Arouze’s ‘我们 (Wo Men)’ is the Lunar New Year celebration you don’t want to miss if you’re in Melbourne next weekend

We caught up with four of the artists performing on the night of Arouze‘s ‘我们 (Wo Men)’ to learn more about who they are, what they do, and what they’re most looking forward to about the event.

Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan

Please can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

My name is Rainbow Chan (陳雋然) and I am a musician, visual artist, and teacher. Sometimes I write, sew, and enjoy the odd catharsis of crying on public transport.

Can you tell us a bit about how your career first began and has progressed to where it is today?

I still remember walking into FBi Radio and delivering my first demo, which had a hand-stitched, dark blue felt CD cover. One of my songs ended up winning their Northern Lights Competition in 2011. Through that, I flew over to Iceland to perform and record some music. Since then, my practice has diversified into installation, performance art, and music that engages with cultural and socio-political discourse.

I love a solid pop song, but my thirst for knowledge and new skills has seen my work morph into various forms over the years.

What’s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced throughout your career to date?

Deciding to say no to things.

Who are some of the women you admire most and why?

First-generation migrant women are one of the most resilient groups of people I have ever seen. Working long hours, undervalued skillsets and underpaid, alienation, intergenerational tensions with their children, homesickness… so many hardships, but somehow getting through each day.

What are you most looking forward to about 我们 (Wo Men) and why is the event important to you?

Can’t wait to see all these wonderful artists with diverse stories, backgrounds, and experiences in one place!

SHELLEY

SHELLEY

Please can you tell me a bit about who you are and what you do?

Hello! My name’s Shelley. I do a few different things here and there—I get bored sitting still! I co-run a record label/collective called Valve Sounds, which promotes Hip Hop/Soul/RnB/Electronic music that we love—as well as throwing parties every once in a while. I’m also a booking agent and operations manager at Vita Artists. Oh and I also DJ on the side too—I play at a few different venues around Melbourne each week in order to fund my UberEats addiction.

Can you tell us a bit about how your career first began and has progressed to where it is today?

My life has pretty much always involved music in some way or another ever since I can remember. I started doing music lessons in piano from when I was four years old, and then throughout school I started playing other instruments as well. I enjoyed it, but my mind generally tends to enjoy being more business-orientated rather than creative. I knew I still wanted to be involved in music somehow, so the natural progression was to explore the music business side of things.

In high school I started doing internships and volunteering at a few different music companies, and when I turned eighteen I got my first paid music role doing band bookings at a couple of venues. From then onwards I juggled a few other jobs, both related and unrelated to music, until a few years ago when I turned twenty-one and decided to make a commitment to myself to dedicate all my time and work to only music-related jobs. While it was a challenge at times, especially in terms of finance, it made me a whole lot more ambitious and motivated.

What’s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced throughout your career to date?

I’ve definitely had a few quarter-life crises over the years involving my career! Music industry business as a job is still considered to be a ‘non-traditional’ career with no real linear path and, on top of this, being able to find a stable music job that pays well (let alone a music job at all!) can be tricky and take a while to get there.

It’s no doubt a thrilling and ever-changing industry—every day is different and things can pop out of nowhere unexpectedly. I guess that’s what I love about it and what keeps it exciting for me but also, at the same time, it’s what makes it so challenging. There’s been many moments where I’ve been exhausted and frustrated by the 24/7 hours it involves, and you encounter some true cut-throat savages that can make you question everything. But honestly, at the end of the day, there is no other industry that I could ever imagine myself working in and enjoying as much as this one.

Surrounding myself with people who are like-minded in the industry and share similar visions helps a lot in coping with those self-doubting moments—supporting each other and encouraging each other goes a long way.

Who are some of the women you admire most and why?

Ahhhhh there are too many to list. There are so many amazing women in my life who constantly inspire me and remind me how beautiful and great it is to be a woman of colour.

What are you most looking forward to about 我们 (Wo Men) and why is the event important to you?

The lineup for ‘Wo Men‘ features incredibly talented female artists, and the fact that they are all fellow women of Asian descent is a bonus!

Asian-Australians in the contemporary music industry are still extremely underrepresented in our society today—there really aren’t many of us who get noticed which is strange, as Asians make up almost one fifth of Australia’s population.

Events such as ‘Wo Men’ are so important and significant in helping provide a platform and spotlight on Asian women in music, and hopefully leads towards more diverse representation amongst the wider music community. It is a huge step in the right direction in helping eradicate stereotypes and stigmas that exist for us.

Tracy Chen

Tracy Chen

Please can you tell me a bit about who you are and what you do?

I’m Tracy and I make pretty calm, sample-y music.

Can you tell us a bit about how your career first began and has progressed to where it is today?

I’m not sure if I should call it a ‘career’ because I’m not that prolific. A few years ago I just started fiddling on my laptop and doing what I felt like, and I was lucky to find people that liked it and were supportive. Things haven’t progressed a whole lot since then but I think that’s okay. I was really grateful that people paid attention but I think I also got a bit distracted and started overthinking surface things like my image, age, and making music that translated well live etc, which was a bit counterproductive. That probably partly has something to do with my quietness lately.. It’s okay though. It’s helpful to learn to process these things.

What’s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced throughout your career to date?

Things have been pretty okay for me… Again, probably because I haven’t been that involved. Most of the time I’m just trying to remind myself that what I do is okay.

Maybe things like being token billed for ‘Asian culture’ events despite my music having nothing to do with Asian-ness—it doesn’t get to me too much, and usually they’ve been pretty nice opportunities, though that does sit in the back of my head.

Also..the amount of male musicians with ‘good guy’ fronts and ulterior motives you come by. That’s more personal but worth mentioning.

Who are some of the women you admire most and why?

Mum. Just what she’s been through since immigrating to Australia, and how far she’s come despite everything. I won’t be specific or make a big deal about her life on her behalf but, yeah, she’s just a good example to me.

What are you most looking forward to about 我们 (Wo Men) and why is the event important to you?

I’ve watched Zen (Arouze) in the process of putting this together and they’ve been so caring and intentional about what the event represents and the kind of social space it’s promoting.

It’s just nice to be part of something so lovingly organised and that’s also trying to make a point about Asian representation in the local scene. It’s definitely disproportionate to the talent that’s out there.

Personally it hasn’t gotten to me too much, but it does push a broader message that we can make great work but can’t expect the same recognition.

May Lyn

May Lyn

Hi May Lyn! Can you tell us what’s happened in the year since we last spoke with you?

Quite a lot! I released my EP, Vessels, and made a music video with NIDA. I’ve also played shows around Brisbane, showcased at the electronic music conference in Sydney, and been writing/producing new music. I have collabs in the works, too.

Who are some of the women you admire most and why?

I admire Erykah Badu because shes not afraid to speak her mind, and I think she’s a really wise and spiritual person who writes beautifully. Maya Angelou is another writer who I admire, because she did and achieved so much despite the many obstacles she faced throughout her life.

The list could go on—basically, I look up to any woman who is not afraid to be herself and is resilient, self assured, and kind.

What’s 2018 got in store for you?

I’m planning to release a collaboration with my fellow beat maker, Ealing, very soon. I’ll be shooting a music video for it too. I also have some shows coming up in February which I’m very keen for. This year will be about creating, learning, and growing.

What are you most looking forward to about 我们 (Wo Men) and why is the event important to you?

I’m really looking forward to meeting Zen’s friends and connecting with a new crowd outside of Brisbane. Also, I’m just happy to get back into performing again this year. Wo Men will be my first gig of 2018 and my second time playing in Melbourne. It’s always exciting playing in a different state, so I’m really glad that Arouze has given me this opportunity.

Click ‘Attending’ and get your tickets to 我们 (Wo Men) here!


All images provided by Arouze

Questions and Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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