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