Singer-Songwriter Dawen embarks on New York Tour

December 3, 2009

How do you describe the topics of your songs?

speaking, they're pretty personal. They range from social issues that I
feel are important to personal relationships, things that I've gleaned
from my life.

When people ask me about the content of my
music, I'd actually say it's multifold. I'm very proud of being
American and I'm very proud of my Asian heritage. In the music I write,
I like to embody all of it: the sense of being Asian and American and
being really comfortable and proud of my heritage.

It's not
conscious per se, but I do want to express myself in a way that I think
is lacking currently -- to be proud to be Asian... I want to focus on
the joy of being really happy for how I was made.

mentioned some of your inspirations for your songs involve a
socio-political message. What is your own message through your songs?

don't really think of them as messages. I kind of think of them as
issues that are important to me. I never want to come off as preachy; I
never want to come across as having an agenda. I just kind of want to
empower myself by being able to define who I am through music. I think
one of the things that people of color, minorities in America face
everyday is struggling with self-definition. We're constantly being
defined by people who don't represent who we are. And that is a big

I noticed that you have a song that Hyphen readers might get excited
about, called "Hyphenate." Can you explain the idea that you're trying
to express through that song?

It's more upbeat than the rest of the album, and it [uses] wordplay. I
meditated on what that little dash means... I thought, what is that
little dash between Asian and American? In literary terms, sometimes
people interpret it as a barrier, a grammatical, literal barrier. If
you're hyphenated in the way you identify yourself, you end up being
neither label. Some people perceive it that way, and I wanted to
express that in a song.

If I have a hyphen in my name, I am neither Asian nor American -- I'm
kind of in this weird void. That's sometimes how I perceive it.

There's also a contradiction in myself. Sometimes I just want to be known as just American.

The lyrics, which you can find on my [web] page, go into this broad
story I'm sure anyone of color can relate to. It talks about
encountering someone who asks you, "where are you from, what are you?
Where are you really from?" [It expresses] the need to claim heritage
and identity in a land that consistently refuses it to you.

How do you see yourself in relation to the community of Asian American artists?

In terms of Asian American music, since moving to L.A. I've been really
exposed to how diverse it is. I have to say that any chance I can, I
really celebrate the fact that the music being made by Asian Americans
is as diverse as that umbrella term implies. One thing that people kind
of criticize as well is that Asian American music doesn't have a very
distinct sound. I choose to think of that as a blessing. You can have
pop that is Asian American, you could have R&B that is Asian American.

There's a huge movement before me, and that has really enabled me to be where I am today.

Where are you from and where are you going?

In a nutshell, I was born in Boston. I moved to Hong Kong for high
school, and for college I came back and moved in Chicago for a very
long time. And now I live here [in Los Angeles]. I kind of feel like a
globe trotter. I joke to people that if I keep this up, I'm going to
end up in Hawaii in four years.

That's not a bad place to end up. Back to the tour -- you seem to be packing light. Is your band coming along?

This New York tour is a solo acoustic tour. I wish I could bring my
band with me. I hope to in the near future, but for now, it's just me
and my keyboard.

How do you expect your Hong Kong fans to receive your music? Will they be able to relate to your songs?

I think Hong Kong is going to be really crazy. It's similar to New
York, but on the other side of the world ... it's very cosmopolitan.
And I think having its history as a foreign colony is going to add a
lot to the environment.

I'm not really sure, to be honest, but I am very excited. When I grew
up in HK, I had friends who were born in Hong Kong, but then I had
friends from New Zealand, from Sweden, and I think it's going to be a
very diverse crowd, and different at the same time from a New York

I know that a lot of them will have roots in the United Kingdom, but whatever it is, it'll be a different perspective.

I hope that the music will spark some thought as well as be powerful. I
hope it's something people enjoy and can nod their heads to at the end
of the day.


Dawen will be performing on Friday at the Silk Road Cafe at 9:30 pm in New York, NY.

To view his other tour dates and locations, click here.

Visit Dawen's site for more information and songs from his album, "American Me."




Dawen, you are great. It's marvelous to see you are so bright and smart, full of energy, passion, and best yet, wisdom. Many people must adore you. You have sucb a wonderful brother George, who is also your best partner Keep up with high spirit, and move foward. Pray and thank God evey day, He will bless us all, ok? Talk to you later, Best regards, dad