Far East Movement’s (FM) Kevin Nishimura, also known as Kev Nish, said it best last Sunday, September 6, at the JCPenney presents International Secret Agents Concert in Cerritos, Calif.: “This [concert] is about following your dreams and following your dreams to represent a community, our community.”
Already in its third year, the International Secret Agents (ISA) concert has become a gateway to building and making dreams come true for many hopeful Asian American artists. The show was a successful collaboration created by two visionary artist groups — Wong Fu Productions and Far East Movement — that truly illustrated the potential of many rising Asian American musicians, singers, filmmakers, comedians and dancers. This year’s ISA hosted not one, but two concerts — in New York and L.A.
This was my first time attending one of the ISA concerts and let me tell you, the night was full of such great energy! It was truly a night dedicated to putting Asian American faces and personalities on stage.
Luckily, although I was running a bit late (as usual … horrible!), I got a chance to catch up with both the creators of ISA.
“ISA will bring the fans what they want, and allow these artists to extend their reach beyond their regular fan bases. This year is going to be historic,” said FM member James “Prohgress” Roh.
Wesley Chan, Ted Fu and Philip Wang of filmmaking group Wong Fu Productions also shared the same sentiment. Started in 2003 by Chan, Fu and Wang at UC San Diego, Wong Fu Productions has become an Internet sensation with 30 million viewers on their YouTube channel.
“The internet is how we were able to reach our fans on a global scale,” said Wang. “With ISA concerts, our fans get to meet us and the artists that we work with on a more personal local level. And to have ISA in both L.A. and New York is going to be amazing. The last three sold-out shows were all in California and fans were asking us to bring ISA to the East Coast. That’s why we decided to bring it to New York City — because the fans demanded it.”
This year’s glamorous event was nothing but a success, with famous YouTube stars Ryan Higa and Kevin Wu hosting the event along with dance starlet Lydia Paek of Quest Dance Crew … all sporting fall fashions from JCPenney!
Kevin Wu, more popularly known as KevJumba on YouTube, said the cast had just gotten back from New York. He explained that although they were tired, they were ready to start ISA LA with lots of energy and high-spirits. Wu had said that ISA LA had given the artists a chance to reunite again and see their friends one more time. “It’s like a reunion and it’s been nothing but great,” said Wu.
To his viewers’ delight, Wu has even more exciting news as he and his father have been announced as the new contestants on CBS’s The Amazing Race. He said he is nervous but excited for the show.
The line-up included the darling AJ Raphael (singer/songwriter with 200,000 YouTube subscribers), bohemian princess Alyssa Bernal (Interscope recording artist with 300,000 YouTube subscribers), and America’s Best Dance Crew Season 5 champs Poreotics. Surprise guests included my fellow anteater and YouTube queen Jennifer Chung who was spotted in the audience, the ever-funny man Danny Cho, dreamy YouTube singer David Choi, Andrew Garcia, America’s Best Dance Crew Season 3 champions Quest Crew, and even Nick Cannon! (Since when did he become Asian?)
But perhaps the two most anticipated performers of the night was none other than FM and South Korea’s former 2PM music band member Jay Park (Park Jay Beom).
This was Park’s first live performance since leaving the Korean stage. He will be debuting his new album on September 24. His performance was different from his pop 2PM days as his single, “Demon,” is a powerful song full of poised beat and rhythm. FM’s “Girls on the Dance Floor” just debuted as the #12 most purchased on iTunes Chart. As they hip-hopped their way to the stage wearing their signature sunglasses of funk, “Fly Like a G6” bumped up in the speakers, and all the young girls had rushed to the stage in an instant.
Perhaps, one of the luckiest girls of the night was Ted Fu’s girlfriend … or should we say fiancé. At the ISA New York concert, Fu had announced his engagement to girlfriend Katie of two and a half years and Wong Fu definitely played up Ted’s proposal throughout the L.A. concert, even showing off a hilarious last-minute new short vying to be Ted’s best man.
Overall, I was amazed by the power and passion of these artists and moreover, their message. It was inspiring to see such a show dedicated to the appreciation and cultivation of our Asian heritage and cultural roots. FM’s Kev Nish said that it was “important to stay in touch with your community and it was important to have fun while doing it.” They were proud to have worked with Wong Fu Productions and are extremely humbled by the growth of ISA over the last three years. Hopefully with the growth of ISA, Americans can continue to support the evolution of Asian Americans in media and film. As Nish said, “No longer are Asian American artists going to be labeled as Asian American artists, but as simply artists who produce good quality music.”
And the event proved just that, straight from the hearts of artists pursuing their dreams.
Photos thanks to Jenny Lee.
Editor’s note: Assistant Editor Janice Jann also attended the ISA concert and wrote her own thoughts on the concert here.