The Harvard Crimson

Contemporary Music Duo Breaks Labels

By IRENE CHEN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER. Published: Monday, October 25, 2010 
Slanty Eyed Mama—a duo of female, Asian-American contemporary musicians—began its college tour last Saturday night at the New College Theatre Studio. The group—consisting of Kate Rigg on vocal and Lyris Hung on electric violin—seeks to challenge stereotypes about race, gender, and sexuality through lyricism, rap, and freestyle.  Rigg and Hung have been collaborating since they met at the Juilliard School, where they were both students. During the Saturday night show, Rigg poked fun at labels and preconceived notions, specifically those about Asian Americans—which include songs about the school-girl fetish and the familial push to attend medical school. Riggs said the examples were drawn from her own bi-racial heritage, as well as feedback she received from her previous show, Kate’s-Chink-O-Rama.When asked about the motivation behind the show, Rigg cited the lack of Asian-American role models in the media—a trend that perpetuates stereotypes. For Rigg, educating college students about this issue is crucial.  “Culture is an absolute luxury, which is why it’s up to the younger generation, the college-aged, to change the face of Asian-Americans in the media,” Rigg said.

 “Her words trigger experiences I’ve definitely felt before,” said attendee Yvonne Ting, Director of Administrative Technology Services at Smith College. Ting added that she watched Slanty Eyed Mama’s performance because the duo’s show at Smith had been cut short by a fire alarm.The performance was co-sponsored by nine cultural, artistic, or sexuality-related student groups. According to Lao, the event reached AAA’s aim not only to collaborate with other communities while raising awareness, but also to give voice to subgroups. The sponsoring organizations included the Harvard College Queer Students and Allies, Radcliffe Union of Students, Girlspot, Asian American Women’s Association, and H-BOMB, and was assisted by the Office for the Arts, Harvard College Women’s Center, and American Repertory Theatre.

Download a PDF of this article