Author Archives: Darienne Arahan

About Darienne Arahan

Hello! My name's Darienne and I'm an aspiring journalist from New Jersey. :)

Imagine by Sam Tsui x AHMIR

Imagine by Sam Tsui x AHMIR

Sam Tsui and AHMIR joined forces to sing a touching cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, dedicated to both the victims of the January 8 Tucson, Arizona shooting and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. “Violence solves nothing, was posted in the description box of the video. The song can be downloaded on Imagine (produced by Kurt Schneider) - Imagine (produced by Kurt Schneider) - Single. Our hearts go out to the victims of Tuscon, AZ.

“Imagine” – John Lennon (Sam Tsui / AHMIR cover)

B-Here Concert At Rutgers

B-HereThe B-Here Campaign kicked off their 2010 tour at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Performances included singers Jennifer Chung, Joseph Vincent, Clara Chung, and Paul Dateh along with America’s Best Dance Crew alums Kaba Modern and Quest. Comedian Paul “PK” Kim was the MC of the night.

PK opened up the show saying how proud he was that Asian Americans have a voice now, using Youtube and ABDC as examples. He joked, “High school boys are comin’ up to me and they tell me that white girls like Asian guys now! I’m like, ‘What?!’” Although Asian Americans are gaining visibility, one thing in the Asian American community isn’t getting the same awareness, Hepatitis B. PK talked about this disease, which affects 1 out of 10 Asians. They don’t know they’re infected because Hep B has no symptoms. While Kim stated he didn’t know people personally with Hepatitis B, through this tour he had met people who would come up to him and explain their story with the illness. The B-Here tour utilizes Asian American celebrities to help increase awareness through art and events.

At Rutgers, the first performer was Jennifer Chung, who is most known for her cover of Alicia Keys’ “No One.” With her friend Bryan on the guitar, Chung started her set with another Alicia Keys cover, “Unthinkable.” Her set consisted of originals like “How Do You Do It” that had audience participation and “We Are.” She clarified that though the latter is a sad reflection, she is in a happy relationship.

Following Chung was California-based artist Joseph Vincent. In an interview before the show, he revealed that when he gets nervous he gives himself a pep talk. It worked. His excitement being the East Coast for the first time was infectious and the audience was singing along to his medley consisting of Usher’s “DJ Got Us Falling in Love,” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” and others. He also sang his original, “The Wave.” Vincent sang the Backstreet Boys hit, “I Want It That Way” after joking that the song meant a lot to him.

Third to perform was Clara Chung whose set was creative as can be with the help of violinist Daniel, a wide array of instruments, and the ever handy looper. She performed originals like, “’Til We Go,” “Dear Daphne,” and “Offbeat.” Chung used a range of musical implements from a guitar, to a trumpet on “Til We Go,” to a melodica and an endless amount of unique instruments for “Offbeat.” The fact that she had a looper made it sound like she had a whole band with her along with backup singers. The day of the concert, the music video for “Offbeat” was released. Along with the performers’ merchandise, copies of Chung’s newly released CD, The Art in My Heart, were signed and sold out in the lobby.

After a ten minute intermission, Kaba Modern came out to perform. Sadly, PK explained that the group was going their separate ways dance-wise and their B-Here performance would be “one of the last to perform for them.” Yuri Tag explained that nobody on the team knew a lot about Hepatitis B. They were taking advantage of this campaign by learning more and being able to reach out to college kids about Hepatitis B.  She hopes the mass media will cause a revolution of knowledge. The crew played off of the audience’s enthusiasm and performed to upbeat music. At one point during the set, they performed choreography to the music from the Wii Menu.

After Kaba Modern, Paul Dateh went up to perform along with guitarist Ken Belcher. At the pre-show interview, Dateh told how he heard of B-Here after being approached by Plan C. As a violinist, one goal Dateh had was for the audience to, “see into who I am.” As a performer, he wants any aspiring artists to “do what you love, stay dedicated.” Before he began his set, he announced to the audience that this was his first time to perform at Rutgers. He later elaborated by saying it was his first US show since coming back from his Japan tour with Belcher. He kicked off the set with the song, “Good Life,” a feel good beat about being content about life. Following this, he performed another original called, “Your Own.” After the two originals he played a cover of Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire,” with a twist: he incorporated his violin, making it sound jazzy. He finished off his set with the song “Control.”

The last and final performer was Quest Crew. With their tricks, flips, and awesome choreography the crew did not disappoint. From the fangirls’ screams of love to the dance lovers claims of whoops and hollers, everyone was cheering with excitement as the guys performed. The boys performed their famous Toxic number from America’s Best Dance Crew much to everyone’s entertainment. After the first set, the Hok surprised the audience with the announcement of a second set because everyone was “hype enough!” The second set had what seemed like a “get to know the members” choreography where each member had their own freestyle solo throughout the 7 minute set. Throughout the show, a text contest was posted on the big screen on stage. Audience members answer the questions and if one was right, they had a chance to meet the Quest Crew after the show.

Look for the B-Here campaign to make stops at :

University of California San Diego
November 8, 2010

Art Exhibit: Price Center Ballrooms
10:00am to 5:00pm
Live Performance: Mandeville Center
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Doors open at 6:00pm

University of California Los Angeles
November 10, 2010

Art Exhibit: Ackerman Grand Ballroom
10:00am to 5:00pm
Live Performance: Royce Hall
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Doors open at 6:00pm

Quest Crew’s Performances at B-Here

Picture Perfect trailer by Jay Legaspi

Picture Perfect trailer by Jay Legaspi
Today is the official release of the trailer for Jay Legaspi’s first music video, Picture Perfect.
The full music video will be released on Monday, October 25th, also on Jay’s youtube channel.  The first single and the title track of the album, Picture Perfect was shot and produced by JR Pena, Angelica Bonus, and Justin Mendoza, better known as The M3 Crew.  The treatment for the video was written by Jay Legaspi and Amanda Yu.
Those in NYC will have a chance to see it early and on the big screen during at “The Dual Launch” event on Saturday, October 23rd.  The event is at The Gershwin Hotel in New York City (7 East 27th St., between 5th Ave & Park Ave).  Doors open at 6:30 and the premiere will be preceded by a special performance by Jay and his band.  Clothing line Manila Gorilla will also be there to highlight select styles from their upcoming clothing lines.A facebook event for The Dual Launch can be found here:

Pick up Picture Perfect on Picture or Amazon.

Picture Perfect trailer by Jay Legaspi

Picture Perfect with Jay Legaspi

Jay Legaspi

Fresh out the studio and off the set of his first music video, New York born but New Jersey raised, singer-songwriter Jay Legaspi had a goal for his new album Picture Perfect: to showcase what he could do and to give a variety of genres within 13 tracks.  Legaspi’s goal as a singer is to find a voice, one that is without-a-doubt his. He does not mind that he might never get American Idol recognition, “as long as people can hear the emotions…”

On The Musician:

The Filipino-American has been playing guitar seriously for about eight years along with writing songs. Aside from guitar, Legaspi has learned how to play piano and drums. He has also taught himself how to program beats and electronic music on programs like Reason and Ableton. His favorite moment while performing is when he surprises the audience by either improvising a line or performing one of his beatbox/looper covers. “I like throwing curveballs at the listener.”

The artist explained how he had always sung when he was younger, but usually under his breath or to girls he liked over the phone. “Boys II Men songs over the phone equals true romance,” he joked. Legaspi started performing when he was in college where he joined The Chordials, an acappella group. “It was there I learned to love singing to an audience of more than 2.” As a part of the group, he won a few awards. (Viewable here.)

With Chad Hugo of The Neptunes listed as one of his biggest idols, his vision as a musician is “someone who’s quiet on the outside, but explosive in terms of talent and expression.” Legaspi takes pride in the fact that Hugo is also Filipino-American, making him feel hopeful in the music scene, “even if the scene didn’t really see a lot Filipino-American/Asian-Americans making waves.”

Picture Perfect

His family is supportive of his singing career, his father had taught him his first chords and songs. A classically trained guitarist, Legaspi’s father had such a wide array of music ranging from Beatles to Bach. His family has been very encouraging with his decision to become a singer. Along with being at his shows and promoting his music, Legaspi can depend on them to tell him how it really is. “They…don’t sugar-coat anything—if they know it’s going to help me grow, they have no problems giving me criticism.”

With dream collaborations, the songwriter aspires to work with Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie and Bruno Mars. “I’d be so happy if I could write hooks like his.”

On Picture Perfect

1. Honest; 2.  Diverse; 3. Lyrical; 4. Curveball; 5.  My Baby. These were the five words the musician chose when asked to describe his album, . He was quick to reply that the album was a collaborative effort and explained how the CD will sound different to usual listeners because it was a full band project. “I really wanted to bring something new to the table by making an album that was diverse in sound but was held together by my lyrical style.” Seeing as it has been a few years since Legaspi’s last project, the CD was also a way for fans to get to know the musician again.

For the song creation process, Legaspi took a “best foot forward” approach. For his previous album, The.Tale.And, he chose songs that spoke the “loudest to me both musically and emotionally.” Songs that mirrored the life cycle of relationship. For Picture Perfect. he sticks with his lyrical style even if the songs’ genre vary throughout the album. At the center of a majority of his songwriting was Legaspi’s life experiences. “…All my songs do find their beginning in an emotion or event I’ve experienced.”

Created on a “wave of pure inspiration” in 3 hours, the album’s song “3 in 1” was the singer’s favorite song to write. He also listed “Dummy” as his favorite to record. “The upbeat tempo really made it fun!” On the other hand, Legaspi also had “Maggie” as the hardest to write. A song about forgiveness, “Maggie” was emotionally difficulty to put on paper for him. “Soldier On” won hardest to record along with hardest to perform. While the bass and drums were done in one or two takes, Legaspi’s guitar part took longer. “It felt like my ears were telling my fingers that the guitar I was using for the song was not the right one, and I just kept messing up take after take.” After having gone through three guitars, the band found the right one and got the song done in two or three takes. To the musician, the perfect song should grab your attention from the first line and should make you want to listen to it a thousand times over.

Many of his friends and family worked along side him for “Picture Perfect.” “I’m lucky to have been able to work with some of the most talented people in NJ and NYC,” he stated. Two members of his band, Matt Pana and John Violago, have played with Legaspi for a number of years. With Pana on drums and Violago on bass, According to Legaspi, they were “the core of the project” and are heard throughout nearly the whole album. Other musicians on the album include talented horn players Jared Covington and Christine Lee on the tracks “T-Shirt & Sweats” and “Dummy.” Also in the mix were the Garcia and Lopez families, a string quintet on the track “Jacketlining.” Legaspi stated, “Thanks to them, I was able to bring all these ideas I used to only hear in my imagination to life.”

The long list of people outside of the band who helped with Picture Perfect was endless: John Valencia and Paul Terwedow played co-producer and co-engineer respectively.  Vocals were recorded by Meredith McCandless of Flux Studios, who Legaspi had met through his vocal coach. A friend of Valencia, the Grammy Award winning engineer Matt Shane did the mastering. John Violago’s brother, Michael Lesley Violago took the cover shot. Fellow musician and good friend, Matt Sia handled the album packaging and design with the help of Amanda Yu, Legaspi’ girlfriend, who helped with art direction. He also collaborated with JR Pena, Angelica Bonus, and Justin Mendoza on the music video for “Picture Perfect.”

One thing he learned while making this album was to have an undying faith in the project. “…There are times that it feels like there are endless walls placed in front of you, and the only way to get through them is to have the strength to go in head first and break them down yourself.” Though there were times he had gotten frustrated, Legaspi has always loved music in one way or another – both as a performer and a listener.

Music is everywhere for him. If he’s not performing in 5 years, he hopes to be seen producing and co-writing. If he’s not singing, he is usually found playing guitar or thinking of new songs to play. A word of advice from Legaspi to any aspiring musician: “It sounds cliché, but if you love music and the craft, never give up. Also, don’t strive to be your heroes, strive to stand alongside them.”

Pick up Picture Perfect on Picture or Amazon.

If you want to stay up to date with what’s going on, definitely check out, his Facebook group and fan page, and sign up for the Google Group mailing list! Also, if you’re interested in having him (and the band!) play for your event, please email

Danny Katz: New Album, New Home, More Music

Not just anyone can go around saying that he’s a proud gay Jewish Japanese musician, but singer and songwriter Danny Katz is not just anyone. Recently, I was able to interview the performer who presently lives in Japan. With his informative answers came such an abundance of quips about many things (mostly his sexuality), that by the end of the interview you not only got to know Danny but had a good laugh as well.

On Katz’ PasDanny Katzt:

When I asked him to give me a summary of himself, he easily joked that it sounds like an online profile. He even opened the summary with the his astrological sign (Aries) and the fact that he likes walks on the beach. He’s played piano since he was four, guitar since he was 13, and has been playing the jiuta-shamisen for the past 7 years. Danny quickly added, “I used to play the violin and viola too, but kinda sucked at em!”

Katz, 33, explained how he doesn’t recall ever declaring he wanted to be a singer, “and if I did, I probably forgot that decision about 5 second after I made it.” According to Danny’s oracle, though, it just sort of happened a long time ago. In fact, Danny could not remember a time when he saw himself as anything but a musician, at least in one form or another. Danny had enjoyed performing from a young age (from recitals to school plays) but it wasn’t until high school that he started stepping out of his “super-shy shell” to perform his own songs in public, telling people he was doing it to get the girls. “Ha! More like their brothers,” Danny quipped. Speaking of family, Danny’s parents have been there for him from the start. In the beginning, they went to all of his shows in coffee shops and bookstores. Since Danny doesn’t perform at either of their places in the suburbs anymore, his parents can’t make all of the shows. None the less, Danny thinks his parents have been supportive enough by not pestering him with fairly reasonable questions about his job choice. They have also helped partially fund all his previous albums. “You can’t ask for better encouragement than that!!” He also stated that they didn’t evict him when he chose to move back home in his late 20s so he could focus 100% on his music.

When I asked him about professional training he recalled his 4 weeks with one of the more well-liked voice teachers while in college. “I found him to be a bit of a pompous a** and I just wasn’t interested in studying further with him.” That’s not to say that Katz refuses proper singing lessons when his schedule gives him the time. “I’m usually good with the high notes but once I hit the low notes I sound like I could use a good T-Pain autotune session.”

Songwriting for Danny came naturally during his time in junior high school. His influences at the time were the B-52’s, Erasure and Genesis, followed shortly by R.E.M. and Billy Joel. But just because the idea of being a musician came easily to him, Danny asserted that pursuing music as a solidified career option was in many ways a post September 11 decision. “I mean—I had been performing for years at that point and had several albums under my belt already, but I was also seriously considering putting music on the back-burner to go do something respectably painful and responsible like law school.” The tragic events of 9/11 changed things by showing the musician how short one’s life can possibly be and, “and that doing something creative and true to myself was essential for my sense of fulfillment and happiness.”  Katz added, probably with a smirk while typing, “If I can’t match my socks in the morning how good a lawyer could I possibly be? Flirting with the judge will not a good trial make.”

Given that he’s satisfied with his life, Danny would not change anything if ever given the chance to go back in time. That’s not to say that he would not mind telling his younger version to hurry and join Hairclub for Men. He typed, “I was in denial that I was losing my hair forevah!” Musically speaking, he’d tell his 23-year-old self to have more confidence in himself and his music. He also wants to tell himself to relax and enjoy the process of music making and performing, but to not get so caught up with the business side of things. Another thing he’d ask himself to do is to avoid the clunkier forays into political songwriting or the attempts at channeling his undergrad major of Queer Theory. “Listening back now, some of those songs make me wanna roll my eyes, although the intentions when writing them were, well… I mean well.” He finished off by reassuring me that the desire to be a Japanese/Jewish gay male Ani Difranco only suited him for the first half of his 20s.

On his new album and moving to Japan:

Currently, Danny just wrapped up his 7th studio album, “Japanese Satellites.” (Available on Japanese and Amazon.) Though his musical tolerance ranges from classical to hip-hop, Danny chooses to stick to 80s flavored folk-pop songs when it comes to writing his own music. He describes “Japanese Satellites” as a “mix-90s U2, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, and The Shins.” He then says that the album will “make your ears sparkle and your hair shine with delight. You cannot resist.”

80s flavored folk pop bliss. That was Danny’s reply when I told him to describe his new album in 5 words. The album was mean as a personal thought on the potentially fleeting nature of New York City relationships: “How the pace and culture of the city can create and destroy the most amazing and intense bonds between lovers, friends, one night stands and everyone figuratively (or literally?!) in between.” Just as his 2006 album “Strangely Beautiful” was about his experiences in his 20s, this new album is about his life in his 30s. Danny traveled quite a bit while these songs were written and any time he was in a new city he would wonder if relationships were easier then than in New York, “and also what makes people come to New York, what makes them leave, etc.” Going into the studio to work meant he would be leaving NYC. Tokyo was a possible location to call home, or at least a place where he could go to figure out what he really wanted from New York when he returns. “Hence the distanced observation of a ‘Japanese Satellite.’” He also divulged that it made for some very cute CD artwork by Joe Wu.

Japanese Satellites by Danny KatzWhile Danny is very attached to all of his songs (“They’re my BABIES!”), his favorite would have to be “Taipei.” The lyrics  about ‘a crushed out high school girl’ apparently summarizes Danny Katz in a nutshell. Danny admitted to always having a hard time when recording songs: “I always ‘freeze up’ in the studio—it’s like when I see the red record button come on suddenly I start making all sorts of whacky mistakes…” Emotionally, though, “Modesto” was the hardest to record as the break-up that the song talks about came back to mind each time Danny performed it and the lyrics are so specific. “I couldn’t distance myself from the subject matter. At all. And in the studio you’ve gotta do take after take after take.” But Danny also found the recording session a little liberating. He was able to acknowledge how his ex and him both grew immeasurably during their time together and how sometimes a song can allow you to come to closure, “to incorporate the experience into your life fabric and move on.”

He came to Japan with numerous goals ranging from taking a break from NYC/America and learning to understand both environments more to leaving behind both comfort and heartache. He always intends to improve his Japanese for music and other career options, better his understanding of Japan from a worker’s perspective (instead of his past experiences as an exchange student and a vacationee), gain a more global understanding of the world, and to take a stab at the Japanese music industry. Since he’s only lived in Japan for 7 months, he still sees achieving those goals as a continual work in progress.

One moment he considers memorable is when he met his new and “very cute” co-worker. “He goes to bow; I go to shake his hand. Much confusion ensues and I almost accidentally smack him in the crotch.” He jokes, “I am THAT coordinated. And that culturally insensitive, apparently.” Japan has also taught Katz that he can be as out as he wants about his sexuality and they’ll still ask him if he’s found a girlfriend, which confuses Danny to no end.

When Danny was asked to compare the two musical epicenters of his life, New York and Tokyo,  he found it hard to answer. “…Both cities are quite different from each other and because I find musical talent relative.”  Though his songwriting hasn’t changed since moving, Danny does hope to incorporate some Japanese instruments into his recordings again. (He feature a jiuta-shamisen on a previous album, but decided to not use it on “Japanese Satellites.”)

On Music:

Insofar, musicians of different genres have inspired Danny. For earnestness, being out and proud, and having excellent melodic sense – Erasure. For songwriting and musical chops – Billy Joel and Paul Simon. For political savvy and confrontational wit – Ani Difranco. Other inspirations consist of Spitz, Lady Gaga, Missy Elliott, and of course The Beatles. But day-to-day inspiration comes from Danny’s indie singer/songwriter buddies. While practicing solo usually leads Danny to not focus on practicing, “band practices are always fun and since most of my musician buddies have shorter attention spans than I do, it forces me to focus on everyone…”

With lyrics such as ‘Lost in translation, I am nothing without you…’ I asked Danny if he was ever without music, would he consider himself “lost in translation.” He replied with a definite “absolutely.” He explains how a common language wasn’t always spoken, especially collaborating with foreign musicians. “It amazed me how we were all able to communicate through music. Though come to think of it, alcohol helped quite a bit…”

In the present day music world, originality is key. Danny feels he’s at a slight advantage with his life experiences—being gay, half Japanese, half Jewish, in his 30s and living in Tokyo—and it feeds into his understanding of how this business (and life) works. But other than that Danny is struggling to get recognized as much as anyone else. He constantly attempts to balance the “desire to create something unique with the desire to be heard and successful.” He believes he is a bit more balanced, humanistic, ethical, and giving than some other musicians, but concedes that may all be relative.

He tries to stick to some advice he was given which revolves around staying true to oneself without ignoring the fact that it’s a business as well. While he tries not to sell out, Katz knows that he has to listen for what the general public wants to hear. He also knows that he should appreciate his fans because he understands that without them this wouldn’t be possible. The best advice that Danny has gotten, though, would have to be, “if you’re not enjoying it, why do it?” Trite as it may be, Danny believes there’s a lot of truth to that one statement.

His message to fans was short and to the point: “Do it – there’s nothing better than creating and sharing with folks.” He also suggested you have thick skin if you want to enter the business. He informed me that the business can be brutal and “sometimes what you’ve created with blood, sweat and tears will fall on deaf ears.” But whether or not your music gets picked up by the higher ups, Danny said that nothing is more amazing than being able to connect with a fan and to know your music is making a difference in someone’s life.

Other facts:

If ever you catch Danny as a karaoke, he would probably be singing some American and British 80’s pop and mid 90’s Japanese pop. “And I have to admit, I can’t pass up a good sing-along to ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ ‘Take On Me,’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ and ‘Living on a Prayer.’” He also prides himself in doing Young MC’s “Bust a Move” better than any other folksinger in the history of “folksingerness.”

While he thought about taking on a more conventional job way back when, Danny is sticking to music for as long as possible. He may take a break from time to time, but never permanently giving it up.  In five years, he sees himself definitely making music. The idea of geographically where, however, is still up in the air. He wrote, “Maybe living with some amazing sugar-daddy on a California vista? Maybe being a geisha. Maybe becoming kosher. Stranger things have happened.”

“Even I Have Standards” Music Video by Danny Katz from his 2006 Album, “Strangely Beautiful” of Umamiya!

The exclusive interviews with members of Umamiya continues. Previously, we’ve profiled members Cathedral Leung, Winnie Wu, Kim Min Jung, and Kitty Karaoke. of Umamiya

On her past:

Most likely found at the nearest Jollibee restaurant in Los Angeles, Merry Christmas (aka of Umamiya makes up the Filipino percentage all girl Pan-Asian Pop group. Mari Kris was born in the Philippines to a low-income family. Mari Kris prides herself with the fact that she was born singing: “When I was born, my mother told me I cried in the whistle range, like Mariah Carey.” Her first actual memory of singing was at the of 3, while she was doing chores. While cleaning the kitchen, Mari Kris sang Ihilak by Filipino crooner Victor Wood. “I was like one of the dwarfs in Snow White, whistling while I worked…” Because her parents were so supportive of their daughter, Mari Kris was told to sing all the time, at every opportunity, even while selling food on the streets. “…I had many fans who said my singing was ‘Eargasmic.’”

Her self-proclaimed “God given talent” as a singer formerly helped her acquire a recording contract with S-Cube Entertainment’s competitor, Hoy! Records. While the president and CEO of the recording label gave notice to Mari Kris’s gift as a singer, she was usually put into a background singer position. “He did not think had a very marketable image,” her description explains. “Hoy! Records was a HOY! Nightmare,” she exclaimed in an email interview, “Have you ever heard of those, how do you say, NIGHT TERRORS?  It was like that.  Except at least with night terrors, you wake up.  And then maybe you make yourself a nice light snack, maybe have a Fruit Roll-Up or some kind of a Funnel Cake.  At Hoy! Records, you DO NOT wake up and they forbid all types of snacking.  Dios ‘ko!  NIGHTMARE talaga!!” In the end, Mari Kris had a falling out with the President and CEO and left the label. She defends her actions by explaining that the head of the label was intimidated by  her “musical genius”, when in truth, she could not overcome his disappointment in her. When asked to compare her past and present recording label, Mari Kris gushes: “S-Cube is a wonder…They should carve his face on a mountain…”

If given the chance to go back in time, Mari Kris would tell her younger self to have more fun, “because fun is what makes the world go ‘round.” She would also tell herself to invest in Google and teach herself how to invent the computer. Though she has never won any conventional awards, Mari Kris feels she’s been rewarded in different, interesting ways: “I get fan mail, at least one fan-email per 6 weeks.  And, when I go to Jollibee, sometimes they give me an extra wing when I order the Chicken Joy Combo.  That is like awards, right?”

On Umamiya:

Merry Christmas

She is now proud to say that S-Cube Entertainment’s Sang Sung Song recognizes her true talent and that is why she became a member of Umamiya. Though she was primarily flattered that she was chosen to be a part of the group, Mari Kris said that it was right in the nick of time: “It was a shambles before I arrived. S-Cube is a smart cookie cutter to bring me in.” She thinks that S-Cube really needed someone to mix it up like a good halo-halo (a Filipino dessert) with Frosted Flakes. She describes herself as humble and modest to a fault. “If I get a compliment, I blush so RED, like garnet red, you know?  RED like a beautiful red rose – dewy & perfect in every way.” Mari Kris, like the rest of the girls, told me that S-Cube made her the leader.

She admires the girls’ attitudes toward constructive criticism, since there are so many. She also feels the girls are all good girls with their own sense of spunk. But that is as a group; individually, Mari Kris had different things to say:

To Mari Kris, Winnie “WWII” Wu is really a “princess rabbit.” The Filipina explained that, that means Winnie is not a rapper. “You know who can rap? That’s right, ME. AND, I can rap in WHISTLE RANGE.” Despite the fact that people tend to complain about her rapping, Mari Kris brushes it off: “Crybabies crying… ‘Ouchie, it hurts! My eardrum!”  Mari Kris compares the next member to another animal, but it’s not what you think: “Cathedral is like a gazelle—lean & so alert.” She describes how everything catches Cathedral Leung’s attentions. When Leung is “grazing”, her ears and hair prick up. She goes on to say how Cathedral is like a gazelle running with one mythical beautiful dragoness (Mari Kris), a mangy princess rabbit, and two lemurs. Kitty Karaoke is the first of two lemurs. Mari Kris explains her comparison with the fact that Kitty has big eyes and a keen sense of smell that the Filipina categorizes as “freakish.” Kitty is also very sensitive—emotionally and even metaphysically. “I looked at her once and the next thing I know, she got a bruise on her forehead. It was so talagang bizarre.” Kim Min Jung got the best .. or worst (depends on how you see them) reviews from Mar Kris. “She is probably the best person who really listens to all we have to say about her shortcomings. She just smiles and nods. Then she giggles.” Mari Kris is also amazed by Min Jung’s ability to make any hand sign in photos. “Have you seen them? Like a heart and the peace sign and this building with a tall point.”

When asked if she wrote any of the group’s songs, Merry Christmas said that writing musical comes naturally to her. “I take the OVERALL process of music very seriously. It’s part of an artist’s growth and I’m ALWAYS growing, like this and like that, don’t you agree?” In one year, she hopes the group will dominate the world. She wants their songs to be playing in elevators, on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, and movies such as Harry Potter. She also envisions some of the greats to admire them. She writes, “I…envision my idols Mariah Carey & Madonna (I LOVE “Ray of Light” Madonna) covering HOT SOUR SPICY & SWEET, acoustic and electronic version, respectively.”

“I’ll share this with you – I am a bit of a prankster,” she responded to the question about her most memorable moment with the group. She tends to prank the rest of the girls when they least expect it. “You know, like plastic wrap the toilet, salt in the sugar jar, Tic-Tac instead of Prozac in Kitty’s pill case.” She said the best part was their expressions afterwards. She believes her pranks have brought the girls closer. To any hopeful person planning to take the same path as Mari Kris, she suggests you take over the internet first along with some presents: “It’s important to have a Facebook page and have some giveaways always on hand—like magnets with your face on it.” But the number one thing to remember, or better yet forget, is your self-image: “And most importantly, being SKINNY is NOT IMPORTANT. At all.” This fact is show when Merry described the most fun part about being in Umamiya which is, “the special time when you can be by yourself—after the endless rehearsals, after the recording sessions, after the photo pictorials.” She loves the fact that she gets time for herself to contemplate about how much fun she is having, “then maybe have a sandwich.” But with the good comes the bad. The fact that the list of things the group has to do is endless is the hardest thing for Mari Kris. She talks about how they are constantly working and sometimes she needs to stop and do a Sudoku puzzle or something.

She likes to believe that the best features she contributes to Umamiya  are her lips with their “really shiny shellac-y finish.” She also includes her brain in that list. When told to describe herself by choosing between: The Leader, The Jokester, The Quiet One, The Fashion Diva, and The Nerd, Merry answered: “As Chaka Khan once said, I’M EVERY WOMAN.  I’m at once complicated and then at once simple.  Does that make sense?  We are what we think we are and I think I am all things – I’m EVERY Woman, except maybe that Nerd one.”