New Release: This Whole Love Thing

2019

Viewing posts tagged 2019

New Release: This Whole Love Thing

Whoo! Here’s another silly love song! Like a lot of my other work, This Whole Love Thing has a bunch of musical and cultural references snuck into it. That kind of stuff is fun for me. Sometimes it’s more obvious than others, but on this one, it’s very obvious. Keep reading to learn about some of the fun references that are included in my latest release.

This song had been around as a demo for over 4 years before I finished and released it. The hook “This Whole Love Thing” was inspired by a conversation with one of my friends who said the phrase while describing how he didn’t expect to have such strong feelings for a woman he was dating. Of course, I wrote it down in my phone as a song idea and eventually developed it.

The opening drum machine pattern is a reference to a 1990 Roxette single called It Must Have Been Love, which was in the movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. I started out wanting to write a power ballad, and that Roxette track is one of my favorites. My song didn’t turn out to have that much “power” but it’s still got some ballady vibes. The drum machine samples I used are from the Akai MPC60, which came out in 1988.

The other instruments that make up the song are pretty classic: a Rhodes electric piano, bass guitar layered with a Moog bass synthesizer, a few electric guitars, and for the country music vibe I put in Hammond Organ.

In the lyrics, I also snuck in a reference from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, the film from 1985 starring one of my biggest influences in entertainment, Pee Wee Herman. The reference is in the first verse. Can you find it? (Leave me a comment on this blog entry)

The vocal treatment for the verses was inspired by John Lennon’s song Watching the Wheels. After I had finished recording the vocals, I was at a lost as to how to affect the dry vocal recordings, so I asked a couple of friends. Patrick Kornegay, a movie producer and music nerd, responded by suggesting I try something like Watching the Wheels. I was dubious at first, but after I figured out which effects to put on the voice, it was exactly what the song needed.

I love the cover photo for This Whole Love Thing, taken by my friend and BAO bassist Timm Shingler, because it makes me look like Steve Carell from the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin. LOL! I look like I’m staring off into space daydreaming about my crush or something. It’s just so innocent and dorky and funny. The photo was taken on 120 film, using a Voigtländer Perkeo I camera from the 1950s. I also took a similar image of Timm too, check it out.

Real question, tho: Are you interested in Youtube videos where I dissect each song and talk about the technical construction and inspiration for each song? Lemme know, yo! If you’d like to support my work, here are a few other ways:

Thank you!
❤ BAO

New Release: Diggin’ Your Love

February 19 is my birthday! I am celebrating life, art, compassion, and learning. As a gift to you, you can download “Diggin’ Your Love” for free right here on this page. As a birthday gift to me, could you donate to a cause that’s super close to my heart – The Slants Foundation?
Donate

The Slants Foundation is a nonprofit that helps Asian-Americans who strive to incorporate activism into their art. I’ve served as a Board Member since its founding last summer and we’re just about ready to launch to the public. Go to theslants.org and hit the donate button – no contribution is too small. If you’re not able to donate right now, that’s okay. Enjoy the song, and you can still donate in my name until the end of February. Check out the new tunes and keep reading if you’re interested in a 2,000-word essay on what’s meaningful to me on this birthday.

First, a little about the new song. Diggin’ Your Love is an upbeat, irreverent reflection on modern dating and “catching feels.” The song draws stylistic influence from 80’s Minneapolis funk, pop, and rock and channels artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, and The Time. Oh, and some modern influences like Pharrell Williams and Bruno Mars too. Killer guitar solo and rockin’ guitar parts by the super cool and talented Jesse McInturff. Thanks a lot to Taylor Shechet and Davy Drones for arrangement and mixing help.

So, I’ve been reflecting a bit lately on the extraordinary life I’ve enjoyed and the invaluable people who’ve made it happen. The last couple of years for me have been about understanding what I have to contribute to the world and then giving it – through my art, my presence, and through passing on my knowledge. There’s a quote that’s been floating around the internet, being attributed to Pablo Picasso, William Shakespeare, and a million other people. I don’t know whose quote it is, but I’m feelin’ it:

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

In 2017, I had an idea for a nonprofit called Other.Us that would exist to help Asian-American songwriters with the resources, knowledge, and network needed to get their unique stories out to more people. I had a lot going on at the time and really struggled to get it off the ground.

A few months later, I got an email from the highly accomplished artist and activist Simon Tam describing a nonprofit that he wanted to start. Its purpose would be to provide resources, scholarships, and mentorship to Asian Americans looking to incorporate activism into their art. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in serving on the foundation’s board. Um, yeah!

Anyway, I’ve been releasing music since 2004, starting with Ming & Ping. Whether you knew it or not, those songs were written from an Asian-American perspective with strong references to the Asian-American immigrant experience. There’s no way to not hear that in my new music and the awesome stuff I have in the pipeline. If you like my work and want to help empower the next generation of Mings and Pings and BAOs, please head over to The Slants Foundation’s website and pitch in a few bucks.

There’s nothing more exhilarating to me than knowing that the stupid song ideas I hum into my phone could one day become meaningful songs in someone else’s life. Seriously, not many get this opportunity and I’m not going to waste it. Let’s do this!

If you’d like to support my work, here are a few other ways:

Thank you!
❤ BAO

New Release: Far Away

Happy Lunar New Year. Let’s celebrate with my first song of 2019 called Far Away. It’s a tribute to the immigrant and refugee parents out there.

Far Away is a song for immigrants and refugees, especially those who are what I would consider 1.5 generation: immigrants who came to another country as young children and don’t have much or any memory of their birth countries. Those who struggle to belong in both the home they left and the home they’ve been brought to.

While the lyrics speak to the many images of my parents’ history in Vietnam, Far Away is about knowing your “homeland” only through the stories and photographs that your parents share. For some of us, that’s not a lot and they’re always tinted with personal trauma and biases.

The music and vocal melody for Far Away had been around for three years, but the song was so special that I couldn’t find a topic or lyrics that did the song justice. Then in late 2018, I had a conversation with my friend Hieu Gray, who is working on a beautiful documentary about Vietnamese food spreading to other parts of the world through displaced people.

We spoke deeply about how, as immigrant babies, our knowledge of Vietnam is mostly constructed from stories and photos. We thirst to learn more about our culture, but will always feel like tourists in our birthplaces. When I wrote the lyrics based off of our conversation, it was a super emotional experience filled with gratitude and respect for everyone who made the journey to find a better life. It’s especially relevant in today’s political climate in the United States.

I hope you enjoy the song. Leave me a comment.

If you’d like to support my work, here are a few other ways:

Thank you!
❤ BAO