Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.
I am a GRAMMY-Nominated percussionist, startup founder and serial entrepreneur, adjunct professor, and all-around traveling adventurer! I love connecting with my music community and seeing how we can support each other because I know how much the music community supports the larger communities out there, and I have the attitude that if we’re being better supported, then “all tides rise.” That’s one of the main reasons why I created The Den Collective during the pandemic (www.thedencollective.online // @thedencollectiveinc).
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
Well, I am a singing-marimba player for one, that’s kind of different and unique, even within the percussion community! I am quite passionate about integrating live marimba into pop music and collaborating with other artists in an effort to explore untapped creativity and expression.
In addition to teaching arts entrepreneurship at a couple of universities, I also am a serial entrepreneur, owning a concert/music festival production company, founding a music collective, and recently launched a new music tech startup. I’ve been told that I am often found “building the plane while flying it” haha and I think that comes from a unique background within percussion and my chosen career path.
I also am committed to being a strong visual for future drummer girls out there, representation matters on the stage and in the studio, and have had the honor to teach drums at the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls a bit during the summertime (go check them out! https://werock.la/).
Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?
I am unsure if I can think of an exact moment; however, I seem to have always come back around to playing the marimba. I studied it classically at a music conservatory, and, while I can play drum set, orchestral, world percussion, etc. I always seemed to come back to the marimba, because I felt like that was the instrument I spoke most authentically through, it was the most comfortable, the instrument understood, it “got me” – perhaps the difference though was that I knew how to play traditional Bach pieces and tough
Asian rep and weird atonal new music on it, and I was also classically trained in voice, so when it came time to apply that in a new context, it was simply another new challenge! It wasn’t until senior year at Baldwin Wallace where a composer friend asked me to play a piece she wrote…and sing at the same time!
The song was a much more of a pop tune, a lot of people at the conservatory didn’t understand what was going on, and it has taken me almost a decade to come back around to it now – finally exploring that genre more fully with a new sense of confidence and curiosity; I’m excited to continue on and see where it leads me next (oh and I think I probably told my mom first – she hears all of my ambitions – she’s awesome.)
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
Comparing myself to others and navigating burnout/heartbreak. It’s so real! In both cases, I think having a therapist and an ontological coach have been essential on the mental health side. Also, I lost my dad at age 24, which was tough; he was so proud of me and was a huge musical inspiration in my life, so there are the days when I just wish he could’ve seen how my musical path has unfolded and continues to unfold. So, with that, a lot of internal reflection, and then also surrounding myself with good energy people and knowing that I am not alone in this journey.
Also unplugging from social media every now and then is helpful, meditating, working out, eating clean, channeling some gratitude…going for hikes at Griffith Park in the mornings helps me clear my head, and I love evening sunsets at the beach too.
There’s something poetic in reminding yourself that, if you’re lucky, there will be another day to grow into – and it’s okay. Life will unfold as it’s meant to, and you are exactly where you’re meant to be, always. In other words, “you’re good girl, you’re good. Keep going, it’s okay, you’re alright, you got this.”
If you had to pick the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could take your career (or business) to the next level…who would those 3 people be?
Sia (I know her music is just craving marimba, she just doesn’t know it yet! And I have such respect for her songwriting), Mark Ronson (plus for music stem company stuff, I think he’d dig it), and obvi Taylor Swift (because when it’s time to add in that percussion chair spot to her next tour I will be THERE in a heartbeat!)