Mahalo to you for your support on the past for myself and Kupaʻāina. Kupaʻāina continues and can be contacted through myself and other band members.
After a 6 year journey with the help and support of Producer Tracey Terada, the visual genius of my friend Brandon Sugiyama (logo) and my cousin James Vogl (CD design), Kai Markell, Christina and Franz Schmutzer (photography), Maria Remos, Johnny Helm, the late Ernie Cruz Jr. (music inspirators), Blaine Fergerstrom (web assistance), the KUA team, my family and Kupaʻāina and many others I have finally finished a “solo project” of some of the songs I have written over the years and two covers important to me.
I am slowly rolling it out. I do music because of a great love for it and I had the capacity to do it decently. But over time, for most “artists,” depending on the level of passion you have for art you begin to accommodate your life to it. It can become just as repetitive as it once was creative. It is also rarely a life making endeavor on an island, especially if you have no strong interest in leaving. For my sanity I chose over time to accommodate music to my life rather than the other way around.
This project was an attempt to do that.
It is also difficult to build artistry if you are consumed by business. This is why most musicians do not do their own business. It takes its toll on the soul. I am neither an accountant, shirt seller or music distributor. More-so, the greatest gift of music for me has been the people I have met and the bridges we have built. I sometimes cherish more the sharing after the music than the sharing through it.
What is funny is that “Mr. Chang” was something people called me when I was younger. I kept the term because I thought it was both honorable and funny. Now actually being a Mr. Chang feels different; not always so funny anymore. I suppose I should just say, “you can call me Kevin,” now. Nevertheless, I will continue to strive to be the Chang I want to see.
A little on the album theme and logo: I chose Boxers & Bootleggers in part because these are roles my ancestors played in the past to survive. They had to fight, they had to make due and they wanted to move ahead. It gave them substance and notoriety. This also taps into the irony and cynicism in some of my lyrics. Plus it’s a take on Ice Cube’s album “Bootlegs and B-Sides.” Once in college I had a tape of Ice Cube and the BooYaa Tribe on a unknown recording they did. I thought that was cool. That something small and hidden could be so impactful. Boxers and Bootleggers are people who have affected our world.
My logo was designed by Brandon Sugiyama, an old friend, classmate, Wushu master, advocate and amazing graphic designer and cartoonist. The logo was designed 15 years ago. I asked him to capture a sense of my ancestry in a logo that looked ancient but was really new. The symbol looks Chinese, and is similar to the original Chinese characters derived from real things, actions and relations in nature in China’s ancient past. This logo is a man, a mic and an ukulele. I originally intended the album title to be “Ukulele & a Microphone.”
You will find the music goes beyond an ukulele and a microphone. It goes a little deeper and includes the instrumentality and vision of my friend Tracey Terada (aka Dr. Trey). I found I bored myself on the ukulele; and I bored Trey too. This indicated to me that a CD album in the raw might be better for a live recording someday. I feel this recording captures the spirit of some of my songs.
I hope you will be interested in this personal project, will consider a purchase and will pass it on to others. It is available physically (from me or through CDBaby [CD Baby is likely easier]), it should be available for download purchase in many online vendors (iTunes, Amazon etc..) and lastly it is also available on Spotify and Apple Music streaming services (please consider adding Mr. Chang or Kupaʻāina to your playlist).
Here are some links to purchase or access my music below:
Mr. Chang Album Song List for 2015 (instead of 2104 🙂
1) Brown Skin Girl
3) Hawaii Aloha
5) Chocolate Jesus
6) Harbor Song
7) The Light
8) Nursery Rhymes & Fairy Tales
9) Red Rose Petals
10) Hawaii Aloha (fancy)
I was recently at one of my semi-annual Neal Blaisdell events last week with my wife to see Gabriel Iglesias aka @fluffyguy when I recalled a cool moment that I had almost forgotten.
Hmmmm, about- who knows – maybe 5-6 or more years ago. My friend Jeremy Spear’s friend was on the tour management team for the artist Mr Billy Joel who was in town. Jeremy and his wife Janu couldn’t attend so he offered me the tickets. My friend Noelani was free to go so we headed out at the last minute.
We walked in looked at our ticket numbers and proceeded to scope out our seats. They turned out to be way, way, way, in the back. The nosebleed section. We were practically back against the Neal Blaisdell area roof. Literally in the nosebleed section. We sat back and laughed about this. It did not seem a big deal, it was free and we both had memories of Billy Joel; enough to appreciate some of his music.
Then, I noticed a guy walk out on the stage, pre-show of course, and look up and point at us. I thought he was just looking and pointing up at our section. So I ignored him and we kept talking. Then I saw him jump off the stage and head out into the arena looking up at us and walking through all the expensive seats up, up, up back to where we were. And he said, “are you Mr. Chang?” I said “Yes” thinking we were victims of a practical joke and were going to get kicked out. He said “Mr. Joel has some special seats for you please follow me.” Thinking it was a joke we proceeded down with him where he placed us in the front row practically at the feet of Mr. Joel’s piano. A little dumbfounded we sat there feeling like someone might ask to leave at any moment. But that did not happen. It turned out to be, next to my first concert- Stevie Ray Vaughan, RUN DMC and ZZ Top at Aloha Stadium- the best concert I had ever attended. I also came out of it realizing how much melody Mr. Joel had placed in my generations soundtrack. I have much respect and appreciation for him.
I am thankful for the experience, also thankful for being able to relive the moment for my wife. I thought I would never forget that experience, but you know I almost did.
Last night I was reading my weekly New Yorker which I try to read from front to back whenever I get it. This week there was a story of Billy Joel which I really enjoyed. Most importantly, one part of the article said this:
“Long ago, Joel grew tired of having to look out at the fat cats in the two front rows, the guys who’d bought the best seats and then sat there projecting a look of impatience and boredom that Joel characterizes, using his Vinny voice, as “Entertain me, Piano Man.” So Joel’s people stopped selling the two front rows and instead send the crew into the cheap seats before the show to hand out tickets to people of their choosing. That this usually results in a foreground that is both young and female may or may not be an unintended consequence, but Joel believes that it helps buck up the band.”
Because I have been blessed and now realize it is possible I can forget great memories I am writing this down. To preserve some of that memory of Mr. Billy Joel to let folks know he is a cool guy. I am grateful he has this policy and am grateful to him, Jeremy & Janu and Jeremy’s friend for this experience.
Mr. Joel may look, as he says in the article, like the guy who makes the pizza. But not everyone can make pizza that was so good it’s qualities stay on your mind, through time. He may have stopped making “pop music” too but his soul was so deep in the melody it has resonated to 33 top 40 hits and his tour being in top four tours in the nation today (4th after One Direction, Jay Z and Beyonce and Justin Timberlake).
Mahalo to Billy Joel. One quote in the article says it nicely “When did he become that guy? One day, he’s the curly haired dark eyed brooding artist- although he really wasn’t ever that guy- and then suddenly he became my uncle.” Uncle’s music still resonates. Mahalo Billy Joel.