2015 Recap [READ HERE]

 

 


Asian Ladies Are Taking the Lead in Indie Films

Tired of the endless barrage of superhero movies and sequels? If you are lucky enough to have a local arthouse theater nearby, it may be worth going to check out an indie film. While indie films have the spirit of innovation and creation, it is safe to say that traditionally indie films are very, very white. All accusations of the unbearable whiteness of indie music applies to indie films. Despite this, there have been quite a few Asian American indie films that have “broken out,” such as Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow, Saving Face and a surprisingly decent number of Sundance selections this year.

Luckily for us, this spring appears to be quite the promising season! In particular, we’re excited for three indie films starring inspirational Asian ladies, which all currently or will soon have limited theatrical releases:

 

1. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Described by the director David Zellener as a “fever dream,” Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is a surrealist, absurdist fairytale grounded by an incredible performance by Audrey cover girl, Rinko Kikuchi. Kikuchi has already been nominated for an Oscar for the movie Babel and she puts forth another Oscar-worthy performance as Kumiko, a character that is so unlikeable, yet so uncomfortably and recognizably human. Based on a true story, the film deviates quite from the original story. How exactly? Well, you just have to find out for yourself.

 

2. Man From Reno

Winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival, Man From Reno is a neo-noir thriller starring Ayaka Fujitano. In the film, Fujitano plays a Japanese American mystery novelist who gets caught up in a thriller not unlike one of her books. Early buzz is already comparing the film to David Fincher’s Zodiac, and we can’t wait to see it!

 

3. The Sisterhood of Night

Teenage witches performing exorcisms in the woods and cyberbullying? The premise sounds a little iffy on paper, but the trailer creates a wonderfully foreboding mood and the buzz from CAAM Fest is strong. Written by Marilyn Fu, The Sisterhood of Night features Willa Cuthrell who plays Catherine Huang, one of the leading teenage girls and a possible witch. Harold and Kumar‘s Kal Penn also plays a guidance counselor who gets caught up in the small town hysteria. What the girls’ secret? We’ll have to wait until April 10th to find out.

 


Attention Boba Lovers: Here’s Our Top 5 Boba Cafes

 

I have to admit, I have a bit of an addiction. Okay, maybe a big addiction.

During my freshman year in high school, my dad took me to try this new drink I didn’t know existed at the time: boba (or bubble tea). He took me to a Tapioca Express and I ordered a strawberry yogurt flavored smoothie. Let’s just say from then on, I was in love! So in love that one of my first jobs was at a boba shop. Yes, I was one of those Asian girls. Since then, I’ve tried and favored many boba cafes and learned that, for me, simple is always the way to go.

For those that are unfamiliar, boba, or tapioca pearls, are created from cassava roots. These chewy little guys have a gummy bear-like texture with no flavor, but can be sweetened, often with honey or brown sugar. Tapioca pearls are dairy free, gluten free and low in sodium, but that doesn’t exactly make them healthy. If you need your boba fix but want to watch your sugar or carbohydrate intake, make healthier drink selections! Ask if they offer fresh fruit juices with no added sugar, or lessen the sweetness in a flavored tea.

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll notice that the Audrey girls love our boba outings! If you are ever in Southern California, here are our top 5 boba cafes that are worth a try:

 


 

1. Tea Station

Courtesy of foodspotting.com

Courtesy of foodspotting.com

This is an all-around favorite. Although Tea Station is a bit pricey, the quality of the teas are apparent in their drinks and the boba is always perfectly cooked and sweetened.

 


 

2. Fusion Tea Bar

Courtesy of fusionteabar.com

Courtesy of fusionteabar.com

This cafe is simply desserts galore, from dessert drinks (similar to Vietnamese desserts) to macaron ice cream sandwiches! Their teas are brewed to order and they have a few organic options as well. You will not find any flavored syrups here!

 


 

3. T Pumps

Courtesy of foodspotting.com

Courtesy of foodspotting.com

Freshly brewed teas and extra large (but not overwhelming) sizes? We can’t complain here! The best part is that you can choose up to 3 flavors for your tea!

 


 

4. Tea Bar Cafes 

Courtesy of aidamollenkamp.com

Courtesy of aidamollenkamp.com

If you love fresh fruit, this is the place to go. To name a few, they have fresh watermelon, apples and oranges to flavor their teas or as a simple fresh fruit juice!

 


 

5. Honey Boba

Courtesy of bondadppetit.com

Courtesy of bondadppetit.com

Be careful, these cups are sumo-sized! With a large variety of yummy flavors, such as lavender and rose, and a cup big enough to call a cereal bowl, you will definitely get the bang for your buck at this cafe.

 


 

What’s your favorite place to get your boba fix? Did yours make our list?

Feature image courtesy of galleryhip.com.

 

Audrey Fashion Show 2015 Recap

 

The Audrey Fashion Show 2015 took place at 440 Seaton in downtown Los Angeles on March 28, and it was a grand celebration honoring Asian Americans in fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Satine Boutique owner Jeannie Lee was the chosen curator for the show, handpicking designers from all over the world to showcase their summer collections. And because Audrey Magazine had invited some of the most fashion-forward celebrities in the Asian community — from Hana Mae Lee, to Lindsay Price, to Eugenie Grey — the entire venue had become a runway, even before the show officially started.

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Hana Mae Lee. Photo courtesy of John Park

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Jeannie Mai. Photo courtesy of John Park

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The Filharmonic. Photo courtesy of John Park

Kicking off the show was Korean American indie folk-rock band Run River North. After releasing their self-titled album last year, the group has been touring all over America and parts of Europe, but they still made time to blow us away at the Audrey Fashion Show. Their passionate performance held the audience’s attention until the very end, as they played signature tracks like “Monsters Calling North” as well as testing out newer songs for the crowd.

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Run River North. Photo courtesy of John Park

Following their set, the night’s host Jeannie Mai, from FOX’s talk show The Real, took the stage to welcome the audience and introduce the designers. She told stories about what it meant to her when she first saw Audrey Magazine at a bookstore 12 years ago, when the premier Asian American women’s lifestyle magazine first launched, and she even had time to crack a few jokes, asking the audience where she could find a good bowl of pho in LA and doing a spot-on impression of her Vietnamese mother telling her to drive safely back when she got her first car — which was, incidentally, a Toyota, the title sponsor of the night. Other sponsors included PIA, The Korea Daily, WacowLA, MYX TV, Johnnie Walker, Asahi, Qupid, South Coast Plaza and Make-Up Artist Network.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

With everyone’s spirits enlivened, the show began, starting with New York City based designer Rachel Antonoff and L.A. based designer Heidi Merrick. Focused mainly on flowing casual wear, models were dressed in a variety of vacation-worthy styles, complete with straw hats and matching platform wedges provided by Qupid.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

Next came L.A. based contemporary brand AND B paired with Sachin & Babi, named after its husband and wife founders, who stormed the runway with its more modern take on the upcoming season. Models wore contemporary pieces in mainly neutral colors, but still managed to engage onlookers with the addition of bold accessories.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

As a pleasant surprise for the females in the audience, French brand Elevenparis, was the first of the designers to have male models, earning copious applause from the women throughout the venue. With a more street style bent, models sported jersey-esque sets printed with tropical florals and even headshots of model Kate Moss.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

Taking a short break from the fashion, world renowned dancer/choreographer Mike Song and beatboxer Terry Im, better known by his stage name KRNFX, paired up to give a more than memorable performance. Perfectly synchronizing his moves with KRNFX’s beats, Mike Song moved with ease, portraying comical scenarios such as killing a fly, dancing in a club, and a ping pong game between friends. After beatboxing along with Song, KRNFX took center stage to perform a mind-blowing solo, his power never faltering, earning the respect of all the guests.

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Mike Song and KRNFX. Photo courtesy of John Park

The show continued with JACHS New York paired with designer April Mun’s Stella & Jamie. The rock-chic brand strayed from its usually women’s only collection and expanded into menswear. L.A. based brand Cult Gaia and L.A. based designer Sechung showcased a line of cheerful spring styles, while Becca by Rebecca Virtue paired with Lezard Swim to fully embody the upcoming summer season with beachwear.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

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Photo courtesy of John Park

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Photo courtesy of John Park

Ending the performances of the night was the six member group The Filharmonic, an L.A.-based boy band who first gained fame in the NBC reality show The Sing-Off and who will appear in the upcoming highly-anticipated movie Pitch Perfect 2. While on stage, they sang a myriad of songs including Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” the popular “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, and “All of Me” by John Legend. All a capella, their rich vocals effortlessly filled the venue.

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The Filharmonic. Photo courtesy of John Park

For the last time, Jeannie Mai took the stage with runway show curator Jeannie Lee to thank James Campbell of James Campbell Productions and to bid the audience farewell, encouraging them to continue the festivities, ending the show on high note.


Story by Amber Chen
Feature image courtesy of John Park.

ACMIST.com Tells Us What Being A Boss Lady is All About

 

Previously, we had a chance to talk to Jenny Ton  one of the Co-Founders of ACMIST.com  and hear how her life journey lead her to becoming one of the Boss Ladies for ACMIST. But how do you define a “Boss Lady?” After Jenny enlightened us, we believe that every woman can ultimately be a Boss Lady. It’s not about position or titles you hold, but rather it’s the mindset that women live by.

 


 

 

Audrey Magazine: There’s the concept of Boss Lady that we see on your website and social media; can you briefly tell us about it?

Jenny Ton: ACMIST celebrates the diverse beauty and power of womanhood, sisterhood, community and a woman’s authentic self — which we define as Boss Lady.

Boss Lady is also a metaphor for your inner best self that manifests into your outer best self. Therefore, our goal is to validate your highest Boss self while providing you with the acme of all wardrobes, a Boss Lady’s wardrobe.

ACMIST Boss Lady Ethos:
-A Boss Lady believes one woman’s success is every women’s success.
-A Boss Lady carries herself like a boss of life owning her individuality genuinely and unapologetically.
-A Boss Lady uplifts and inspires others with her sharp mind, big heart and undeniable personal style.

 

ACMIST Boss Lady

 

AM: In what ways are you a Boss Lady?

JT: I’m a Boss Lady because I’m a risk taker, which has led me on a rewarding path of pursuing my passions for a greater good. It’s certainly not easy. But with the greatest challenges, comes the greatest rewards.

 


 

AM: On top of managing ACMIST, I know you ladies are involved in different organizations. Can you tell us about the community work you do?

JT: We love the following organizations, which we call our crush orgs. We’re dedicated to partnerships with:

Kearny Street Workshop (kearnystreet.org)

 

 

JT: The oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the country. We were partners for their annual Celebrate Your Body this past January. Celebrate Your Body is an alternative, body-positive fashion and art showcase highlighting Asian Pacific American fashion designers and stylists who specialize in body types and communities too often left out in the mainstream fashion industry. CYB addresses this underrepresentation by boldly redefining beauty. One size does not fit all. As a KSW Board member, we’re excited to continue building with them.

Photography by Jonathan Fong

Photography by Jonathan Fong

Photography by Jonathan Fong

Photography by Jonathan Fong

CYB

Photography by Kaleb Welch

 

JT: Sol Sisters (solsisters.org) combines the creative arts with mental health to celebrate the diverse beauty of women from the inside, out. I’m a Board member and co-directed our most recent Sol Sisters Revival event. Our Sol Sisters Revivals are focused on empowering and supporting disadvantaged women and girls through self-esteem, team building workshops and a full makeover.

Sol Sisters presents their 1st Revival- “Bringing Back Beauty Within” from TR Proz Productions on Vimeo.

 

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Photography by Zeny Durano

Sol Sisters Revival

Photography by Zeny Durano

SolSis

Photography by Zeny Durano

We’re working with Sol Sisters’ on the next Revival, focusing on uplifting our high school teen moms at Hilltop School in San Francisco. Hilltop School’s unique Pregnant Minors Program specializes in comprehensive support for teen moms. Please read more about this Revival and how you can help at: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/teen-mom-makeovers-documentary

 

JT: Compassion is Fashion (compassionisfashion.org) empowers and inspires foster youth and disadvantaged communities through art, fashion, education and self-esteem programs. Compassion is Fashion is less than a year old. As a proud Board member, I’m confident Compassion is Fashion will continue to enrich this world for the better.

 

Photography by Zeny Durano

Photography by Zeny Durano

 


 

AM: What can we expect from ACMIST in the coming year?

JT: Some real #Boss ish! Sign up for our newsletter at ACMIST.com and follow us on our social media for inspiring Boss Lady action.

ACMIST.com/Journal
Instagram.com/ACMIST
Twitter.com/ACMIST
Facebook.com/ACMISTcompany
ACMISTcompany.tumblr.com
Pinterest.com/ACMIST

 


 

AM: Any last comments?

JT: We’d love to offer a special promo for Audrey readers. Receive 35% off your next purchase with us by using promo code: AUDREY35. That’s the biggest discount we’ve ever given out!

Thank you Audrey Magazine for being the voice for so many of us!

 

Audrey Fashion Show Giveaway Winners Revealed!

Fashion. Music. Fun. These are just a few of the many words I can use to describe Audrey Fashion Show 2015, which took place this past Saturday, March 28th at 440 Seaton in Downtown Los Angeles.

To show our appreciation to our wonderful guests, we asked everyone to take pictures of the show and put it up on social media with the hashtags #afs2015 and #LetsGoVip. We then chose two lucky winners at random to receive an exclusive gift from the runway.

It is our absolute pleasure to announce our two winners:

 

   

 

Congratulations to Kelly Li and Suhaila Hobba! We will be direct messaging you soon to give you details about the giveaway. In the meantime, here’s a quick glimpse at even more fashion show fun we found on social media! Be on the look out for our event recap and even more pictures coming to you soon.

 


 

 

Baesian night. #afs2015 @wickedtides @feralcreature

 

A photo posted by francis lola / flamcis (@flamcis) on

KRNFX x MIKESONG @krnfx @mikeosong #badassery #afs2015 A video posted by Yulree Chun (@yulch) on

 

@__justinkang__ favorite band #runrivernorth #audreyfashionshow

 

A photo posted by soa1 (@soa1) on

Meet Jake Shimabukuro, The Ukelele Virtuoso Who Stirs the Soul

After stepping inside the lavish Segerstrom Center Concert Hall, it seemed a little absurd that we were here to see just one ukelele player perform. After all, the concert hall is expansive and it seemed unlikely that single ukelele could fill the entire space. Of course, Japanese American ukelele player, Jake Shimabukuro, was quick to prove me wrong. From a balcony seat, Shimabukuro can pass off as an ordinary young hipster in a plaid shirt, but as soon as he starts playing the ukelele, it’s a different story.

Draped in a background emanating the deep pinks and purples of a Hawaiian sunset, Shimabukuro had only Nolan Verneer on electric bass as an accompaniment. Surrounded by makeshift light torches, it felt as if the audience of 2000 was watching an intimate performance for 20 people. And all of that was credit to Shimabukuro’s playing.

Perhaps it was silly to doubt a ukelele virtuoso like Jake Shimabukuro. After his cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral in 2006, Shimabukuro catapulted into international fame. He went on to compose the soundtracks for the movie Hula Girls and the Japanese remake of Sideways, and he even started in his own documentary Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings (now available on Netflix).

Despite how much you think you know about Shimabukuro, it seems nothing can quite prepare you for a live performance of his. Throughout the concert, I could feel his music stirring emotions and personal memories that had long remained dormant. His music is simply transcendent.

 


 

Audrey Magazine: When and why did you first start playing the ukelele? Was there any one person or thing that inspired you? 

Jake Shimabukuro: I was born and raised in Hawaii where playing the ukulele is very common. It’s a big part of the culture there, so all the kids learned it when you’re in school and all that. And my mom played it a lot. When I was four years old, she sat me down and taught me a few chords and I just fell in love and I haven’t put it down since.

 

AM: Do you feel your background as a fifth-generation Japanese American born in Hawaii influences your work?

JS: Oh, definitely. I probably wouldn’t have played ukulele if I wasn’t born in Hawaii. Growing up in Hawaii, Japanese culture is very common and as a kid, I was very familiar with Japanese cuisine. I like sushi and tonkatsu and shrimp tempura and steamed rice and all that stuff. And of course just culturally– things that are very cultural in Japan was familiar to me growing up. So definitely my Japanese heritage has definitely played a large part in my music and in my life. Growing up, I was fascinated with Japanese folk instruments like the koto and the shamisen. All of that really intrigued me and so that influenced the way I see music, the way I interpret melodies and in my composition.

 

AM: What is a typical day of practice like for you? How strict are you when it comes to practice?

JS: I play every day. I’ve been preparing for the world’s first ukulele concerto performance, so I’ve been working my butt off for that. Also, I just got off the studio making a new record.  Right now, I have a bus tour with an eight man crew, so a typical day for me is just waking up in the morning and then practice an hour. After that, I have breakfast and a cup of coffee, check emails, then practice again while making notes on my setlist for the performance. Sometimes after that, there are interviews I have to do. Then it’s soundcheck, dinner and then the show.

 

AM: You first became an internet YouTube viral sensation in 2006 with the Beatles cover “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and since then you have done a number of covers. What has been your favorite cover so far?

JS: The one I have been playing a lot of recently is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and people really love it. It’s a classic iconic rock tune.

 

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AM: What types of music do you normally listen to and how does that influence your work, particularly for your original compositions?

JS: It’s a little bit of everything… Traditional Hawaiian music, Japanese folk tunes, traditional Japanese pieces, classical music, folk music, punk music, rock’n’roll music. It has helped me to evolve as a musician. Every genre has helped me evolve.

 

AM: You currently have a documentary on Netflix called Life on Four Strings. Can you tell us more about that? Has the documentary made you even more recognizable than before?

JS: The director was Tadashi Nakamura, a great filmmaker. He followed me for over two years. It took a while for me to get used to having cameras follow me all the time, but it was a great experience. And now, because my family was featured in the documentary, people ask me questions like ‘Oh, how is your wife doing?’ or ‘How is your mom?’ I guess they see the documentary and feel really close. So it’s really neat and I appreciate that there’s this closeness. It’s a rare thing and I don’t take it for granted and I genuinely appreciate the support and encouragement from other people who come out to the shows and who really love music and are really passionate. It’s important for people to support the arts. I wouldn’t mind doing it again, if somebody wants to.

 

AM: What advice can you give to anyone who wants to start learning the ukulele?

JS: The best advice is to just have fun. The ukulele is supposed to bring joy. It’s supposed to make people feel good.

 

Feature image courtesy of Adam Jung http://jakeshimabukuro.com/