According to NPR, Portland-based band,The Slants describes themselves “as one of the first Asian-American rock bands. Their music caters to an Asian-American crowd, they’ve spoken at various Asian-American events, and they’re proud of all of it.” But the group’s four-year effort to trademark its name has been bound up in discussions of what constitutes a racial slur and how derogatory words can be reclaimed. Band member Simon Tam says of The Slants’ battle with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:
They said because of our ethnicity, people automatically think of the racial slur as opposed to any other definition of the term. In other words, if I was white, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.
The term ‘slant’ means a lot of different things. And [the lawyer from the PTO] even acknowledged that, so [we asked], ‘Why did you choose to apply the racial connotations to this application, but you’ve never done that before in the entire history of this country? Why this case?’ And they said it was because I was Asian-American.
Starting us off this week are Portland’s own The Slants, who are giving fans an interesting incentive for pre-ordering their latest album, Slants! Slants! Revolution. The band is looking to raise $10,000 via Kickstarter to pay for a new tour bus, and, if they meet their goal, anyone who contributes $50 or more will be memorialized on the bus with their name, location and a custom message, on top of other swag like exclusive content. And as the band explains on their fundraising page, for a group that’s played more than 350 shows around the U.S. and in Europe in just four years, new wheels are definitely a priority:
We’ll be able to purchase an older shuttle bus and renovate it for the tour. This would mean that we wouldn’t need to tour with a trailer anymore, be much safer on the road, break down less often, and have a little more space on our house on wheels.
Among the group’s stops on the road thus far have been anime conventions (Spoilers: they’ll be playing a gig this July during the San Diego Comic-Con), and that gets reflected in the video for “You Make Me Alive,” where some cosplayers get to shine alongside the band.
This next track is one of those asides that makes late-night web searches worth your time: a few years back, members of Tijuana’s Nortec Collective – a group of DJs who blend beats from Northern Mexico with techno – decided to cover Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down” with the backing of a brass band. The ensuing cultural collision packs a punch worthy of the original.
Speaking of collisions, here’s a mash-up from DJs From Mars pitting Rihanna’s “We Found Love” against “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” by Coldplay. It’s okay, Coldplay doesn’t bring the mood down this time.
Our friends at Bold As Love turned us on to this track by Brooklyn-based Maya Azucena, whose music has been featured on shows like The Wire and 30 Rock, and has performed – by request, even – at the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals Summit in 2010. If you’re not familiar with her, “The Half” is a great introduction.
We take to the stage for our final track, what with the trailer for the new film adaptation of Les Miserableshitting the web this week, with the only voice you hear being Anne Hathaway’s take on “I Dreamed A Dream.” The film will also feature Samantha Banks as Eponine, a role that Lea Salonga brought to life on Broadway. This fall, Salonga is scheduled to star alongside George Takei in Allegiance – A New American Musical set during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Here’s Salonga as Eponine during the 10th Anniversary show for Les Mis, with “On My Own.”
Finally, with summer kicking off, let’s open this thing up a bit: we are now taking requests! If you’ve got a track or an artist that you want your fellow Racializens to know about, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you some shine.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World