Please tell us about how you met Shira and got involved with Gritty In Pink.
Shira has been so integral to connecting women in the music industry for years. I was fortunate to meet her through playing in Vigil of War where she introduced us to the Warped Tour scene. We performed at the 25th Warped Tour Anniversary show along with Shiragirl.
How did your music journey start?
I started playing piano at the age of 6 and played mostly classical. When I was about 10, we bought my dad an acoustic guitar for Valentine’s Day since that’s how he wooed my mother in their dating days. When I was 13, my dad taught me my first three chords on the guitar and my first song “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals. I also learned to play the drums at age 16.
While in college, I was modeling on the side for extra cash. I ended up doing a modeling gig for an awesome jewelry company. It was owned by Kaila and Katt, who ended up recruiting me to perform in their band Nylon Pink.
We toured in Macau, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Costa Rica, and across the US.
Later, I had the opportunity to join a girl punk rock band She Demons that was put together by Jerry Only from the Misfits.
I also performed with Taylor Swift at the 2014 VMA’s for the debut of her hit song “Shake It Off”. I performed with Usher live at CBS Fashion Rocks in 2014, and also did a Nissan Commercial with Bret Michaels.
When and how did you get involved as guitarist for Vigil of War? Did you always think you would end up playing guitar professionally in a band?
Around 2016, I quit my job to pursue music full time, but it suddenly came to a halt. I was left depressed and didn’t want to even look at my instruments. I racked up a bunch of debt and actually neglected my guitars for almost 3 years. Eventually i started getting involved in the travel writing industry and went full force into that field.
However, Alicia called me one day and asked if I could fill in last minute for Vigil of War’s tour in the UK. I was very apprehensive at first since I was out of practice and nervous to perform again, but I went for it. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was able to rekindle my love for music again through that tour. Everybody in the band was like family and was so warm and inviting, it was easy to jump right in and join the band!
Who is your dream collaboration? Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
My biggest inspirations right now are Jeff Loomis, Yvette Young, Steven Vai, Tim Henson, and Orianthi. Also this incredible electronic artist Apashe!
What is your go-to gear?
When it comes to gear, I’ve generally liked to keep it simple. Most of my videos I play out of a little 15W Line 6 Spider III amp. I really like to emphasize this because I want people to know that you don’t need expensive equipment to make music you love.
For live shows, I have JCM 2000 DSL 100 with a JCM 900 cab. I also have a Peavey Triple X 2x12 all tube combo amp as well which was my second amp I’ve ever purchased.
Tell us about your recent experiences with blowing up on TikTok and any advice you have for aspiring creators using the app as a platform to promote their art. Is it ever hard to keep up with the day-to-day content creation demands?
It’s been such a whirlwind creating video content on social media. It’s been absolutely amazing and I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve received in such a short period of time.
To be honest, TikTok really saved my life. When COVID hit in March 2020, the travel industry became basically non-existent. We really had to figure out a new way to stay afloat. It was brutal. And the success wasn’t always easy. Posting daily videos was a daunting task and not always received well. I had to do a ton of testing and trial and error to find out what works and what stuck, but eventually I found my calling.
Ultimately, my goal with my videos is to continue to inspire young people to keep music alive. With the internet and the boundless access to information at our fingertips, the inclination to play instruments is slowly dying out in our younger generations. I want to encourage young musicians to keep rock and roll and metal alive through the expression of guitar and musical instruments.
Tell us about your Facebook group and how that got started!
For over 7 years, I’ve worked as a digital marketing consultant to various clients. My business partner and BFF, Kaila, started the group and I hopped in to help a little after. We ultimately want to create a community for social media influencers to connect with other like-minded individuals and other brands.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. What does this month mean to you?
It is such an honor to celebrate AAPI with the Gritty Gang. It’s a time where we can recognize and celebrate our heritage and history. Being an Asian American female in the rock industry has not been easy. Despite the fallbacks, there have been many more positive experiences through perseverance and dedication.
9. As an Asian American woman in music, what do you think your role is in creating visibility for minorities?
I hope to inspire other Asian Americans to continue to break the mold and pursue their passions and dreams in non-conventional areas. Asian culture puts a lot of pressure to take on traditional roles. However, you can be successful and find fulfillment doing the things you love.10. What is the most valuable lesson you have taken away from quarantine?Be unapologetically yourself.
Worry less about what you THINK others will think of you and do what you love. If what you’re doing doesn’t harm or hurt anybody or influence others negatively, then do what you love with passion and vigor.11.
How do you want to be remembered?
I hope to be remembered as someone who inspired another incredible emerging artist to go full force into their career. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. Sharing the love for music and watching it grow and evolve into something truly phenomenal and great and all times.
What has been your favorite quarantine activity or new hobby/talent?
By far...cooking. Kaila and I have a food blog called @nomlist. Follow us on IG and TikTok for some fun Asian-inspired recipes!
Any dream vacation destination you would love to travel to once the pandemic is over?
Still dying to go to Thailand. I had a trip scheduled, but it was cancelled due to COVID. I would love to go there and train Muay Thai, or perhaps even tour there too! :)