Meet the Kollaboration Star 2015 Finalists: Dallas’ Yut & the Hot Four

Yut Chia is this year’s winner of Kollaboration Dallas and is one of the six finalists at next month’s Kollaboration Star. A passionate violinist hailing from New York with the desire to entertain, he’s been building up his reputation as a musician, ever since his humble days of performing at subway stations in order to fund money for college.

I recently called up Chia to learn more about him and out of all the details from his fascinating life thus far, I found the following six to be particularly interesting:

1. Chia has been playing violin since age 12

Yes you read that right. Despite wanting to play the violin as a child, Chia was unable to afford violin lessons. He started late to the instrument taking his first lesson in the seventh grade, not that it’s made a difference in his ability as he is now a full-time violinist.

2. His musical inspiration is Nuttin’ But Strings

Chia was inspired by the former duo’s style of blending genres like R&B and pop together on an instrument that’s normally reserved for classical concertos. He even performed with former member Damien Escobar when he showed up at one of Chia’s impromptu subway performances, and the two collaborated on the spot.

3. Chia has performed for the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Robert De Niro, and Kevin Spacey

It was the president of the New York Times who walked by him while he was performing at a subway station that eventually led to him being invited out to perform for a number of events where such public figures were in attendance. Despite a number of amazing gigs under his belt so far, that hasn’t stopped Chia from wanting to perform on all the big stages.

4. Chia is the founder of Yut & The Hot Four (a modern instrumentalist group)

With the help of Craigslist, in 2013, Chia formed a modern instrumentalist group call Yut & The Hot Four. Along with Chia, it’s made up of violinist Chia Yin-Ma, celloist Lenaé A. Harris, bassist Lorenzo Kim Sandi, and drummer Rajeev Maddela. Asked what a modern instrumentalist group is, Chia defined it as an atypical string quartet, with the goal of their performances being to pumped up the energy and “keeping it on edge 24.7.” Often, they’ll also have backup dancers accompany them for their performances.

While the members of Yut & The Hot Four have gone their separate ways, Chia and Harris still perform together, and they, along with three backup dancers, will be traveling together to Los Angeles for Kollaboration Star 2015.

5. Chia is a Kollaboration veteran

While this will be Chia’s first time performing at Kollaboration Star, his history with the Kollaboration movement extends beyond him winning this year’s Kollaboration Dallas showcase. His first appearance in a Kollaboration showcase was in 2013 when he performed backup for eventual Kollaboration NY winner Izzy. A year later, he returned with The Hot Four, but lost to Sung Lee. Chia explained how he researched all the chapters in advance for this year, and settled for auditioning for the Dallas chapter this time around due to its intimate environment.

It’s because of Chia’s history with Kollaboration that has led him meeting many people through the movement, and has commended the people involved in being really chill to be around and very supportive.

6. Chia desires to inspire

In regards to his upcoming performance at Kollaboration Star, Chia hopes to not only wow the audience with his performance, but also that they see the hard work and passion he puts into his music. In the long run, he hopes his performance inspires people.


Watch Yut perform for the chance to win $10,000 at Kollaboration Star, taking place 11/14/15! Tickets are on sale now at

Meet the Kollaboration Star 2015 Finalists: Boston’s JDep

Singing an original song, singer-songwriter John Dep, better known as JDep, wowed the Kollaboration Boston judges this past April and won the title of the night. He will join 5 other Kollaboration Champions at the upcoming Kollaboration Star showcase, taking place Saturday, November 14, 2015. to compete for the national title! Kollab Blogger Lily Rugo caught up with JDep after the show.

“Man, let me tell you, I went (to Kollaboration Boston) with no expectations.” JDep said about his win. “I just wanted to go there and sing my heart out, meet new people, see new faces, and experience that whole Kollaboration Boston thing. Little did I know I would actually win first place. It was a shock to me.”


He described the other five finalists that night as “dope. Dope dope dope.” Everyone was cool and friendly so they all got along well, and they all had so much talent. All he had to say was that is was crazy.

“There was this one yo-yo dude,” he remembered, talking about Kollaboration Boston V winner Derek Hsu. “I told him I’d trade my voice for your yo-yo skills. He was freaking amazing.”

He’d heard about Kollaboration Boston through a friend who told him that Kollaboration helps showcase Asian American artists, and he thought it would be “a good look for me and our people to showcase that talent.”

A native of Lynn, Massachusetts, JDep said he’s always been singing but didn’t start loving it until eighth grade where he sang with a few of his friends who would “rap and make beats and stuff.” Then he had his first solo performance in a Christmas assembly with his class when he was randomly picked.

“I was a bit nervous at the time because I never performed in front of anyone before,” he remembered, “So I thought ‘why not? I’ll just give it a try.’ and it went pretty well. The response from the people that I got that day inspired me to keep on making music. That’s when I started falling in love with music.”

JDep has a YouTube channel, though it’s not recently updated and most of the videos are covers which he doesn’t usually perform. Instead, he draws inspiration from the artists like Michael Jackson, Al Green, Sam Cooke, and Jhené Aiko, and writes all of his own songs.

“I get to speak what I feel and get to write my emotions down. If I’m feeling some type of way, I’ll write about that.” he said. “It’s like a healing process for me. My type of therapy is music, that’s why I do it.”

JDep’s parents also play a part in encouraging and inspiring his music, and “anything that I’ve down growing up, they’ve always had my back.” A few years ago, his brother also encouraged his career by telling him to audition for the X-Factor and Jdep went all the way to meet the judges. He met a lot of very talented people, spoke to the judges, and got some advice on the music industry from another competitor.

“I learned a lot from that whole experience and the fact that I didn’t make it didn’t matter to me,” JDep said. “I just wanted to see what it was like to be out there in front of a huge audience and see the response that I got that day— it was a dope experience.”


After winning Kollaboration Boston, JDep has another— slightly different— opportunity to compete against other artists, win over voters, and impress some celebrity judges. As the cities around the country end the 2015 showcase season, each of the winners rely on online polls to be one of six finalists and get the chance to fly to Los Angeles and compete this November at Kollaboration Star.

“It’s just like another foot through the door,” JDep said if he got to go to Star. “It’s another foot closer to fulfilling my dream. I’m a musician, an aspiring musician, and not everybody gets the chance to go to Los Angeles and perform like that everyday. If I did get the chance to do that, I would be so grateful.”

Until then JDep has a full-time job and spends most of his free time in his friend’s studio, by now nearly a second home. They’ll listen to music, work on new material, and discuss how to network their new mixtape. He’ll also perform around Boston as opportunities come up, and is currently working on a project.


Watch JDep perform for the chance to win $10,000 at Kollaboration Star, taking place 11/14/15! Tickets are on sale now at

Kollab Watches: Fresh off the Boat Episode 2.06 – “Good Morning Orlando”

Remember how I said that the fourth episode for this season of Fresh Off the Boat was a definite favorite? Well this week’s episode, “Good Morning Orlando,” can officially be added to the same list. From the humorous awkwardness that comes with first love, to a social commentary that definitely hits close to home, this episode went above and beyond with stories to enjoy and contemplate.

It’s been two weeks since the Fall Ball, and Eddie hasn’t spoken to Allison since then, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about her (“She punched me in the armpit. It was amazing!”). However, according to her group’s messenger boy Ned (don’t ask), it turns out they’ve been an item since that fateful mash pit. Soon Eddie’s friends wind up with Allison’s other friends and they go on a romantic first group date of passing each other on the escalators at the mall. But when one of Eddie’s friends suddenly faces a break up from a girl he didn’t realize he was with, they come to realize: Who the hell are their girlfriends?

I thought it was humorous how the episode portrayed Eddie, his friends, and their first girlfriends’ idea of dating ( and where passing each other on an escalator is equivalent to nailing a first date). It’s a nostalgic look back at the days of first experiencing butterflies in your stomach just from the sight of someone you’re into, and the nagging questions of whether you should talk to them, what you should say, and whether or not the feeling is mutual. It was also fun to take a nostalgic look back at a pre-mobile phone era. If this story had taken place today, I think Eddie would have probably received that “Hi!” from Allison via text (or Snapchat?), instead of a physical note. It was sweet that in the end, Eddie finally figures out – via the wisdom of Emery- that to make a relationship work, communication is key (and maybe the girls should consider this advice too and not have a representative do all the dirty work for them).

Meanwhile, Louis is approached by the co-hosts of Good Morning Orlando to come onto the show and promote Cattlemen’s Ranch. Jessica sees it as a perfect opportunity to bring more business- and ultimately more money- to the restaurant (especially after she didn’t take Honey’s husband’s advice about checking her now termite-infected restored house). He appears to make a good impression on the show by cracking imitations of Donald Duck and Rocky Balboa. However, upon his arrival home, Jessica calls him out on his foolishness and accuses him of how he might have created a negative portrayal of Chinese people, invoking the one thing Louis hated from Sixteen Candles, Long Duk Dong (yeah, she went there). But when he is banned following a second appearance on the show where he accused the co-hosts of racism, Louis comes to his senses that he can’t please everyone and should just be himself.

While promotion leading up to this episode was mainly concerning whether or not Eddie and his friends have game at the tender age of twelve, it was Louis’ storyline that I loved most about this episode. I liked that Louis told Jessica, after she lectured him on how he should be acting on TV, that “one person can’t be everything.” It was a clever way to talk about #repsweats, a term coined earlier this year describing the many expectations placed on Asian Americans on TV to “properly” represent themselves to audiences, because as a community we are so afraid of misrepresentations (like with Long Duk Dong). Putting that internal struggle of our community into the context of Louis’ story line in this episode was brilliant and helps deliver that message to viewers who might not have been aware of it before. We are fortunate today to have two shows (so far) that center around Asian American families, and as Louis would likely agree, we still have a ways to go before we get over the #repsweats, but it’s a start.

On a final note, I don’t know if Fresh Off the Boat is one of those shows where shipping couples is a thing, but now that Eddie and Allison are actually together, what would their couple name be? Eddison?


Featured image courtesy of ABC

Meet the Kollaboration Star 2015 Finalists: LA’s Peter Chung

Peter Chung is Los Angeles’ representative for the upcoming Kollaboration Star showcase, taking place Saturday, November 14, 2015. Kollaboration Blogger Frankie Victoria caught up with him a few weeks ago to chat about the upcoming Kollaboration show!

When I called Peter Chung for this interview, the first thing he commented on was the area code of my phone number.

“Santa Barbara, right?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, knowing from previous research that he went to UCSB.

“Yeah, I went to UCSB,” he said. “Did you go to college there too?”

I said that Santa Barbara was home for me and that I attended college at to USD. He then proceeded to ask me about my whole life, including where I lived now, what I was doing, and how I joined Kollaboration.

“You thought you were calling to interview me, huh?” he said jokingly.

I laughed. If this conversation taught me anything about Peter Chung, it’s that he seems to appreciate irony.

I point this out because there is something very ironic about Peter’s life story: he hated music as a kid.


Both of Peter’s parents were in the Church choir in his hometown of San Jose. He describes being forced to take piano and trumpet lessons, but enjoyed being part of the church choir with his parents. While he learned how to play the drums and guitar during this time, he didn’t do it for the music.

“I was surrounded by people who were cool,” said Peter. “When you have a crappy job, but you’re surrounded by cool people, it’s more fun.”

The “crappy job” of playing music started to turn into something else entirely when he started to learn covers of John Mayer songs on the guitar. He had learned guitar without any official lessons and mostly thrived on tips from friends before YouTube guitar lessons were a thing.

“I got into [John Mayer’s] music by asking what songs I should learn on the guitar,” said Peter. “They would say it’s really easy to and ‘oh, these chords on this song are easy.’”

Peter describes learning the popular song “No Such Thing” as a good learning experience because it taught him to incorporate lead guitar and rhythm guitar. When Peter started learning covers, he started to enjoy the music for one thing: the attention.

“I’m an attention whore,” said Peter. I can assume he’s joking, but he said it so seriously, it’s hard to tell.

Whether or not all eyes are on him now, Peter is in the music business for the long haul. Before he went professional, he had uncertainties about dedicating his whole life to being a musician.

“I was scared to put myself out there,” he said. “But I had friends who told me that I had to put [my music] out.”

By the time he was discovered by Kollaboration reps, he had already started pursuing music full-time.

“All I did was go to open mics,” said Peter. “I saw the open mic Kollaboration SF and decided to do it. They liked me, so they told me about [the showcase].”

He went on to participate in Kollaboration SF 3 and the opportunity opened up doors for him.

“I think Kollaboration is fantastic for opportunities for exposure. They’re really helping musicians and artists and they connected me with so many gigs I never expected.”

Now that Peter is pursuing the coveted national title of Kollaboration Star, he didn’t seem nervous at all. When I talked with him, he was doing some maintenance on his guitar for a string of gigs he was performing in San Francisco.

“I literally have done nothing to prepare,” he said.

That was a few weeks ago. Even if he did anything to prepare, I wouldn’t be too worried about the Kollaboration vet. Peter dreams of performing his original music around the world. Specifically, he hopes that his lyrics stick with audiences.

“For any show, I hope that there’s a connection. A fear I have is people won’t understand what I’m saying.”

“What can really touch you or have an impact is the message behind it,” Peter said. “And that’s why the lyrics can have a greater impact.”


Watch Peter perform for the chance to win $10,000 at Kollaboration Star, taking place 11/14/15! Tickets are on sale now at

Meet the Kollaboration Star 2015 Finalists: Houston’s Casey Luong

Casey Luong, will be Houston’s representative in the Kollaboration Star showcase this November, and you can find a small sample of his work at his bandcamp! This article is a follow-up article to this bangin’ article written by Bryan here, so be sure to read the prequel first!

For guitar-slinging singer-songwriter Casey Luong, what started as an attempt to prove those who doubted and discouraged him from self-expression morphed into a wild and endless personal journey. This journey eventually led him, starry-eyed, to a competition at the Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

After placing first at a benefit competition event, Casey realized that he was not only serious, but truly passionate about music. He vowed thereafter to always perform when given the chance. That determination eventually lead his to claim the title at Kollaboration Houston’s showcase on 2015. When asked about the highlight of his career so far, he responds that it would have to be this leg of the adventure, being able to perform at the Kollaboration STAR showcase. When asked who he looks forward to competing with the most at STAR, he says that while he’s looking foward to hearing from all the acts and seeing what they bring to the stage, he’s most interested in meeting Peter Chung, Kollaboration LA’s winner. He explains that he feels the fellow singer-songwriter could very well be an “older version” of himself, but with more depth and experience. 

Luong’s main influences are John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, and Adam Levine (who, like Casey, also sports a tiger tattoo on his right arm), but like most artists, he also draws influences from a large variety of artists. He’s an unashamed fan of Bieber’s most recent works which according to Casey have “the most honest lyrics to date.” He also adores the unique tones and styles of The Weeknd and The 1975, and hopes to learn from them in how to fit his music into something niche yet popular.

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Often referring to his music as his own personal diary, the songs that Casey writes act as a “recollection” of what he’s been through and endured through in not only his ongoing college career as well as experiences growing up in of Sugar Land, Texas. He’s intent on producing his own original works, and with no sign of stopping. As with all great music, he says, his music is a reading–if not a dialogue between artists and listener–of his tales. For Casey, music was never about the fame. “It’s not about being the popular guy on the block,” he states, with an unshakable conviction in his voice. “It’s about the artistry.” Artists, he says, “should never compromise the integrity of the music.”

Casey aims to continue growing as an artist, writing more, and developing his sound. When asked about why he no longer posts covers on YouTube, he reasons that, from his humble opinion, covers are hardly candid. “It isn’t an honest expression of an artist,” he defends. One of the genres he hopes to incorporate into his sound is the blues. “Blues is far more complex,” he explains, explaining how he appreciated the technical skill showcased by artists in the genre, something casual listeners might miss. His ultimate dream in music creation is to find that perfect balance between musical complexity and appeal. In the near future Casey plans to add a MIDI-pad to his setup, which already includes a loop-pedal, to hopefully allow him reach a whole new level of expression.

To Casey, music is the centerpiece of his life. He’s grateful and awed at the support he’s received not only from friends and family, but from strangers as well. He credits their support and love at every opportunity. However, from his point of view, his greatest motivations are not external, but internal, finding the artist within. Not that he wouldn’t mind becoming famous, but he’s always been realistic, and is thankful that “what [he] loves to do isn’t what [he] needs to do,” hence why he’s also currently seeking a career in nursing. If the opportunity presented himself however, he readily admits that a rockstar lifestyle, not unlike those of his musical idols, would be hard to turn down.

Asked what it would take for him to fully pursue such a lifestyle: “getting signed,” he smiles, “would be a good start.”


Watch Casey perform for the chance to win $10,000 at Kollaboration Star, taking place 11/14/15! Tickets are on sale now at

Kollaboration SF Interviews Buzzfeed’s Ashly Perez

Ashly Perez sat down with Kollaboration SF Staff Member, Layla Yu, to talk about the importance of representation for Asian-Americans in the media, working at BuzzFeed, and insecurities. Perez hosted Kollaboration San Francisco’s 6th annual Artist Showcase held at the Memorial Theater in San Francisco on October 10, 2015.

Watch all 3 parts of this exclusive interview series, and then check out Kollab SF’s excellent writeup.


See more from Kollaboration SF

Kollab Watches: Dr. Ken 1.05 – “Halloween-aversary”

It’s always a lot of fun to see what you can learn about your favorite characters through what they dress up as for Halloween. In this week’s Dr. Ken, we learn that Damona loves Beyonce, Julie is a Game of Thrones fan (and winner of the Dr. Ken costume contest), Ken is tone deaf (not a surprise), and Clark wears couple costumes with an invisible friend (I’m assuming Keith is the ketchup to his mustard). The kids even get in on the fun with Molly dressing up as a nurse and Dave as Dr. Frankenstein (because, why be the monster when you can be the man who played god).

Halloween turns out to be an extra special day for the Park family as the day that Ken proposed to Allison 20 years ago. However, we learn that it wasn’t special in a sweet romantic way, Ken totally botched his proposal, and although they went and got married anyways, it remains a sore spot as they’ve never had a romantic proposal story to tell. So as a way to create a better story, Ken decides to re-propose to Allison during their annual Halloween date.

Meanwhile back at Welltopia, Pat accidently eats a prescription narcotic lollipop off of Julie’s desk, and Damona and Julie spend the episode trying to deal with (and exploit) their boss as he’s tripping balls. Now, while it was fun to watch the hijinks ensue, it was a little concerning that it was hard to distinguish the “high Pat” in this episode with the Pat that tried to shoot himself with a nail gun a few episodes past. Not to say that maybe Pat’s just always on drugs, but it seems to be more of a symptom of the way the character is written to just be a cartoon character/joke machine (a complaint I’ve made before).

The Park kids get their own sub-plot in this episode as well, with Molly and Dave fixing their dad’s treasured skeleton model Gary after accidently breaking it en-route to a party (silly Gary, even skeletons need to wear seatbelts). It was a sweet couple of scenes that demonstrate the adorable chemistry between the two siblings, and it was nice to see non-dumpy Dave again, I hope he stays around.

In the end, Ken’s new proposal plan runs into a few snags, but the result is one of Dr. Ken’s first emotionally resonant scenes. Anyone who’s seen the excellent independent movie Advantageous (on Netflix now) knows that Ken Jeong is absolutely capable of nailing a scene heavy with emotion, and while his tearful recap of his life together with Allison may be a little over the top, he sells it like no other and aims directly for the feels. For a show where the jokes never land 100%, this scene absolutely got to me, and I remain optimistic of the future potential of this show.


Featured Image Credit – ABC