Online Exclusive: Then and Now

Catching up with our artistic friends from issues past.

May 10, 2012

Peipei Yuan. Photo by Edward Negron.

Where are they now? In this online exclusive, we caught up with individuals previously profiled in Hyphen - from hip-hop activist Kiwi to stuntwoman Peipei Yuan - and asked them what they're up to and how they see the next 10 years.

Read more about what our favorite artists and activists from issues past are doing today in Issue 25.

Kiwi: community builder, hip-hop activist, brown brother
Furious Five, Issue 10

“While all my experiences and lessons contribute in some way to my music, my Filipinoness has always guided my approach.”

In 2001, “Peaceful Pistols” exploded from stereo speakers as the first song from hip-hop duo Native Guns.

Native Guns’ two MCs, Jonah Deocampo (aka MC Bambu) and Jack DeJesus (aka Kiwi), released a full-length album in 2001 called Barrel Men (an homage to the bawdy token of Filipino culture). The group was praised for its conscious lyricism laced with Tagalog and empowering imagery of street life. DeJesus and Deocampo, who both grew up in inner city Los Angeles, knew a little something about what they rapped about — both were involved in gangs at a young age, and both say hip-hop saved their lives.

After Native Guns disbanded in 2007, DeJesus continued his solo career while pursuing deeper artistic goals. After a trip to the Philippines in 2007, DeJesus became more deeply invested in community work and today serves as deputy secretary of the progressive national Filipino alliance Bayan USA and coordinates the Young Asian Men’s Program in Oakland, CA.

Whether it’s holding workshops on community development or holding a mic onstage, DeJesus’ current path echoes Native Guns’ original intent. “My ultimate purpose is to serve my community, to engage them in critical dialogue about our conditions and what we can do to make them better, whether it’s through music or organizing.”

In a word, how would you define the last 10 years of your life and work?

In a word, how would you like to describe the next 10 years?

Any reflections?
Not much has changed about my music. While all my experiences and lessons contribute in some way to my music, my Filipinoness has always guided my approach.

Mike Relm: old-school DJ, new-school techno artist
Furious Five, Issue 10

Mike Relm (photo by Hillary Fleming)

“Not to be corny, but I really believed in what I was doing and that helped me see past all the extra work I had to do.”

When Mike Relm set up screens and projectors on tour, people said he was wasting his time: Videos had no place in the DJ booth. But he was actually illustrating the new generation of the DJ technologist.

Relm incorporates videography into his DJing to create an audiovisual experience of music, film and groove artistry for the audience’s eyes and ears. “I can control what people see and what people hear, and it’s a lot more fun,” Relm said in 2006.

Relm toured extensively the last few years with the likes of Del the Funky Homosapien, Mike Patton, Tony Hawk and Blue Man Group. “I was in a very fortunate and unique position to be simultaneously building my audience and learning from people who are masters of their craft.” Today, he continues to do live shows while also experimenting in music production, movie trailer remixes, sound design and music video/short film directing.

Relm is optimistic about the trajectory of DJing as an art form. “We live in a great time for art and technology,” he said. “Yes, there are a lot of things that a computer can do for you, and some argue that technology is slowly killing art. But I've always felt like if the technology allows me to get from point A to point B with little or no effort, I'm going to at least use that extra time and energy to find out where point C is.” And if there’s a dope beat and visual to carry you there, even better.

In a word, how would you define the last 10 years of your life and work?

In a word, how would you like to describe the next 10 years?

Any reflections?
I've spent every waking moment trying to live up to the hype of being featured in Issue 10. This interview validates the last six years.

Marvi Lacar: photojournalist, traveler of worlds, supermom
Exploring Relative Realities, Issue 8

“It’s always a good idea to be a bit malleable. I try to understand people within the context of their environment and their experiences.”

Marvi Lacar’s photography is jarring, yet somehow strangely close to home. In her photo essay featured in Hyphen in 2006, her concept of “relative realities” juxtaposed countries like her native Philippines with wealthier countries and explored the differing visual treatments of sex and sexuality. Today, her relative realities are that of a traveling photojournalist and grounded mother.

“As a relatively new parent, I am still going through the process of redefining myself,” Lacar said. “My hope is to be able to mix work and kids with some sort of fluidity.”

Having a family has prodded her to focus on choosing more long-term projects, including a photo essay-turned-documentary titled ESCAPE, which covers the issue of female genital mutilation and early marriage among the Maasai in Kenya. Today, she is working on an interactive e-book titled A Love Story, a visual diary born from a bout of depression after her father’s death in 2008.

In a word, how would you define the last 10 years of your life and work?

In a word, how do you want to describe the next 10 years?

Any reflections?
[A Love Story] has changed the way I see photographically. I pace myself slower nowadays and wait for moments that tend to be more emotional than graphic.

Peipei Yuan: B-girl, stuntwoman, adrenaline junkie
Furious Five, Issue 10

"We all give back to the community, and meanwhile have our own hustles."

Leaving her day job is just what Peipei Yuan needed to go full throttle. In 2007 (a year after Hyphen highlighted her work as a B-girl and aspiring stuntwoman), Yuan gave up her career as a computer animator to pursue performance art full time. She has since worked as a dancer, choreographer and stuntwoman in films, commercials and live performances. She has choreographed Justin Bieber and Usher’s 2010 video “Somebody to Love,” appeared as a stunt double on the television show Glee and worked on the movies Step Up 3D and Star Trek. “All the knowledge I attained as an animator has been applied to everything I create and produce,” Yuan said.

Breakdancing remains “a way of life,” as Yuan told Hyphen in 2006. Adapting to many dance styles from whacking to house, she’s taken B-girling off the stage and into schools, teaching the next generation of female adrenaline junkies. “To know that some of the young girls who saw me perform might start dancing is an enlightening feeling,” Yuan said.

In a word, how would you define the last 10 years of your life and work?

In a word, how would you like to describe the next 10 years?
Satori. [Enlightenment.]

Any reflections?
I constantly remind myself to have faith in my art, stay positive and stay focused. I have a motto, “When in doubt, figure it out,” which rings in my head throughout my life and has made me a very do-it-yourself woman.

For more update on those profiled in Hyphen's pages, pick up Issue 25: The Generation Issue. Subscribe to Hyphen or pick up a copy at a newsstand near you.

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