A comprehensive playlist of the music of Los Angeles would have to include film scores, cool jazz, surf bands, frat rock, folk-rock, Sunset Strip psychedelia, Chicano soul, country rock, hardcore punk, Paisley Underground, hair metal, gangsta rap, and G-funk. Lists of performers and bands associated with Los Angeles invariably include plenty rock groups, soul singers, and rappers — nearly all of whom are either black or white.
Even though Los Angeles is the world’s great Pan-Asian metropolis, where Asians comprise both the city’s largest and fastest-growing racial minority, they’re practically invisible from nearly every musically-related listicle generated by local bloggers and weeklies. The result is that our colorful music history is effectively rendered in black and white. This being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, however, I decided to do something about that.
I started by thinking about the Sooyoung Park‘s Ear of the Dragon — but for some of the nineteen Asian-American (and Canadian) bands on that seminal compilation, their entire recorded output seems to be limited to their inclusion on the album and in most cases, they’re not from California. So this list is primarily drawn from my own admittedly knowledge with the addition to a few unfamiliar K-pop stars I found out about on Wikipedia.
I know there are loads more Asian-Angeleno musicians out there, because I’ve seen some of them performing at Jologs Fezt, the Lotus Festival, night markets, Songkran, and Tết; at Thai restaurants, on Paris By Night, on videos shot at La Lune, the annual Asian American Music Festival and elsewhere — and I’ve seen the stores selling instruments all over the San Gabriel Valley and North Orange County and think it’s fair to assume that they aren’t just for show. I know this can never be a comprehensive directory (I don’t even think that I’d want it to be — apologies to my fifteen-year-old neighbor who briefly took guitar lessons and learned that awful song by fun.) but of course, additions and corrections are encouraged.
ANH DO/ANN DO (of THE TYDE)
Anh Do (also known as Ann Do) formerly played keyboards in The Tyde, a band led by her then-husband, Darren Rademaker. The Westminster native and UCLA graduate joined the band in 1998 and remained until 2010. In 2004 and ’05, she also performed and toured with Gwen Stefani. She now co-owns IAMSOUND.
apl.de.ap (of BLACK-EYED PEAS)
apl.de.ap is the stage name of Allan Pineda Lindo, born in Angeles City, Pampanga, in 1974. He came to the US when he was fourteen and attended John Marshall High School in Los Feliz and apl.de.ap still gets his nails done nearby at Nails Station. He began rapping in 1988 in ATBAN Klann (ATBAN is an acronym for A Tribe Beyond a Nation) which evolved into the Black Eyed Peas, who themselves evolved from a backpack rap group into a mainstream pop act.
AMBER LIU (of F(X))
Taiwanese-American vocalist Amber Josephine Liu was born 18 September 1992 in Los Angeles and went to high school in Woodland Hills. Known professionally as Amber, she’s currently a member of Korean pop group f(x). She released her solo debut, the EP Beautiful, in 2015.
Anatalia Villaranda is a young vocalist who competed on the television series, The Voice and auditioned for American Idol. She’s from the Riverside Country town of Temecula.
BAO VO/MING & PING
Ming & Ping are an electronic pop duo, comprised of one person — Bao Vo. Vo began the project in San Francisco in 2002 before moving to Downtown Los Angeles. His debut, MingPing.com, was released in 2004.
Bei Bei He (荷蓓蓓) was born in Chengdu and began playing guzheng (古箏) when she was seven. She studied guzheng performance in Central University of Nationalities in Beijing and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. After relocating to Los Angeles she continued to study at Azusa Pacific University, Citrus College, and Fullerton College. She released her debut, Quiet your mind and listen, in 2006. In 2008, she played guzheng on Richard Horowitz’s album, Heart of China. Bei Bei owns Hacienda Music in Hacienda Heights. In collaboration with muscian/producer Shawn Lee, she’s also released Into the wind (2010) and Year of the Funky (2017).
Beyond Beowulf is Tolitz Rosel (vocals), Don Morales (bass), Jade Figueroa (guitars), and Tim De Ramos (drums). Rosel describes their sound as “a combination of Southern rock and hard-hitting Pinoy rock.” The band formed as Beowulf in 1993, when the members were all students at De La Salle University – Dasmariñas in the Philippines. The original line-up disbanded in 1997 when the members went their separate ways upon graduation. Rosel formed a new line-up around 2007, in Los Angeles. Since that line-up dissolved in 2011, Rosel has performed and recorded intermittently as Beyond Beowulf.
BIG PHONY (BOBBY CHOI)
Charmaine Clamor is a Filipina jazz singer who interprets traditional Filipino songs. Clamor was born in Subic–Zambales, Philippines. She moved to the US when she was sixteen. She released her debut, Searching for the Soul, in 2005.
Chhim Sreyneang (ឈីម ស្រីនាង) is a Khmer singer who often performs at La Lune Thmey in Cambodia Town. She married Dragon Son in 2000.
Chhom Chorvin is a Khmer singer born in Cambodia. She was formerly a frequent performer at New Paradise Restaraunt, a now-closed restaurant in Cambodia Town. She is the sister of Chhom Nimol, solo performer and singer with Dengue Fever.
CHHOM NIMOL (of DENGUE FEVER)
Chhom Nimol was born in Cambodia and as a child lived in a refugee camp in Thailand. She won Cambodia’s Aspara Awards in 1997 and moved to the US in 2001. That year she joined Dengue Fever, a band who make pre-Khmer Rouge-style rock music after a group of non-Khmer musicians (including Dr. San) approached her after a solo performance in Cambodia Town. Her sister is singer Chhom Chorvin.
Connie Han is a classical and jazz pianist born and raised in Los Angeles. She attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. She often performs locally with her own trio, the Connie Han Trio.
DARANY & DARIYA
Darany & Dariya are Darany Phang and Dariya Phang. The two are originally from Phnom Penh but later relocated to Long Beach. As a duo, they’ve frequently performed publicly at Cambodian festivals and restaurants since at least 2006.
DemiVoix are a hard rock band comprised of Keith (vocals and keyboards), Karinne (guitar), Bon (drums), and Ronnel (bass guitar).
DIANNE CHAI (ALLEY CATS/THE ZARKONS)
In 1977, Dianne Chai formed The Alley Cats in San Pedro with then-husband, guitarist/vocalist Randy Stodola and drummer John McCarthy. Chai sang and played bass and sang. The trio released two singles, 1978’s “Nothing Means Nothing Anymore” b/w ”Gimme A Little Pain” and 1980’s “Too Much Junk” b/w “Night Along The Blvd.” and two full-length albums, Nightmare City (1981) and Escape From The Planet Earth (1983). In 1985, the couple returned with a different drummer, Terry Cooley, as The Zarkons. They were later joined by Freda Rente’ on vocals.They released two more albums, Riders In The Long Black Parade (1985) and Between the Idea & the Reality…Falls the Shadow (1988). Chai and Stodola divorced and Chai eventually married Marshall Berle, who’d been the Alley Cats’ manager. She later moved to Florida where she works as a travel agent. In recent years, Stodola has performed as the Alley Cats with Apryl Cady and Matt Laskey.
Dumbfoundead is the stage name of rapper Jonathan Park, born in Buenos Aires in 1986 and raised in Koreatown from the age of three. He attended John Marshall High School and released his first solo album, DFD, in 2011.
ELI KIM (of U-KISS)
Ellison “Eli” Kyong Jae Kim was born in Los Angeles in 1991 and is currently a member of K-pop band, U-KISS, where he performs the group’s raps.
EMILY’S SASSY LIME
Emily’s Sassy Lime was the first all Asian-American rock band, comprised of Wendy and Amy Yao, and Emily Ryan. They formed in 1993 and in 1995 they released their album Desperate, Scared But Not Social and appeared in the video for The PeeChees‘ “Mad Doctor.” They broke up in 1997 after which the Yao sisters continued making music and Emily Ryan starred in the film, Scumrock. Fliers for their shows were featured in the Orange County Museum of Art‘s Alien She exhibition in 2015. In 2016, a fanzine “focused on writings and artwork by and about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” was launched, titled named Would Be Saboteurs Take Heed after one of Emily’s Sassy Lime’s songs.
ETTY LAU FARRELL
Far★East Movement was formed in Los Angeles in 2003 by Kev Nish (Kevin Nishimura), Prohgress (James Roh), J-Splif (Jae Choung), and DJ Virman (Virman Coquia). They released their debut, Folk Music, in 2006. They had a number one hit with “Like a G6” in 2010, making them the first Asian-American group to top the charts.
FROM THE VALLEY
From the Valley are a Woodland Hills-based band comprised of Edizon Dia (guitar and vocals), Leonard Zipagan (guitars), Macky Domingo (bass), and Francis Nuega (drums).
Gabriela’s Karma is a “Fil Am local underground band based in Los Angeles.” Members of the four piece include Chey Buendia Buhain (bass).
Gingee (née Marjorie Light) is a Pinay DJ, producer, percussionist, and vocalist who makes global bass and she was born and raised in Eagle Rock. She studied music at Pitzer College and there learned to play the kulintang. She began making music in 2003 and in 2006, she and her siblings started a community art and music show called Magic Garage in the family home. Eventually outgrowing that space it relocated to the Airliner in Lincoln Heights.
Half Mute are an electronic duo comprised of Benjie Collantes (ex-Spiral Echo) and Deo Mendoza.
HANNAH PARK (of SHIRO 싫어)
Hannah Park is one half of Long Beach “sad synth duo” Shiro 싫어. She handles vocals, synthesizers, and piano. Park is a classically trained musician who in her teens liked a diverse mix of music including experimental electronic, Motown, punk, rap, and R&B
The band’s other half, Steven Spillane, plays synthesizers and guitar. It was originally a four-piece but since releasing their self-titled deubut EP, bassist Brian Moore and drummer John Grillot are no longer with the band.
Hem Vannak is a Khmer singer from Phnom Penh, where he attended Santormok High School. He subsequently studied at Norton University and then moved to Long Beach, where he continued his studies at Long Beach City College. He was a regular performer at Hak Heang in Cambodia Town until 2014.
Hiroshima is an Asian-American Jazz group formed in Los Angeles in 1974 by Dan Kuramoto, (wind instruments and band leader), Peter Hata (guitar), June Kuramoto (koto), Johnny Mori (percussion and taiko), Dave Iwataki (keyboards), and Danny Yamamoto (drums). Their first vocalist was Nancy “Atomic Nancy” Sekizawa, later celebrated for her role in transforming Little Tokyo‘s Atomic Cafe into a popular punk and new waver hangout. All were born in Los Angeles except Kuramoto, who moved to Los Angeles at a young age from Saitama Prefecture. They released their self-titled debut in 1979. In the years since they’ve moved into smooth jazz and new age territory.
IAMMEDIC is a pop group formed in 2010 Enik Lin, formerly of Burning Tree Project. Lin soon added Danny Park, Andre Harris, and DJ Yup to the line-up.
IHUI CHERISE WU (of POLARTROPICA)
Ihui Cherise Wu was born in Taipei. Her family relocated to San Jose when she was two. After college, she moved to Los Angeles where she joined her firt band, Sanglorians, on trumpet and keyboard. She then moved on to play with Light FM and Robotanists. Wu former her own band, Polartropica, in 2015.
IRITA PAI (of L.A. WITCH)
Irita Pai is the bassist and organist for the band, L.A. Witch, which formed in 2011. The band began with Pai on keyboards (she began piano lessons at the age of six) and bass (an instrument she picked up around 2009), Diana (drums and guitar), and Crystal (also on drums). Soon they found a vocalist with Sade Sanchez, who’d previously played in a two piece with current band drummer, Ellie English. They released their debut single, “Your Ways,” in 2012. Their debut, self-titled EP followed in 2013. Their self-titled debut, released by Suicide Squeeze, was released in 2017. The band also sell (and model) women’s clothing and accessories on their website, Kill My Baby Tonight.
James Saburo Shigeta was an actor and singer who appeared — often as the romantic male lead — in major Hollywood films including The Crimson Kimono (1959), Walk Like a Dragon (1960), Flower Drum Song (1961), Bridge to the Sun (1961), Die Hard (1988), and Mulan (1998).
Shigeta was born in the Territory of Hawaii on 17 July 1929. He graduated from President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu. After studying drama at New York University, Shigeta came to Los Angeles and teamed with he teamed with Native Hawaiian operatic tenor Charles K.L. Davis. Their agent gave them the stage names “Guy Brion” and “Charles Durand” and they performed at supper clubs and other venues. During the Korean War, he enlisted in the Marines. Afterward, he was hired to star in a Toho film, for which he learned Japanese. He found success in Hollywood in the 1950s and returned to music, performing on television shows and in musicals — and ultimately released two records, Scene One and We Speak The Same Language (1962). He died on 28 July 2014.
Jason Chu is a spoken word/hip-hop artist.
JEAN AND JUNE MILLINGTON (of FANNY)
Fanny was one of the first, successful, all-female rock groups. It was formed by June Millington, whose family moved from the Philippines to Sacramento in 1961. In high school, June and her younger sister Jean formed the all-female band, The Svelts. After the dissolution of The Svelts, the Millington sisters joined the soul-cover band, Wild Honey, and relocated with them to Los Angeles. In 1969, Wild Honey was signed to Reprise Records and shortly after renamed themselves Fanny. Fanny recorded four albums before June quit the band. After a final album in 1975, Fanny disbanded. The Millington sisters continued to play music together, including in 2018, Fanny Walked the Earth.
JEAN PAUL YAMAMOTO
Jennifer Chung is a singer-songwriter. She was born in Koreato a dance teacher and a recording artist. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. She later moved to Metro Los Angeles and received a BA in drama from the University of California, Irvine. She posted her first music video on YouTube in 2007. Her debut, 4 Years & Counting, was releeased in 2011. It was folloed by a mini-album, After All. Chung now lives with her husband in Atlanta, Georgia, with whom she records as WATS.
JENNIFER HWANG (of MEHO PLAZA)
Synthesizer-player Jennifer Hwang was, along with drummer James Connelly and singer/guitarist Mike Thrasher (ex-Gwenmars), one-third of the band, Meho Plaza, who released their sole, eponymous album in 2008. A year later she married her longtime boyfriend, Steven Jacob. Meho Plaza have seemingly been inactive since.
JENNY LY (ARIGATO GRANDE)
Arigato Grande is Jenny Ly, who parodied Ariana Grande‘s music video and song, “7 Rings,” with her own “7 Meats.” The idea for a gogigui-themed (widely known — if misleadingly — as Korean BBQ) parody began with the Asian Creative Network, of which Ly is a member. After the internet success of “7 Meats,” Arigato Grande followed with “Don’t Call It Asian” and “Boba Tea Bitches” — featuring Ly’s collaborators MilkT Cyrus (choreographer Bree Lee) and Lana del Rice (Sophia Tran).
JOHN LEE (of aMINIATURE)
Korean-American guitarist/vocalist John Lee formed aMiniature in San Diego by with bassist Colin Watson in 1990. The “a” in the band’s name is silent and was added to avoid confusion with a jazz combo named Minature. They disbanded in 1997.
Joanna Wang (王若琳) is a singer-songwriter and daughter of producer Wang Zhi-ping (王治平). She was born in Taiwan but raised in San Gabriel, where she attended Gabrielino High School. She released her debut, Start from Here, in 2008 – a double-disc set including one disc of the songs sung in English and the other in Chinese. Although she began her career as a pleasant if fairly conventional jazz vocalist, she quickly evolved into a wonderful weirdo who seems to improbably draw upon early baroque, film scores, pico pop, and shibuya-kei in a way that manages to somehow evoke Jonathan Richman, Toog, and Wendy Carlos — all at the same time.
Jolida Sar is a Khmer singer based in Harbor City who has performed at various venues in Cambodia Town as well as at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.
JON CHO (OF VIVA LA UNION)
Joseph Vincent Encarnacion was born 1989 in Los Angeles. He began playing guitar when fifteen, covering the likes of mainstream pop singers Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. He released his debut album, Blue Skies, in 2011.
KAVEE THONGPRICHA/THAI ELVIS
Kavee “Kevin” Thongpricha was for years a five-nights-a-week fixture at Palms Thai, where — due to his appearance and much of his repertoire — he was better known as “Thai Elvis.” So popular was he, in fact, that he inspired imitation Thai Elvis’s at other restaurants (e.g. Jinda) and a Thai Elvis burger at Oinkster. Although he normally performed karaoke, he was backed on occasion by a live band, as was the case when he performed at a club in Silver Lake called Spaceland (now Satellite). Unfortunately for Angelenos, Thongpricha “left the building” as it were, and moved back to Bangkok around 2015.
Kazuo Takeda was born in Tokyo on 11 March 1952. He started playing guitar in bands when he was fifteen. Kazuo Takeda formed the blues rock band, Blues Creation, in Tokyo, in 1969 with Koh Eiryu and Fumio Nunoya after the dissolution of their “group sounds” band, The Bikes. They released three studio albums — Blues Creation (1969), Demon & Eleven Children (1971), and Carmen Maki & Blues Creation (1971) — before disbanding in 1972. Blues Creation returned in 1975 simply as Creation (not to be confused with the British band, The Creation). As Creation, they released Creation (1975), Creation with Felix Pappalardi (1976), Pure Electric Soul (1977), Pacific Rock Creation and Little River Band (1977), Super Rock in the Highest Voltage (1978), Lonely Heart (1981), and Rock City (1982). As a solo artist he released Misty Morning Flight (1978) and Sometime Blues (1982). Songs For a Friend (1983) and Rainy Nite Dreamer (1984) were credited to Kazuo Takeda & Creation. Takeda later moved to Los Angeles where he for many years he has worked as a session musician.
Khánh Ly is a legendary Vietnamese singer who rose to fame in the 1960s with her interpretations of songs by Trịnh Công Sơn. She was the first woman to headline a concert in her homeland. She later found success in Japan, singing Japanese translations of her hits. She fled Vietnam in 1975 with many other refugees and for many years now has made her home in Cerritos. (Read more)
Kin’s Betrayal are a heavy metal band from Buena Park. They formed in 2010 and are currently comprised of Alvin (vocals), Zadin (guitar), and CJ (bass guitar).
King Soriya is a Khmer singer. She was a regular performer at Golden Villa, a now-closed restaurant in Cambodia Town.
Klassy is a rapper who was born in Pacita Laguna, Philippines and raised in Echo Park.
LA KOTO ENSEMBLE
Larry Ramos was born Hilario Ramos to Larry and Pat Ramos on 19 April 1942 in Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii. Ramos rose to prominence as vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in the 1960s. Ramos was of Filipino descent, with Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Ramos’s father taught him to play ukulele when he was four. He and his sister won a music contest when he was five and at seven he played ukulele on one of Arthur Godfrey‘s television shows. In the early 1950s, the Ramos family moved to Bell, California. After graduating from Bell High School, Ramos majored in political science at East Los Angeles College and Cerritos College. In 1962, he joined the New Christy Minstrels. He married his wife, Helene, in 1964. He quit the New Christy Minstrels in 1966 and released a solo single, “It’ll Take a Little Time” b/w “Gotta Move On” the same year. In 1967, he joined the Association. He left that band in 1975 but reunited with surviving members (Brian Cole died of a heroin overdose in 1972) in 1979. He continued to perform with the band even after suffering a heart attack in 2011 and being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2013. He died 30 April 2014, aged 72.
Lee Takasugi, formerly of Visiting Violette, released a solo album, Navigating By Stars, in 2007.
Lemona is a Los Angeles-based rock band comprised of Jazzie, Reden, and Leonard Zipagan; Jan Bersamira; and Dave Janiola.
Singer Lena Park was born Park Junghyun on 23 March 1976, in Downey. She’s currently based in South Korea. She began singing with her brothers Brian and Uriah in church and also learned saxophone and piano. Her debut album, Piece, was released in 1998.
Leo Xia is a singer-songwriter enrolled at the University of Southern California.
LES SEWING SISTERS
Les Sewing Sisters is an experimental pop project by Japanese born artists Lun*na Menoh and Saori Mitome. The duo debuted in July 2019. Both performers share vocals and the only instruments are sewing machines.
THE LINDA LINDAS
The Linda Lindas are a band of young women formed in Chinatown, where they were born out of Martin Wong‘s Save Music in Chinatown benefits. The band is comprised of Martin’s daughter, Eloise Wong, two of Eloise’s cousins, Lucia and Mila, and their friend, Bela.
LINDA TAN (of MAYBE VULTURES)
Maybe Vultures were an indie electronic band which formed around 2012 and was led by vocalist and keyboardist Linda Tan. The rest of the band was comprised of guitarist and drum machine programmer Scott Crawford, drummer Mikey Rodriguez, and bassist Bryan Yassi. Their stated mission was “to dance and destroy.” They released a demo of three songs, including “Hollow,” “Never-do-Wells,” and “The Midnight Hour.” They also performed a couple of shows at Silverlake Lounge in 2012 but seem to have gone on hiatus shortly afterward.
Liu Qichao (刘起超) is a Los Angeles-based, Chinese born multi-instrumentalist associated with the Asian-American Jazz scene. He graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He’s collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, Jon Jang and the Pan Asian Arkestra, and the African Chinese Sextet. He also leads his own ensemble, Chi Music. He was married to guzheng player Zhang Yan (张燕), who died in 1996.
LosAKAtombros are a Crenshaw District-based jazz quintet comprised of Danny Yamamoto (drums/Hiroshima), David Cheung (guitar), Scott Nagatani (piano), Taiji Miyagawa (bass), and Tracy Wannomae (saxophone). They were born out of a 2013 jam session led by Nagatani at Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown.
LOS ANGELES TAIKO ICHIZA
Lui Tsun-Yuen (呂振原) was a composer, performer, and teacher of Chinese classical music, to which he played a large part in introducing Western audiences. Lui was born in 1931 in Shanghai, where at the age of ten he began playing the pipa (琵琶) and the guzheng. Lui graduated from King Yee College in 1953 and the following year moved to Hong Kong where he found work as a performer in both concert halls and on the radio. In 1957 he moved to Brazil, where he participated in the São Paulo Music Festival. He afterward moved to the US and began recording for Lyrichord. He also worked in the exotica genre as part of a Las Vegas revue called Oriental Holiday.
In 1961, Lui accepted a position at UCLA teaching Chinese music, classical dance, and opera in the Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology. In 1968, he opened for the Doors at the Forum in Inglewood. Lui died in January 2008.
LYNDA TRANG DAI
Lynda Trang Đài was born Lê Quang Quý Trang Đài in 1968 in Vietnam and came to Orange County‘s then-emerging Little Saigon community in 1979. She was a popular singer in the Vietnamese-American community, where she was often described as the “Vietnamese Madonna,” making her recording debut with 1989’s “Crazy Love.” She was also a staple of the popular Vietnamese variety program, Paris By Night. She currently operates Lynda Sandwich, a Westminster bánh mì cafe.
M.I.A. (née Mathangi Arulpragasam) was born 18 July 1975 in London, England. She began her recording career in 2002, posting her music to sites like MySpace. Her debut album, Arular, was released in 2005. It was followed by Kala (2007). In 1008, she moved to Brooklyn where she met billionaire Benjamin Bronfman. The two were engaged and in 2009 moved into a mansion in the Westside Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. In 2009, she gave birth to a son, Ikhyd Edgar Arular Bronfman. The couple broke-up in 2012. M.I.A. went on to release the albums Maya (2010), Matangi (2013), and AIM (2016)
MARGARET “MACHUN” SASAKI-TAYLOR
MARIQUEEN MAANDIG (of WEST INDIAN GIRL & HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS)
Mariqueen Maandig was born in 1981 and became the singer of West Indian Girl in 2004. She left that band in 2009 after her engagement to Trent Reznor. In 2010, Maandig and Reznor formed How to Destroy Angels.
MARK YI-EN TUAN (of GOT7)
Taiwanese singer Mark Yi-en Tuan (段宜恩) is a member of Korean boy band Got7. Born in 1993 in Arcadia, he was scouted by an agent from JYP Entertainment and moved to Korea where he appeared on the television program, WIN: Who Is Next in 2013, before joining the boy band.
Meas Somaly is a Khmer singer from Phnom Penh. She is now based in Long Beach where was also formerly a featured performer at Hak Heang Restaurant (and where she also formerly ran Somaly’s Beauty Salon).
Saxophonist Michael Paulo began playing his chosen instrument at the age of fifteen and soon began playing around Hawaii, including in the band Kalapana. Paulo moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and played in the R&B group Rufus. In 1988 he released his solo album, One Passion.
MIKE SHINODA (of LINKIN PARK)
Michael Kenji Shinoda was born in 1977 in Agoura Hills, where he co-founded Linkin Park in 1996. In 2003 he formed Fort Minor. He’s also produced tracks for several rap artists and co-founded the music label Machine Shop Recordings. Additionally, several pieces of his art have been featured in the Japanese American National Museum.
Jazz vocalist Miki Saito moved from Tokyo to San Francisco in 1968, on a one year contract as a jazz singer. Shortly after, she moved to Los Angeles, where she regularly performed at Horikawa, the Biltmore and elsewhere. In 1987 she took over Akasaka, in Temple-Beaudry, and re-opened it as Dinner House M (the name a reference to her surname and that of her sister, Maya Yamate). Miki remained a regular presence at the bar, rarely but occasionally singing with a live band. We now live in an age where “izakaya” is used to describe every new, Japanese establishment but the legendary, otherworldly, Dinner House M actually deserved the description (although I never ate the food there). Sadly, the club closed in 2011, and the occasion was marked by a couple of live performances led by Miki.
Milck (née Connie K. Lim) is a singer-songwriter raised in Palos Verdes by immigrant parents from Hong Kong. As a child, she learned classical piano and opera. She composed her first song, “Healthy People,” when she was seven. She went to UC Berkeley for college where she studied pre-medicine and joined an a cappella group, Golden Overtones. A performance of her song, “Quiet,” at the 2017 Women’s March raised her profile considerably and she signed to Atlantic, which released her debut EP, This Is Not The End, in 2018.
MIMI STAR (of MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT)
Mimi Star is a rock bassist, currently performing with Chicago‘s long-running industrial dance act, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, which is led by the band’s co-founder, Julien Legay, whom she married in 2011. Star was born Mami Sato in Kurume, Japan and after finishing high school there moved to Los Angeles where she attended East Los Angeles Community College in Monterey Park. From 2000-2006 she played bass with Rayon, which was followed by a 2006-2010 stint with The Mere Mortals, and from 2009-2010, another with The Warlocks.
Mr. Capone-E is a Pakistani-American sureño rapper, born Fahd Azam in West Covina. He began his recording career in 2000 and later founded Hi Power Entertainment, one time home to former Bone Thugs-N-Harmony members Bizzy Bone and Layzie Bone, as well as Chicano rappers including Mr. Criminal, Lil Tweety, and others.
Molyna Lim Yan is a Khmer singer from Phnom Penh. In 1998 she moved to Atlanta. She later moved to Southern California and whilst living there performed throughout the state at Cambodian restaurants and festivals. She married in 2013 and now lives with her family in Las Vegas and seems to have retired from public performance.
NATASHA KHAN (of BAT FOR LASHES)
Musician Natasha Khan, who records as Bats For Lashes, was born in London in 1976 to English mother, Josie, and Pakistani squash player, Rehmat Khan. Her debut album, Fur and Gold, was released in 2006. She went on to release Two Suns (2009), The Haunted Man (2012), and The Bride (2016). After The Bride, her ten-year contract with Parlophone ended and she moved to Los Angeles’s Highland Park neighborhood. Khan is also the vocalist for Sexwitch — a collaboration between the singer and the Brighton UK band, Toy. Bat For Lashes’ latest, Lost Girls, was released in 2019.
NEW DAY IN AUGUST
New Day in August are comprised of Richie Del Rosario (vocals and guitars), Mike Abad (drums), Rx Aglibot (guitars and vocals), Badooo Morales (bass guitar), and Tolitz Rosel (keyboards). They made their live debut in 2006 in Filipinotown‘s Tribal Cafe as The Binary Project.
NICHKHUN HORVEJKUL (of 2PM)
Nichkhun Buck Horvejkul was born in Rancho Cucamonga in 1988. After completing high school he briefly coached the Rosemead High School badminton team. He joined K-pop band 2PM in 2008.
NICOLE JUNG (of KARA)
Nicole Yongju Jung was born in 1991 in Los Angeles and went to school in Glendale. She later moved to Korea and became a member of K-pop group, Kara, in 2007. In 2014 she embarked on a solo career, releasing her debut, First Romance, in 2014.
Paul Susumu Togawa was born 3 September 1932 in the Maravilla Park section of East Los Angeles to poet Akira Togawa and his wife, Kimi. The family moved to Boyle Heights during that neighborhood’s Japanese heyday. From 1942-’45, the Togawa family was incarcerated at a Japanese concentration camp in Poston, Arizona, where he developed an interest in drums. Togawa graduated from Roosevelt High in 1950. He joined Lionel Hampton‘s band in 1952 and remained there until he was drafted into the US Army. After the Korean War, he returned to Los Angeles. He released several albums and performed with jazz giants including Miles Davis, Art Pepper, and Cal Tjader. He also performed bit parts in several films and television series. He died 20 April 2018.
PAULINE MU (of ALPINE DECLINE)
Alpine Decline is a Beijing-based duo founded in Echo Park in 2010. Both members, Jonathan Zeitlin (vocals and guitar) and Pauline Mu (drums) were previously in the quartet, Mezzanine Owls. The band relocated to China in 2011.
Pedro Gil is a five-piece from Los Angeles the line-up of which includes Czara (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Andrew (guitar, bass, keyboards), Carlo (guitar, vocals), Justin (bass), and Mario (drums).
Pillowcase 203 are a Los Angeles band, the members of which are Darius A, Jun German, Dex Baluyot, and Daniel Perez. According to their Facebook page, their influences include Nirvana, Metallica, Yani, The Beatles, Dishwalla, Foo Fighters, Nora Aunor, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Matchbox 20, and Nickelback — and they will “GrungeRock the Alternative Pop shit of you!” [?]
Ihui Cherise Wu.
Projec7 are a blues rock-reggae group founded in 2011 and comprised of Lee (bass guitar), Fin (guitar), EJ (saxophone) and Mason (drums).
THE PROJECT B
Musician Rona Rapadas has recorded professionally as Tarsier for several projects. First was the duo, Healamonster & Tarsier, which released three albums in the early 2000s. Next was Alias & Tarsier, which released Brookland / Oaklyn in 2006. In 2017 and ’18 Rapadas released two EPs as half of the duo r.r. barbadas, Wet Hair and First Step. In 2017, she appeared as a guest on L-Sedition‘s “Usual Reaction.”
RUN RIVER NORTH
Run River North formed as Monsters Calling Home in 2011. The line-up is comprised of Daniel Chae (violin, guitar), John Chong (drums), Joe Chun (bass), Alex Hwang (lead vocals), Sally Kang (keyboards), and Jennifer Rim (violin). They released their debut album, Run River North, in 2014.
Sandra “Sandy Beaches” Vu was born in Orange County. She played flute on Giant Drag‘s “Hearts and Unicorns” in 2005. She joined Midnight Movies and appeared on their second and final album, Lion The Girl. She began recording as Sisu and released the single, “Sharp Teeth” in 2010. She was the drummer for Dum Dum Girls from 2011-2015 but is now focused on Sisu.
SASAMI ASHWORTH (of CHERRY GLAZERR)
Cherry Glazzer are a Los Angeles band, the name of which is inspired by local public radio host, Cherry Glaser. The band are currently comprised of Sasami Ashworth (keyboards), Clementine Creevy (guitar and vocals), and Tabor Allen (percussion), the latter of whom previously played with Ashworth in Dirt Dress. Multi-instrumentalist Ashworth studied at the Eastman School of Music and in addition to her duties with Cherry Glazzer, has composed music for films and other projects.
Seksu Roba were an electronic duo active from 2000-2005 who drew on exotica, synthpunk, and shibuya-kei to make something that sounded a bit in line with other so-called “electroclash” bands of the day. The members were designer/vocalist/synth player Lun*na Menoh and Classically trained producer/theremin-player Sukho Kevin Lee. They released two albums, Seksu Roba (Crippled Dick Hot Wax!, 2000) and Pleasure Vibrations (Eenie Meenie Records, 2003). Lee has also played with Damo Suzuki’s Network. Menoh has gone on to perform in Jean Paul Yamamoto (2005-2008) and pop musique concrète duo, Les Sewing Sisters.
SHER’E THU THUY
Shinichiro “Shin” Kawasaki is a composer who was born in Toyama, Japan. In 1999, he moved to Los Angeles where he played with Visiting Violette and co-founded the record label, Los Desnudos. In 2005, he married actress Keiko Agena. He released his debut solo album in 2010. For the better part of a decade, he hosted jam sessions at Chinatown‘s Grand Star Jazz Club.
SOK SREY LALIN
SOMETHING CAME UP
The Squaaares are a trio comprised of Judy (vocals and bass guitar), Makris de Leon (drums), and Carloww (guitar).
SRI PANCHALAM (of DOCTORS & ENGINEERS)
Sri Panchalam is, by day, an attorney with Disability Rights California. She formed “speakeasy folk” group Smithfield Bargain with two brothers, Daniel and David Landau, in 2009. In 2015, Panchalam formed “Desi garage punk” band, Doctors & Engineers. The band’s members are all Asian-Americans line-up includes Jayson Joseph (guitar), Azeem Khan (keyboards and synthesizers), Sumi Dave (drums), and Scott Okamoto (bass). On their debut EP, *From a Good Family, Panchalam alternates between English, Gujarati, Hindi, and Tamil vocals.
STEVEN CHEN (of AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT)
Steven Chen joined rock band Airborne Toxic Event in 2006. They released their self-titled debut in 2008.
SUE JIN KIM
Sue Jin Kim is an “acoustic soul” singer who has been performing live since at least 2006. She has often performed at Tuesday Night Project, in Little Tokyo, where she’s an associate artist. In 2008, she released her album, Worth the Tears. It was followed by I AM WORTHY, which was released in installments.
SUKI SAN (of SECOND STILL)
Second Still sound very much like early Cocteau Twins. As Garlands is my favorite record by the latter, I don’t hold that against the former. Guitarist Ryan Walker and bassist Alex Hartman met in Los Angeles in 2007 and in 2011 relocated to New York City (Brooklyn, more precisely). There they met vocalist Suki San and formed Second Still in 2014. They relocated to Los Angeles in 2015 and the following year made their debut, with a cassette EP (naturally) in 2016.
Akiko and Hashim Bharoocha.
SYNTH Heart are an electronic pop group founded in 2016 with the duo of Sharon Gagne and Elmo Ruiz.
Jazz pianist Tateng Katindig was born Eduardo Katindig Jr. in the Philippines to saxophonist Eddie Katindig and Remedios Henaez. After graduating from the College of Music of University of the Philippines he moved to the US in 2000 and now lives in Los Angeles.
Teresa Teng (鄧麗君) was a Taiwanese singer and Asian superstar. Despite her death at the age of 42, her career traversed four decades. With her covers of Japanese songs in Chinese (including Cantonese, Hokkein, and Mandarin), she is sometimes credited with helping to bridge the cultural gap between Taiwan, China, much of Southeast Asia, and their former colonizer, Japan (where known as テレサ・テン, she was especially popular). In 1979, after she was arrested trying to enter Japan on a bootleg passport (necessitated by China taking Taiwan’s seat at the UN), she moved to Los Angeles for a time and thus became, in my estimation at least, an Angeleno musician.
TIFFANY HWANG (of GIRLS’ GENERATION-TTS)
Stephanie Young Hwang was born in 1989 in San Francisco and raised in Diamond Bar, where she attended Diamond Bar High School. In 2004 she joined K-pop bands Girls’ Generation-TTS and is currently based in Korea. She released her solo debut EP, I Just Wanna Dance, in 2016.
Timo Chen is a multi-instrumentalist from Arcadia who studied at the USC Community School of Performing Arts and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He has scored numerous advertisements, television programs, and films — including Jennifer Phang‘s 2015 film, Advantageous.
Timothy DeLaGhetto, also known as Traphik, was born in 1986 Rush Hour, in 2009.
DJ and producer TOKiMONSTA was born Jennifer Lee and was raised in the South Bay city of Torrance. Lee was trained as a pianist and begin making music whilst a student at the University of California, Irvine. She graduated with a business degree and worked, for a time, as a video game producer. In 2010, Lee was invited to attend the Red Bull Music Academy in London, and she signed to Flying Lotus‘s Brainfeeder. She released her debut, Midnight Menu in 2010. In 2011 she released the Creature Dreams EP. In 2012, collaborating with Suzi Analogue as Analogue Monsta, she released Boom. Her second album, Hal Shadows, followed in 2013, which was in turn followed by Desiderium. In 2015 she was diagnosed with moyamoya — a rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder.
TONY KANAL (of NO DOUBT)
Tony Ashwin Kanal is best known as the bassist of the pop band No Doubt. He was born in London in 1970 and came to Anaheim when he was eleven. He joined No Doubt in 1991 and began a relationship with singer Gwen Stefani. During the band’s first hiatus, Kanal began collaborating as co-writer with other pop stars and production.
After singing primarily in Vietnamese venues for over a decade, TQ (née Nadine Nguyen) made her recording debut in 2012 with the Italo-inspired “Let’s Go to Tokyo.” She signed with ZYX Music, the well known Eurodisco label.
Tyga is a pop/Kardashian Rap (K-rap) star born Micheal Ray Stevenson in 1989. His stage name is an acronym for Thank You God Always. He was born to Vietnamese and Jamaican parents. He was engaged to Blac Chyna, who later married Rob Kardashian whilst Kardashian’s stepsister, Kylie Jenner, dated Tyga.
Underdee are a rock band comprised of DADA Sapanghila (vocals), Gary Gimena (vocals, guitar), Paolo Cabalquinto (guitars), Rei Diamante (bass guitar and drums), Robert Ballesteros (drums), Ryan Libatique (keyboards).
Visiting Violette was comprised of Lee Takasugi, Shin Kawasaki, and Glenn Suravech. The band formed in 1992. They released their second album, A Hero’s Day, in 2002.
Yuki Yasuda is a 13 and 17-string koto player and instructor. She was born in Japan and began playing koto there when she was twelve. She later majored in koto at Takasaki Junior Arts College. She also received instruction by Kazu Sawai and Tadao Sawai. She later apprenticed at the Sawai Koto Institute. She and her husband, Atsushi Asano, formed the band Ten in 2005. Yasuda moved in New York in 2009 and relocated to Los Angeles in 2014.
Zip Code are a rock band comprised of Jojo, Reden, and Rendez Zipagan with Tim de Ramos and Jan Michael Bersam. They formed as Brownsugar in 2000.