Feature: SlayRizz

Hermela Hailemariam

On October 3, 2018, the Disruptive team had the pleasure of interviewing SlayRizz, a young Filipino-American artist taking on the music industry. However, she’s not the only one. She’s bringing the whole Slaysian Dynasty with her. Born in Queens, New York, she has always been able to describe the image she wants to portray and the life she wants to lead.

The following are excerpts from her interview.

Synergy (childhood and commentary on cultural appropriation)

  • When I was growing up, I was looking for strong independent women to look up to, fierce woman, trans women, anyone that knew how to shine their independent light.

  • I think my parents being immigrants here, in coming to America really helped me become independent, especially with my career in music. It was always tough to navigate. I never knew what it meant to live in one perspective, being, going home and feeling like I was being raised in the Philippines traditionally, then going to school and learning the American way. Now, in this place that i’m in, I’m really really happy that I fought through that, and I didn't let the struggle of that duality get in the way of how successful I’m becoming. I think that most people should always push forward within that struggle, especially when it comes to having 2 immigrant parents. Because eventually, as the world turns, they will be informed as well. Being an Asian American and a woman that loves to express herself sexually, [someone who] is body positive, in my culture, I’m not seen as like the brightest star. But to inform my family, and let them know where I stand when it comes to having agency within myself, I think that made them feel comfortable and slowly they started to accept the fact that ok, she is an independent thinker [and] she acquired what it took to make this career choice. So just for them to say that is enough for me. I wanted more, I think as Asian Americans we want our parents to hug us and tell us you know, you did good son or you did good daughter, but the fact that they could just be like, you have a strong sense of understanding, that meant enough for me.  

  • If I could give advice to any Asian American that wants to pursue art, really do it because you strive for it. Never ever put yourself in the position where you feel like you’re doing it for clout purposes or you’re doing it like it’s just a hobby. Never let anyone’s idea of where you are determine your next move.

  • I think the way that young Asian American artists can reclaim our heritage and culture is by just being unapologetically who we are, always, period. There was never anything wrong with our culture. I feel like in this generation we were raised to hate and self-hate, so to be able to feel powerful within our culture, and when I say to feel powerful I mean, I want us to feel that within ourselves, to look deep within ourselves and love it. Because that’s how we can move forward with any other type of issue that comes about when it comes to like, appropriation. If we don’t understand our culture and we don’t understand our history, and we don’t love it, how could we shine through all the fucked up shit? So that’s something I had to do within myself, but I’ve always been proud. I never needed to grow into being proud of where I come from and who I am, I’ve always been, I never let anybody tell me different. Throughout all the experience, I’m a living representation of that. So if legacy can be an inspiration of being unpolepolligetically me[..], and that’s why I love my heritage so much because that was the one thing that I felt made me different growing up in Queens. In the time I was growing up there, there weren’t that many Filipinos who were proud, there were Filipinos but they weren’t proud, there were Asians, but they weren’t proud. So, that pride starts with how you feel about yourself and how you feel about where you are from inside your heart. So if you can grow that first, then you’ll make it all the way. Then we can combat the bullshit.

Leader (journey with being a slaysian)

  • There has been like a deep desire for a Slaysian, and Asian American representation and I felt like I had that purpose, no matter what anyone said. Like I knew if I lived long enough, there’d be that representation. And even if it wasn’t me, if it was someone else, I knew that my ideas were progressive, so I could always transfer these ideas to any other like enlightened person. But the fact that I ended up being the vessel for my ideas, being the Slaysian mother, I didn’t think it would be me, I just wanted to be the influence to make sure that, that representation would exist in my generation because I know that a lot of us just felt like we weren’t represented correctly, or seen as American. Like I grew up not seeing Asians as Americans, although there were Asian Americans. So I thought, how can I make my legacy and my experience iconic, fierce, entertaining but also influential.

  • The fact that I have fans that love the slaysian dynasty, that identify as slaysian, is the biggest goal that I could’ve ever achieved. I just wanna be mad cool with my fans, I want them to know that I’m genuine, I want them to know that I’m here to have conversations, that I’m here, I’m open, I’m an open book. I wanna be that slaysian popstar they’ve been looking for. I have a lot of fans who are artists, a lot of them are artists. So me being the inspiration for them to keep going, and I just love when they send me their art to promote. I am so down to promote POC art, that I think that that’s the kind of vessel I’m becoming now. Other than me having my music, I just wanna be that promoter, that cheerleader for other POC independent artists. ‘Cuz we need that mother and if I have to be that mother, then I’ll be that mother. So now, I am the slaysian mother and I’m here to represent and slay, along with everyone, not against, but with everybody.

Approaching (social commentary)

  • I feel like all other races are so fascinated by Asian because we have so much to offer, and it looks good, it tastes good, I don’t blame them, like I say in my song, “I can’t blame them, ‘cuz I fuckin love being Asian.” But, honestly I can’t speak for why white people do what they do so, their bullshit, I can’t claim. All I can do is hope that the allies within the white community open up their ears and are willing to be brave enough to have those uncomfortable conversations. And when POC people come and check you, that they know it’s for the betterment of everyone. Other than that, I can’t really speak for what they do.

  • When we talk about the future of Asian Americans, Asian diasporic representation, I am proud to say that I currently see so much of what I imagined 4 or 5 years ago happening now, like Asians and Asian Americans in movies, being the #1 movie in America. I really speak for America because that’s really what I know, I’m born and raised in New York and the world looks at New York for inspiration in a lot of ways, especially creatively. So I feel like having outlets like this one, having outlets like Bubble Tea, having all these different communities really reaching out and coming together is making a big creative influence and I think having creative influence will show the rest of the world like, yeah, from the greatest city in the world, we are shining through.

  • It’s all happening so fast and right now I kind of feel like we we need to stay up to date with what’s going on outside of America within the Asian diaspora. Because I know here in America we get so caught up in what’s currently going on socially, that [we forget] we can look for inspiration outside of the realm we’re in. Eventually I see us all coming together, maybe not a spaceship, I don’t know how this will be realized, but there will be a realm, somewhere, where I feel that Slaysians will open this path creatively, or it’ll be this realm where LA and New York are like 2 hours away from each other. I have a feeling Slaysiann representation will have a big role. Everything else in between will fall into place.

Yearning (reflection and goals for the future)

  • I never thought I would be in the position that I am in today ‘cuz it was all, it was all a dream. I just thought, artistically I would be able to illustrate like great anime that I’m currently living, so the fact that I manifested all of this is beyond what I could’ve ever imagined. But I’m so thankful.

  • What’s next for me is the most exciting part of my career yet because I’m dropping two albums. I’ve never dropped an official album, ever, so as a music artist that’s DIY-based, that’s a big deal because it took me years to just learn. To really learn my craft, perfect my craft and I feel like I’m at a place now where I can put out not 1 but 2 bodies of complete work and then go on a world wide tour. Finally. That’s been a long term goal, ever since I’ve been like 12 so I’m in my long term goal. So I cannot wait to do this Slaysian 2020 tour, in Tokyo, for the Olympics.

The Disruptive team is excited to follow Rizz as she continues to take the world by storm.