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Article :: Interview with Kristine Sa

by staff writer ray hom     
Q: You have been labeled as creating new and original musical entertainment for the youth of Asian America. How do you feel about this responsibility? Do you believe that eventually you will have to break away from such a label? Is the mainstream music scene your goal?

A: I am nervous with this responsibility. To be honest, I am just creating. Apparently, my creations have been noticed to be different and I am really happy about that but it wasn’t all intentional. No one really sits down and says, “OK, I will now make something amazingly new, and everyone will notice it!” I wouldn’t strive to break away from this label, though. I mean, it’s not bad or good. If it disappears with time, then great. If not, then that’s great too. =) As for mainstream, it would be lovely to break into it. I’m just going to concentrate on living life and writing about it for now. I’ll leave Nemesis to do her magic.

Q: There seems to be a trend amongst musicians/singers to break into other parts of the entertainment industry (i.e. acting). Do you have such desires to extend your entertainment abilities? I assume you have other hopes and dreams. What do you wish to accomplish by the time you retire?

A: Oh yes! I have many, many other desires with art. I have done some acting and would love to continue. One day I would like my writing to carry its own name as well. Not just as part of a song, but possibly as a collection/compilation of writing. It’s one of my dreams to one day be known as a writer. These are only a couple of dreams. There are many more, and so many that will come to mind with time. I’ll be doing all this before I die. Retire? What is that?

Q: You once said that your music “…is quite unlimited and modernized.” compared to your sister’s (famed Vietnamese singer Tam Doan) music being traditional. How do you wish the industry to see your musical influence to be, let’s say, 50 years from now? What new grounds are you hoping to break?

A: Wow. There is such depth given to my ambition. To be honest, I simply wish to be listened to. I wish to be understood by others. I wish for their emotional identification to my thoughts. That’s all. Art pours out quicker than logic. So, I’ve never really thought of what kind of grounds I’d like to break. Quite frankly, I don’t think I want to think of it at all.

Q: You’re from Canada. Are there any internal (or external) conflict being labeled an “Asian American artist”? You are still very young and in your late teens. You must be experiencing the Coming of Age stage. Do you have any conflict between being Asian and American/Canadian?

A: I’ve grown up in a very multicultural neighborhood, so there hasn’t been much conflict. Actually, my neighborhood is a little Asian-dominant. There are many of us! Though, I am angry with the lack of Asian North American faces in the entertainment industry. Also, I’ve had my share of the odd few racist occurrences. The discrimination didn’t really make sense to me until I grew a little older. When the reality of our worlds hit me, I was a little sad. Walls I never knew existed as I grew up, starting building themselves and separating people. It made me sad.

Q: On poems, do you write about anything else besides love and relationships? Do you have any favorite poets?

A: I write about anything and everything that moves me. It just happens to mostly be on love and relationships. It’s the highlight of my teenage life, ya know? =) Really, it’s also what I have chosen to expose. There is much more to my writing that I would rather keep private until I’m ready. My favourite poets are Emily Dickenson and William Blake. I also enjoy work from E.E. Cummings, Robert Froste, Edgar Allan Poe, Pablo Nerudo and the everlasting William Shakespeare.

Q: The people in your life and the books you read normally influence ideas and thoughts. Do you have any big or favorite influences?

A: I am rather influenced by music and other musicians. I guess it’s logical that music would be influenced by music. I am also often moved by other people’s life stories. It’s so weird to realize how different someone else’s life is, compared to your own. I love getting to see into other lives, though it sometimes scares me a little. In terms of “big or favorite”, I don’t think I have any; they are all equally influential on me.

Q: I’ve read that you were a published poet? What is the name of the book and where can your fans get a copy?

A: It is a compilation of many young writers called “From the Mountaintop” and it is available in selected bookstores.

Q: Do you attend school now and how do you see yourself in 10 years? 15 years? 50 years?

A: I am currently finishing up my last few months in high school and will be attending a University in Toronto next year to study theatre. I am just taking things one step at a time right now. If plans happen to change along the way because of some sudden alteration, then I will deal with it when it comes. I can barely see myself in 10 days, let alone 10 years. ;p

Q: Okay, here’s a quick test: Can you come up with a poem about Asian America and it’s state of music?

A: Uh oh! Good question, is there an answer? ;p I am pretty sure there aren’t any existing ones. Oh Wait! Do you mean that I should write a poem right now about it? Sorry… I don’t want to poison your eyes and ears with an off-the-top-of-my-head-lame-o-poem. I can’t write on command, and if I did it would only be horrifyingly corny.

Q: You were quoted for saying,”I write just as often as I breathe.” And you are known for writing poems and lyrics. Have you ever had thoughts about writing a film script or even a book?

A: Yes of course. I’ve written many short stories, long stories and even short scripts during long summer nights but I would never let anyone read them. Essentially, they are only for my amusement and catharsis. Maybe one day, I’ll have the courage to reveal them. I hope to – just not anytime soon.

Q: There’s a large influx of singers turning actors/actresses and vice versa, and I’ve read that you are seriously considering acting yourself. Do you believe that being an entertainer is becoming a blur?

A: Perhaps if the person is just labeled as a singer, it would be a blur or just as an actor. If one is labeled as an entertainer, they could be dancing naked among a crowd of monkeys and they’d still be entertaining. That doesn’t blur their title at all. What I mean is, an entertainer entertains. Why should they be limited to one specific type of entertainment? I applaud those who widen their abilities by trying new aspects of their profession. It only makes them more courageous.

Q: Besides being part of the “Asian American Music Revolution”, don’t you think you are also known in being part of a technological revolution where music is being newly discovered in the era of MP3s and Napster? One no longer has to audition for Ed McMahon on Star Search. Do you believe that this revolution made it easier for you to be discovered?

A: Yes, of course! Without these technological advancements, none of this would have happened at all. I would not have had the incentive to actually mail a tape of my awful singing to some big-willie record label. Also, with the internet, I can almost hide from the audience a little. I know, it’s rather cowardly! ;p This way, the audience can’t see me get fidgety when I have to hear my own voice. With time, an intimate relationship builds between the listeners and I. By then, I’ll be comfortable enough with them to do anything at all. It makes things so much easier on me. Thank God for technology! =) And thanks for the interview, I had fun answering these questions. They made me think quite a bit! LOL

All images and music copyright © 2000 Nemesis Records. All rights reserved.
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