Please Support Strength in NUMBERS!

I mentioned the project in my last post. The lack of Asian American representation in the media is alarming. Here to break down barriers and destroy stereotypes is Strength in NUMBERS.

Strength in NUMBERS is a grassroots Asian American music project featuring over 30 Asian American and Asian artists. I’ve backed $10 and tweeting daily to raise awareness for this project. If you love good music and/or minority representation activism there is something here for you. The project has reached $10,000 but it still needs about $14,000 to become real. There’s 5 days to go!

I’ve never been into the hip hop scene but I always support the underdogs. There is some great hidden talent in this album. Yesterday all $10 and up backers received a preview version of the album and I’ve can attest to the talent, musicianship, and message of this music. This isn’t fluff. There is depth and meaning, what music should be.

If you aren’t convinced, here is a free preview. My favorite tracks are #1, 18, and 19.

Now that this is off my chest I can finally get to that homework I’ve been putting off.

 

Advertisements

It’s Time

When I was twelve I dreamed of being a storyteller. I devoured words about queens and detectives. I lined the unused pages of my black and white school journals with bad comics and over-dramatic back stories. When I was twelve I created a character that I couldn’t find among the thousands of books that lined the library walls.

For some reason, I remembered that today.

She was a princess from a faraway land – but she didn’t know it. Trapped in suburban America, she one day stumbles upon secret documents that reveal her true identity and she realizes that the color of her hair and the shape of her eyes that always seemed out of place did not come from the mother she and her sister shared. Smuggled from her home on a fictional Pacific Island, her captivity was part of a plot to overthrow the the family that had led this tiny kingdom since the light of the sun hit the Earth. What happens next, I never got around to writing.

It was Princess Diaries meets colonization. It was about a girl who had always felt different and alone and was finally able to make sense of it all. It was about a disconnect from the past. It was about an Asian American.

Without even realizing it, at the age of twelve, I knew I couldn’t count on the media to represent my race, so I sought to do it myself.

This past weekend, I came across an article about Asian American identity that has become quite viral (The Asian American Awakening.) The author’s experiences virtually mirror mine. There comes a time in many Asian American youths’ lives when they realize, “I am not white” and then they seek to reconcile this feeling. In the hours past midnight I labored over the comments, becoming enraged at how some fellow Asian Americans could not see how American society has hurt our race because of subtle discrimination and “model minority” myths. Why don’t they understand!

The problem is in development. The Asian American experience is unique. It’s an identity crisis. We go through stages: ethnic awareness, white identification, awakening to social and political consciousness, redirection, and incorporation. Maybe those people haven’t awakened to these social and political issues yet. I believe it is my job and the job of others who have awakened to raise awareness of these problems and disparities.

All too often we are forgotten about in discourse about race. It is not well known that we walked alongside our Black brothers and sisters during the fight for civil rights. The media can glorify race in every case where a black boy’s life is taken away by a white man but when will they do the same for every Asian American that suffers the same fate? It’s not like it never happens. We are not problem-less. We are not perfect. We are not a model minority.

So even today I’m not sure if I can find a book or movie that features an Asian American lead character that I can identify with. But we are getting there. One by one we can make strides, but only if we’re in it together in solidarity. I only hope that we don’t need another Vincent Chin to make it happen.

—-

PLUG: On a related note, I’m backing this amazing Asian American music project on Kickstarter called Strength in NUMBERS so please check it out! I’ve never really been into rap/hip-hop but this project got me to change my mind. I want this project to happen so bad and there’s 10 days left as of now to make it work so go go go!

“Small Town Moon” and Big City Dreams

 I must’ve lived a thousand times
But every day begins the same
‘Cause there’s a small town in my mind
How can I leave without hurting everyone that made me?

Oh, baby, baby, it’s all about the moon
I wish you wouldn’t have broken my camera
‘Cause we’re gonna get real old real soon
Today we’re younger than we ever gonna be

Stop, stop, what’s the hurry?
Come on, baby, don’t you worry, worry
Everybody not so nice, nice

Thought you ought to know by now
I thought you ought to know by now
Everybody not so nice, nice
Everybody not so nice, nice

Ever since I listened to Regina Spektor’s Small Town Moon when it came out last year, I felt an immediate connection to the song, without even realizing how much it would reflect my feelings right now. For me, this song is about growing up in the comfort of your home in a small town and struggling with the difficulties of wanting to stay behind and wanting to take a risk and pursue your passions.

This summer when I went to Hong Kong I listened to this song for comfort. Because of Regina, I knew I was not alone in my feelings that in falling in love with a city halfway across the globe I was abandoning everything that I grew up knowing back in the tiny state of Delaware. It somehow made it okay not to be homesick.

But now I am back in Delaware, and although I do not go to school in the same town where I spent my pre-college days I have difficulty reconciling that if I want to follow my dreams of starting a non-profit that empowers women and minority business owners, especially of Asian descent, I might have to leave the state where the majority of my family lives. These thoughts consume me on a day-to-day basis because 1) I work in career services and am forced to think about job-related things at least twice a week and 2) it’s recruitment season. I scour our Career Services website at least once a day, if not more.

So really it’s a decision between comfort and risk. I can either take the easy way out and slide up the corporate ladder in Operations in a locally-based company, which I wouldn’t have minded doing 8 months ago, or I can take a risk for an unpaid position in a new city in an organization that shares my mission and cause. And these decisions are made in a time-sensitive context. “Today we’re younger than we’re ever gonna be” and if we keep hesitating and putting off big decisions, we might lose our chance. Even if I do end up working in corporate, one day I hope to be able to share the wealth with my fellow females and otherwise marginalized species members.

Today I made a spreadsheet with a bunch of different companies that I would love to work for because of their mission and some that are just great corporate supply chain opportunities. I need to weigh some pros and cons rather than just flip-flop in my mind.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this now. I only thought of writing something about this while sitting in my dreadful math class today.

I’ve started reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg and I’m really liking it so far. It’s already shaping my views on go-getting and risk-taking. Apparently, females are more risk-averse and even I can attest to that.  I will probably write a little reaction piece once I’m done.

It’s Friday the 13th. I walked under a ladder this week. Twice. On second thought maybe I should put off that risk taking for a while. ;)

That’s Just The Way It Goes…

January 14th, 2013.

The day The Click Five announced that they were parting ways.

I can’t even explain in words how much this band means to me. When I first heard Just The Girl back in 2005, when I was just 12 years old, I had no idea how much I would love The Click Five and dedicate my time and ear to them. For almost 8 years, The Click Five has been my favorite band. These 8 years weren’t always an easy journey, for me and the The Click Five, and in a way I feel like I’ve grown up and out with them.

August 16th, 2005.

The quintet, originally composed of Eric Dill, Ben Romans, Ethan Mentzer, Joe Guese, and Joey Zehr released their first album Greetings From Imrie House August 16th, 2005. The date is important because it is also my sister’s birthday. I remember buying myself their CD as a birthday gift for myself when my birthday came around in September. I had just started middle school. I was addicted to listening to the CD. I listened to it everyday after school while I did my homework. Needless to say, I quickly memorized every lyric and even the tracklist so I automatically knew what songs came after which. I somehow found my way onto the Click Five message boards, affectionately called “The Boards.” I think this is when I was really converted into a fan. As people in fandoms generally are, I thirsted to learn every little bit of every member as I could. Their birthdays, favorite colors, nick names, hometowns. I religiously watched their tour diary videos over and over again. I desperately wanted to be able to witness one of their concerts in person but for the time being, I bonded with other Click Five fans from around the US and only managed to see The Click Five live through low quality phone video recordings.

They blew up. Just The Girl was a hit. Everyone knew the song. I was proud enough to state that they were my favorite band at the very mention of their name. They held a world tour. They traveled to Europe. They filmed a movie, Taking 5. They now had fans from around the world. Back at home, I was proud of their success and recognition. I had never met any of them and I couldn’t even say that I truly knew what their personalities were like. All I knew was that these guys had a talent for making music, and I connected with it and was invested.

Fans were eagerly anticipating a second record, hearing bits and pieces of new tracks at shows and through Youtube clips, but somewhere between 2006 and 2007 something un-Clicked. Eric was leaving the band. This came as a shock to many, and with Eric’s departure was also the departure of a good portion of the fanbase. He was the lead singer, after all. Most people recognize a band mainly by their lead. He wanted to pursue a solo career and I wished him luck, understanding that Eric and the rest of The Click Five had musical and career differences. What I realized then was that although I loved Eric’s voice, it was the intangible and indescribably distinct Click Five sound and songwriting that kept me coming. As long as Ben Romans and Ethan Mentzer kept writing the Click Five songs, I would keep loving them.

Along comes Kyle Patrick. Some fans resisted him, by I kept an open heart and open ears. Little did I know that this man would change my life. Four words: Band Behind The Band. A new marketing strategy to reignite the hype that had disappeared since their very successful first year and just videos full of hilarity and near insanity. Sometimes I think that they blew up too fast because by 2007, The Click Five was virtually unknown and it was a shame because that year an amazing record came out.

May 11, 2007.

This was my chance at last! I remember absolutely freaking out in my cousin’s basement when I found out that The Click Five was giving a free concert right in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. I had to go. Otherwise I would probably die. The Wilmington Flower Market show was my first concert ever. I was 14, about to finish up middle school and start a new chapter in my life as a high school student. It’s funny how so many events relating to The Click Five coincidentally related to important moments in my real life. This was Kyle’s first show as an official member of The Click Five and the first on their tour to promote their new album Modern Minds and Pastimes. I recall standing in line at the end of the show to get autographs and a picture when the girl infront of me asked her friend who the lead singer was. I promptly responded, “His name is Kyle.” I had been following the band’s journey with Kyle since the beginning and I was proud of it. Admittedly, I didn’t remember Kyle’s last name at the time. (P.S. Patrick is his stagename, understandably since his real last name is Dickherber.) I got a picture and autographs. I witnessed them performing live. I told Joey happy birthday (which was the day before), slightly disappointed in myself that I didn’t think to make him a birthday gift so I could be one of those fans that they’d remember. But my life was complete at the moment. This was a phrase I often caught myself saying after anything Click Five related.

215649_1033745967772_1048_n

When their sophomore record came out I listened to it just as much as their first one. My cousins and I filmed a music video for Headlight Disco which, according to my brother got 17,000-something views on Youtube. When I think back to it, it’s kind of embarrassing, but at least I played director and editor so my actual person wasn’t in it haha!

Somehow during the 2007-2008 period, the band garnered a massive fanbase in Asia, which is/was their biggest market to today. It still confuses me to this day how it happened, but I commend them for it and I commend Asia for recognizing the raw talent that was resident in the band. Asia knows what’s up. The Click Five partnered with MTV Exit, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to and stopping human trafficking, a problem that is prevalent all over the world, but especially big in Southeast Asia. The members put in a lot of commitment to the cause, giving benefit and awareness shows and personally visiting victim shelters in countries like Cambodia. This only gave me another reason to dedicate every fiber of my being into loving them as musicians and just beautiful people in general.

Throughout 2008 and 2009, The Click Five played smaller venues up and down the East Coast. After my first Click Five concert experience, I was desperate for another and I actually had many chances to see them as they played shows in Philadelphia pretty often, but they always happened on a weekday when I had school so I never had the chance. They were working on a new record. Again, fans were waiting for it and kept being teased by tour diaries and video snippets. But of course, there was another bump in the road.

They split ways with their label, which prevented them from creating the music they wanted to. That’s the thing I don’t like about mainstream music and record labels. They don’t let their artists do what they love. Although The Click Five was much more handicap financially without a label backing them, the music they wrote during that time was the best yet. I still think it’s funny how The Click Five’s journey as a band is opposite of how many bands reach fame. Instead of being discovered as an indie act that reaches mainstream popularity like, for example, Imagine Dragons or Fun, The Click Five went from a heavily manufactured experience to a band that had to self-finance their album and reinvented their sound to fit a much more mature audience.

Over the past 3 years, I think most fans were in the dark with what was happening. People were unsure of whether the band was still together and making music. Kyle was working on solo music and doing tiny solo shows. Singles were released but did not reach popularity outside of the current fanbase. There would be moments when you’d think that the band was about to make an epic comeback into the music scene and then your hopes would be let down. During that time I bought a vinyl with two of their new tracks I Quit! I Quit! I Quit! and Be In Love. Yeah, I don’t own a record player. At last released their third and now final album TCV in 2010, first to Asia, then worldwide later in 2011. It was by far their best work.

May 25th, 2011.

Philly, World Cafe Live, Downstairs. I was a Senior in high school and I was done with my finals. All I had to do was graduate. This was not a show I could miss. It had been 5 years since I had seen The Click Five live and with the especially bumpy musical journey these guys had, there was no way of knowing when I’d get the chance to see them again. I’m actually pretty fortunate in comparison to a lot of Click Five fans who don’t live so close to the Mid-Atlantic Region. It was one of the best nights of my life. Words cannot explain it. It’s just a feeling. Here’s a video.

And time goes on. These guys have had an influence on my life in more ways than one.

Kyle started his solo PledgeMusic project which I’ve posted about before. He’s getting so much positivity in Asia right now. I wish him the best and I hope he gets some more recognition here in the states. Oh and Kyle, if you read this, will you ever go back to your singer-songwriter style? I miss it. Kyle’s really good friends with Jesse Ruben and that’s how I was introduced to his music, and is now one of my favorite songwriters. Both Kyle and Jesse have both inspired me to be the best that I can be and chase my dreams. They are proof that hard work and dedication to a goal or cause will make a difference. One day, I hope to run the NY Marathon beside you guys.

Almost as religiously as I used to listen to GFIH I read the Mr. Kate blog. Kate Albrecht, entrepreneur, lifestyle blogger, and DIY-er extraordinaire is also Joey’s girlfriend and my ultimate role model. I don’t quite remember how exactly I found her blog or her connection to The Click Five, but she was also in Taking 5. She has also inspired me that success as a woman and crafter is possible and I hope to follow her footsteps one day. Joey, you’re an awesome person for supporting your leading lady in her dreams.

I have to mention that the reason why I read one of my now favorite books, 1984, was because it was the book that was chosen for the Click Five Board book club, run by Ben Romans himself. Ben Romans, thank you for introducing me to my now favorite genre of book. And Ben, you are an inspiration to a classically-trained musician and piano player that the music doesn’t stop there. I hope to develop my skills one day and be able to play pop music without it sounding awkward and maybe even write my own songs.

Ethan, you were my favorite member back in my teeny-bopper fangirl days. Thank you, for writing  Don’t Let Me Go. The song has touched countless people without even you intending it to do so. I entered the video contest for MTV Exit and did a lot better than I expected. That song and The Click Five’s involvement with MTV Exit made me more aware of the issue of human trafficking and has got me thinking into working in the non-profit industry after I graduate college. I want to be able to make a difference, no matter how small.

I feel like I have to write about everyone now. Joe, I never really knew much about you but your role in The Click Five was definitely important. You’ve always kept to yourself and never said much… anywhere but that’s just you, I guess. Oh, and it was your birthday recently, so happy birthday!

And finally, Eric. To be honest, I haven’t really followed your solo career but I’ll occasionally find myself listening to a few of your songs when I stumble upon them. Although you are not a part of The Click Five I love today, you were a part of The Click Five I loved in the past and it was the original five members that initially drew me into the band. I’m sad that I never saw a Click Five show with you as lead vocal but thanks for being a part of the journey and experience.

To my fellow Click Five fans, I know it’s sad and disappointing to hear that The Click Five was parting ways. When I read the Facebook message, I physically felt my heart beat quickening and body temperature warming in response. I couldn’t believe it. I had been recently binging on their old music and reliving some of the “good ole days.” I had seen some of the guys’ tweets and innocently thought, maybe they are together writing new music for a new record? I was excited for something new from them. And then this news came. But to be honest, in the back of my mind, I could see it happening. The road hasn’t always been smooth for them and they’ve been through a lot without achieving much in the more recent years. This was probably the best decision for them as individuals and I sincerely wish them the best of luck in the future. I’m glad that Ben, Kyle, Ethan, Joe, and Joey are still good friends and are leaving on good terms. The Click Five will forever occupy a special part in my heart and I will support them no matter what they choose to do. Life has it’s ups and downs but I guess that’s just the way it goes…