- Words Emma Deeley
Mesmerising lead singer Alisa from The Naked and Famous, shares with us her favourite 10Trax from some of the world’s most empowering and inspiring female Asian artists.
Known for their rhapsodies and elation, The Naked and Famous have timelessly succeeded in supplying the world with a friendly dose of electronic indie pop, with influences of 80s punk. Lead singer Alisa Xayalith has always been consciously vocal about her family’s heritage and tumultuous past as refugees, so in celebration of their new music dropping today, Alisa has curated for Notion a 10Trax compilation consisting of empowering female Asian artists that have broken the mould.
Born and raised in New Zealand from Laotian heritage, Alisa uses her voice to make a stand for voiceless refugees in contemporary society that are consistently stigmatized against due to the racial prejudice that the world suffers. Second generation refugee to Laotian parents, who migrated to New Zealand following her father’s fears of being imprisoned or killed by the new communist regime reigning 1975 Laos, for working in US intelligence forces, Alisa has spoken openly about her parent’s hardship escaping the country undetected with her two older siblings.
“In the music scene in New Zealand, I was often the ethnic minority. An Asian woman fronting an indie rock electro-pop band. Nowadays that wouldn’t sound so strange, but I sometimes wondered whether I would have had more opportunities if I didn’t look like me. That’s a pretty sad thought to have for a kid. There was this one instance where I auditioned for a musical in my high school theatre class to play the role of an Asian character and the teacher ended up picking a white girl to play her and she even mimicked an “Asian accent” in the performance. That was my first big blow in a creative space that I’ve never forgotten.
I never used to feel comfortable openly talking about this kind of thing, but as culture has progressed over the years, there’s a comfort knowing that I have these same thoughts in common with other Asian creatives and there’s an open public platform where these conversations are taking place. Through the years, I have observed and participated in a very homogenous music culture, I’ve always been the ethnic minority in a room and I’m going to keep doing what I do because having a public platform to represent Asian people in music is worth it for other kids who grew up like me to realise that it is possible to get a seat at the table.”
Armed with pride for her past and anger for the hate she’s been exposed to, Alisa has used this opportunity to showcase her favourite Asian music artists who have and are tearing up the music industry with their similar blend of indie electronic pop and techno.
Scroll down to check out Alisa’s 10 Trax featuring the likes of Peggy Gou, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more. Don’t forget to check out the band’s latest track ‘Bury Us’ from their forthcoming album ‘Recover’!
"If You Want It" by Jay Som
"If you want it” is the opening track of her album “Anak Ko” which translates to “my child” in Tagalog. A term of endearment from her Filipino mother. I love her blend of droning guitar lines and bouncy bass lines."
"Lucky Day" by Fazerdaze
"Amelia Murray known as Fazerdaze is an indie darling from the homeland Auckland, New Zealand. Any time I need a positive mantra, I just have to sing along to this enough until I believe it for myself."
"Space Cadet" by beabadoobee
"I love how the guitars in this song remind me of what I might hear in a Smashing Pumpkins song. I love her brand of nineties rock leaning music."
"Your Best American Girl" by Mitski
"Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me, but I do, I think I do. And you’re an all-American boy, I guess I couldn’t help trying to be your best American girl.” I love that she opened up a conversation in this song about trying to navigate the coveted life of the “American Dream” while coming from a different culture and how difficult it can be for those ideals to intersect."
"MAPS" by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"Karen O was a huge inspiration for me in my early musical journey. I loved how she was able to merge her folk music writing tendencies within the format of rock music."
"23" by Blonde Redhead
"Blonde Redhead was a band i came across when I was working in a record shop in NZ. This was one of my favourite albums to spin when I wanted to blast myself with washed out guitars and soaring melodies. Kazu Makino is an exceptional guitar player who is always inspiring to watch."
"Strange Froot" by Tokimonsta feat. Ambre
"This should be on everyone’s playlist for a chill Sunday. I love her and her vibe."
"Missing Me" by Trace
"Trace is my fellow south-east asian sister in music. One of my favourite crooners and “Missing Me” is a song to keep your aching heart company. We also may have written a song together that you may get to hear next year some time."
"Side Effects" by Cehryl
"Cehryl is an R&B artist I recently discovered and her song side-effects is a Lo-Fi gem."
"Starry Night" by Peggy Gou
"Peggy Gou, a Korean producer that makes feel good club music. This belongs on your motivation playlists. The music video is incredibly beautiful too."