Shibuya Roll Call

December 16, 2004

Six years ago I interned at Giant Robot. My journey in Asian American media (magazine publishing) started as a young robot; I was an over-eager and bad (as in horrible) wannabe music journalist (I stick to press releases and email newsletters [and the occasional blog] nowadays). By some stroke of dumb luck (good timing) I was given the opportunity to contribute to Issue 15, the Fifth Anniversary and Music Issue (Money Mark on the cover). I had barely discovered hip-hop and Asian America, so I thought I was cool because I was asked to interview the Mountain Brothers, DJ Symphony from the Beat Junkies and Kuttin' Kandi from the 5th Platoon. (Sidenote: If you have Issue 15 of GR, my Mama [may she rest in peace]'s adobo recipe is on the back page, along with a cute caricature of Babu and Rhettmatic from the Beat Junkies.)

After a year (four issues) of preparing subscription and t-shirt orders at the GR loft in Little Tokyo, I got to leave with four published pieces. Dedication and menial work paid off. When I moved to the Bay Area from LA, Eric Nakamura (publisher/editor of Giant Robot) suggested getting involved with NAATA (the media arts nonprofit that presents SFIAAFF every year). I guess being able to say you worked at GR gives one some street cred in Asian America, because I was recruited to put together the 2nd Directions in Sound a year after leaving GR. This was in 2001; up til now I've been happily planning Directions in Sound every year.

I've met some down-to-earth and talented filmmakers and musicians through SFIAAFF/Directions in Sound (yes, check these folks' sites out): Shing02, Romeo Candido (not only a musician, but he directed a great film called Lolo's Child [or "the Filipino Purple Rain" as I've heard it called]), Rod Pulido (director of The Flip Side), Mike Nice (he really is nice!), DJ Awww Damn (she also writes for MeshSF), Doc Fu from Future Primitive Sound, Triple Threat DJs, DJ Rekha, Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist from True Skool, and the guys from Massive Selector. (Excuse my "name-dropping." I am only mentioning who I remember off the top of my head.) What's even more exciting is that over the years I've heard of and seen great work coming from many Directions in Sound "alumni" while perusing club/event listings or record stores.

Finally, let me Shibuya Roll Call folks I really admire, who I hope to work with someday: Neil Armstrong from 5th Platoon makes a mean mix-CD. He was involved with teaching turntablism at the Scratch Academy in NYC. Lyrics Born is my favorite MC, and it's not because he's tall, thick and hapa. One of my favorite hip-hop songs ever is Latyrx's "Lady Don't Tek No." I'm sure by now you've seen that Coke commercial that uses his song "Calling Out" in it. Also, I am totally in love with Joyo Velarde's soulful voice; you can often hear her singing back-up for any Quannum artist, including Lyrics Born. I own four copies of her vinyl single "Sweet Angels" and am waiting for a full-length album to come out. Although I also (not so secretly) like cheesy Filipina groups that sing saccharine R&B freestyle, I believe that Joyo Velarde can save Pinay songstresses from American Idol-dom. (Oh yes, I did just say that!)

I think that's enough gushing for now. And in case I never paid due respect to Giant Robot: Thank You Nakamura-sensei.