What does it feel like to be Asian American in 2023? How do we express the depth and nuance of our identities? Join us on Earth Day for this special performance featuring Asian-American soul-pop band Joe Kye & the Givers (Portland), electro-pop singer-songwriter SURRIJA (LA), and “third culture pop” musician Nikbo (SF), whose music and storytelling explore the Asian-American soul with vulnerability and personal perspective. A part of Celebrating Our HeART-filled Heritage Series, this evening will hold and heal you, unearthing your joy that you may root with intention and self-love.
Portland-based musician and storyteller Joe Kye discharges worlds of emotion with his lush violin loops and eclectic style. From viral TikTok jingles skewering microaggressions to delivering keynote speeches about creativity and community, Joe’s work taps into an inner core, inspiring audiences to compassion and empathy. His band, Joe Kye & the Givers, is a unique blend of soul, pop, hip-hop, and Korean traditional music–distinctly original yet familiar, like blasting through outer space only to arrive at your childhood home. The project blurs genres and geographies, arriving at a transnational sound that grooves as hard as it pushes against boundaries. Kye has opened for Yo-Yo Ma, recorded a Tedx Talk, and been featured on NPR. He is an Oregon Arts Commission 2023 Arts Fellow.
SURRIJA (sur–Rye–ya) is an electro art pop project by Jane Lui that plays with asymmetry, glitch, and electronic treatment of classical training. The album features drummer Matt Chamberlain (David Bowie, Fiona Apple, Perfume Genius), produced by Surrija, Sophocles, and Maxwell Gualtieri. The new sound is a departure from Jane’s singer–songwriter roots, exploring lure and feral tendencies. “I’m a little addicted to change. I think – my love for playing tactilely plus a need for newness – lands me squarely in these micro electronic textures.” This album is about finding voice.
SURRIJA (album) was Kickstarter funded ($40K) while she traveled as an arranger, actor, and multi–instrumentalist in Cambodian Rock Band (Lauren Yee) to Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, and NYC Off–Broadway Signature Theatre. She was composer and music director for Secret In The Wings (Mary Zimmerman), a production by Coeurage Theatre (Los Angeles). She has been named YouTube’s Unsigned Pick, her music video Southern Winds earned Best Music Video in Dublin Web Fest 2017, and multiple works have been featured on Virgin America, Huffington Post, Jezebel, MAKE:Mag. Her song “How Do I” is currently nominated for Best Pop Song at San Diego Music Awards 2022. She has worked with Matt Chamberlain, Jason Mraz, Felicia Day, CDZA, Son Lux.
Nikbo (she/they/siya) is a Filipinx and Third Culture artist who makes music for deep-feelers and collective freedom-seekers. Blending elements of art pop and neo-soul with sounds from their childhood living in Morocco, Malawi, and Kazakhstan, Nikbo shares stories from the diaspora and provides sonic refuge to process the highs and lows of living in these times.
Their music video for “Be A Little Lonely” won an Independent Music Award in 2020 as an audience favorite, and their 2021 song, “We Need Each Other,” was featured in Smithsonian Magazine, and included in the “We Rise” Spotify Playlist featuring revolutionary voices in Asian-American music.
For their latest project, Breathe Underwater, Nikbo collaborated with family in the Philippines and Canada. “Making this EP was a way to feel close to them during the pandemic,” they explain. “And I wanted to do something to tend to the grief that has been building up over the last couple of years. While our society views grief as something to hide, making Breathe Underwater was a way to for me to experience grief as love. Something that wants to be shared. Something to embrace, listen to, and learn from.”
ABOUT THE SERIES
“Celebrating Our HeART-filled Heritage” champions local Asian and Asian Pacific Islander performing artists, with the goal of providing a platform for accomplished local performing artists and exposing our diverse community in the East Bay to compelling, culturally relevant artists and performances that inspire intergenerational and cross-cultural exchange. The performing arts series is supported in part by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.
Donations are appreciated and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.