Saturday, December 1, 2007

Music Plug: Goh Nakamura

I found this link on Angry Asian Man's blog, and I checked out Nakamura's website (click here) and have to say that I think the guy is really talented. Of course it doesn't hurt that this video in particular, "Embarcadero Blues," has scenes of San Francisco, so for any of you home sick Bay Area Californian's, check out the song--and for everyone else, check it out to help support a good indie musician.

Plus, it has always puzzled me why there aren't more visible Asian American musicians. I mean, sure, everyone mentions James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins or the guy in Black Eyed Peas. But can you name a prominent Asian American solo artist (and yes, I mean Asian American, so Rain doesn't count, as talented as he is). I suppose Jin, the Chinese American rapper from Queens, would be the closest we've got to a mainstream Asian American musician. So really, how much of a model minority can we be if we aren't sending anyone to the Grammys???!!!


Cipher said...

hey mixed race America, there are a few prominent solo artists, except they aren't marketed as "Asian Americans"

Susie Suh
Rachael Yamagata (biracial Japanese American)
Norah Jones (speaking of mixed race America!)

to his credit, James Iha did release a solo album although I think it tanked

there's a great Chinese-Maori New Zealand artist, Bic Runga that I absolutely adore, as do I love, Anggun!

also Nicole Scherzinger's solo should drop fairly soon; maybe there's hope on the horizon?

Jennifer said...

Thanks Cipher--I forgot all about Norah Jones! And I suppose that's part of the problem--the visibility, or lack of visibility/prominence of mixed-race Asian American musicians (I mean, I do think most people who follow her career do KNOW that Ravi Shankar is her father).

But I'm such a no nothing in terms of mainstream music (I haven't even heard of the first two soloists you mention--although I know someone in the Twin Cities is going to chide me on forgetting Vienna Teng).

But I guess my question is--besides Ms. Jones, how prominent are these other musicians? Anyone besides Norah win a grammy?

Cipher said...

well, Rachael or Susie weren't hailed with grammy noms, but they put their discs out by major labels, which is hard enough as it is, so i think they are pretty prominent as musicians go...

i'd put Rachael and Susie in the lilith fair singer-songwriter vein (not meant to be a dig at all because i love that music)...

then there's Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park (but he's not a solo album artist of course)

who else is there?

Jocelyn Enriquez (Filipina American)
Michelle Branch (part Filipina)
Don Ho (and daughter Hoku)
Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Kelis (my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard is part Chinese-Puerto Rican, sound familiar?)

I think so much is about MARKETING

the list goes on and on

see this:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the list Cipher--you are SO RIGHT that it's about MARKETING. I mean, I think I had heard that Michelle Branch was hapa (and Kelis as well) but it's not a prominent part of how their distributors want them seen.

And I suppose that also begs the question about how mixed-race/hapa musicians are being promoted and marketed. Not along racial lines, I guess--although it'd be interesting to know if Branch is embraced by the Pinoy/Pinay community--and if the SouthAsian community comes out to support Norah Jones.

Of course if you aren't mixed but are visibly Asian American (or if you are mixed but still visibly Asian American) then it, again, begs the question about marketing decisions--do record companies feel that Asian Americans aren't visibly marketable and therefore want to play down that aspect? I really have no idea--again, I'm really not tapped into the music industry AT ALL.

Although I think it'd be interesting to compare various genres. For example, I DO think that in the classical music world, Asian Americans and Asian musicians are really touted and made prominent, in part because of their ancestral biography. And I suspect that this has to do with the ways in which we expect someone with an Asian face to be holding a violin or seated at a piano (or in the case of the most famous AsAm classical musician, seated with a cello).

Anyway, I guess I'm wondering about how much public perceptions of Asians and Asian Americans impacts the marketing decisions behind various musicians and, also, the role of musical genre. I know Jin gets hailed as one of the first Chinese American rappers to be supported by a major record label--that this is part of the marketing strategy, perhaps--his "unique" status.

Would love to hear any ideas out there--especially among the better informed of the way that the music industry markets artists, particularly artists of color.