Episode 131

Calista Wu  ·  Pursuing Possibility With Rising Pop Artist CaliStar

“Why does that monster exist and why? Is it keeping you up at night? And is there a story that goes deeper as to why that monster is the way it is and how can you dig deeper to figure out where that comes from and find healing so that you can overcome and find the peace that you need to be able to find rest and sleep.”

CaliStar, also known as Calista Wu, is an American recording artist, activist, and well-respected attorney whose repertoire defies expectations and inspires others to pursue the possibility.  As the founder of a multi-platform entertainment company, Cali Star Entertainment, LLC, she is breaking barriers and redefining empowerment through music, art, fashion, and community.  The gifted singer/songwriter has crafted a highly anticipated project, featuring songs produced by Jae Chong (Solid, Aziatix, Coco Lee, Elva) and Enik Lin (FYKE, Royal Pirates, Amber Liu, James Lee), and mastered by Chris Gehringer (Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Rihanna, Lady Gaga).  Her company brand is represented by the alicorn logo, a mythical creature that is both unicorn and pegasus—as such, she is poised to take the world by a beautiful storm with her alluring vocals, captivating compositions, and stunning visuals.  The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, LA-based CaliStar arrives to break barriers for Asian American artists and champion various causes close to her heart, such as anti-bullying and mental health awareness.  Her latest single “Can’t Sleep” and its accompanying imaginary music video, out December 17th, show CaliStar confronting her past traumas during a restless night watching the clock.  CaliStar designed her artist logo to be a star comprised of both a diamond and a tea because her motto is to turn pain into beauty, something she does, dare we say beautifully, on “Can’t Sleep.”


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Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Maggie Chiu: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us, her name is Calista Wu. CaliStar is also known as Calista Wu, is an American recording, artist, activist, and well-respected attorney whose repertoire defies expectations and inspires others to pursue the possibility. As a founder of a multi-platform entertainment company, CaliStar Entertainment, LLC. She is breaking barriers and redefining empowerment through music, art, fashion, and community. Her company brand is represented by the Alley Porn logo, a mythical creature that is both unicorn and Pegasus as such chic ways to take the world by a beautiful storm with her alluring vocals, captivating compositions, and stunning visuals.

[00:00:45] The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, LA-based CaliStar arrives to break barriers for Asian-American artists and champion various causes close to her heart, such as anti-bullying and mental health awareness. Her latest single “Can’t Sleep” and its accompanying imaginative music video, out December 17th, shows Calista confronting her past traumas during a restless night watching. Calista designed her artist logo to be a star comprised of both a diamond and a tea, because her motto is to turn pain into beauty, something she does dare we say beautifully, in “Can’t Sleep.” 

[00:01:22] Calista, Welcome to the show! 

[00:01:23] Calista Wu: Thank you so much, Maggie and so good to see you, Bryan.

[00:01:27] Bryan Pham: I want to start by saying. As a community, we love Calista. She does so much for our community. We are so excited to have her on today. So Calista, we thank you for everything that you do. Like honestly, this is for real. 

[00:01:41] Calista Wu: Oh, this is such a pleasure and a privilege, I’m just watching you both build and just being friends with you and cheering for you and Asian Hustle Network. It’s amazing. And I can’t wait for more.

[00:01:52] Bryan Pham: You know we’re always cheering for you, but now it’s an opportunity for our community to learn more about you. I think a lot of people in our community see you around, we see you’re still active and you’re always helping other communities as well. So we want to hear more about your story, Calista, tell us about your upbringing and what that was like.

[00:02:10] Calista Wu: Okay. So I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, California, and it was a very Asian upbringing. My parents are both immigrants from Taiwan and so they trained me at a young age to see things from the immigrant perspective. And it was always painting me to be successful.

[00:02:35] They were a little bit ambitious with me. It was like not just one type of dance. It was always three types of dance or not just one instrument. It was like as many instruments as possible. I think they were just really eager to give me opportunities that they might not have had for themselves.

[00:02:51] And so I don’t think they put pressure on me. But I felt pressured and I don’t know if it was self-inflicted and it was very much like I have to do things to make my family proud. I have to represent well, I’m very much like carrying the burden of making everyone around me, feel proud and look good for them and making a difference to reflect on where I came from. 

[00:03:20] So, and I think a lot of us identify with that as growing up with immigrant parents. And I think, I always tell people that ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to be both a singer and a lawyer, and that very much defined my childhood. I think people were very much confused about where that came from.

[00:03:43] Why was it the way it was, why was it so ambitious? Why? I didn’t understand that those things were really difficult and that they didn’t go together, but I have just always been the same person ever since I was little, like very driven and very clear about my vision of what I wanted to do, even though I’ve gotten lost on the way sometimes. 

[00:04:03] Bryan Pham: Well, that’s powerful, and it does reflect into the person that you are today too. You are extremely ambitious and extremely helpful. And what you said is relatable to me too, because when I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things. And, ignorance is bliss because if you realize how hard it is you probably won’t perceive it, right? Going into something and knowing that you want to do it without knowing how hard it is.

[00:04:27] I feel like most likely with that mindset, you’re just going to find a way to overcome it and make it happen. And look at yourself like you’re a lawyer, although you’re not practicing anymore, you’re also a very talented musician. So walk us through that transition and what it was like to be a corporate lawyer.

[00:04:44] And I know you mentioned earlier in the bio as well like focusing on mental health and creativity. What was that transition like light because leaving law and proceeding and a music career is pretty radical? And we want to understand what the thought process and processes leading up to that decision and what was that feeling the next day when you decided to jump?

[00:05:06] Calista Wu: Okay. So this is somewhat of a longer story and I’ll try to condense it, but the music was always in my life and I always knew that I would do both, but I didn’t know exactly how that would look or what that journey was was would entail. And so I used to do music before Law. So I released my first DP. I was working with the Asian American community with music and entertainment back in the very beginning of it, I think. When YouTube was just being formed and we were just hearing some of us on the radio were very excited and I was working, singing songs, writing, ghostwriting doing session work. And it was really fun, really collaborative. I released my first EP and right after that, I went to law school and I think it was, for me, it was a, it’s been a faith journey.

[00:06:06] Honestly, I prayed and I felt like God told me to go to law school and go a specific law school. And I didn’t know why at that time, because I had to turn down a really good deal that I thought would be ideal. But at the same time, I am thankful that I did go into law because I think it equipped me for certain things that maybe some musicians might not have the benefit of knowing how to navigate, like reading contracts, negotiating, knowing some laws, some of those nuances of power, dynamic, power struggle.

[00:06:40] And being underestimated as a minority. So I think I always knew I was going to go back into music. I just didn’t know if it would be as a singer myself or just more on the business side or just supporting my friends who are artists. And I think throughout my entire legal career, as soon as I could breathe from Being a junior associate in big law.

[00:07:02] Like when I started getting more senior, I started getting plugged into the community, again, the AAPI community in LA that we just call the community, and seeing how I could check in how I can help out and I can support. And I realized that in music at least there wasn’t as much progress as I had hoped.

[00:07:24] And some of the people were carrying that burden and trying to push the ball forward. We’re really tired. And there were not enough resources as I wanted, not as much diversity in terms of our representation as I had hoped. And of course, there are amazing talents and a lot of them are my friends and they’re there like on fire. And I give them so much credit, but there, I felt like people were still like, why do Asian American music sound like? And there were still a lot of I guess biases and ignorance, maybe that I saw, especially with the stop Asian hate and the anti-Asian violence that rose.

[00:08:06] And I felt like a lot of people wasn’t sure who Asian-Americans were. They were confusing us with people from Asia and they didn’t know the diversity of Asian America. And there was still learning that I had to do. What does that look like? What does that sound like? And what are the nuances that are us?

[00:08:23] And so I think that also contributed to my desire to leave big law and to start something where I thought, okay, it’s not just about representation and moving the ball forward. It’s also about influencing culture and showing other people who we are so that hopefully there is no excuse for ignorance and hopefully they’ll learn more about us in their homes when they listen to us on whatever streaming device or the radio.

[00:08:55] I also battled some things in terms of car accidents and brain injuries and things like that then made me realize life is short. So it’s okay to make decisions that seem scary, but might be worth it in the long run. So there were several factors, but those are three of them.

[00:09:15] Maggie Chiu: I just wanted to say Calista, your drive and your story are just so powerful. And we’ve heard this a few times already from CaliStar in person, but just hearing you reiterate it and listening to you talk about what was the defining factor, I love that you are building so much representation for Asian American artists, and it’s true.

[00:09:36] Like it’s so important for us to see people on stage on screen that look like us and sound like us, right? Because there are so many other people who want to do the same things as you do, we never see people such as role models or people that we look up to. And we never have that example for us.

[00:09:52] And I love that you were setting that foundation for all of us to see, and the work that you do for the community is so empowering. And I love that you are building more representation for mental health awareness and anti-bullying, which is so important. I just want to commend you for that. And it’s just so inspiring. 

[00:10:12] Calista Wu: Thank you. Now, you guys listened to so many stories and both of you have such powerful stories of your own. And so I thought before I would shy away from sharing or I’m perfectly fine not being the center of attention, but I realized, okay, there might be power in being vulnerable and sharing my journey with people, right?

[00:10:35] This is me as an artist just starting and it’s really scary and I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m trying my best. And hopefully with this vulnerability and with sharing my story and the process, not just presenting with a perfect finished product, but showing what it looks like along the way hopefully that can inspire other people to know that their battles and their challenges are overcomeable as well.

[00:10:57] Bryan Pham: That’s super powerful to be able to be that vulnerable. Cause I feel like not a lot of people can be that vulnerable. And the thing is we look at idols, we look at movie stars, and look at whoever we always see as a finished product. It’s really hard for us to imagine ourselves in that position. But showing the steps along the way shows that we’re all just human and what you realize about toppling, especially yourself, and for us to talk to a lot of highly successful people. The common theme is that no one knows what to do.

[00:11:28] It’s a very common theme. Like everyone’s still trying to figure it out. So trying to put out everyone has two friends, and they have a friend where it’s, look at me, I’m so awesome. The other friend is holy shit. I don’t know what, I don’t know what I’m doing, and that’s okay.

[00:11:40] And I feel like more people need to start realizing that at the end of the day, we’re just all human. We just want to figure things out. And I know that you briefly brushed over your car accident, which is a major thing, by the way. I’m so glad that you’re okay and you’re safe. And then I’m really glad that you took the positive sides, positive side out of that, and decided that life is too short.

[00:12:02] You need to like to move on to your passions and career. I’m curious too. How has your experience influenced your latest hit? Can’t sleep. And for our listeners CaliStar and I tend to have our deep conversations super late at night, like 2 AM, 3 AM, sometimes 4 AM, just to put things in context. So when the song was called, “Can’t sleep” like, okay. I can see why. So let’s quickly talk about that. 

[00:12:27] Calista Wu: Thank you for bringing that up. So, “Can’t Sleep” is a song that I wrote with my producer, Enik Linn, and Enik is part of a band called FYKE. That stands for Four Year Kingdom Eternal. A lot of people don’t know that it’s a little tidbit. 

[00:12:43] But their band is very much a proponent of mental health awareness. And I think Enik saw me from the beginning of being a lawyer, wanting to do music again, not knowing how. Going through my car accidents and not being able to do certain things that I used to be very good at doing.

[00:13:04] So I couldn’t read for a while. Like I couldn’t like I would see characters on a page, but my brain can focus and my eyes had processing issues, so I couldn’t read. And as a lawyer, that’s super scary. I had a hard time processing emotions. So I think I’m used to functioning in various high-pressure jobs and very stressful environments.

[00:13:27] But for some reason after the accident, I sustained a traumatic brain injury that left me very raw and unable to cope and figure out how to deal emotionally with certain inputs. And I would sit there and be like, Calista, this is not a big deal. How come you feel so much with such a little thing and.

[00:13:49] So I struggled with a lot of mental health battles from I think the injuries, but also in like the reaction to it, because I was, have always been just very hard on myself. And so I think it was, I was very hard on myself for not being able to physically do the things that I needed to do. And so through that process, I learned how to give myself grace, how to just go easy on myself, and how to love myself more.

[00:14:20] And. I think I wanted that to translate somehow into a song that Enik and I worked out together. So “Can’t Sleep” is on the surface, yes, about insomnia and dealing with certain things that keep you up at night and being transparent about some of my struggles, but the music video was directed by Brad Wong.

[00:14:45] We want to go a little deeper. And so it deals with a monster that keeps you up at night and you go into monster land and there’s a storyline there. I don’t want to give it all away, but the question is why does that monster exist and why is it keeping you up at night? And is there a story? That goes deeper as to why that monster is the way it is. And how can you dig deeper to figure out where that comes from and find healing so that you can overcome and find the peace that you need to be able to find rest and sleep. 

[00:15:19] So that’s been a journey. That’s been heightened with the car accidents and with the brain injuries and my battle with mental health that way. And I just wanted to show people that there is a deeper meaning and also, I guess the anti-bullying component is why are there bullies, right? Like, Why are certain monsters acting out in a way that they’re acting out? Maybe there’s a deeper reason for them as well. And so inner healing is something that I’ve taken very seriously.

[00:15:51] I’ve gone to healing school for a couple of months in Canada, in the middle of nowhere. And so just all of it incorporates things that I find important. And it’s beyond the surface of a fun visual that’s innovative and very animated, like a video game, which I love.

[00:16:08] There’s always a story and there’s always a purpose behind every one of the songs that I do. And so that’s one of the reasons why “Can’t Sleep” is the way it is. 

[00:16:16] Maggie Chiu: Thank you so much for sharing that story. I love how symbolic everything is for that song and how symbolic the whole monster thing is because we often tend to forget that each one of us has a specific monster in our lives, like something we’re battling on our own.

[00:16:32] And I love that you took the time to reflect and think about it, maybe I was being too hard on myself, maybe, I was always so used to being in fast-paced environments that I never really took the time to step back and reflect and think like I should be taking more time to focus on myself and just if I do to slow the roll, that’s something I probably need to do.

[00:16:50] And I love that you’re learning how to like, love yourself. Because of the experiences that you were, that you had before, some things are out of our control. But the only thing that we can do is to be grateful for that experience, that it made us stronger, that it made us who we are today.

[00:17:07] And, I just love the symbolism of that song. And I think it shows us that we need to be kind to everyone because everyone is dealing with their demons. Everyone is dealing with something in their own lives and that’s something that we tend to forget on a day-to-day basis.

[00:17:23] Bryan Pham: I also liked how you brought every element in your life and your music video. And if you guys don’t know Callista’s a huge Anime fan. So you see everything about her in her music videos. It’s amazing. It’s amazing how you’re able to incorporate all those elements. I’m curious too. Can you walk us through the music-creating process? What does it take to create a new video, produced videos, especially as a new artist, right? 

[00:17:48] To say, I’m a new artist and I want to break into the industry. I don’t even know where to start to be honest here. Do I write the whole script? Do I hire somebody to write my script? What is the equipment that I need? I have no idea. Can you walk us through that? 

[00:18:00] Calista Wu: I think it’s different for everyone. And it’s so hard to break into entertainment, even with me. And I have so many friends in the entertainment industry. It’s been difficult and a lot of it is just figuring out things on my own, and Googling and trying to reach out to people, getting rejected. People are like, who are you? And why do we even need to talk to you?

[00:18:27] And some people are still trying to scam me like today. I just realized, somebody damned me and was like, Hey, if you pay me this amount of money. I can do a feature on one of your tracks and I’m going to be a manager for this record label soon. And so now you guys are taking advantage.

[00:18:43] And so it’s really hard. I’m just going to say it’s so hard to be an artist. Because there’s so much to do, you have to figure out how to write music. You have to figure out how to make visuals. You have to figure out how to dress and to figure out and know yourself enough to create authentic art.

[00:19:00] And then you have to have a management team. Then you have to figure out how to make money because streams don’t make that much money and you have to figure out how to platform yourself. And so I’m still figuring it all out. But for me, I think because I’m so relationally oriented, the key for me was always with people that I trust. Building with people who know me and I can trust and we can build together.

[00:19:26] And that’s common in terms of how I like to live my life. It’s who can I build with? And are you aligned with the same purpose and the same principles and the same vision? So I was very fortunate. For “Can’t Sleep” for instance, to know Enik. And I was very blessed that Enik, even though he writes for some of the famous top tier artists or charting and countries around the world, was willing to take a chance on me and work with me on figuring out a new sound and your vision and blending his artistic vision with my artistic vision. And that’s what I love about making art or collaborating. It’s if you come with who you are and that whoever you work with comes with who they are, you can create something new that’s never been created before because it’s a blend of who you are and so “Can’t Sleep”, Enik is very talented in that. He is so fast with creating tracks, but it was during the pandemic. So he came to my home and I had a setup. He brought some of his equipment and we just brainstormed together. Sometimes you have a finished track and you write the top line to the track. But with us, we created both at the same time.

[00:20:38] So he’s like what do you think about this? Or what do you like? And so it was very interactive. I would sometimes come up with the top-line melodies and then he would build a track around it. Or sometimes he would start with some pieces of what he thought the track was. And then I would build my melodies and lyrics around that.

[00:20:54] So it was very innovative, creative, collaborative, and very fast. We brought in our friends, they are really good friends who I met through this process. And he also loves anime and he’s also super smart. Like he’s gone to medical school and he’s a rapper. So, just brilliant. And he works with us on part of the second verse. 

[00:21:19] I think we did it in three sessions and then in between Enik would build out the track or mix like from his home. And then we sent off the track to be mastered by Chris Garinger who Enik likes to master some of his band stuff.

[00:21:35] And then we worked with Brad who works with Enik and FYKE on several music videos, and a lot of music videos for artists that Enik writes and produces for. And that was that. 

[00:21:46] Bryan Pham: It sounds like a complicated process, to be honest.

[00:21:50] Maggie Chiu: There are so many moving parts. And like Bryan said, I don’t know the process either, so it’s really interesting hearing the behind-the-scenes and I love watching. Calista’s Instagram stories are behind-the-scenes. Because it’s really interesting. And Bryan and I don’t even know the process, so it’s just cool to learn what the whole process looks like. I want to know, did you know exactly what that process looked like before you had quit law?

[00:22:18] Were you already aware of what that process looked like? Or did you learn a lot in the past year ever since you had quit law? 

[00:22:25] Calista Wu: Oh, I’ve learned so much. Oh my gosh. But also every person you work with, like there’s no formula and music, even with writing and creating and every producer, every writer you work with, it’s all different and you just feel each other out and you try to create and communicate. Enik is not the only producer I worked with. So every person that I work with it’s different. But when I did have the benefit of it I did have the benefit of writing and singing before. So I know how to record, I know how to write, I know how to write in sessions when everyone’s like the pressure’s on and everyone’s watching you.

[00:23:00] I know how to do that. And so I think being able to pump out stuff on the spot is a skill that I learned beforehand. So I was able to take that into this process, but something new was I’m new. So if I’m being authentic to myself, what does me as an artist look like? I know what Calista as a lawyer looks like, but what is Calista as an artist look like? And I don’t want to just do things that are already done or a cookie-cutter formula.

[00:23:27] Because there are people who can do that much better than me. What do I have to bring to the table? And that’s a lot of my writing and my compositional ability and putting myself into it. So I have to do the work of figuring out what is that then I’m going to put in and how am I going to put it in? What does it look like and sound like? 

[00:23:44] Bryan Pham: That’s a really good point too. I like the fact that you are bringing your strength to this, there are still a lot of things I don’t quite understand. So try to hope that you can clarify with me and I want to start with, as you mentioned earlier, the sound like, what does that mean?

[00:23:56] Like finding your beat, finding your sound, finding a theme. How do you find that? Is it something that you have an idea of what is, or is it something that you sit down? Let’s say, you sit down at a studio, and your producers play a couple of beats and you’re like nodding along and see if this thing had lyrics. Is this something like that? Or am I completely off? 

[00:24:14] Calista Wu: So I think every artist that is in the top 40 has a sound. So Dua Lipa has a sound, Katy Perry has a sound, HER has a sound. And so what does Calista or CaliStar sound like? And for me, I needed to make it pop because I want the broad commercial reach, which is behind the purpose of why I was doing what I was doing or why I started going back into music was to have as much reach as possible. After all, it impacts culture and shows people who Asian Americans are that way.

[00:24:53] And so how can I still be me with my message, but do it in a more pop commercial way and who are some artists that I like. And for me, I think it’s probably different for everyone, but for me, I just, when I write and I sing sounds come out it’s just part of who I am. It just comes out. And I can change the way I sing it. I can sing in a more RnB style. I can sing in a straighter style, clean, like pop, like not so much vibrato. I can change my vibrato to be faster, to be shorter, or thinner, and I can change my voice to be breathy or not. I can sing with a head voice or chest voice.

[00:25:33] I can do different things. But all of it is to still be me but to package it in a way that other people can understand, and that fits the purpose. So sometimes my producer. We’ll be like, oh, this song will be a little bit more like this type of artist or this type of song, or here are some of the influences that we want to draw from for this track.

[00:25:54] And, the sound is pretty much I don’t think you can describe it that well. But if I were like, oh, The Weeknd, you know what his sound is. And so how do you make a distinctive sound and how do you develop that? And, but still, be authentic. It’s a process. 

[00:26:09] Bryan Pham: And this is very interesting. Go ahead, Maggie. 

[00:26:12] Maggie Chiu: I love how you’re diving as deep into your creative process because when you’re saying like, it just comes out for people like Bryan and myself for not being very musically talented like it just doesn’t. Bryan has two left feet. I’ll tell the world.

[00:26:30] Bryan Pham: Maggie has too. 

[00:26:31] Maggie Chiu: It’s so interesting hearing you talk about that creative process. And do you ever have any creative blocks? And what do you do in those instances? For you, it might be a lot easier than writing me to come up with music, musical tunes, or some lyrics to the songs. But I just want to know if you do have creative blocks, what do you do in those instances? And where do you find inspiration to come up with something? 

[00:26:54] Bryan Pham: I also want to add onto that too. Like, how do you practice? How do you warm up? I want to hear about that process too. Do you practice in the shower, or do you practice while you drive home?

[00:27:02] I know you guys don’t know Calista drives an Irvine to LA. An hour drive one way. So it was like two hours drive each LA then plus traffic. 

[00:27:13] Maggie Chiu: Like how do you do it Calista? 

[00:27:14] Calista Wu: Oh, okay. So let’s see. I don’t know where to start. Where should I start? 

[00:27:20] Bryan Pham: You started Maggie’s question. How do you overcome the creator’s block?

[00:27:23] Calista Wu: Okay. So I am constantly. Very cognizant of what I’m inputting into my life. I’ll listen to music, but it’s not just to enjoy a lot of times, it’s to dissect and see what’s out there. So I’m constantly absorbing and seeing what’s out there so I can figure out things that inspire me, things that I like, things that I’m like, no, it’s not for me.

[00:27:46] And I’m also very aware of what the new sounds are? And I’m also cognizant of by the time it’s been released in my opinion now, but for that artist, it’s not new anymore. So how do I be ahead of the sound curve and what are some things that are extra innovative beyond what inspires me now? I do get writer’s block, but I have to power through it.

[00:28:07] Sometimes it’s just being diligent. And like when you scheduled a session to just turn out what you think, you have been you until you finish. And then later you can look at it and say, oh, I could do better than this. Should we, during the next session, redo this and start from scratch. Should I completely pretend like I didn’t work on that last session?

[00:28:32] Should I start brand new or is it good enough that I can take it and build on it at the next session? I think sometimes it’s a balance of just finishing just like pushing out, like what you set out to do. And sometimes it’s a balance of, okay, let’s start afresh, let’s figure out what else there is and get new inspiration 

[00:28:56] Bryan Pham: That helps to start afresh, get inspiration, and take breaks. That is all-important to creating a process. You can’t force those things. So you can’t just sit at your desk for like five hours and try to be creative. It has to be like, oh, there it is. You went back to your desk quick, or your studio. And he’s writing it down and being inspired.

[00:29:13] So I guess the second part of that question is how often do you practice? Cause I’m very curious to learn more about the side too. 

[00:29:19] Calista Wu: Yes. Okay. So I am not just an artist, as I’m also running the company. And so I feel like I don’t have the typical artist lifestyle where my main job is to just be an artist and create and feel and express myself artistically. And I don’t get to practice as often as I would like, I grew up doing a lot of the traditional singing in choirs and did acapella competitions.

[00:29:54] So I know the standard warm-ups and the scales. I’m bad at that. I like to do my warm-ups by singing certain songs on the radio, in the car while I’m driving, or just starting with singing things in my head voice before I go and then try to do things within my chest voice. And I’d warm up my chest voice. 

[00:30:16] Maggie Chiu: I love that. That’s interesting. And I kind of wanted to point out the fact that. What’s so unique about you Calista is everyone knows that you have a certain style, right? Like whenever we have events with you, everyone knows that you are the person with glitter all over your outfits, or, I think you have the special clothing brand that you always like to go to Akira and I just always know that you love flashy things.

[00:30:40] I love it. Like everything is so on point and it speaks to who you are and whenever we see you like we just know that is Calista. That’s totally Calista’s style and no one else has it. What do you think, came to this kind of style that you adopted?

[00:30:56] Was this always who you were and like, did you always have this sort of style, or did you pick up on it and realize, okay, this is who I am. This is how, like, how I want to portray myself in my music and represent myself and show people that. Possible to pursue the possibility.

[00:31:11] I think that resonates through your style, your music. Talk a little bit about that messaging to pursue the possibility. I think it’s so powerful, like a very simple message, but it can be so powerful and has such a deeper meaning. So I want to know about your style and what you want people to get out of pursuing possibilities.

[00:31:29] Bryan Pham: I think that’s also a really good point. And I also want to point out that whatever glitter you’re using is amazing because I give you lots of hugs and it never ends on my clothes. We look at you, you are like glistening with glitter. I love it, but it never ends up in any of our clothes. I’m like, man, what brand is this?

[00:31:46] Calista Wu: Oh thank you so much. You mentioned that I always tell people that I don’t have that many skills in life, but I only have a few things that I can do. Like pretty well. Everything else. I’m very like, oh no, 

[00:32:00] Maggie Chiu: But you are so talented. Don’t say that. 

[00:32:03] Calista Wu: Shopping is one of my skills and I probably invested way too much in clothes over the years. But I always attributed it to the fact that my dad was in clothing for a bit when I was growing up and I was a childhood model. And then also my grandpa, one of his companies was in the textile manufacturing business. And so my grandpa always encouraged me.

[00:32:25] So when I would go to Taiwan, he would always give me a red envelope and I would always go and buy clothes and I would always show my grandpa what I bought with the money. And he would always cause he’s very on point and stylish. So he would wear his custom suits, like always, very tall, very handsome, like always hair perfectly done. He came from nothing, but he established his empires, I think. And made the legacy that way while still being a man of integrity and still helping them, the people around him, and lots of organizations.

[00:33:05] So he’s my hero, but he would always say wow, like this girl, she can do anything, like she has really good tastes. Like her style is impeccable. Like Calista, how did you find that necklace? Like, how did you put that outfit together? And so I had that one person in my life who I didn’t see very often.

[00:33:24] And he was a man of very few words, but he made me feel like a million dollars or a billion dollars now, a million, I guess it’s not as much because of inflation, but he always encouraged my talents and I felt like he saw me. And so when whatever it is like, he was like the patriarch of our family. So everyone else had to fall in line with what he said.

[00:33:45] And that made me feel very special and that I had talents that that other people have not whether that was, noticing things. My fashion sense, putting outfits together, working on a budget. Cause it was always like, how can I find things that were hidden treasures at the night market or these discount stores and still pull out like outfits that impressed my grandpa.

[00:34:06] And he was like, wow, you need all of that with the money I gave you. So, I think that’s where it started. And ever since I was younger, I would always try to represent how I felt by putting outfits together. So my dad was in fashion. I would go to different, like the California Martin and downtown LA and, because I was a child model, I could pull different clothes, and then I just grew with that. 

[00:34:31] My mom always asked me for my styling advice and so I would be her fashion consultant ever since I was little until this day. I’m still like her fashion consultant and just really expressing myself and how I feel with my clothes is something that I’ve always done.

[00:34:46] And it got me in a little bit of trouble I think when I was working in a law firm. They’re kind of like, why do you dress like that? Cause I would push the envelope a little bit and be a little bit shiny. I’m like, oh, I have an event after. And so they’re like, okay okay. 

[00:34:59] But, I always just wanted people to know that you are more than the limits that have been placed on you by other people and the in the box you put yourself in, and the company CaliStar Entertainment was created to inspire others to pursue possibility because maybe you just need someone to tell you, I see you and your dreams are valid and you can go for it. I see the talent that you have. You’re skilled in that. I believe in you. Like my grandpa did for me, as certain other people have done for me. And like I try to do for other people. And it’s very much a model that I try to live out and I have been living out for. Many years of my life encouraged other people to pursue their dreams, overcoming their fear with faith. And that’s who I am deep down and that’s who I want to represent. 

[00:35:46] Bryan Pham: I can attest to that. Calista always tells me to go out there and live my dreams too. And I appreciate that Calista, a lot. I do want to ask a pretty personal question, how do you overcome challenges? Because I feel like with every industry and especially entertainment, especially as a new artist, there’s going to be a lot of times where there’s a shit ton of doubt, where you doubt yourself, like crazy.

[00:36:13] How do you keep those voices at bay to keep yourself focused? Because for a lot of people, it does override you a lot, right? When things don’t go your way for a very long period, like how do you keep yourself focused on this is why I need to do it, and this is how I’m going to push myself to find the motivation to do what I want to do. Because this is very hard. 

[00:36:35] Calista Wu: That’s a great question. For me, it’s very centered around my faith. I grew up in church, but I had to find my faith again as an adult. And once I found out again, it’s been the most precious relationship that I have. I’m Christian and so my relationship with Jesus is really what keeps me grounded and centered.

[00:36:54] I spent a lot of time meditating and praying. Sometimes we call it soaking. My mom does it as well for many hours a day and she calls it. Taking out the trash where I lie there and I try to connect to the holy spirit. I’m just being very real and a friend and raw with you guys.

[00:37:13] Because I know you, but turn on some Christian worship music sometimes I try to make sure I’m connected to the holy spirit. And then I just dump my trash. Like I try to empty all the anxieties and all the things I have on my mind. And sometimes in that process, I get a revelation about what I’m supposed to do, but I bring all these things that I’m worried about before God, sometimes it’s like a giant mess and I can’t even sort out the thoughts one by one, but sometimes it’s a little bit more like I have this big thing I’m worried about God. Like here it is. And these are all my fears about it. And then we wait until it’s addressed. Then I get peace. Whether it’s like I surrender and then I get the peace that way, or I get a solution and I know what to do. And so it’s that process and I need it to deal with a lot of the pressure and the stress that I have, and I get a lot of guidance that way, and I get a lot of peace that way.

[00:38:07] And then after I take out the trash, my mom always tells me it’s important to like if I’m an empty vessel, then I’d try to fill it. So I ask God to fill me with peace, love, power, strength, with wisdom. And so I try to live out of the overflow of that peace, goodness, wisdom, and love. But if I’m like full to the brink of all the things that this world has to come at me with then sometimes I’m aware, like I need to take some time to like to empty that trash before I make this big decision. Or before I go into the studio, because what’s in me is going to come out of me, how I interact with people. It’s even the words that I’m speaking like it carries stuff. It carries, whether it’s goodness or it can carry anxiety, like in people can feel it. So I prioritized that. 

[00:39:00] Maggie Chiu: I love that. And it’s so powerful. I love that you pray and you meditate because I think a lot of us, we tend to, as entrepreneurs, as artists, as creatives we have a lot of things going on inside of our minds, inside of our heads and it’s sometimes very hard to organize those thoughts. But when we ask for help or when we sit down and meditate or pray. It helps us to organize those thoughts and sort them out, whether that be coming to a resolution or coming to peace with it, it’s extremely helpful. And I love that you mentioned that because just the same thing as seeking therapy or just seeking help, especially in the Asian community, we tend to not seek help all the time. We tend to always say I got it and I’m okay. Everything’s okay. When a lot of things are falling apart for us. We worked so hard daily, but I love that, you are showing us that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to ask for help, seek therapy and seek prayer. And I love that you mentioned that. 

[00:39:59] So I think that’s great to note to transition to our last question Calista. And that is if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring artists. What would that one piece of advice be?

[00:40:13] Calista Wu: I think my one advice to aspiring artists would be to dig deep and figure out who you are and what makes you, you. And what makes you so special because every person is special and the deeper you can uncover that. And the more authentically you can express that, the more beautiful the world would be because of who you are and how you show up in your art to change the environment that you’re in and to make an impact on people around you.

[00:40:49] Maggie Chiu: Thank you so much for sharing that advice, Calista. How can our listeners find out more about you and CaliStar Entertainment? 

[00:40:58] Calista Wu: Oh, thank you. Yes. I’m on Instagram @caliwu and, calistarentertainment.com. We have a website and I think you guys will probably be linking all my socials, but I think I’m most active on Instagram, so I will see you there.

[00:41:19] Oh, I forgot, I also have YouTube, I also have Spotify and Apple Music. So if you could help stream those things, that would be very much appreciated. 

[00:41:29] Maggie Chiu: So we’ll leave all of those in the show notes, everyone, be sure to check out “Can’t sleep” and Calista’s YouTube channel and all of her tracks, they’re amazing. I think you’re everywhere, right? Spotify and all of those streaming platforms. So definitely recommend everyone to go check it out because Calista is an amazing artist. 

[00:41:48] Just wanted to thank you so much for being on our show today, Calista. It was amazing hearing your story. 

[00:41:54] Calista Wu: Thank you so much, Maggie and Bryan, I love you both. So thank you, Asian Hustle Network. 

[00:41:59] Bryan Pham: We can’t wait to see where you’re going to be in the next couple of years, and how successful you’re going to be. So thank you so much for being on our podcast. We appreciate that. Thank you, Calista.