RUN RIVER NORTH: The Difficulties of Pleasing Asian Parents When You’re A Musician

Among the talented artists that performed at Audrey Magazine and KoreAm Journal‘s annual awards gala, Unforgettable, indie band Run River North definitely stood out.

This six-member band is a force to be reckoned with when they’re together and luckily, others are beginning to notice. Run River North was recently featured on Last Call With Carson Daily.

The band discusses how they came together, how they lost a competition to a yo yo player and even how fun playing music in the back of a Honda can be.

During the interview, the band pointed out that they are all children of immigrants and with that comes a certain expectation and responsibility. Many of us can relate to the pressure of repaying our parents for their sacrifices.

“This [life as a musicians] is a very interesting choice for our parents. Having that family background makes doing this music seem very challenging. Our parents grew up wanting us to have a stable American Dream life. And we’re doing this which hopefully will be that, but in a lot of those first couple of years, sometimes even your whole career, you wont know what success looks like so having to juggle our own hopes and aspirations along with trying to honor our parents rightly — that challenge is something that we face everyday.”

Check out the entire interview below.

 

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Jun Sung Ahn’s AMAZING ‘Frozen’ Violin Cover of “Let It Go”

You probably know Jun Sung Ahn through his violin & dance cover of EXO’s hit song “Growl.” With nearly 300,000 views on his video, Jun Sung Ahn was thrown into viral popularity and found himself performing at events at like KCON and Kollaboration.

The young artist, who claims his specialties are violin, dance, film, video, photography, producing, editing and performing, seems ready to keep his popularity going.

A few days ago, the talented artist released a violin cover of “Let it go” from Disney’s popular animated film Frozen. Although its only been a few days, the cover has already generated nearly 150,000 views and for good reason!

Among the hundreds of “Let it go” covers, Jun Sung Ahn powerful and shiver-inducing version clearly stands out. As the video makes its way around social media, many are claiming that this is the best instrumental cover of the song.

Hear it for yourself and check out his violin & dance cover of EXO’s “Growl” below.

You Won’t Believe Who’s Behind This Amazing Nujabes Cover

 

Nujabes was a Japanese hip hop producer and DJ. The name “Nujabes” is the reverse spelling of the DJ’s birth name, Jun Seba. Aside from owning  Shibuya record stores, T Records and Guinness Records and founding Hydeout Production, Nujabes is most known for his blend of jazz with hip hop music.

Some of his more notable works include the “Luv(sic)’ hexalogy as well as his work in the anime Samurai Champloo.

In 2010, Nujabes died in a traffic accident leaving his many fans to grieve over the 36-year-old.

Of course, much of his work remains popular today. Recently, some students in Korea have been reaching viral popularity due to their impressive cover of Nujabes’ “Aquarian Dance.” The best part about all this? The students are 2nd graders.

Check out the talented students of an elementary school in Daegu, South Korea. For your reference, you can hear the original Nujabes version below.

 

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Nujabes

The Lylas: Much More Than JUST The Sisters of Bruno Mars

Story by Jimmy Lee. 

There is nothing in life quite like family. Your parents are the source of your being, and it is family members who can offer support and comfort, unconditionally. But those same people can also cause stress and frustration to the point where you wish you were dead. And no matter how much they piss you off or cause you grief — like the umpteenth time they nag you about being single into your late 30s — there’s no escape from them, because they will always be family.

For the Hernandezes of Honolulu, there is something else that binds them: music. And there’s one fortunate son who’s made quite a name for himself doing just that: Peter Hernandez, better known as Bruno Mars. But now his four sisters — Jaime, Tiara, Tahiti and Presley — want to demonstrate just how deeply the musical talent runs in their brood. Together, they’re The Lylas, and their journey to hopefully becoming the next pop stars in the family is documented in a new non-scripted series that premiered on WEtv in early November, simply titled The Lylas.

Now, before you start to roll your eyes about another gaggle of girls from the same family having their lives captured on camera, this quartet of women had some of the same thoughts. “Before we signed up to do a reality show, we weren’t 100 percent behind it. There’s a stigma with reality shows,” says eldest sister Jaime. “Are people going to laugh at us? Is it going to flop? Is it going to do well? Are we going to take it seriously?”

Watching the first episode, you’ll recognize some of the tropes that characterize these types of shows. First off, the four daughters of Peter Hernandez, Sr., and Bernadette Bayot certainly all have the prerequisite telegenic looks. And there is plenty of bickering to go along with the alcohol consumption.

But tragedy would befall that would change their outlook on the reality show experience: their mother, also known as Bernie, died this past June of a brain aneurysm in the midst of taping. “We’re so grateful to have documented our last few special moments with our mother,” says Jaime, “that all of [the concerns of doing a reality show] are out the window.”

The series premieres with the sisters coping with their loss, and then flashes back in time as they prepare to move from Hawaii to Los Angeles to pursue their musical dreams, with their mother’s support. There are some chilling moments as you hear Bernie say, “I’m just a baby star-maker,” as well as her making references to life and death.

As a child, Bernie and her family emigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii in 1968. She, along with some of her siblings, grew up to be a performer, including a hula dancer, as part of Honolulu’s many shows. That is where she met Peter Hernandez, who is of Puerto Rican and Eastern European Jewish descent, who is also an entertainer.

“When [our father] met our mom, he taught her how to sing. My dad cannot sing at all,” says Jaime. “But he’s an amazing producer. He can arrange harmonies beautifully.”

One of the projects in Honolulu Peter started was a revue called the Love Notes. “My mom ran the girl group, and he ran the guy group,” says Jaime. “Shows [and our parents’ rehearsals] were a part of our lives. For us, that was like going to soccer practice.”

“Have you seen The Sound Of Music?,” Tahiti chimes in, the second youngest sister and a mother of two boys. “That’s what our family was like, minus the whole Nazi thing. [The Von Trapp family is] what we aspired to be.”

Talking to all four sisters at once over a conference call is a daunting experience. They have fun at this writer’s expense when asked for their ages (in their 20s and 30s is all they would reveal; Presley’s the youngest). They certainly gab like sisters, interrupting one another and finishing sentences. And soon enough, the barbs are flying as they all poke fun of each other, even while they reminisce about their mother.

“My mom could dance hula, she could boogie dance,” says Tahiti. “My mom was the best dancer. Yes, Jaime, better than you. Way better than you.”

“I agree,” adds Tiara.

Jaime’s good-natured response: “Everyone, shut up!”

With music such a huge factor in their lives, perhaps it was inevitable that the sisters would form their own girl group (the sixth sibling, Eric, is the drummer in Bruno’s band). The Lylas, which stands for “love you like a sister,” came about when a nonprofit charity organization that Jaime founded, called 4 Mama Earth, was going to put out a benefit record to raise money for an orphanage in the Philippines. The sisters wrote a song called “Headed Home.”

“It’s all about going back to your roots and never forgetting where you came from,” says Jamie. “It was going to be a ‘We Are The World’ type of song, and we had a bunch of [Filipino American] artists on the song. And I called the girls and was like, ‘We need to do this together. Let’s just do a little bridge or a hook on the song.’ So we did, and it was just magic in the studio. And then we were like, ‘let’s work on another song,’ and so we started writing together and recording and it just sort of happened like that.”

They’ve released one single thus far, “Come Back,” a song about realizing you’ve dumped the wrong man. While it may not speak directly to Jaime, a married mother of two, she says, “but as sisters, when one person goes through something, we all kind of go through it together. It might not apply to all of us at the same time, but it applies to us at some point in our lives. When you date one of us, you date all of us.”

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” adds Tahiti.

“Mostly it’s a curse,” Tiara quickly responds.

Being related to Bruno Mars, too, has both positives and negatives. “It’s difficult because a lot of people think, ‘Bruno’s their brother, so it’s just going to be so easy for them,’” says Presley. “Actually, it makes things a lot harder because we have a lot more barriers to break. We have to get out of being ‘Bruno’s sisters.’”

“It’s been helpful in that it’s gotten us in the door,” says Tahiti, “but it doesn’t take us anywhere, really. We’ve got to do that ourselves.”

They are already making an impression on people, especially through social media. It was their fans who started urging them via Twitter to do a television series. “I think they’ve seen the chemistry that me and my sisters have together,” says Tahiti. “And everyone after that petitioned, ‘please have a reality show; open the doors and let us into your guys’ world.’”

Of course, mixing family and business can be a volatile combination. When asked if they like working together as sisters, Tahiti jokes, “I got to go, my phone’s cutting out.”

But, ultimately, just like family, being in a group together “has its ups and downs,” says Jaime. “But if we weren’t sisters, I could see why girl groups break up. It’s not easy. Just because we’re sisters doesn’t mean egos aren’t involved. We do fight. But at the end of the day, we’re still sisters, and we have to get over it. It makes us closer.”

 

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This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

 

Jon M. Chu Directs The World’s Coolest Airline Safety Video EVER

If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you’re probably more than familiar with the standard, federally regulated safety procedures that the stewards and stewardesses explain at the start of every flight (cue hand motions to indicate where the emergency exits are).  It’s customary and expected, but, let’s be honest, it can be a little dry.  Though we fully appreciate and are very grateful for the explanations, sometimes we can zone out.

But Virgin America has changed all of that with this 5-minute clip that is slowly becoming a viral hit.  It’s being promoted as the first domestic pre-flight safety video set to song, and to be completely honest, IT’S AMAZING.

Under the eye of Asian American director Jon M. Chu (Step Up franchise, GI Joe: Retaliation), the video is set in a airplane hanger, with bright lights, a fancy dance routine and the catchiest Motown-esque track — complete with a rap break.  The video will play on Virgin America flights, according to Variety.

Though the video was just released on the 29th, it’s already racked up over 140,000+ hits.  With viewers already loving it, combining entertainment with safety has already “taken off” without a glitch.  Wanna take a peek, just take a look below!  And in their words (and we quote), get ready to “buckle up to get down.”

Blind 11-Year-Old Sings Amazing “Wrecking Ball” Cover

It goes without saying that Miley Cyrus has generated quite a bit of attention for herself the past few months. Though some may shake their head at the provocative performances and the minimal amount of clothing, there’s no denying the amount of people who enjoy her music.

That includes 11-year-old Joyce Jimenez from the Philippines. In fact, Jimenez is so passionate about Cyrus’ song “Wrecking Ball” that she has no problem belting out the song for the public to see.

Although Jimenez is blind and must follow along to braille lyrics, nothing seems to stop this talented girl from letting her voice shine.

The video, which was released less than a week ago, has already been going viral and has gathered over 480,000 views. Clearly, it’s for good reason. Check out the cover below and don’t be surprised if you catch yourself with goosebumps.

Korean Contestant Dami Im Becomes Australia’s “X-Factor” Winner

To the delight of her many fans, Korean contestant Dami Im won Australia’s X-Factor last night.

The 25-year-old signer was born in South Korea and moved to Australia at the young age of 9. The Sydney Morning Herald notes that Im was teased because of her accent when she arrived in Australia and now suffers from shyness.

Luckily, her humble personality was loved by many. In fact, The Guardian has named Im “the least annoying winner in Australian reality TV history.”

But before she won the love of the public, Im first won over the judges during her audition piece. Though the judges admit to having low expectations, they were blown away when Im belted out Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and were quick to give her a standing ovation.

At one point during “bootcamp”, Im was sent home for forgetting the lyrics.  However, a contestant dropped out and she was able to return to the show and and gain her victory.

The Guardian explains that Im quickly became a fan favorite and for good reason.

Not only was Dami the season’s strongest singer, most consistently exciting performer and most stylish coathanger, but her quietly confident and reserved personality was a stark rejoinder to the usual excitably hammy reality show contestant. Finally, here’s someone who can belt out Purple Rain while wearing lace dragon wings and getting doused in water, and still casually act like it’s no big thing.

 

Im proved to be quite the entertainer. From crazy outfits to outrageous performances, Im clearly became the one to watch.

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Last night, with a hand over her mouth in shock and joy, Im sank to her knees when she was announced the winner. Of course, her achievement was not without difficulties. Im was immediately met with twitter comments all generated towards her race. News.com.au reports that some claim Im was not worthy of the title because  “it’s not Australian X Factor if an Asian wins.” Luckily, even more fans rose to her defense.

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And what else can silence the viewers who claim Im was not worthy of the title? Maybe the fact that Im’s song already rose to the number one spot on iTunes in less than 24 hours.

Experts are claiming that Im has a good shot at being the first Asian-Australian popstar and we’re waiting anxiously to see when this happens.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rxRqp8UjrQ

(Source 1, 2, 3, 4)

Asian American Indie Band Swears Their Name Isn’t Racist

Story by Young Rae Kim.

The Asian American band, The Slants, have been unsuccessful in trying to trademark their name. For four years, the six-member rock band hailing from Portland, Ore., has been fighting with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which has denied approval, saying the name is disparaging for people of Asian descent.

Simon Tam, the founder and bassist of The Slants, responded by saying that the PTO has rejected their request on the basis of their ethnicity, while a Caucasian band would not be denied this name, NPR reported.

The group, which describes its sound as “Chinatown dance rock,” have already had several attempts shot down by the PTO.

In 2009, the group attempted to “reclaim” the racist term and applied for a trademark with the patent office. However, they were denied approval, to which the band responded by saying that the term holds multiple meanings. For instance, they argued that in their case The Slants referred to musical chords.

However, the PTO ruled that the “The intent of an applicant to disparage the referenced group is not necessary to find that the mark does, in fact, disparage that group.”

The band tried again in 2011, but with a different approach. This time they claimed the name has nothing to with anything Asian.  However, it was refused for the second time.

 

Yet again, the band a now trying another tactic and are now preparing to take the case to federal circuit court, where they are claiming that their right to free speech has been violated. It will be another tough battle because the PTO does not forbid the band to call themselves The Slants, it just does not allow them to trademark the name.

The band is hoping the courts see it differently, and if not, the national attention from the legal battle won’t hurt them.

 

This story was originally published in KoreAm Journal

Lorde’s Next Hit Track Is … a K-pop Song?

Well, not exactly.  But, it seems that the 16-year old singer has been hit by the hallyu wave and may be joining the ranks of Teddy Riley, will.i.am, Diplo, Bauuer, Missy Eliott and host of others on the list of non-Korean artists who have worked on K-Pop tracks.

In a recent interview with Clash Magazine, the songstress and writer behind the smash hit “Royals” expressed to branch out when it comes to writing music, mentioning that she’d love to pen a track for a K-Pop girl group.  The reason?  The ridiculously catchy melodies and out-of-this-world, extravagant concepts that have become the hallmark of the genre.  She mentions:

“Girl bands are only cool if they’re so ridiculous it’s awesome, like the K-Pop girl bands with twelve people who rule the country. I’d write for a Korean girl band, definitely – some of their melodies are the best pop.”

There’s more than enough groups that she can choose from — Wikipedia lists a total of 78 current groups — we must admit, that we have a shortlist of acts that we’d love to see her work with (aka Girl’s Generation, 2NE1 and miss A).

Most online readers were open, even excited, for the prospect of Lorde making a crossover into Korean pop:

“Oh my gosh if this happens, I’ll love K-Pop even more!”
“Lorde wants to write music for K-pop? YOU GO GIRL.”
“See even Lorde wants to write lyrics for a k-pop girl group. Yes. Be jealous, haters.”

And there should be reason to be excited.  If Lorde can bring her art pop, minimal electronica sound to the sometimes-stagnant K-Pop sphere, definitely sign us up for a first-listen; it’ll be something to listen to, without a doubt.

 

 

(Source; Photo Source: Billboard)

Must-See Video | Welcome to The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Sure the 2020 Olympics is years away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about it. Japan certainly seems excited to host the big event. Earlier in September, much to the excitement of Japanese citizens, it was announced that Tokyo would host the Olympic games in 2020. Of course, this decision was made after the Japanese prime minister flew in to reassure voters that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima power plant would not create a health risk.

“Here in Buenos Aires, we have received many voices of support and felt the passion from people in Japan,” says Tokyo governor Naoki Inose. “I am overjoyed to learn that our dream has come true.”

By hosting the Olympics in 2020, Tokyo will be the first Asian city to host the Olympics twice, having also hosted the 1964 Games.

In honor of the big event, World Order, a Japanese band which started in 2009, decided to create “Welcome to Tokyo.” The band, which was created by former mixed martial artist Genki Sudo, combines music, slow-motion moves and robotic moves.  The video has already gathered nearly 800,000 views and for good reason — its both hypnotizing and entertaining.

Be sure to check out their other visually stunning piece below: