The ineffable aura of Onu

Onu’s insights on art, APAHM & more; photographed by Leti Gomez.

Onu’s insights on art, APAHM & more; photographed by Leti Gomez.

Performing June 6 at Chewing Foil in LA — Long Beach based artist Onu, aka Esther Kang, prepares to bring an enlightened atmospheric ray of light to this year’s APAHM Phase 3 events. Kang’s music moves toward ambient levels that inspires an infinite array of thought streaming swims that opens portals of grand Olympic-sized pools of luxury and an inexplicable state of calming peace. From King Kang, Koibito to Onu; Esther invites the listener on inward journeys that centers the self in an inclusive harmony of joy, love and an international respect for all non-binary persons and underrepresented cultures.

Sharing a listen to the single “sullenkeepcallin”; Onu employs gentle chords and subtle echoes that creates the feeling of an extended spa day or an enlightened afternoon at your favorite east meets west yoga studio or temple of choice. The guitar gingerly grabs the audience into the track as the faint vocal reverberations leads you along the progressive path ahead. Onu takes the listener by the hand to those sacred places of the soul (that only the ear, eye, mind and spirit of the beholder knows) where low laying feelings are elevated (if not levitated) toward new echelons of enlightenment that reaches a new dawning of shining bright realizations that casts a light on an eternal state of consciousness.

Onu’s own Esther Kang provided some insightful reflections on their art and the importance of APAHM Phase 3:

Reflections regarding craft and mission statements:

Growing up in a religious family that anchored itself in the church, music has always been a form of worship to me. It was a sacred ritual that we observed in unison and privately on our own accord. One of the most vivid memories I have from childhood is the sight of my grandmother sitting by herself at the head of the kitchen table with her enormous reading glasses each evening after dinner, bent over her Korean hymn book and singing out her favorites. I began writing songs in middle school with the first few chords I learned on the guitar. I recorded them with my $50 dollar Logitech webcam and shared them with my friends. The technology I use now is a little different, but the idea is essentially the same. I think it’s a beautiful practice—to catch and preserve a melody or a mantra that shows up, to give shape to the ineffable urges that live in the recesses of our conscious and unconscious minds—and to share them with others in communion.

Meditations by Onu; photographed by Leti Gomez.

Meditations by Onu; photographed by Leti Gomez.

The APAHM Phase experience and why it's a necessary event for the community:

This is my third year participating in moonroom’s APAHM PHASE series: [The first year was in] 2017 with my band King Kang, 2018 with my partner and I’s instrumental/experimental project Koibito. At the June 6 show, I will be performing solo under my birth name Onu, given to me by my grandmother. It was my legal name for my first six years in the States and I remember feeling this tinge of shame every time a teacher called out the roll sheet. I didn’t want to draw attention to being different, particularly as a closeted queerdo and the only person of Asian descent in the entire class. Not having access to role models that looked like me on the screen, in literature or on stage during these formative years made me feel insignificant and confused. I allowed one-dimensional portrayals and sweeping stereotypes to shape my own perception of myself, my culture and the world. This is why moonroom’s APAHM PHASE series is incredibly vital: It not only informs the culture at large about the varied expressions of AAPI identity but it also empowers us—a diaspora of AAPI creatives—to grow into our true selves with confidence, in solidarity. True, all-encompassing representation of AAPI and the subsets within is something we must actively work for, until the longstanding status quo is permanently disrupted. This is grassroots activism by way of music, art and the creative community.

Onu performs June 6 in LA at Chewing Foil with Kelleia, Kiriko, Zhao with DJ sets by Harriet Brown and Sacha K featuring an exhibition of art and visuals by various AAPI artists.

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moonroom’s #APAHM Phase 3, an AAPI alternative arts series, returns for its 3rd year of showcases highlighting AAPI indie artists and AAPI-fronted bands across Southern California in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May and the summer months. This year’s theme is 'Confluence' as we look to continue improving and reconstructing representation of Asian Americans in Western culture. Over the last 2 seasons, more than 80 AAPI artists across 20+ showcases have participated during May and the summer months. 2019 looks to increase that number with an even more diverse slate of programmers and events. For more insight on #APAHM Phase 3, visit @moonroomie.

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