In an effort to bring you more joy, we wanted to share a few of our favorite music videos—both the coolest new releases and older clips from AA+PI artists we think just don’t get enough mainstream play. This week’s theme: All about musicianship. Have a video you think we should know about? Hit us up at email@example.com.
‘Violin Tsunami’ by Kishi Bashi (2019): It’s all about the instrumentals
Vocals can often overshadow the music in a song, but Kishi Bashi’s music will have you swept up in his instrumentals. In “Violin Tsunami,” a track from the 2019 album Omoiyari, Kishi Bashi’s strings are king and will take you on a tumultuous journey.
As a singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Kishi Bashi (born Kaoru Ishibashi) has toured as a violinist with a variety of artists, including Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche and Of Montreal. As a solo artist, Kishi Bashi has toured extensively through North America and Europe, including performances at popular music festivals including South by Southwest and Austin City Limits. While Kishi Bashi does sing, his original musicianship is where the music really shines.
“Violin Tsunami,” as the name implies, takes the violin and infuses it with drama. The song builds layer by layer and descends, along the visual of an internment camp sprouting out of the ground, riding the waves and sinking to the bottom of the sea, only to float back up and fill the world with light.
‘Josephine’ by Bad Luck (2012): Improvisational musicianship
For more than a decade, Christopher Icasiano and Neil Welch have been jamming together as the percussion and saxophone duo Bad Luck. With Icasiano—who is Filipino American—on the drums and Welch on the saxophone and live electronics, the two musicians met when they were jazz students at the University of Washington. Their friendship grew as they discovered free improvisation together. Despite their roots in jazz, the Seattle-based duo’s music is also a mix of electronics, metal and folk.
Icasiano’s and Welch’s musicianship on “Josephine,” which is off of their 2011 album Two, is impressive. And there’s just something about Icasiano banging away on the drums that I love. In his glasses and collared shirt and sweater, he looks more like a math teacher than musician, giving off Asian nerd stereotype vibes. But his talent—and passion—for the drums shines through and all we can do is sit back and enjoy.
‘Weep’ by Magik*Magik (2016): Sad but with something good coming
Minna Choi learned how to work a tape deck before she even learned how to speak. But it wasn’t until she went to grad school for music that she really got serious about turning it into a career. Just days after graduating, the Magik*Magik* Orchestra, which Choi started, performed a benefit concert where Sting was the headliner. Since then Choi, who also goes by Magik*Magik, has collaborated with the likes of Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie. In an era filled with beat drops and auto-tuned vocals, there’s something so pure about how Choi combines her love of pop and classical, layering vocals over the swells and crescendos of stringed instruments.
In “Weep,” Choi conducts an orchestra and dancer while seemingly fighting to hold back whatever pain she’s feeling. With its sweeping sound and melancholy lyrics (“I’ll weep when you weep”), the song—off of Magik*Magik*’s 2016 self-titled album, is sad for a moment but Choi’s delicate voice, paired with the upswell in the music gives you hope that something good is just about to happen.
‘If You Want To’ by beabadoobee (2019): Asian women rock out
Alternative rock isn’t just white guys. Asian women can rock just as hard. The 1990s are making a comeback and I am here for it.
Philippines-born beabadoobee (born Beatrice Laus) grew up in London. She played the violin for seven years before teaching herself the guitar from YouTube tutorials. Some of beabadoobee’s musical inspirations are Elliott Smith, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and film soundtracks. She has encouraged young people to pick up the guitar and rock out, which is exactly what she does.
In “If You Want To”—which is off beabadoobee’s 2018 album Patched Up—the song’s sound and the video’s visuals practically scream 1990s, down to the flannel-clad guys playing in the background. I love that their faces are all hidden behind their long hair—something I totally remember from that era. If you dig the likes of Garbage and Hole and their respective frontwomen, Shirley Manson and Courtney Love, beabadoobee is for you. She fits so well alongside them, you’d never know she was never part of a 1990s alternative band.
Published on July 6, 2022
Words by Samantha Pak
Samantha Pak (she/her) is an award-winning Cambodian American journalist from the Seattle area and assistant editor for JoySauce. She spends more time than she’ll admit shopping for books than actually reading them, and has made it her mission to show others how amazing Southeast Asian people are. Follow her on Twitter at @iam_sammi and on Instagram at @sammi.pak.