Go away with … Ian Chang of Son Lux


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Son Lux received a scoring nomination – the first band since the Beatles – at this year’s Academy Awards for their work on the Oscar-winning film “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” “The Daniels [Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert] – who wrote and directed the movie – reached out to Son Lux very early on in the process in 2019,” group member Ian Chang said. “At the time, the movie was just a script and it hadn’t been shot or even cast yet. We actually recently found out that we may have been the movie’s first hire! We fell in love with the script and the vision that Daniels had for it and started to dream and put together musical themes and ideas off-picture.” Born in Hong Kong, Chang, 34, currently is a resident of Dallas. For more information about Son Lux and their upcoming tour, check out their website at https://sonluxmusic.com/tour, Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/son_lux/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/sonlux).

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Q: Did you travel to various places to work with the “Everything Everywhere All At Once” team?

A: When we signed on, we were all imagining that we would be able to spend quite a bit of time together, as well as with the Daniels, working on the movie. But after one recording session and one day on set in February of 2020, the pandemic shut everything down. From that point forward, almost everything about the movie was put together remotely, including the music. Once Daniels had a temp edit, we started chipping away at the 100 cues in the movie, meeting over Zoom with them once a week to submit and review music. [Band members] Ryan [Lott], Rafiq [Bhatia] and I would all spearhead our own scenes, while reaching out to one another to contribute on things we were working on. This work flow went on for many months and is essentially how the music came together.

Q: Quite a few American musicians of Asian ethnicity said they felt their only career opportunities would come from moving to Asian countries to work. Did you have any apprehensions about being an Asian artist moving to the United States?

A: I actually came when I was 14 and went to a boarding school while my family was still in Hong Kong. I think that being an underrepresented demographic in the world of music has both given me apprehension as well as fuel to the fire to push myself. On one hand, it’s easy to feel unsure of the path I’m on when there were so few people who look like me doing what I do now. And on the other hand, it felt motivating to try to break that glass ceiling.

Q: Did you face any culture shock when you moved from Hong Kong to the U.S.?

A: Even though I was brought up in a bit of a westernized bubble in Hong Kong, I did still experience some culture shock. A few specific moments that I remember – asking a schoolmate who had a Jimi Hendrix poster on his dorm room wall who Jimi was. Feeling shocked when someone in my dorm sat up on my bed with his shoes on. Having hot wings for the first time.

Q: What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A: It’s fresh in my memory, but my current favorite vacation memory is when my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Mexico City and Tulum last year. It was the perfect balance of inspiring stimulation and relaxation.

Q: Do you compose music while on the road?

A: I’ve been intentional in making my production and composing setup not reliant on much hardware, so I am able to travel and make music with a lightweight mobile setup. While there are definitely challenges, I do find that my best work can sometimes happen under unexpected circumstances. For example, I often get great ideas while working on a plane. I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because I have so few distractions.

Q: How have your travels impacted the music that you create?

A: I would love to experience more musical exchange in my travels. Unfortunately, the standard touring model doesn’t allow for this because of how tight the travel and performance schedules tend to be. I do have a very fond memory of trading drum set lessons for cajón lessons in Lima with an incredible cajón player who was just 10 years old.

Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A: Ghana, India, Brazil, Morocco and Indonesia just to name a few. All of these countries have incredibly deep and inspiring musical traditions that I would love to learn from.

Q: What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A: I like to look up food, neighborhoods, museums, historical and natural sites and markets.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)

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