Here’s a recap of the incredible artists we featured during Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month—and just a few out of the many talented AAPI songwriters, musicians, and performers out there making great contributions to our music, art, and popular culture. Scroll down to learn more about these artists spotlighted and check them out on our Facebook and Instagram!
#ICYMI In 2021, Michelle Zauner, the lead singer of Japanese Breakfast, wrote a memoir entitled Crying in H Mart: A Memoir. The novel centers around Zauner’s story of growing up in Eugene, Oregon to a Korean mom and a white dad and the ways in which she grappled with her identity—and in turn, her relationship with her mother who died of cancer in 2014. Beautifully written, this memoir will simultaneously break your heart and put it back together.
Levitt’s Artist Who Inspires this week is DJ Rekha! Born Rekha Malhotra, DJ Rekha has many titles to their name, including: DJ, producer, curator, educator, and activist. An innovative artist, they pioneered merging Bhangra and Bollywood sounds with contemporary electronic dance music and have performed with M.I.A., Yoko Ono, and The Roots. DJ Rekha has spun fantastic sets at Levitt Pavilion Westport multiple times, getting audience members grooving to their dance-worthy beats. Their inventive sets and musical style as well as their advocacy with organizations—including working with Sakhi for South Asian Women and Chhaya CDC, and being a founding member of South Asian Youth Action—set them apart from other sought-after DJs and established them in a category above the rest. Talented, pioneering, and passionate for their community, we’re big fans of DJ Rekha.
This week’s Artist Who Inspires is rapper Jonathan Edgar Park, aka Dumbfoundead, who performed at @LevittPavilionLosAngeles in 2019. Known for his witty and socially-conscious work, Dumbfounded–born in Argentina to Korean parents and now residing in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown—uses his platform to shed light on the inequities faced by Asians, Asian Americans, and other communities of color. To highlight the lack of Asian representation at the 2016 Oscars, for example, Dumbfoundead made a provocative music video for his song “Safe” featuring clips from famous films with his face superimposed over those of white actors. We’re inspired by Dumbfoundead, who continues to craft sharp, perceptive beats and lyrics to spark change for those who continue to be underrepresented in society.
Today for AAPI Heritage Month, we are spotlighting indie artist Kaoru Ishibashi, a singer and violinist who performs as Kishi Bashi. Born in the U.S. to Japanese parents, his album Omoiyari takes up the experience of those incarcerated in WWII internment camps and the lack of empathy shown to Japanese-Americans at this moment in history.In his own words, his song “Summer of ‘42” from that album is “a love story set in World War II, about falling in love in an incarceration camp and ultimately losing that love. The significance is that the idea of love, loss, and desire are consistent themes throughout history and help us to empathize with a people in a disconnected past.” The word Omoiyari means to have compassion and sympathy towards another person, and we can think of no better example than the work of this artist.