read the full story
read the full story
One of the reasons I make music is to be honest: sometimes it’s easier to say something in a song than it is to speak it. My song “Mad Woman” is a bold statement of my own anger and putting that song into the world has made me feel more confident that my anger is important, valid, necessary! When I can translate a feeling into a song, I feel lighter, like the feeling has worked its way through me–it’s done its work.
I started making music as a kid in church–choir, band, the whole kit and caboodle. I loved hearing the emotion of minor chords, and the sound of people singing together, even if I didn’t understand what we were singing about. As time passed, I started to feel like most church music wasn’t very honest, at least for me. Where were the conversations about doubt, uncertainty, unresolved trauma, racial justice? I didn’t hear songs speaking to these concerns I’m pretty confident God cares a lot about. In my early twenties, I was anxious and depressed. I shouldered high expectations for myself and was totally spent.
Music and honesty are a healing duo. Writing music was a maze-like path back to recovering many parts of myself. I’d cut off so many of my needs and desires because I was trying to conform to an ideal self–a version of myself that wasn’t realistic (or even interesting)! That’s one of many reasons why I started a band of women, mostly Chinese. I wanted to see what it felt like to be in a room of women of colour, where we were sharing spiritual and musical ideas on a level playing field. The outcome, a band called Tiger Balme, has been more magical than I could imagine. We function as a collective, all writing songs and helping one another tell our individual stories. We eat a lot of junk food and the whole process is very therapeutic.
Expressing honesty in my music and life has been the key to recovering my well-being emotionally and spiritually.”