Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

Greetings from Chicago

Tim Hugh, one man bandleader of the Chicago Asian American Film Festival

This is Tim Hugh and his dog Helga in his kitchen in Chicago. Tim has run the only Asian American Indie Film Fest (i.e. no “imports”) for 12 of the 17 years that it’s been in existence. In this picture, he’s a one man bandleader- running it solo, something I can relate to as a solo musician. I’m in town to promote my film “Daylight Savings” which premiered at SXSW this year, and will be the opening night film this year. Joining me at the screening will be Michael Aki who plays my cousin in the film. I met Mike at this very festival in 2010 when he was showing his films Sunsets that he directed with Eric Nakamura, and his Film Noir tribute “Strangers”

I asked Tim a bunch of questions:

Goh: Why is this festival important?

Tim: It’s one of the only festivals that shows only Asian American films; produced, directed and/or about the Asian American experience. In the midwest more so than the coastal states, you’re constantly asked that stupid question “Where are you from?”… so it’s important to help define what being Asian and American is.

I’m a fourth generation Chinese American. In the midwest, it’s usually under the assumption that you’re just “Asian”… and not “Asian American.” When I see Causasian people I don’t ask them “are you from Poland? are you European?” I just see them for who they are, not what they look like.

Goh: How did you get involved in the festival?

Tim: I was just a fan of the band Seam, and Sooyoung Park, Ben Kim and Billy Shin started the festival in 1995 after they released the Ear of the Dragon CD, which was the first Asian American Rock Compliation. I’d always go and watch everything I could. I’d never seen films like this before; Asian American characters that spoke like me; the actors weren’t forced to speak with a bad accent. I could relate to these images and characters that I was seeing at this festival.

I became obsessed and would watch everything I could, whether it be a feature, documentary, or shorts program. I just wanted to see as much as I could, because I knew I’d never get a chance to see these movies again. Plus, being able to meet the directors and hear them speak about their films was one of the coolest things for me. I remember hanging out with Justin Lin, back when he was just a shorts director.

They noticed me being there year after year, and began to recognize me. Eventually, they would ask me to do little things like hand out program booklets, take tickets, watch the table, and take pictures during the Q&A’s. Basically, I became a volunteer. I remember standing there back in the day giving out Giant Robot magazines!

Continue reading
I met Sooyoung Park way back in 1993. His band Seam had played with Poster Children and The Fluid at Bogart’s in Long Beach and needed a place to stay. I offered my place, and from then on I’d see him on following tours, after various lineup changes, and on odd visits to each other’s city. As a result, he made appearances in Giant Robot magazine more than a few times. But before the crushing indie guitar attack of Chicago-based Seam, Sooyoung was in the much rawer (yet still polished) Oberlin band Bitch Magnet. The trio of Sooyoung, Jon Fine, and Orestes Morfin hasn’t played since 1989 but is rehearsing for All Tomorrow’s Parties “Nightmare Before Christmas” in Minehead, UK (invited by Battles) and a handful of other gigs in support of the deluxe remasters on Temporary Residence Records that drop on November 15. I took advantage of my friendship with the Singapore software developer to ask him some questions about the upcoming reunion shows and reissues. They’re way down the road, but they’re going to be awesome. MW: You seem to be pretty much out of music these days, so how did you get roped into playing some shows with Bitch Magnet? SP: We were talking to Temporary Residence about reissuing the Bitch Magnet back catalog, and my bandmates Jon and Orestes called me one night to talk about doing ATP and happened to catch me out drinking at a pub near my office. So I guess I semi-drunkenly agreed to it without fully appreciating how much work it would be to prepare. MW: When is the last time you actually sat down and listened to the music? SP: My guess is something like 7-8 years. I rarely listen to music I’ve made. MW: How do the songs stand up to you? You and your bandmates were really young when you guys wrote them! SP: Probably because it’s been more than 20 years since the records were released, I feel pretty detached from the music and songwriting. It’s almost like listening to a band that you’re intending to cover. One of the reasons I don’t listen to records I’ve played on is that I tend to focus on the flaws in the performances and recordings but I generally think the Bitch Magnet stuff holds up pretty well. MW: When I read the band’s Facebook updates regarding rehearsals in Vancouver, it kind of reminded me of when the Police got back together and started announcing events. Any weirdness at all, or was it just fun? SP: It was weird and fun. To me, practicing is always the best part of being in a band. MW: What’s it like going back to bass? Did you still have all the gear? the chops? SP: No gear or chops. I’m starting from scratch. MW: Does going back to the beginning (or close to it) remind you of why you got into music? Has it make you excited about making music in any way,...
Continue reading