Interview with The ‘Pineapple 菠蘿’ Team: Not Your Average Teen Web-Series (Ft. Jane Chow, Peter Rafe, Tav Bartlett)
On a sticky, humid morning in sunny Singapore, I sat down to a skype call with the big thinkers behind the East-meet-West webseries ‘Pineapple’, Peter Rafe and Jane Chow as well as their composer Tav Bartlett. A comedy webseries set in Hong Kong; the themes within the series skilfully and uniquely expand past the jurisdictions of the little island within the compounds of a local international school.
Recently screened at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the brainchild of co-creators Peter and Jane was borne from a lifetime of experiences as part of the Asian diasporic community, something which I myself am more than familiar with. Between the four of us at the skype interview, myself, Peter, Jane and Tav shared experiences and heritages that spanned the world over. Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, America, Botswana, Britain, Thailand, Australia…the list goes on.
Just from the sharing of each of our backgrounds, it became clear that for many members of the Asian diasporic population, our identities are not defined solely by the places in which we were born or raised. It is defined by an almost immiscible mishmash of our experiences, the cultural practices of our parents or surrounding communities, and everything else in between.
By Jocelle Koh
Young, vivacious and ready to take on the world, 18 year-old Jannine Weigel’s already-long list of accomplishments makes us feel old just by listing them. Not only does the Thai-German artist sing, dance and act; the fact that she transitions smoothly between performing in her familial tongues as well as English puts us very much to shame. Not to mention the fact that she’s acted in various television series’ and commercials since she was in her tweens. It’s clear that for Weigel, performance is in her blood.
Amassing a mind-boggling online following through her YouTube covers before moving swiftly on to releasing original, multilingual content that speaks to her heritage and experiences, Jannine’s ascent to visibility is buoyed by her evident passion and enthusiasm for performing and learning. From videos of her guessing the names of Vietnamese artists; to singing covers of American and German artists; to her own multilingual original works, it is clear that this young go-getter is living in a global, tech-friendly society, and very adept to this environment too. We dug deep to find out more about how the bubbly artist’s multicultural background and experiences have influenced her budding philosophy and musical works.
1. You’ve accomplished so much for your young years! Do you have a particular milestone that you’re really proud of?
Thanks! Something that I'm really proud of until now, I think, is getting signed with Universal Music, because I've always wanted to work with Universal Music. And they just contacted me last year. So we kind of just started working together. And it was kind of still, like, … a surprise to me that they contacted me because I feel like Universal Music is such a big company, and that they decided to contact me and wanted to work with me is, like, a really great honor to me. So yeah.
Author: Jocelle Koh
This interview was done in collaboration with KKBOX SG
Many familiar with the K-pop or indie Korean scenes will have heard of Korean-American band Royal Pirates, whose English language tracks bridged many borders over the years with their unique musical stylings. Followers would also have heard about their talented bassist James JH Lee, whose passion for music allowed him to play as a bassist professionally for 13 years over a variety of genres including metal, indie rock and K-pop. In 2015, a debilitating and unfortunate accident severed James’ hand, putting an abrupt end to his career as a bassist, and forcing the musician to re-evaluate his life’s purpose and intention.
However, through all the ups and downs his journey to recovery took him on, there was only one constant in James’ life – his love for music. It was songwriting which helped him through; with songs from that dark period cumulating in the release of his latest work ‘The Light’. Borne from a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, we spoke to the now-artist about his uniquely empowering journey, and his transition from bassist to artist:
“So when you're playing the bass, you're supporting the band. You're kind of part of the foundation of the group…But … I have to do all of that now. And the singer has a lot of responsibility that I was not prepared for. So I eventually got to a point where I just let go. And I'm finally able to just be myself on stage. I just have fun with it. But when I was a bassist, I think I was trying to fit a role so hard that it's like trying to fit a square into a circle, kind of? It doesn't really make sense, especially with the type of music I was doing before. So now I just do whatever I want (laughs). And it's kind of liberating.”
Author: Jocelle Koh
Feature done in collaboration with KKBOX SG
The first time I interviewed Kumachan it was when he was still widely known as Poetek, back in 2016. He had just been nominated for the Golden Melody Awards that year in various categories for his hard-hitting debut album, and we caught up at the festival-affiliated performance he was featured at in Taipei. Rocking up in cornrows and a white t-shirt, his passion for music and storytelling as well as his quiet confidence left quite an impression on me.
Fast forward three years, Kumachan, formerly known as Poetek has just released his second album, climbing to new heights of creative aptitude with each new release. Having by now embarked on many notable collaborations with the likes of Julia Peng, Machi Didi, Nine Chen and Crown Du, I was intrigued to see how my second encounter with the current golden boy of rap would go.
Unsurprisingly, Kumachan was more or less the same as I’d remembered; a guy of few words except when it came to his music; yet with the uncanny ability to match his burgeoning creative ambitions with impeccable execution.
Yet when it comes to these discussions of heightened popularity; society guides us to read between the lines, to question if public figures such as Kumachan have ‘sold out’ after ‘making it’, or if they’ve ‘stayed real’.
Interview, Mandarin Feature and Graphics by Grace Chen
Translation by Jocelle Koh
Video Editing by Peiling Ngan
BTS Photos by Derek Hao
What is Mandarin hip hop? The term seems self-explanatory; hip hop music performed in Mandarin. Yet there are differences abound between the Mandarin and Western hip hop genres. One such difference is the meaning behind Mandarin hip hop tracks. The meanings behind these songs tend to be more nuanced and deeper; unlike the straightforward nature of Western hip hop songs. As opposed to Western hip hop, Mandarin hip hop has its subtleties and elegance, but also has certain language restrictions due to the rhythmic tendencies of the genre being one word to each beat. Yet such limitations have not hindered the advancements of the scene; but forced mandarin and Asian hip hop artists to be creative and adapt; powering forth at breakneck speed in recent years. From the prominence of 88rising to the push for hip hop’s mainstream surfacing in 2017, there is much to unpack when it comes to Mandarin hip hop in 2019. To start off the discussion, what better place to begin than with an interview with three members of Taiwanese rap label Kungfu Entertainment?
About Kungfu Entertainment
The name Kungfu Entertainment comes from the meaning that everyone has a martial art that they can hone. In the Mandarin rap world, there’s a saying that different hip hop labels specialise in different styles. As for Kungfu Entertainment, through the theme of Kungfu, every person on this earth can create something new. Rapper from Taiwan Dwagie 大支 as the founder of Kungfu Entertainment has taken two of his mentees to America to participate in the inaugural SXSW festival. On top of this, they’ve held three free events while they’re here to interact more intimately with their audiences. As a seminal figure in the Mandarin hip hop scene, Dwagie’s work has taken him across all kinds of societal topics including political commentary and stray animals. In his eventful career he has also worked with global rap greats such as the Dalai Lama, Nas, and Wutang’s Raekwon.