For Elephante, formally known as Tim Wu, Asian American Pacific Islander Month has multiple meanings: reflecting on the sacrifices those who came before him made to travel to the United States, celebrating his Tawaineese culture and acknowledging the contributions Asian American Pacific Islanders have made to culture across all industries.
“The last few years have been such a paradigm shift in culture,” he says. “Growing up, there wasn’t really any musician or entertainer that looked like me [and] was doing the things that I wanted to do, but now there’s Squid Game, BTS and Shang-Chi. We have Marvel movies now and it is such an amazing opportunity for us.” He adds that 88rising, which he released his album Heavy Glow through, had a big presence at massive music festival Coachella, something he is proud of seeing as it showcases one of the many ways Asian culture is making an impact in popular culture.
Heavy Glow, discusses his pride for his identity after not discussing it in years prior. The LP chronicles his journey to accepting who he is, something that was heightened during the pandemic amid the Black Lives Matter protests and racism against those who are Asian. During this time, Wu says he struggled with his identity as well as being unable to play live events. He says Heavy Glow was his “therapy” for working through these issues. In honoring his identity, he says his favorite cuisines and traditions include dim sum as well as the celebrations and red envelopes around the holiday seasons.
Elephante deejaying at a live show.
Wu says he was on a “lonely road” in trying to make progress when he first started in the industry, but he now feels that “the doors are open” and there is more of a community for Asian Pacific Islanders. He adds that he brought four Asian deejays with him on his tour: yetep, SABAI, Hoang and nøll. “It’s been really fulfilling for me to kind of mentor them and hopefully give them the things that I wish I had when I was at their stage in their careers,” he says. “I feel very grateful that I can kind of give back and give them the boost so they don’t have to go through the same struggles that I did.”
“I’m just really excited for the next generation of young [Asian Pacific Islander] creatives who want to do something creative, but feel like they can’t or they don’t really have a place at the table,” he adds.
When it comes to giving a message during Asian American Pacific Islander Month: “Really just for young [Asian Pacific Islanders] is to believe in yourself and don’t let society instill behaviors that you’ve been raised to hold you back from striving for what you want to do,” he says. “What I want for [Asian Pacific Islanders] culturally is the same opportunities and the same universe of possibilities that everyone else has and not let your parents’ traditional values or societal expectations dictate what you can and can’t do. If you want to be a doctor, that’s great….. For me, it took me 20 years of knowing that I loved music and it was the thing that I always wanted to do, but having that voice in my head being like, ‘Oh, Asians, they’re not musicians. That’s not a thing that they do.’ Just try to fight those ghost voices and [give] people the courage to chase what they really want to do.”