Discourse

New Music Coming Soon

-Philip Glass

-Philip Glass

I am super nervous about putting out my music. I am anxious about it for a number of reasons:

1) The world is a pretty fucked up place right now and it weighs heavy on soul. The last thing I want to do is talk about myself while there is some fucked up shit that humans are doing to one another.

2) The music that I have been working on for the past five years comes off of the back end of the death of my father, the dissolving of my previous project In Medias Res, and general disillusionment. So I have been walking wounded and this music is a bit raw.

3) The up coming album is narrative and lyric based. For the most part, Holy Hum has been a sound based project. This upcoming new album is entirely about my father and I don't really know how I am going to feel about having this story out in the world.

4) You might not like it.*

*But I recently came across this paragraph in Philip Glass' memoire and it really reminded me why I do what I do - which is - I just do.

I don't really have an answer for why I do it. I do know that making music makes me feel better and it quiets my mind and the results of that process coalesced into this album. So I'm sorry but this record is not for you. It's for me. It's for my late father.  

love,

a

A Message For My Friends And Family

Dr. Akwugo Emejulu (senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh) says, "We are at the centre of a whirlwind of a white political imagination that cannot and will not fathom humanity, justice and equality outside of itself."  I do not want to imagine where it could go from there. We have a white supremacist for a president. We have a house and senate who have an agenda to undo some of the progress that had been made. It's four years of this. And our lives are too short to live in fear.

Dr. Emejulu also says that " whiteness is committed to ignorance: it operates as collective and calculated forgetting, but also as a refusal to know." Maybe that is true, but I wouldn't know. My white friends and family are loving and compassionate people and I know that they are appalled at the blatant rise in violence and hostility against LGBQT people, people of colour, women and people of different religions other than Christianity.

 

Read More

In Conversation With Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beaches/Last Lizard).

This article was first published by Discorder Magazine.

http://www.citr.ca/discorder/july-august-2016/in-conversation/

I first met Alex in Vancouver of 2010. We were working on an exhibition for artist, Howie Tsui who used to play in the band The Acorn. There weren’t a lot of Asian people in the Canadian music landscape at the time and so when I found out he was a musician I immediately wanted to strike up a friendship. Our relationship grew out of the many conversations we shared regarding issues of race, belonging, and diaspora. We have managed to meet up in various places in the world at various times, and maintain a regular correspondence. What follows is an excerpt of our most recent conversation, occurring in June of 2016. Alex is currently in Copenhagen, and I am in Vancouver.

AYL: Buddy! Where in the world are you right now and what are you doing? Tell me more about your new incarnation as Last Lizard. How is your new project shaping up?

AZH: Yoooooooooo.

Things are more or less more chill now, just searching for something else out there. I don’t even know what it is I’m looking for but I’m looking for it. In Lisbon at the moment training on saxophone with David Maranha and Gabriel Ferrandini. Last Lizard is on hold for now, been playing under my real name for a change. 

AYL: The last time I saw you was in Lisbon right after you had put out Stateless. I remember waiting at the Berlin airport with my partner for our flight to Portugal. You had just posted on your website that Dirty Beaches was done. I was shocked. The new record was fucking beautiful and heartfelt and I was really excited for where you would go next. 

I want to ask you — because I went through something similar when I stopped doing In Medias Res and started Holy Hum: Does it feel like you are starting over? Or is this a continuation? Is there something that threads all of your previous work together with what you’re doing now?

AZH: In a way, it’s starting over, and in another way it’s a continuation. What we do and how we live our lives are forever intertwined. It reached a boiling point, so to speak. It had to end, because the polarities were just cancelling each other out, erasing each other. Whether it was the polarity in how I express myself musically or personally, it was reaching a dead end, and I had to move on. It was a necessity in order to survive and grow. Growing pains at age 35.

I know you were born in Canada, whereas I was born in Taiwan. Although it’s annoying when people question my authenticity as a North American (being raised in both the U.S. and Canada), I also don’t feel any specific loyalty towards this identity. I feel extremely privileged to have been raised here, but I loathe nationalism. Celebrating culture is great, but celebrating segregation (U.S. border patrol propaganda against Muslims and Mexicans), labeling people and determining who is qualified to be “one of us” is truly disgusting. It happens all over the world in every corner. Nationalism can breed blind hatred, it’s a very powerful tool employed by the government tampering with how a nation feels and how the media distorts and demonize certain countries, preparing and grooming our political attitudes. Not to mention the attacks of Muslims in the U.S., but in Ottawa, Ontario there have been attacks on mosques being burned down this year after the Paris attacks. Makes me think about if China goes to war with the U.S., would people throw stones into my window? Would people jump me while I’m walking on the street or verbally abuse me with racial slurs? In your opinion, what does it mean to be Canadian? People can’t even tell the difference between Muslims and Sikhs, I doubt they will be able to tell the difference between Taiwanese / Chinese / Korean / Japanese for that matter. What kind of psychology does it bring upon Canadian minorities when our citizenship / identity can be revoked/provoked and challenged at the whim of the country? (Bill C-24, for instance, or the patriot act in the U.S..)

In Conversation: Andrew Yong Hoon Lee of Holy Hum & Alex Zhang Hungtai of Last Lizard || Illustration by Cristian Fowlie for Discorder Magazine

AYL: I’ve got to think about my father when he emigrated to Winnipeg in the ‘70s. He was like an alien in that city. He was like one of two Korean dudes in that town and everyone made him aware of that. When I became old enough to drink, instead of wishing me a good time at the bar my father would show me how to break a beer bottle over the counter. He said that people were going to want to fuck with me and that you shouldn’t get yourself cornered. And that even on the bus ride home people are going to want to follow me so I should always get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. All because of the colour of my skin.

I think to be Canadian you’ve got to know and remember where you came from. And I feel like that’s what I’m in the process of doing. Because we are bound to repeat our past if we don’t remember it and acknowledge it. Being Canadian is to remember the Residential Schools, The Chinese Head Tax, Japanese Internment, the list goes on. I don’t think we can move on unless we address these things. You’ve got to recognize it and name it in order to heal and move forward.

Growing up I wasn’t yellow enough to hang with the Asian kids and I tried to be whiter than most white kids and that alienated my parents and ultimately myself. After my father passed away in 2011 I really started to look for a sense of identity through my culture. It really gave me something to unearth and I felt like it brought me closer to identifying with my parents. We don’t get to choose our nationality / ethnicity and citizenship can be given and taken away now. So where does that leave us with our sense of place and our sense of where we belong?

AZH: I was with my mom and two sisters throughout the Etobicoke years. I didn’t know the alphabet nor how to speak a word of English when I first arrived (age 8). And thinking back it was the closest experience to being mute and deaf. Everyday felt like a foreign movie with no subtitles. There were these two boys that always pushed me from behind really hard and when I turned around they would shove me again and shout at me. But because I couldn’t understand what they were saying I thought it was some kind of game. So I would push back and laugh as loud as I could, imitating them. Later on the words came together, bit by bit: “Hey chinky chink eyes, why don’t you go back to your own country?” I had to go ask my mom what “chink” meant when I got home.

I don’t think my identity really had time to form because of the constant moving, and as a result it remained passive. It was on autopilot and I would adopt accents and mannerisms and expressions so I would not stick out like a sore thumb, and hope that I could just blend in the background with everybody else.

AYL: The things that I struggle with as an adult now are more nuanced but I am handling it like an angsty teenager. I’m fighting these subtle stereotypes that Asians are apolitical, or apathetic and that we’re the model immigrant citizens because we keep to ourselves and do well with money. None of that shit applies to me. Ha!

You do a lot more traveling than I do and you have told me a few stories about getting “ching-chonged” while on tour. What’s your impression and experience being yellow skinned in N. America as opposed to Europe. What is the difference between touring N. America and Europe?

AZH: Let’s just say there are idiots everywhere. This reality is real for everyone. It might not be as extreme as the police shootings in the U.S.A., but it is consistent harassment. It occurs as often as women getting harassed or cat-called. It can be shocking to people but it exists. And it happens. I’m half awake now in Copenhagen so I’m gonna be quick. Talking about this makes me upset.

The best example was very recent; three weeks ago in Lisbon I was on my way to the airport shuttle to pick up my girl Niki, and I had brought some flowers with me to give to her. A Portuguese lady and an Australian tourist lady I passed said, “no thanks” with their hand sticking out. I replied, “excuse me?” And they answered: “I don’t want to buy flowers, thanks.”

Outraged, I told them it was for my girl, and that I was on my way to the airport to pick her up. They were extremely embarrassed, but this is just one example. When minorities cease to be human beings to them, and when they see my face, they just assume I’m some Asian guy on the street trying to sell them flowers. They can’t even fathom for a second that maybe this person has a life and the flowers are for someone he cares about.

AYL: You’re right, it’s the same narrative for a lot of women and men of colour and also for the LGBT community. But I think these stories are important to tell because in the end it’s going to bring the people we care about and the people who care about us some type of understanding. A very basic but important level of communication is done by telling our stories.

Besides the one Asian dude from the Smashing Pumpkins I don’t have anyone who physically looks like me and who is doing the same thing as I’m doing — other than you dude.

Love,
Andrew

AZH: It’s the same for me Andrew. Sometimes I feel like we’ve almost achieved it as a society, as a whole — I’m with my friends and everything is all good until some random drunk bastard says something about me and my “kind” are invading his country stealing jobs. This is a reality that Donald Trump’s America is representing. They are not new problems, they’ve always existed. People like Trump simply make some people bold enough to publicly engage in this racist rhetoric.

It is important to talk about this and make it public. I gotta run Andrew, was good talking to you bud. Hope all is good back in Vancouver.

Love,
Alex

 

We’ve got to fucking vote. All of us. Please.

I’m going to sound off on something that may pertain to some of us - mainly those who live in Canada.

I’d like to imagine that we are all voting on Oct. 19th.  But in case some of us aren’t following the current dialogue or if some of us are undecided - I’d like to make a case:

We’ve got to fucking vote.  All of us.  Please.

If we care about the air in our lungs, the water we drink, the right and freedom to express our cultures and religions, past atrocities and present relationships with our first nations people, funding for the arts, care for our veterans, the future of the CBC, future research into the causes and effects of global warming, global warming, the reproductive rights of women, murdered and missing first nations women that seem to be much less of a priority than having a woman wear a cultural or religious piece of clothing at a ceremony which is entirely a formality at that point anyways, if we care about how our country behaves in other parts of the world and what our lasting impression will be in other nations, or if one day you can be deported because you hold citizenship in another country and you make a statement of dissent like this one here, if you plan on having kids one day and would like to have universal child care, if you care about having your own voice heard instead of letting an older generation decide the future that you have to live and that they won’t - then we’ve all got to vote.

I love you guys and I am hoping for a better future with all of you.

love,

a

 

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