together hip-hop, jazz, and rock along with comical
lyrics, Ill Again was the first group to perform at
the festival. Courtesy
Music Festival Meets Pepsi Smash at Dragon's Roar
Again members Andrew Johnson and Randall Park rap
for the audiences. Courtesy of APA
what defines Asian American music? Is it the people,
the sound, or both? These questions were circling in
the back of my head when I arrived at the 2nd annual
Dragon's Roar Festival held on September 5th at the
WCETV studios. After seeing Prach Ly, a Cambodian artist
who infuses elements of hip-hop and rap, and Ill Again,
a group that combines hip-hop, jazz, and rock, I realized
that maybe it wasn't about Asian American music but
about Asian Americans in music.
event is 'image-bending' because it seeks to break
event brought together a variety of musical talents
spanning different Asian ethnicities and musical genres.
In the words of Jeff Lee, one of the co-directors, "This
event is 'image-bending' because it seeks to break a
stereotype." Guests included R&B group InnerVoices,
Hong Kong djs Digital Cutup Lounge, and Christian rapper
Soup the Chemist. The festival also showed trailers
of recent breakthrough Asian American films such as
Justin Lin's "Better Luck Tomorrow," and Eric
Byler's "Charlotte Sometimes."
wanted to highlight artists that I see as the town
crier of what the Asian American community is: past,
present and future."
most of the performances were in English, some of the
artists surprised the audiences by belting out songs
in their native language. For example, Prach Ly and
Universal Speakers sang "Sox-Si-Bie" to Cambodian-influenced
hip-hop beats while The Sounders busted out Hmong songs.
Lee said that these artists were chosen to perform because
"I wanted to highlight artists that I see as the
town crier of what the Asian American community is--
past, present and future."
Ly and a member of Universal Speakers give the event
a multilingual flair with their Cambodian song "Sox-Si-Bie."
Courtesy of APA
in addition to seeing the performances live, the event
also gave the audience an opportunity to get up close
and personal with the various band members through a
Q& A session. Actors, directors, and various people
from the movies also stayed to sign autographs and share
all those who missed Dragon's Roar, there is still an
opportunity to catch a glimpse of what happened because
the whole event was filmed for an upcoming DVD. The
DVD will not only include the live performances and
Q&A session, but also a behind-the-scenes interview
forum. Conducted by Charles Chang and Christine Ku,
members of MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans),
the interviews allowed the groups to talk more about
their music in greater detail.
Chris Carnell, MANAA member Charles Chang (who conducted
the interview session for Dragon's Roar), and co-director
Jeff Lee pose for the camera. Courtesy of APA
the DVD, we want to present the music, but we also want
the people to hear more about the bands, their origins,
and how they come up with their type of music because
people are interested in learning those things,"
said Chris Carnell, one of the co-directors of the event.
an extra bonus for all the east-coast fans, the DVD
will also include a film panel that took place in New
York. Put together by Larry Wong and moderated by Greg
Park, this film panel featured prominent New York Asian
American filmmakers. Through the DVD, the producers
hope to make Asian American music accessible to Asian
American fans all over the country.
the crew is in the process of putting together the DVD,
which is scheduled for release sometime during Thanksgiving.
For more information, please visit the official website