I use my heritage to my advantage – to stand out as being different, as being unique, and also to serve as a role model that Asian Americans don’t always have to hide behind their books.
Who are you?
I am, and have been, a passionate rock musician for nearly 20 years. Playing in a rock band wasn’t the most popular nor acceptable choice of career with any Asian American parents. But when one realizes his/her passion, it’s like a freight train that can’t be stopped. I formed my first band in 1992 to compete in the high school talent show. We took first place. And from that moment on, I knew I would spend the rest of my life writing, recording and performing. My band today is called Johnny Hi-Fi.
What do you do?
My life today is all about balance. Music today isn’t a career of which most people can live off. I work as an art director during the day to support myself financially, then I pursue my music career at night. Running a band is like running a business. We’re a typical DIY band that handles booking, promoting and everything in-between by ourselves. So on average I spend 40 hours at work, and 40 works writing, recording and managing the band. (And what little time I have left I spend eating and sleeping.)
Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?
In a non-Asian dominated world of entertainment here in America, to be able to break through and perform alongside some of the biggest musical acts is a huge accomplishment in itself. I don’t use my heritage as an excuse to be rejected, to be mediocre. I use my heritage to my advantage – to stand out as being different, as being unique, and also to serve as a role model that Asian Americans don’t always have to hide behind their books. And in doing so, my Taiwanese American heritage has helped and pushed my music career along further than if I was just another one in the pack.
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
Taiwanese America, and Asian America in general, has a very bright future. As more of us start to explore and advance in non-traditional industries such as the movies, music, politics or what have you, the more this will evolve into a social movement that will be recognized. The future, and present, has to and will be about breaking stereotypes. And when they are broken, the next wave of creative minds will find the doors to success more open than ever before.
Any additional information you would like to share?
About Johnny Hi-Fi:
With numerous US and Asia tours under their belt, Johnny Hi-Fi’s alternative rock sound has captured fans all over. From the House-of-Blues US tour to the band’s video reaching #8 on MTV Chi’s top 10 video charts, all the attention helped them land the “Artist of the Month” spot on Billboard Magazine’s Underground series and a feature in the magazine. In 2006, the band went on to perform in front of 20,000 audience members at the Beijing Pop Festival. To date, the band has released 3 full length albums and working on their 4th.
Visit www.johnnyhi-fi.com for more info.