ISA Concert Featured in the OC Register

The OC Register recently ran a feature on it’s website about the upcoming ISA Concert and those involved with the series. It’s great to see the event get recognition. The article features comments from members of Quest Crew, the Far East Movement, and more. Be sure to check it out!

If you’re too lazy to peep the link you can check it out after the jump as well.

There’s an Asian American cultural movement afoot, and much of it has roots in Orange County.

From urban dance to singing and songwriting to deejaying, young Asian Americans are finding their voice and expressing themselves online, in concert, on the air and at well-choreographed get-togethers.

One of those get-togethers is happening this weekend. It’s called ISA 09, or “International Secret Agents.” The sold-out, multidisciplinary show takes place Sunday at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

The lineup includes Far*East Movement, featuring DJ Virman from Cypress; Quest Crew, season 3 winners of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” (four members attended UC Irvine); and singers Kina Grannis of Mission Viejo and David Choi of Fullerton.

The show – organized by Wong Fu Productions and Far*East Movement – will be co-hosted by Lydia Paek of Fullerton, a dancer and member of Quest Crew and Box Cutters.

“I think this is kind of like our prime time, to break that wall holding us back,” said Paek, 19, a graduate of Cypress High School. “Music, dancing, singing – it’s kind of like a way to break through. We are as talented as much as anybody else is. The technology of YouTube – it gives us more of a chance, I guess.”

Indeed, many of the up-and-coming stars appearing at ISA and other recent events like “Kollaboration” made their initial splash on YouTube. Grannis, who won the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest last year, is consistently one of the top 20 viewed musicians every day on YouTube.

And Choi is the 21st most subscribed to musician of all time on YouTube, with more than 4.5 million channel views. So far this month, he’s the 12th most viewed musician on YouTube – ahead of Jay-Z, Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers.

“It should be a good event. I’m looking forward to it,” Choi said of Sunday’s ISA concert. “It’s always been a success. It’s a well-put-together show. Everyone that’s there really wants to be there.”

The ISA show is a rare opportunity for local folks to see the contemporary dance group, Quest Crew, perform live. Several of the crew members – including Ryan Feng, Victor Kim, Brian Hirano and Ryan Conferido – met while they were students at UC Irvine.

“Before we were a crew, we were friends and we were on the collegiate dance team,” said Feng, who graduated in 2006. “You never would have thought that Irvine had such strong hip-hop dance crews, but it does.”

Sure enough, another popular dance crew, Kaba Modern, originated and continues at UC Irvine. That outfit came in third place during the premier season of “America’s Best Dance Crew.”

“(ISA) is a great showcase for Asian American talent,” Feng said.

Fellow Quest Crew dancer Kim agrees. He adds that ISA is also a way to combat negative stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans in popular culture.

“In American media, Asians are portrayed as weak or nerdy, almost feminine,” he said. “That may have been correct in previous generations. But through the generations that were born here, we have assimilated to the culture.

“With the popularity of the Internet and YouTube, as artists we are able to expose our talent in means that don’t have to include the TV, which tends to stray away from portraying Asians in a cool or hip manner.”

Far*East Movement member DJ Virman, who also has a weekend show on Power 106 called “Cali Caliente,” says ISA is another step toward making Asian American talent cool and mainstream.

“We want to give back to the community to show that Asians can have an influence today in the U.S.,” said the Cypress DJ, whose full name is Virman Coquia. “Now everything has changed. It gives these kids hope.”

Fullerton singer/songwriter Choi, who is working on a second CD, said he doesn’t feel typecast as being simply an Asian American musician.

“I don’t feel pigeonholed at all,” said the YouTube phenom. “I still get people who aren’t Asian into my music. It’s an opportunity. My main fan base is Asian. There’s no getting around that.”

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