In light of the upcoming Kollaboration New York showcase, we are featuring a guest blog post from Justin Kim, a 2012 finalist for Kollaboration New York. Justin Kim is a musician, graphic designer, and professional ugly-face-maker. He likes long walks (no he doesn’t) and singing in the subways of New York City. He began playing the piano and violin in elementary school, composing for orchestra and film in high school, and even composed and produced the soundtrack for the independent short film, The Caretaker (2011). Encouragement from friends prodded him to perform as a singer when he was in college at NYU, leading to his performing at dozens of cultural talent shows and open mic events. He was a finalist in Kollaboration New York 2012, and has since been pursuing music performance as a major part of his life.
Please note that views expressed by guest bloggers represent solely their own. ECAASU believes in open dialogue and multiple perspectives and welcomes (civilly worded) thoughts different from our own, but we do not necessarily endorse any writing done by the author elsewhere.
More information about the showcase is available at the end of the post.
When I found out I had been selected as a finalist for 2012′s Kollaboration New York, I was really surprised. I didn’t know much about the organization, other than the fact that some big YouTube stars I admired (David Choi, Kina Grannis, among others) had been involved, and at the time I didn’t consider myself a serious enough musician to be a part of something of this caliber. However, the congratulations email was, in fact, real and in front of me, and I can easily say that was when I felt the first legitimate flicker of musical ambition me.
Fast forward to my first meeting with the other contestants: I was awestruck. Well, at least on the inside. Had to stay cool, calm, and collected in front of my competition, right? We’d convened in my room to put together an arrangement for the summer’s music video, and the level of talent with these guys was incredible and enlightening. I respected Kollaboration’s taste and judgement in highlighting talent, so for them to pick me out as an entertainer on par with these three with their angelic vocal cords was really inspiring.
The days that we recorded and shot for the video were the highlights of that summer. Being allowed to spend time with the other contestants to combine our talents for a common purpose helped shift the perspective of seeing the show as a competition to recognizing it more as a cooperative opportunity to showcase our talents as well as celebrate our heritage. I still have videos of us huddled together in the dressing room backstage right before we started going up to perform. By that point, we were already fast friends and any sort of competitive animosity (if there ever was any) was completely absent from our relationships, which is pretty clearly reflected in our smiles in the popular photo of us hugging John Quiwa when his name was announced.
I can confidently say these experiences significantly swayed the course of my life. I had been attending NYU and studying design, with singing as a side hobby, so the whole process of having video interviews, music video shoots, and performing on NYU’s Skirball Stage was completely unexpected. Since then, I’ve met so many like-minded and talented artists with whom I continue to keep in touch, and I’ve started to take my musical talents more seriously. I’ve been using New York’s subway stations as my main stage of advertising, through which I’ve gotten restaurant gigs, wedding gigs, and even some people who want to take guitar lessons from me.
To me, Kollaboration represents exactly what its name plays off of. It took a lot of collaborative effort from people with a huge diversity of talents to make it happen. While its main purpose was to raise awareness for cultural talent, it also generated high quality entertainment and connections between artists that needed to meet each other. For me personally, the most valuable thing Kollaboration provided was a new courage to believe in my passions. And that’s something I think our generation really needs.
Support Kollaboration New York’s Empowerment Through Entertainment message by attending their upcoming show, to be held on Saturday, Sept. 28 at NYU’s Skirball Center. Tickets are now on sale, available here. Additionally, KNY is set to host its annual launch party this Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Asian American Writers Workshop in New York City, where we will unveil this year’s finalists music video.
For more information about this year’s finalists, below are some videos featuring their amazing talents!
(feat. Powerpuff Boys, Austin Luu, Shilpa, Bohan Phoenix)