Episode 159

Dan Matthews ·  Danakadan

“You're existing in a place where you kind of have to figure stuff out on your own andI often find that a lot of really great things, not everything, but like I often find that a lot of really great things come out of great tension when you have to really figure it out on your own”

Dan Matthews is a Senior Creative Producer living in Los Angeles, CA. He’s the Managing Partner at International Secret Agents, a creative consulting company focusing on helping brands & companies resonate with Asian American Pacific Islander audiences more authentically through content, activations, and talent. He has over 12 years of experience producing for companies like Moet Hennessy, CJ Foods, AT&T, and more. He is also behind producing some of the first-ever AAPI large-scale concerts with tens of thousands of audience members coming to see acts like Jay Park, Mike Shinoda, Awkwafina, and more. 


Dan is also an indie rap artist that is based in Los Angeles. he’s overwhelmed most of the time and writes mostly about that. His new album “ME ALSO ME” is currently out on all streaming platforms. Please stream him – it’ll make his mom happy.

Social media handles:

Instagram: @danakadan

YouTube @danakadan

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Podcast Transcript

Dan Matthews

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast my name is Bryan and my name is Maggie. We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:23) Today, we have a very special guest with us his name is Dan Matthews. Dan is a senior creative producer living in Los Angeles, California. He’s the managing partner at International Secret Agents, a creative consulting company, focusing on helping brands and companies resonate with Asian American Pacific Islander audiences more authentically through content, activations and talent. He has over 12 years of experience producing for companies like Molet Hennessy, CJ foods at T and T, and more. He is also behind producing some of the first-ever AAPI large-scale concerts with tens of thousands of audience members coming to see acts like JPR, Mike Shinoda, Aquafina, and more. Dan is also an indie rap artist that is based in Los Angeles. He’s overwhelmed most of the time and writes mostly about that. His new album, I also am currently out on all streaming platforms.

Dan: (00:01:16) Let’s go!

Bryan: (00:01:29) Dan is the man! If you would ask anyone in LA they would know Dan!  Dan let’s hop right into it, man. Well, tell us about yourself. Like I know you have a very insightful, deep childhood and we want to hear all about it.

Dan: (00:02:01) I live in LA I’m from Southern California. I went to school in San Diego and part of my background is I’m an adopted Korean adoptee who was born in Korea, came out to America when I was eight months old and was raised by a wonderful white family in Ventura county. I got really lucky that I just had such an amazing family and a really good upbringing. I think that really, I think pushed me to do the stuff I’m doing now.

They’re very supportive, my identity and me just kind of being made, going into the careers that I wanted to go into and supporting me and my choices. Even, even when it looked like I was really making bad choices because who would have known that YouTube or any of that stuff would have been a thing back in 2003. So I got very lucky with all of that, and I’m just very grateful to still be working in the creative industry and to be meeting new, incredible people, and to see that the industry continued to evolve so wonderfully to be here.

Maggie: (00:03:03) Thank you so much for sharing that, Dan. I mean, that’s amazing to hear that you had such an amazing childhood. I feel like a lot of the people that we bring on to this podcast grew up in certain situations as Asians like figuring out our identity, figuring out who we are in terms of like our culture or heritage, but it’s just refreshing to hear you say things like that, that you, you grew up in a very, very loving family and you really had it really good for yourself.

Obviously, we’ve known you for a long time and you have been such an incredible force of energy ever since we’ve met you. And we’ve heard a lot about your personal journey, right? As an adoptee, as a, you know, a Korean adoptee. And there was this documentary that you had put out and I believe it was called AKA soul.

And when she brought your adoptive mother to meet your birth mother face-to-face, um, and that, that whole documentary pretty much was so monumental and. The heartstrings of so many in the adoptee community. I want to know, like what kind of brought you to come to this, you know, idea and thought that you wanted to do something like this and how did it affect you personally?

Dan: (00:04:16) I think that that ties really into what I had originally started talking about just my life growing up in Southern California. I think that being adopted is a good natural source of tension and meaning. You’re naturally somebody that’s in between two different worlds. You’re Asian, you’re raising a non-Asian environment. You’re existing in a place where you kind of have to figure stuff out on your own and I often find that a lot of really great things, not everything, but like I often find that a lot of really great things come out of great tension when you have to really figure it out on your own or really have to.

Being in a position where you’re not comfortable. So I do credit a lot of the struggle that I had to go through to be where I’m currently at with my own music and the things that I’m currently doing. And I think a lot of that is definitely tied to adoption and trying to just have to kind of figure everything out.

Versus if I had maybe grown up in a situation where I was, I was still in Korea and I was around Korean people all the time that may be in a situation like that, obviously there are benefits and there are negatives, but maybe I wouldn’t. We’ve been in more of a situation where I just felt more at peace with things.

I think that being adopted came with its own challenges, but also a lot of its own pros. And then, yeah, my adoptee’s story again, a lot of adoptees do go through so many different things that ultimately challenged them. Some adoptees really grew up in really difficult situations. I think that I just got very lucky that I was adopted into a family that was really supported me and I grew up in Southern California, where there was a lot of diversity and a lot of access to people and, and food and ideas that maybe I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t grow up in Southern California. So I feel very fortunate for that, but I was able to make a lot of really great friends in high school and then I’m in college which helps support my identity as an Asian American too. So just a lot of really great people, a lot of, a lot of like, we’re all about building community, a lot of really great community to help me get to where I’m currently at.

Bryan: (00:06:16) That’s what you love most about yourself, so much positive energy. I do want to hop into like 15 year old, Dan and as you mentioned you’re dealing with some struggles and challenges. What were some of those struggles and challenges that you were facing? When you’re much younger, I feel like for every single struggle you’re right. It does provide an opportunity to learn and grow and become the person you are today. I want to hear what the mindset of like teenage Dan was like,

Dan: (00:06:45) Just really angsty. I think there’s probably just a lot of, most of it just stupid teenage stuff that we all go through, but I think it was maybe heightened by the fact that I was also dealing with not feeling completely myself because I was adopted, but I think just a lot of my own challenges were just being in an angsty situation. I don’t think I look back on it now and I’m just like a very real person. And I’m super honest with myself and a lot of the challenges that the people had to go through.  I don’t think that I really had to go through and I’m so thankful for that.

I’m so thankful that I had a family that was able to support me and put me through college. And those are things that not a lot of people really have access to be able to do. So it’s really hard for me to talk about. Being challenged and the way that a lot of people have been challenged because there are a lot more hardships and people that have been through a lot more difficult things than I have that ultimately led them into the direction of their lives that they’re currently in.

I hear so many inspiring stories of people that grew up in poverty, or grew up with an abusive family, or grew up in situations where they were really between different locations. They grew up in one city one year and grew up in another city the next year. And I’m sure there are even people that are on your minds.

What would I say that you could probably identify as like. Well, that went through that. So it is really tough for me to say that I had to really go through a lot. I, I just feel very fortunate that I was in a situation where I had a pretty average American childhood, just minus the fact that I wasn’t truly American or truly Asian.

Bryan: (00:08:13) No, I wouldn’t say that. I mean, you’re Asian-American rate and I feel like, listen to your challenge, a lot of us flow through is like, are we more American? Are we more Asian? Because even for us and adopted situations still feel very similar, like, what are we? Cause I feel like we’re a new group and I feel like a subgroup makes it hard for us to connect with both sides because it’s a lot of factors in the states and other countries.

So that makes us feel like outsiders and we probably won’t talk about it in this podcast, but to me, I mean, I understand that this is my very limited understanding. It to me is very, non-Asian more Caucasian and I would imagine that most of your friends growing up are non-Asian.

I’m kind of curious, like, what was that turning point for you to be like I’m Asian American? I think that you know, it’s really hard to think Asian school, you’re not surrounded by a lot of Asian cultures, especially family, but I’m kind of curious to hear, like, what was the turning point for you where you.

You know what I’m really proud to be like Asian-American and I’m Dan Matthews, and this is what makes it unique.

Dan: (00:09:30) I think that when I was younger, one of the things that I can share that was pretty unique to my experience just as being maybe one of the few Asians at my school was I really did lean into being the token Asian person. I think that, and this is something that I’m going to try to word correctly, but it’s something that you hear from a lot of comedians. Like a lot of comedians will say that there are forced-to-be comedians. They used whatever level of skill set they had when they were younger and when people made fun of them. They would lean into that one, there, their ability to be able to make people laugh. And not that I was not a comedian, but I think that growing up, you just want to be accepted by people.

And for me, me being Asian was something that made me a little bit different and that I could lean into being Asian, to make people be, to make people laugh. Sounds really absurd. And not that I would ever do anything that was racist, but me just leaning into the fact that I was the token Asian person when I was growing up with something that I think that I did in order to be able to survive.

It gave me an entry point. To other people wanting to accept me and I think that looking back on it now, of course, that would never be the advice for any young Asian people growing up. Like, I would never tell any like young Asian Americans to do that, but when you’re a kid and that’s the only thing that, you know, and you don’t have Asian parents are telling you, oh you don’t need to play into their games.

That would be something that I probably did. And so during times like that, It probably made me feel a little bit more Asian, but, but also less Asian because I was like playing into the stereotype of like what people thought it meant to be Asian. And then growing up, I learned to get out of that. And college is when I really felt Asian.

I got way more connected with the adoptee community. I started meeting other Korean adoptees too. And then I was involved in the Asian students; organization at my college and got really involved in that. Through that experience. It made me feel a lot more tied to my Asian culture and made me feel just more proud of being Asian American.

And I think what’s cool about our community and the things that we’re experiencing is that like everything. Still happening. We’re living through history all the time. All communities are living through history, but specifically for Asian-Americans, a lot of the stuff is very brand new to us, our representation and media, seeing other people that are doing cool stuff.

Asian-American brands like. It’s so brand new we’re at like another pinnacle time of being Asian-American and I think it’s, it’s amazing to be able, just to be able to experience it as an adult. So it’s a very interesting period that makes me feel very proud to be an Asian-American

Maggie: (00:12:16) That’s amazing and I may even bring up a lot of great points there. Dan, I feel like a lot of us as Asians, especially when we were younger. We just don’t know any better. We like we’ll make jokes about, you know, our race and stuff. And sometimes we do it because we want to make light of the conversation. Right. But it’s just because we were younger and we didn’t know any better, but sometimes it is those little comments that start small and then turn into something big.

So I’m kind of glad to you that, that you kind of got out of that, but that just goes to show that like we’re all growing and learning every single day. And you mentioned, you know, Learning about and like growing close with your community, just getting, getting more involved with the adopted community.

You’re getting more involved with the Asian community. You’re so involved in the community and that’s kind of how like Bryan and I met you two in the beginning. Like we always saw this guy on social media named Dan Matthews and he would always show up.   

Dan: (00:13:08)I remember our first conversation. It wasn’t because there was a project that we were working on. It really was like, I think that I had found you through other friends that were doing cool stuff with you. And I was like, oh, these guys are doing cool stuff let’s chat!

Maggie: (00:13:24) I think Bryan said the same thing too. He was like, oh, this guy, Dan he’s like always on Instagram like we have to meet this guy. Like I got Instagram pictures. We got to meet him, but yeah, we were just, we just knew like you were so involved with the community and that was something that was very meaningful to us. You know, like us starting out Asian hustle network, obviously, the community had a very profound meaning to us. And I want to know what really compels you to be so involved in the community and just continue to give back all the time beause we know like then do you always give back to the community? And you’re just so involved. So I want to know like, what is your driving factor? Being so involved and encouraging others to be so involved as well.

Dan: (00:14:13) There are two parts to that. The first part is that it’s probably still deeply connected to what I was talking about before, where I think not being Asian. Most of my life made me want to be really connected to my Asian American identity and community and feel like I belong to something. And so I think that. Again, as human beings who want to be connected to others, we want to feel like we’re a part of this community. We want to feel like that we’re doing things of value for other people in our community, that it just makes you feel more connected and closer to one another and makes you feel like that you’ve got a foundation and I think for me, I really leaned into that and got very lucky that I was just able to make a lot of really good friends in the community when they were first starting off. And I think that sometimes it can sound so shallow of like you’re just out there networking or you’re just out there meeting people.

What really is the relationship here? But I would argue that I think that a lot of the people that I’ve met and become really good friends of mine and I’ve really appreciated the conversations. And I think the one thing that I really tried to do is I tried to like really build a deeper than just a one-off conversation with the people that I’m meeting.

I really want to know who they are and like what the why is of why they do the things that they’re doing. And obviously, that’s not possible for everybody. You can’t get to know everybody, but I think that I’ve gotten to know a lot of really amazing people in the community that happened to be also connected to some really amazing people in the community.

That’s allowed me to get deeper and deeper into it and just continue to build relationships. And I’ve felt very, you’re lucky. The second part of that though is more of a shallow reason, which is in something that I think I need to go to therapy for, and it might be something that also people out there that are getting involved or it’s just this.

The idea of like, I don’t know what I am if I’m not providing value. Sometimes I think that my value and meet my own self-importance in my own ability to feel like I’m worth anything to anybody is connected to like just staying involved. And sometimes I need to put myself in check and realize that it’s cool, man.

Like things are going to happen with or without you. And you need to be happy with whatever that is. And I think that’s really. I think learning more about that, that way of thinking actually helped me out a lot. And it just made me more at peace with this idea of like, I enjoy, I want to be a part of the community, but I want to most importantly, make sure the things that I’m doing are of value and that I’m actually getting involved in the right things versus just spreading myself too thin.

So I, there was a moment where I was like, I think that. Maybe spreading myself way too thin. And a lot of this is just heightened by my own self-value of like, oh, I need to be providing value for everybody, but now I’m in a much better place with that. I’ve got really close connections with the people that I’m around.

I really enjoy the conversations that we’ve had. Uh, and I’ve really enjoyed that. A lot of the stuff that I’ve been able to do with people has been sustainable. It’s not just a one-off thing, it’s it continues to help grow that relationship. So there are two elements there. One it’s tied directly to like the identity.

Feeling not Asian enough and this other need, that is a very human need of, oh, what am I worth to this person? If I’m not doing anything for them. And some wanted to do more like a, I think stem from that feeling, but now I’ve, I’ve gotten, I’ve got a jacket and I’m at a much better place. And I’m, I’m happy with the things that I’m doing and I’m enjoying the people that I’m meeting and really, truly building better connections and relationships.

Bryan: (00:17:28) Dan, thank you so much for being so vulnerable with us at that moment, you know, a lot of people, all can’t really talk. Those things, right? Because if you’re literally, you’re literally telling us like how you tick and you know, again, I want to make it clear that you belonged with us.

We’re always going to grab lunch. You’re always going to talk about stupid things. I just want to make that clear right there, regardless of, we just want you to be who you are right at the core is that you’re a cool guy, like a very talented musician, and thank you for speaking out about mental health too.

Dan: (00:18:23) I really it’s come up a lot more in the last of course, the last two years with the pandemic and everything, but more of the conversation around just this idea of needing to be able to talk to other people that aren’t your friends about stuff I think is extremely important.

There are friends in my life that sometimes think to myself, oh, I really wish that I could just talk to them about like things on my mind, but sometimes it’s better for the friendship. If you don’t like yourself, you should be able to feel. You shouldn’t be able to feel like you’re able to like talk to your friends.

Cause they’re your friends. You want to be able to explain stuff to them. But there, there really is. I think room for a professional person to be able to be there. It isn’t going to be inundated by the things that you think that you’re saying. So yeah, the more and more that we can talk about and just find other people to talk to is very important.

Maggie: (00:19:14) My therapist is always like, don’t talk to your friends about it. Just talk to me because your friends, you know, they’re not the right people to talk to. I mean, like they’re going to be listening, but at the same time, it’s not their job, for them to sit there and listen to you then.

So highly recommend it. I feel like. Especially in our age, like the thirties around 32 and I’m going to date myself, but we’re going through so many changes. Right. And we’re in the age where a lot of people are getting married, having kids. And there are just a lot of changes. And especially in the Asian community, mental health is so stigmatized. Like we have to find a way to, you know, break that stigma. I’m so glad that you brought that up, Dan

Dan: (00:19:56) Just be honest with yourself.

Bryan: (00:20:01) Thank you so much for being honest with us and our audience today Dan, we know that you’re a very talented musician and we’re so savvy Mr. Concert in LA, but walk, like tell us that story. How’d you get started and how’d you realize this was a passion that you wanted to do and why don’t you be completely honest with us to start? Because you thought it was cool. You started with or did you start because you thought there was a cute girl at school, like what is yours, the origin story probably started doing it.

Dan: (00:20:27)I wanted some creative outlet, but I couldn’t dance. I wasn’t good at sports. I couldn’t like sing, sing, but I could kind of rap. And like, at that time when we were growing up, I think maybe collectively we’re all similar, like the millennial generation. That’s really when rap-rock was really like big. And I hate to say that my references are like corn and lint limp biscuit and like rock-rap groups.

But that’s what we were listening to on the radio. Like that’s what was on MTV. And so if it wasn’t the pop stuff, if it wasn’t like in sync and Backstreet boys, cause I wasn’t gonna be able to do any of that, that my other outlet was more of the aggressive rock, rap stuff. So I thought it was kind of cool and all the pop culture was telling me was kind of cool.

And I noticed that like, I really enjoyed being able to express myself again. I’m very angsty. So it started with that. I started writing and then I wasn’t very good at all. It wasn’t like I was a natural talent at all here. You just have to like a train and keep on getting.

But I realized that the more and more that I did it, the better I got and I stuck with it. And thank God I did, because it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And for me to be able to say that I’ve got songs that people have listened to. And when I see even one person talk about a song, I wrote that like, that means so much because they’re words that I’ve been able to put out there in the world that I feel like maybe I’m the only one thinking about, but ultimately somebody is able to find solace in it. So that’s amazing.

Maggie: (00:21:55) That’s amazing. I mean, just knowing that you know, you had, were actually aware that you weren’t that good in the beginning, but you practice up to the point where you got better and better. That is amazing. It just goes to show like the more practice and hard work you put in, the more progress you get.

Dan: (00:22:27) It’s a fun hobby. I like watching music a lot. I’m really in the music. I’m very interested in like the up-and-coming artists, especially in the Asian community. They’re doing, doing hip hop or on the alternative side. So it’s a very, it’s so much fun.

Maggie: (00:22:40)  Can you talk about like your creative process of coming up with songs? Like what do you normally find inspiration from? And like, how does the idea of a song, like a new song come about and then like, what do you do when you’re writing? Like how does that process work? Like, does it just free-flow in your mind, or do you have to like actually sit down in a certain place and actually be like a certain setting? Like, what is it like for you?

Dan: (00:23:07) These are great questions to tie into your audience and the purpose of your podcast. I actually think that maybe what I’ll start off by saying is that I have a really great balance between the music stuff and the professional staff.

And there’s probably a lot of your listeners and other people that have been on our podcasts that have other creative outlets, people that run a business. And that also paint on the side, or maybe they’re amazing pianists or like a man, like they design shoes or whatever, like on the side. And I think that’s incredible because you need to work.

I think both sides of your brain and both sides of the brain. Ultimately you’ve got two sides of your brain. They need to support one another. So the more creative you can be. Uh, in one area, the better it’s gonna take you in another area and the happier it’s going to make you be. Cause you need to be testing and training both sides of that brain all the time.

I don’t know any of the science behind that. Like there’s probably, I’m just basing that off of what I believe to be true, but it sounds very true. So for me, I think that I get very lucky that I’m able to like practice both sides of this, this, this part of my brain and that I’ve got, uh, a job and I’m in a place where I can, I can do both of those things at once.

The inspiration probably just comes out of like nowhere. I think that, but that’s also the same for a lot of people. Sometimes it’s going to be like, Sitting in your car and they’ll, you’ll hear or think about something that’ll lead to a cool thought and that’ll lead to a song. So a lot of the inspiration that I’ve got, honestly just comes from random places and random times there’s, there’s no system or thing that I have in place to like get inspiration.

Uh, there’s nothing that I’ve done to be able to like to force it. In fact, when I forced it, it’s usually the worst time that I get inspiration. So it kind of just needs to come from. But when it does, I get, I get into a zone where I know that I need to like, and take advantage of that inspiration. And then I, usually, if I’m driving, I’ll pull over to the side of the road and like, and like write stuff down.

If I’m at my computer working, I’ll switch over to another workstation to like write some other stuff. And so I definitely make sure that when I’m in that inspirational zone, I and treated appropriately.

Dan: (00:25:48) It feels really good. Everybody has that sweet spot where they feel euphoric in what their abilities are, where they’re like, oh, This is something that I can do that not other people can do. And they’re just like, I’m taking care of it. And there’s, it happens to me every single time I perform when I’m about ready to get on stage in the 30 minutes before it happens, I get the bubbles, I get the butterflies and it feels so good.

It makes you feel alive because it makes you feel scared and happy and joyous and excited all at one time. And that’s something that’s so hard to achieve. With any other part of my life. And so I feel very lucky by that feeling. And I want to like bottle that feeling up and give it to everybody because everybody needs to feel that way at some point.

But for me, I, in them, I don’t know, I, I wish I could tell you about like an individual time, but it happens every single time I get so excited when I have the chance to be able to do that because I feel very much in my zone and it makes me feel like I’m doing something, but not a lot of other people can do.

So I feel very special. I just did a release concert. It was like, Four weeks ago, the freedom that album, it was in celebration of the new album that I put out, but I was barely there just very thankful to be able to feel that way in front of a lot of peers and people that came out to support. And the, I was, I performed for like 45 minutes and just every moment just felt like the best time ever. I just had the most amazing one.

Bryan: (00:27:04)  I wish we were there. Like every time we talked about it, like, oh, we should really make it happen. We’ll make it happen next time. For sure. And I’m curious too, like, how do you deal? Like all your fans on, like, when you ever seem like people that, you know, in the crowd and cheer you on and it’s like, it makes you extra nervous because you’re S you’re excited. Like people come out to you after.

Dan: (00:27:26) That’s just extra exciting. It’s so cool to just have people that might relate or just enjoy the thing that you’re putting out. And sometimes. It, especially at the beginning, I had no idea what I was putting out. People enjoy it, but I like, I like the most important, I like my own music.

I think it’s worth it to me, even if nobody listened to the stuff that I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s good. And so I feel very lucky because of that. And I’m going to continue to feel lucky and put out fun music. Just enjoy the experience.

Bryan: (00:27:55) I love that Dan and I want to kind of take it to the other side. Like, we’re just talking about you performing concerts and like, you know, these big stages. What about the studio? Like how do you, how do you, you would get into the music business, right? Like how do you find a studio? How do you find the right gear? How much preparation goes into this? Songwriting but inspiration, but for him, but like the technical things, right?

Like, I’m kind of curious, like, because I want to, I’ll be completely honest, you know, I can’t say at one point I thought about it and I looked into all the equipment and I was like, I don’t even know where to start. I want to hear from the very experienced look that was like,

Dan: (00:28:32) The best thing that applies to everything that we’re doing is you find other good people that know better than you and that are smarter than you and all of those things.

So I think that I’ve just gotten lucky in the same way that you guys find other cool people that are doing inspirational, things that are entrepreneurs. You find people indifferent. Industries than you that know something that you don’t know and they teach you whatever that thing is. So I found other songwriters, people that are, that are in the industry, and they’ve supported me and give them, given me advise.

I found people that are good audio engineers. And so I generally like working with them a lot. And then. The people that produced my last album, this kind of big banana and Checchi Kim, are just amazing individuals. And once you find people that really get you, you want to work with them all the time. So I’ve worked with Chucky and big banana quite a bit, and they just understand the type of music that I like putting out.

I don’t know how to like, record myself. I’ve got zero ideas on whether any of that stuff works. And you would expect me to maybe pick that up by now, but I, I don’t, but I think it’s totally fine. I’d rather work with people that can make me a lot better than I could ever make myself.

Bryan: (00:29:36) That’s the classic example. If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen. Or you like that. They stop you. And it’s like, you know, for most people. I didn’t want it bad enough. So I’m like, ah, I didn’t know where to start, so I’ll give it up already. Right? You, you, you found, you knew you knew what you wanted to do and you found a way to get there. So that’s amazing to hear it then. Yeah. I just feel very lucky.

Maggie: (00:29:58) There’s a lot of artists that, you know, unfortunately, they, they struggle financially, and then there are artists that like really make it really big. Right. But most of the time when they’re just starting out, it’s really, really hard.

Did you have to go through any hard times like that, and like, if so, how did you overcome that mentally and emotionally? And what were your family’s thoughts on it too? Like, were they very supportive throughout the whole process?

Dan: (00:30:25) I think that I’ve benefited. I’m not going to make it seem like that. I was in a position where I was just doing music and I needed to do extra wires.

He’s a survivor. I got lucky again, that I was able to get a job after college that helps support my musical stuff. And they ultimately balanced each other out. I never made money off of music and I still don’t make any money off of music cause nobody buys songs anymore. And being an independent musician is like a big suck of money.

If in fact, I’m losing money on music, but if creatively it’s. Inspiring to me and I love doing it. And so it’s always been worth it for me to put my money into it. I’ve I, I think maybe I’ve like maybe netted even, and it’s been, but every single time that I put something out, it’s like just create a project.

And the same way that a director will put out a short film, somebody will make something, you make a painting that probably took you a lot of time and effort and money for the pain, the supplies. But if you’re able to get one person to look at it and enjoy it, That’s totally worth the investment.

Maggie: (00:31:21) That just goes to show how much you love music and how passionate you are about it. And, you know, we’re going to share with all of our audience to stream you on Spotify or wherever you are. So let’s believe that. Yeah, of course. And I love to kind of switch gears and talk about your work with international secret agents as well. We’ve gotten really close to you in the last couple of years, since, you know, we knew you were on international security agents, obviously you have done such incredible work at ISA. What has been, you know, your proudest moment at ISA, and like what type of work do you do that?

Dan: (00:32:02) ISA has been a dream come true. I moved up to LA for ISA. A lot of my closest friends have been because of ISA. And so I owe so much to the international secret agent’s community, and the people that become my really close friends, as well as my business partners, ISA, for those that don’t know of it, it was the very, if not the very first, one of the very first opportunity.

For a digital people to do offline concerts back in 2007, one for productions and parties, a movement came together and then put on a concert and brought on some other amazing Asian American digital artists to like to be a part of it. And they ended up blowing up. It became some of the first opportunities for young Asian Americans to see themselves.

I’m not gonna pretend like we’re the first, like shout at the collaboration. Shout out to like so many other organizations that came before and they were doing shows before that, but I say probably the first digital concert series and so really awesome opportunity for these young digital artists to come on stage David joy, Kevin Jamba, everybody.

Who’s making a name for themselves, a Gracie ISA stage and there was like this big Asian bubble that was happening. Cause not only was digital habits. America’s best dance crew was really big. Kenya is Jabil walkies. All of those crews were blowing up. And so it was just a really fun concert series.

And then that eventually adapted into an online video channel and then which eventually adapted into me just being more on the consulting producing side. And so it’s been really wonderful. For myself have been, I’ve been able to learn so much, I’ve learned so much, and like to meet so many interesting people and I’m just very grateful for the ISA experience.

Maggie: (00:33:43) Wow. That is amazing. Thank you for all the connections that you have made us Dan, and you’re like, those go back to the original claim. You continue to give back, but definitely make sure that you’re giving back to yourself as well.  I think you give yourself too little credit. You’ve done incredible work and you should definitely be proud of that.

Bryan: (00:34:20) Every time we see you’d take more credit. Dan self-love. So Dan, so we have one final question for you, and that question is if you could give one piece of advice to someone that is trying to get better care of their mental health and your time management and study boundaries, what were the vices?

Dan: (00:34:55) There’s not, there’s not like one answer, but it’s a really hard question beause I think people just need to know their own boundaries. Maybe that’s my advice just know your own boundaries, and understand that everybody is so different and built differently. Of course, there are going to be people that can do more than you. Of course, there’s going to be people that will like literally stay up three nights in a row working on a project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better or worse than you.

It just means that they have a different way of getting to whatever that goal. So don’t underestimate your own abilities. If you feel like you’re doing it right. Keep on doing whatever you’re doing and just set your own boundaries.

Maggie: (00:36:14) Thank you so much for being on our show!