I began playing music with Dan Zanes and Friends seven years ago. In that time, I learned just how much family music and folk music can inspire people of all ages. I strongly believe that music, like food, has a unique ability to reach across borders, cultures, languages, ages, and backgrounds in a profound way.
As I traveled with the band across America, I met many Asian and Asian-American families in our audiences, and I quickly saw that there was little representation of music from East Asia in the Western family music world. So with Dan’s strong encouragement and support, I began to work on this album.
As a Korean-American born and raised in East Tennessee, I often felt removed from the Korean side of my identity. In taking on this project, I realized that I could become closer to my East Asian roots, simply by exploring these songs. At the same time, I would be able to draw on all of my musical influences, particularly my experience as a musician in New York City. This journey has proven to be invaluable. Some of my favorite moments in making this CD have been chatting with many friends about the traditions and meanings behind the music, usually over a delicious plate of food. These discussions have made the album what it is.
So what is this album? It’s a mixture: of songs, styles, traditions, languages, instrumentation, stories, and feelings. It’s a reflection of conversations with friends, learning about the songs they listened to growing up and the songs that linger in their memories. It’s an attempt to reinterpret folk and children’s songs from East Asia, taking them out of their original contexts and having them reflect the world I see around me. It’s a chance to play fun music with friends. And, it’s an expression of my deep respect for parents and families who have made tough journeys of any kind – across borders or cultures or hardships – in search of opportunity and happiness.
The tunes range from ubiquitous children’s songs (such as the Korean “San Toki), to traditional folk songs specific to a region (such as “Soran Bushi,” a popular sea shanty from Northern Japan), to a bizarre story of the rainy season and an eel (the Taiwanese song “Ti Oh Oh”). Each song is arranged in a different style, mixing native languages with English and traditional instrumentation with western folk and rock instruments.
The album features over thirty-five musicians of various ages and backgrounds, to whom I’m incredibly grateful. I’m humbled by their participation and support. And of course, it could never have gotten off the ground without the help of over one hundred supporters on Kickstarter.
Thanks to all!
Co-produced by Rob Friedman and Elena Moon Park
Arrangements by Elena Moon Park
Executive Producer: Dan Zanes
Art by Kristiana Parn
All songs Traditional, except:
Akatombo, written by Rofu Miki, Kosaku Yamada
Sol Nal, written by Yun Geukyeong, composed by Yun Seokjung
San Toki, written by Lee Ilrae
Summer Is Here, written by Elena Moon Park