Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 11:20AM
Growing up, what influenced you becoming a multi faceted artist? When did you know this
was what you had to do, and how did you learn to work so hard?
I think we are all multi faceted but as we grow are taught in school, at work and by society to
categorize what we do. I fell in love with Hiphop because of the music but my first element was as
a writer (graffiti), then started Bgirling (break dancing) cause I thought Bboys were hot, and
eventually started emceeing cause I had something to say and always a melody in my head.
When I realized music industry was built on a bad bank loan, I knew that business and hustle had
to also be part of the art. From there I learned to do graphic design, press releases, and business
plans that approached things creatively.
I got a letter from a Vietnamese girl that lived in up North Ontario, telling me she was the only
Asian girl in her school and got beat up or made fun off everyday. When she saw my video, she
never knew that someone that looked like her was “allowed” to do what I do. From that catalyst I
knew that even if you think very little of what you do, or that your scope is small - you never know
the type of impact you’re making somewhere else. #SugarMan
I’m born Singaporean Chinese. You have to work hard and be number 1 from birth or your parents
and teachers beat you. Just kidding…sorta.
As someone who seems to be pretty great at everything, where do you draw inspiration
from? How do you keep coming up with great ideas?
The idea of creating something from nothing is amazing. In Hiphop kids that had nothing, were
suddenly their “characters” with a new name, new persona, hidden talent, creative expression.
This is inspiration - having the conviction to know that you can create something from even the
most minimal of circumstances. First it is raw, then it can be polished. Maintaining the imagination
of an 8 year old also helps in constantly creating… my mom says I need to grow up. My friends
say I have idea turrets.
Ideas come from Travel as well. I’m blessed be such a mashup of Singapore, Chinese, Canadian,
worked in America, lived in Jamaica and travelled everywhere in between. The more you travel the
more you see everything is the same and certain themes will keep emerging.
Who have been some of your favorite people to collaborate with? Is there anyone you'd
really like to work with but haven't had the chance yet?
I loved collaborating with RZA and Sizzla Kalonji. Brilliantly creative minds that are at a stage in
their artistic career where ass kissing, altering their lyrics or expression is not an option and
irrelevant. Icons. RZA told these groupies to stop taking pictures and take images with your mind.
Sizzla would sit and read, then suddenly get up and record 5 songs before sitting back down and
peacefully reading again.
I also love collaborating with producer Ill Gates because he showed me new possibilities in
electronic sound and took me to Burning Man to rock 8 stages a night. It is so fulfilling as an artist
to go from creation in studio to actualizing the live performance in a giant laser pyramid with
speakers the size of small boats.
I would like to collaborate with Damian Marley, Celine Dion, Nas and Major Lazer. Solo tracks or
all at once.
What's a typical day in the life of Masia One, if there was such a thing?
Answer emails from people that want my involvement in the most random assortment of things
from designing men’s wear to booking Michael Buble in Asia. My sis DJ Sarasa in Japan has told
me to start my day with something creative instead, so nowadays, I try to at least write a haiku or
song before anything else. Mid day I do work for my business Chiney Money, a consultancy firm that links West and East soeveryone can make their Chiney Money $$$. This could be bookings, branding, distribution of a
product… most of the time this entails in person meetings, because human interaction is the most
important in business no matter how much we do through the computer. By the evening I’ll head to
a dancehall class because duhtty wining and daggering is good for your soul. By night I’m
rehearsing with Reggae band Irietones or in Studio to catch up on writing and recording. If i’m
home late, I take some calls cause it’s day time in North America while Asia sleeps. I post an
instagram every 5 hours throughout the day.
You've toured all over the world, what are your favorite places? Where do you still want to
Jamaica is my favorite place in this world because freedom is important for my creative thought
and anything goes in yard, if you know the right people. Recording at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong
Studio is a dream come true. I also lived in the bush for a while and went spear fishing for my food
and reasoned with the Rasta’s under stars. That to me is real life. Toronto and New York are close
seconds cause people are so inventive there and not afraid to talk to strangers.
I want to go to South Africa and Ghana. I want to go to regions of the world where the Chinese
identity is so singular, and challenge the perception of the Chinese woman.
If there was one thing you would change about the music industry, what would it be?
Change the mindsets of the decision makers behind these huge marketing machines that use
music as a tool to push out consumerism, bad behavior and anti-LIFE messages. I’ve walked into
A&R meetings where I have been told to stop with all this “Love and Peace bullshit, and show them
the type of lifestyle you live or that they should be envious of”. Son. I’m seeing a mass audience
around me that have no opinion of bad or good music, they just want to hear what they are familiar
with - namely whatever they play at the mall and on the radio. If music industry is going to be a
major instrument of brain washing, can we please brain wash people with an uplifting and positive
You're not only an exceptionally talented artist, but also a trailblazing entrepreneur, could
you tell us a bit about Merdeka?
MERDEKA is the Malay word for Independence and Freedom. When I started, I was told that
Chinese Female rappers had no precedence and was therefore not marketable. I knew I had to
push something independently - MERDEKA is my Canadian company that spearheaded monthly
events like the M1 Academy, Album releases, publishing and helped newer artists gain funding for
their projects. Basically I used myself as a guinea pig and whatever worked, I did for others.
I have now launched Chiney Money in South East Asia after realizing that many Western talents
and brands want to come to the region but don’t know where to start, who to connect with and trust
and regional business etiquette. My goal is to develop Chiney Money as a link between East and
West and help facilitate an exchange of creative ideas, products and bookings between the regions
so everyone can git that Chiney Money.
You always seem to have a ton on the go, is there anything coming up that we need to know
I’ll be debuting my new live show with Reggae Band The Irietones at Singapore’s Night Festival
August 23 and August 30. On the 30th Rockers International Artists Suns of Dub will be joining us
on stage - this is special for me to have Singapore musicians collaborating live with Jamaican and
Trinidadian Roots artists for the first time.
(Preview here). I will be releasing my EP with Suns of Dub end of the year collaborating with Addis Pablo, son of
original roots rocker Augustus Pablo. As well I am releasing my EP that I recorded at Tuff Gong
together with Jamaica’s Dubtonic Kru titled “Lim and the Lion” at the top of 2015.
Finally, I am in the works with my team here in Singapore to launch the first ever Reggae Festival
for the Lion City, promoting multiculturalism and uniting the Reggae sound systems, artists and
musicians of the Asian region.
Chiney Money Bae Bae.