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

Clara C did a Reddit AMA! Here are 10 Things we Learned

On October 10, Kollaboration 10 winner Clara C will performing live in Houston, TC as one of the headliners for SASEFest, the Asian American music festival that Kollaboration is helping produce in conjunction with the 2015 SASE (Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers) National Conference. Kollaboration and SASE hosted a Reddit AMA for Clara late last week. Here are some of the highlights:

1. She can play a bunch of instruments and dreams in song

“I think it’s somewhere in the low double digits… But, I’m obviously better at some than others. The songwriting process is different every time! Sometimes, I’ll hear a beat right as my brain’s falling asleep and have to record it on a voice memo and work on it in the morning. Other times, a full length song from start to finish will download into my brain all at once. I have 6 guitars =) Musical background is…trained in classical piano with some theory and self-taught in everything else (voice, guitar, recording, mixing [etc])”

2. She’s a self professed nerd and has pro-level Mario skills!

“I’ll kick aaaaaanyone’s ass at anything Mario or puzzle-ey. I own every video game console but haven’t had time for video games these days. But truth be told, I always have been and will continue to be a nerd in all things I’m interested in. Nerds run the world. #nerdpride”

3. There was supposedly a time in the past when she was bad at singing

“My singing is self-taught! There was a time I royally SUCKED at singing and I have video to prove it. But, I also have video of me with really good pitch singing karaoke when I was 5 so I think it was in me somewhere. I haven’t ever taken lessons although I’d like to. I just listened to voices I liked and took away bits and pieces and applied it to mine. It was, “I like her vibrato” coupled with “I like that tone” mixed with “I dig that falsetto” and soon I had what was my own voice. Since then, my voice has evolved into something of its own but the aforementioned was a good starting point.”

4. She was working on a responsible backup plan when her musical dreams came true

“I was in college when my career took off but I was studying Psychology and was a Behavior Technician for children with autism. Before I could even start full-time, my music career had taken off and now I’ve been doing it for 5 years! Music was my dream all my life. It remained a dream for a while because 1. I wasn’t quite musically developed enough until college and 2. I thought it impossible for someone like me to have a music career. We live in a beautiful age where anything’s possible. I hope you get to pursue and obtain your dreams too.”

5. Her regular In-N-Out order is legit

“I get a cheeseburger with grilled AND whole grilled onions…protein style and my fries well done. If I’m feeling bad, neapolitan milkshake. Otherwise, pink lemonade!”

6. Rowdy audiences are her favorite crowd to play for

“This questions gonna get me in TRUBBLEEEEE. How I feel about everywhere I go in the world is heavily influenced by the people. I LOVE a rowdy, obnoxious, free-spirited audience. Based on just audiences I’ve played for, Sydney, Australia and Houston, Toronto and Kuala Lumpur are my favorites”

7. She is fascinated with marine biology and dreams of diving with sharks

“As you may or may not know, I am a marine FANATIC. I love scuba and literally love every sea creature ever made from sharks to little nudibrancs to deep sea creatures that dwell in the dark. However, there’s something about watching a sea otter on its back trying to crack open a clam with its shortass little arms that just kills me. Also, I might add that it definitely is on my bucket list to dive with whale sharks in the wild.”

8. She loves to hear about how her music has touched her fans

“There’s something intangibly powerful about music. Even if you don’t understand the language of a song, it still has the capacity to move and change the color of any moment you’re in. Sometimes, when I’m going through something and a song comes on that’s describing my exact situation, there’s catharsis and release. I think being involved with making something that holds this much power is an amazing privilege. So, when someone tells me about how something I wrote helped them through a hard time or when a couple uses one of my songs as their wedding song, it’s rewarding beyond words that I was able to touch a human soul.”

9. There’s a third Clara C album coming out… in a few months

“I’m working hard on my third album. I want it to be perfect so I keep pushing deadlines and things. (Not the best thing but I’ve become quite the perfectionist so sue me!) It should be out in a couple months and a tour will follow afterwards.”

10. She’s a proud member of the Kollab Fam

“There were 5,000 people in the audience that night I won Kollaboration (talent contest) who went home and searched me on Youtube. I think I had 11 subscribers then. I was so happy to have those 11! Then the whole thing blew up. I feel extremely fortunate to have the Kollab family on my team.”


If you’re in the Houston area on 10/10, don’t miss SASEFest, tickets on sale now!

Anna Akana on Conducting Interviews, Show-Biz Lessons, and Being Honest

Anna Akana is everywhere.  Well, not literally.  However, Anna figuratively has an egg in a lot of baskets.

While she’s mostly known for her hilarious and thought-provoking YouTube channel, Anna has also appeared in feature films like Ant-Man, and Hello, My Name is Doris, and has had roles on television shows like MTV’s Awkward, and ABC Family’s The Fosters.  Along with this, Anna stars in live improv shows and designs t-shirts for her fashion line, Ghost and Stars.

Even with all this on her plate, Anna was gracious enough to take the time for us and answer some questions about what she’s working on now and more:

What were you doing right before this?
Interviewing people for an assistant position.

I’ve never interviewed someone to work for me!  Is it as nerve-wracking as being the interview-ee?
It’s not nerve-wracking at all.  It’s more monotonous.  You hope that every single person who comes in will be the right person.

What was the last YouTube Video you saw?
I watched The Fine Bros most recent Last Moments that I was in.  I played a girlfriend who wanted to make up a grandiose story about how we met.  It was great!

Is it more fun to act, direct, or write on a project?
I love acting.  That’s my favorite part of filmmaking.

What is most important to you when you are working on a project?
That I give it my all.

Do quality, quantity, the number of views, etc. play a role in this?
As long as I learned something that I can apply to my next project, I am happy.

What is one of the biggest lessons you learned from this line of work?
I learned that you have to be ok with being a boss.  And when hiring friends, beware.  Relationship dynamics may be messed with.

What do you do when you have a creative block/when you’re stuck?
Reading helps.  I enjoy Steven King.

Your vlogs are very genuine, funny, and personal.  Is it scary to share so much of yourself with your audience? 
I used to be a pathological liar, so honesty is always the best policy for me.  It can be scary, yes, but ultimately I’m happy that I was at least honest.

What’s next up for Anna?  While we are keeping our fingers crossed for another Marvel movie (she is too!), check out her most recent short film, “Loose Ends,” on YouTube.

Recapping the Kollaboration EMPOWER Conference

I’m new to this sprawling city. In fact it has only been about two months since I officially moved here. Naturally, being the new girl, I’m always on the lookout for things to do and learn. Enter Kollaboration’s inaugural Leadership Conference.

Quite honestly, I did not know what Kollaboration was until I came to Los Angeles. I had heard about it in passing a few times, since it does exist across the country (14 cities to be exact), and I understood it to be an Asian American talent competition. It is an annual talent showcase but over the years Kollaboration has morphed from a platform for Korean American artists to share their talents to a pan-Asian Pacific Islander movement that unites and inspires aspiring artists to pursue creative careers. Kollaboration is all about challenging the status quo, creating change (not just talking about it) and dreaming big- and as cliché as that may sound, that’s exactly what my move here to LA and my life in general is about.


Needless to say, Kollaboration brought together a great group of speakers and perspectives from all corners of the entertainment and media industry. It was also nice to have like-minded individuals- people who challenge expectations, are curious about possibility and aren’t afraid to talk about fear, in the same room. It was a pretty empowering way to start my weekend, to say the least.

To do a summary of each session would be overkill, so instead, here are some quotables and highlights from the conference.


Jim Kwik, memory expert and founder of Kwik Learning, started the conference with some handy tricks on memory, particularly remembering names. He left us with a few mnemonics but the key message was that “Reasons reap results.” Basically,  all behaviors are belief driven whether it’s with memory or with following through with your thoughts. If you can believe that you will, you can. Also, “Practice means progress.”


Bing Chen, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Victorious, a new media company, philosophized about the effects of technology before moderating a panel. Something he said really struck me: “It’s incredibly hard being yourself in 2015.”


Chris Pan, founder of, asked us a very profound question: What is your (life) intention? We all had to think of a word we wanted to focus our energy on or have more of in our life during a moment of silence. We then got this word stamped on a bracelet (or necklace) as a reminder. My word was Trust.


Tamlyn Tomita, actress known for her roles in Joy Luck Club, The Karate Kid Part II, and Teen wolf enlightened us with seasoned advice: “Acknowledge your fear and be fearless. Leave people thinking oh my gosh. What was her name? All I can leave people with is the energy you give them.”

Christine Chen, Producer at Wong Fu Productions, when asked what she wish she knew when she was 21 said:  “You get what you put in. This life is ready to bless you but no one is going to hand it to you. Check your ego at the door.”

Paul PK Kim, founder of Kollaboration (which is now in it’s 16th year) among many other accomplishments, spoke on the importance of focus. “If you chase two rabbits you won’t catch either.”

Eric Kim, Vice President of Current Programs at CBS Television Studios, where he oversees all phases of production for the network’s television programming said that in this day and age “you have no excuse not to do what you want to. The technology is readily available. If you’re a director, go direct something.”


Sunil Malhotra, writer, producer and actor spoke on the importance of “Be[ing] a human being.” No matter what it is your doing or who you’re talking to, it’s key to maintain perspective and treat each other like, a person.


Alex Hwang, Lead singer of indie folk-rock band, Run River North, spoke about the difficulties of being a musician. But the things he knows for sure: “Believe in the product. Relationships mean a lot.”

Travis Graham, lead singer of New Heights mentioned Trust as an important factor of creating. “I think the main concern with working with someone in LA, is if you vibe. There has to be trust for the best work.”

Peter Hong, label executive, musician and producer never saw the kind of music he wanted to hear, so he did it himself. “I’ve always been the guy to create my own work.”

There was so much more (I had difficulty choosing between sessions) but you get the idea. It was a conference that reconfirmed and reminded me of the things that I already knew- the things that maybe we’re afraid to talk about out loud, but should talk about more.


One thing became very clear as I sat in the audience listening to these stories. These panelists are just like us. They have hopes, dreams and fear. But the difference and why they were on the stage giving us advice was that they not only started somewhere, believed in something, and worked for/towards it. They tried and failed but kept going and lived, so to speak, to tell the story of what they created.

The fact is, you can do it too. You just have to find out what your voice is. Like Beau Sia, Tony Award winning poet and performer put it, “Thank G-d all of you are out there doing you and sharing your story. It’s all about getting together but honoring each person’s unique way.”

I don’t know about you but hearing things like this make me want to keep doing, keep dreaming.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you were there that Saturday like I was, and if you weren’t it’s ok, everyday is a day to begin again and…. Kollaboration has many more events to come.

This article was guest written by Andrea M, a New Yorker navigating her new home of Los Angeles one day at a time. You can find her personal blog at

We Have a New Trailer – Come See What’s New!

Today marks the kickoff of Kollaboration’s new content strategy and starting this week, you can check back for regular blog and media content updates brought to you by the national Kollaboration teams! To commemorate this moment, we’ve cut a new “sizzle” reel for you all to re-introduce our programs. Come see what’s new, and we hope you’ll stay a while!

You’re Invited to be EMPOWERED

Kollaboration Executive Director Minji Chang invites you to Kollaboration’s inaugural EMPOWER Leadership Conference, taking place on Saturday August 29 2015 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA. Join us for a day of inspiring keynotes and engaging panel discussions with some of the API communities brightest leaders!

Learn more and register at

Dare to Dream at the Kollaboration Empower Conference

Kollaboration is proud to present our very first annual EMPOWER Conference!

The Kollaboration EMPOWER Conference is an event where API youth & young professionals gather to learn directly from some of the community’s most inspirational professionals. At EMPOWER, attendees will be able to explore a variety of creative career paths, industries, and best practices to apply to making their dreams a reality. This unique experience will bridge communities, generations, industries, and innovative minds.

Exciting Speakers & Panels

Learn from APA leaders and professionals at the top of their game. Topics and focus areas include media production, starting your own company, the relationship between arts & activism, switching careers, and more!

Engaging Interactive Workshops

Become a more effective communicator, team member, and leader through guided workshops covering the arts of storytelling, improvisation, leadership styles, and public speaking.

Inspiring Mentorship Office Hours

Take the opportunity to engage with inspiring leaders from the community in a small group setting.

Find out more at and Eventbrite - Kollaboration EMPOWER Conference

Peter Chung Wins Kollaboration Los Angeles 2015!

It was an electric night last Saturday at the Los Angeles Theatre Center as six finalists played their hearts out in front of their community. In the end, it was Peter Chung who would follow up his 2012 win at Kollaboration SF with another victory in his new home, Los Angeles, securing a spot in this year’s Kollaboration Star finale. Special thanks to all of our finalists, Rosy Donovan, Lisa Sonoda, Track IX, Perry & Danielle, and The Will Park for being part of such a special night. Everyone is looking forwards to seeing what everyone does next!

A full recap of the night is coming soon including coverage of the incredible Lip Sync Battle!

In the meantime, make sure to follow all of our talented finalists:

Lisa Sonoda

Peter Chung

Perry & Danielle

Rosy Donovan

Track IX

Will Park