Los Angeles (Girl Underground) – Cultivated around the thought of unspoken airwaves scouring from a concept in 1969, Moonroom, an organization that strives on hosting these spirits, teams up with Berkeley and Los Angeles collective, Redacted, for a month-long presentation for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The monthly showcase aims to highlight local Asian American-fronted acts throughout LA, LB and OC, and “showcases young Asian Americans leading compelling, diverse creative projects” that are often forgotten and not recognized.
Embracing the goal of “putting unfamiliar faces in familiar places”, Moonroom and Redacted’s partnership not only celebrates Asian American fronted acts within the music community but offers a welcoming environment for all. Moonroom shared a small chat with us, providing a better insight for the showcase and validating their inviting demeanor.
Girl Underground Music: How did Moonroom join forces with Redacted for this event? I know you mentioned that you had the idea in February, but was there an initial reasoning behind this collaboration?
Moonroom: The relationship with Redacted was really serendipitous. I somehow came across a recent show they put together that had one of my friends, Pegasus Warning, on the bill. That caught my attention because Pegasus Warning’s (has) his own vibe. Their name and logo also felt sincere. When I checked out the shows they’d done, there was a lot of aesthetic and cultural diversity among them. So I messaged them: they said they’d been kicking around a similar idea in the past and were totally about it. I’m very appreciative it was them because they really flew the flag with me.
GUM: While every genre and group is somewhat celebrated, I feel that this showcase is unique in its angle since you hardly see enough recognition for Asian-American acts. Not getting too political in the midst of everything that is occurring in the world, but did the current world’s affairs give this idea an additional push?
MR: There was definitely an underlying sense of frustration that gave me a motivational edge to pursue this. Whether it was the current political landscape, the ineptitude of Ghost in the Shell or the amount of times I’d seen movies set in a futuristic world or aftermath of zombie apocalypses that were entirely devoid of any Asian Americans (like, NONE of us survived??). Even La La Land winning Best Director over Moonlight and that entire Oscar debacle. But, truthfully, as the pieces started falling into place I was amazed no one had thought to do something like this before. It’s so normalized. But I guess sometimes you gotta take what they won’t give you or are unaware that you need.
GUM: Tell us how the selection process worked. We hardly knew there were so many Asian-American acts, the grouping and placement of these artists must’ve been difficult.
MR: I’m with you on that. When I initially reached out to Redacted, I was thinking we could curate 2, maybe 3 shows. As soon as they joined the process, they sent me an email with another 10 acts I’d never heard before. That really buoyed me and I realized just how expansive we could make this showcase. As we vetted venues and tried to navigate everyone’s availability, more acts kept coming to light and the number kept growing. Even now, I’m looking at the entire scope of it (not to mention the acts we unfortunately weren’t able to include) and I’m just blown away. I really had no idea just how many Asian American-fronted acts there were out there. It wasn’t the easiest thing having such a specific guideline, but we definitely tried to set up all the acts for success while having some sonic cohesion.
GUM: What can be expected of the 6 or 7* shows?
MR: Quality music and a blend of influences that a lot of times only arises when a group’s been marginalized.
GUM: What is the main goal moonroom and Redacted wants to get across with this showcase?
To put unfamiliar faces in familiar places. POC solidarity’s important, but it’s also vital to understand that each group experiences a specific set of obstacles to overcome. For Asian Americans, visibility’s critical – to have a stake in the mainstream narrative and to be viewed beyond just supporting, tertiary members of American society. Hopefully, this showcase helps increase awareness among booking agents, promoters, and venues to extend their comfort zones next time they’re putting a show together. More flavor is out there.
GUM: Anything else you’d like to add?
Hopefully people find their ways to these shows – the majority of them are free and it’s always good to support your local artists. I’m hoping this can be a springboard to a series I’m calling “Shirts & Skins”, which will be a more inclusive showcase that highlights POC and marginalized communities on the whole.
Also, I just wanna put it out there: I think that if you’re booking a feminist-oriented show and at least half of the bill isn’t WOC female-fronted that its borderline exploitative in how it’s attaching itself to POC and marginalized communities. I don’t believe feminism that isn’t interventional is feminism at all.
Girl Underground Music became lucky enough to be one of the participating co-presenters, alongside Allies in the Arts, Center for Asian American Media, Color Study Zine, KXLU, and OnThree Management. To honor the event, each week will be dedicated to the artists that will be performing.
For more information: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
This report was prepared