Art. Music. Pop Culture.
Stage Name: Sonic Rain
It’s amazing to say that I have met someone who is really an inspiration to life and music. In dedication to her 5th year anniversary with her partner, as a friend and as a writer, I wanted to offer this story as a gift to her and her partner on this special day. So Schoua Na Yang, congratulations to you and your partner for having been together through a series of trial and error in human relationships and may you two continue to show the same affection in the coming future!
Who are you?
“My name is Suab Nag…Yang. My stage name that I go by is Sonic Rain. And I am a emcee, serious song writer performing artist.”
“I’ve played the drums, but then I haven’t played the drums in a while…I used to be in a band, so I played the drums and then I wanted to move into more emceeing ‘cause I used to do a lot of spoken words stuff, so I picked up the guitar and started singing and I started rapping [Giggles]. So I kind of worked backwards to the front.” [Giggles]
Tell me about yourself. For example what are your hobbies, what are your interests, your fears, your goals, anything in general about you.
I guess my life right now, I feel that…well, here’s a deep one. I feel that living your dream is very important. It is not just a dream of fantasy but a dream to reality. My goal right now is to finish my EP project that I’m gonna be dropping next year. So that’s my goal right now. That’s where commitment is at, and also, you know, performing live or if people want me to host shows or something. Those are always things that I love doing, you know. Anything entertainment, I love it! As hobby-wise, uh…[hesitated for a moment] I have a dog now?! [Laughs happily as she stared at her new dog named “Lucky” who was prancing around CHAT’s office, sniffing everything and doing what every other animal would do – explore!] He’s my hobby now. I guess, you know, I’ve always done music as a hobby but obviously that’s more than a hobby – it’s a dream, you know. But…I guess I don’t have a hobby then. [Laughs to this thought of not having a hobby] I guess I don’t have a hobby.
So tell me a little more about your project you’re working on right now.
Right now I’m going to release it next year, 4/20/2014. I’m working…I have a production team which consists of Chizzo, Shawn Mouacheupao, Shu Lor, and Tieng Hang. They’re my production team, we’re working to create and record my songs…and also incorporating like different artists to possibly collab with, but that’s still up in the air in the talks. Um…what else? My album that I’m writing right now…I guess its a lot of truth finding within like yourself…and also…let me see…yeah, a lot of my stuff that I’m writing now is a lot of truth finding within yourself and finding the truth of who you are, your honest reality…but I also want to write some happy songs too! [Laughs at this fact] Put your hands in air! Dance to the right! [Chanting happily] You know, but it’s all in the making. I’m incorporating some live instruments with production.
So I’m just curious, what made you get involved in the music industry?
Uh, you know I’ve always been a music kid since I was a kid, you know. I guess I grew up in a family of musicians. My dad plays the guitar…now he plays the keys, he’s like a one man band. Plays music, plays the keys, and you know, Hmong people come dance – whatever. My brothers, they DJ – they’re with Kind Beats. My little brother, he plays the keys too but he’s more into like IT (Information Technology) stuff but I guess…yeah…I’ve always loved music. It’s always been in me, so…here’s a story. [Her smile literally got big as she positioned herself to tell me more] Here’s a fun story.
*For a moment we were interrupted because someone had thought they left an item in the room we were using for this interview. And Lucky was barking like crazy so Sonic had to calm him down.
Um…so yeah, you mentioned that you came from a family that always had music around them.
Oh…yeah. Yeah. I guess I picked it up from my dad, you know. So we’ve always been, I think growing up we’ve always been around music, you know. Actually I started…my first music that I started really liking was Thai music, ‘cause my dad and them listened to a lot of Thai music and um…I was in, you know…I liked it! [Had confidence and was really happy to express this interest of hers in Thai music] So I actually started singing Thai songs. And then of course that led to…oh Hmong too! Thai then Hmong and it led to, you know, MesKas (American) and then KeDub (Black). But Thai music, growing up I heard a lot of Thai music. It was Thai music influence. Haha! [Laughs away at the thought of her inspiration and influence in music] Uh…yeah. I love music! I love music! It just doesn’t stop.
So what was your first instrument that you ever played?
Uh…my first instrument was a violin. [I was shocked but amazed at the classical instrument she had first encountered as an artist] With the violin I’ve played since Elementary to junior high, so about…I think 7 years…7 years. Gosh! Like I think I took that for granted because like I was always like, ‘Ahhh! My dad wants me to play so fine I’ll just play,’ you know, but I liked it too, but you know when you get a little older you get more mature and you’re like, ‘Oh man! I could’ve done this, I could’ve done that with it,’ ‘cause its a really awesome instrument actually. Its a really cool instrument. But that was my first instrument, and then it went into the drums, and then picked up the guitar, I played a little…I played a little bit of everything, you know. Played a little bit of the keys. Touched a little of the bass, you know, stuff like that.
Nice, nice. And then as a music artist yourself what kind of experiences have you gained from it? Both being negative or positive?
Um…I gained confidence. [There was definitely confidence in her eyes and voice when she said this] Being on stage is actually scary. Um…but I feel like being on stage is a challenge for you to overcome your fear. You know like, a lot of people search for thrills of bungee jumping or going to roller coasters to overcome their fear, you know. I look for a stage where that’s my way of overcoming my fear, you know. That’s my way. That’s my adrenaline. It helps me build confidence. It taught me a lot about being aware of your audience, you know, being aware of your material, what chu want to deliver, what’s your purpose on here? Like – why are you really here? You know, like do you just want to be here because you want to be flashy about yourself or you want to be here because you want to make a difference? And I learned that I want to be here because I want to make a difference. One of the down thing is um…because the entertainment industry can be so…can blind you, like that [snaps fingers] if you’re not aware, because I’ve run into people who becomes cocky and you try not to pick up that trait because when you do that you lose respect from, you know, your peers, ‘cause if you coj ib tug neeg li ntawm ces (behaved like a cocky person), it doesn’t attract a lot of people to you. I learned that you have to be humble. Be humble, be grateful, be thankful, be appreciative, stay positive, don’t…don’t have a big head for sure. Don’t be a douche bag. Don’t be a diva. [Giggles] Artists don’t like working with divas. [From her perspective in the real world, not saying that this applies to everyone]
I’m curious, who or what are your inspirations to do what you do?
My life inspires me. [Laughs because it was such a broad answer and thought it was cocky] Does that sound cocky already? [Continues to laugh] You know, like events, like what I go through and my struggles and who I am, you know, my identity, um…or friendships that you…from your perspective that you see friends are going through. Also the world too, how fucked up this world is. I think that’s what drives me to want to make a difference in this world. I like Lauren Hill. I listen to Lauren Hill a lot. I like her…educated CD. I mean she talks a lot about like, you know society, stereotypes, poverty, abortion, like a lot, you know, a lot of social justice awareness stuff like that in general under the double standard and stuff like that. So, I’m inspired by that kind of perspective.
Kanye West…I love Kanye West. He makes abstract music and he inspires me to want to make abstract music. They call it instrumental music but I like to it abstract music. A lot of people hate him but I feel like he just tells you how it really is. As an artist I think he’s also being the truth, a true artist to himself and being real to the world when he…sharing to the world what’s been going on in his mind and what he wanted to share. So I like that about him.
I like Frank Ocean too. He’s gay, that’s awesome. [Laughs at her own comment] I like how he can rap about a guy and how he can rap about a girl, or sing, I mean sing. And uh…it’s not just towards one gender but it’s both, and I like that. I like that he can do that.
My biggest idol that I look up to is G-Dragon. Yeah…G-Dragon is the motha-fucken shit! He is, sometimes I feel like he can read my mind. [Laughs] I mean he’s just dope. I don’t know if you’ve seen his stuff but he’s just really dope and creative, especially he’s a male, he wears like…men and women’s clothes but he makes it work, you know. He’s known as a fashionista and he’s really creative with his music and what he wants to portray, what his message that he’s trying to come across, so…I’m just like a big ass, HUGE fan of him. And he’s awesome. G-Dragon is probably my number one.
So what are your dreams or goals as a music artists?
I want to, this is so deadly. I want to be loud. But I don’t want to be loud where, not that I’m saying it’s gonna happen but I’m just saying like, you know when you’re famous you have paparazzi all over you and stuff. Anything you do sometime they twist the story about you and you’re like ‘Ahh shit’, I feel like it’s so dangerous living that life but the same time it’s like you can’t help the fact that you just make good music too. I don’t know how big I want to get but I guess I want to be able to make a change, make a movement. Definitely I want to…no. I take it back. I do know how big I want to get. I want to be national wide and I want to see different parts of the world. You know what I’m saying? I want to write about it. I think every experience is a song. I don’t ever want to stop living. What I mean by that is, not in a physical form but, you know some people they live life but you can tell that they were kind of dead inside? I don’t want to be dead. I want to be alive until it is time for me to go to my awesome mansion upstairs. [Laughs at this comment] I don’t know! It better be somewhere up there! But um…true story about me.
I didn’t know, I was confused if I wanted to pursue music or like go into something more business. A lot of it was money driven because I felt that artists don’t make money but other careers can make money…? And I struggled with that. My parents convinced me to go to school and I went for pharmacy technician. It’s like a year program. Um…yeah it was fun. But I realized like, it’s not my thing. You know what I’m saying? Like it’s not my thing yet.
This is the story here. I graduated, got a job, and then a month later they let everybody go with no explanation why – like the whole team. I don’t know why. And then…that’s when the journey started of finding a job in that field. And it just took FOREVER like nobody wanted to hire me. Even like at the local pharmacies. You know, just to start. No one would hire me or anything. It’s like, oh my gosh! This is like ridiculous! You know for a whole year I didn’t have any job but during that whole year I took the time to reflect a lot about myself.
And the question was, are you happy?
And the answer was no.
Why are you not happy?
Because I don’t want to do this.
If you don’t want to do this then why are you doing it?
Because I want to make my parents happy.
And it was just like, OH MY GOSH! Fuck their happiness! I’m gonna do me!
And it was a turning point. I dropped everything. I was like, not doing this pharmacy technician stuff. I’m like, I’m gonna pursue my art, I’m gonna pursue my music, I’m gonna put my full time – I want to do what makes me come out alive. That was my turning point to take my stuff seriously. I’ve always done music and stuff here and there but I always felt like it was, oh you know it’s fun and stuff and it’s an experience to have. But when you get older, there comes a time in your life where it’s like, well what do you really want to do? And that was my time, my point of time to realize what I wanted to do and it was to do music. That’s why I’m doing my project and I want to release it next year. It’s so crazy! I know it sounds like really corny, but to be able to put something together and your blood and sweat is put in there and making something happen – it just feels so good knowing that you have so much courage and that you have so much strength in yourself. But most of all what I learned is you need to believe in yourself. If you don’t have that you already lost the whole main ingredient. That is the most important ingredient.
Yeah girl, like that turning point – I felt so good! And I told my parents too ‘cause they kept asking me like, how’s your pharmacy going? Are you finding a job? Like, I’m not doing it anymore. I don’t like it. I can tell they were a little, kind of confused why but then…as a daughter it’s your job to find the courage and stand up to your parents and give them a piece of your mind. Why you’re doing what you need to do, and try to make them understand even if they don’t understand. I just think it’s fair that you tell them why. So I told them I wanted to make music. I don’t want to make that pharmacy stuff, I don’t like it. I can’t even say some of the drug names! [Laughs about it] They’re so complicated.
Surprisingly my mom and dad were like we just want you to be happy. So it was like a turn around. I thought they were gonna go crazy on me but I think…I’m always the black sheep of the family. This is how I am. If I am not driven or motivated in something, I’m not gonna do it. Half-ass. But when I’m driven, I’m motivated, I go all the way.
I am never willing to sacrifice my happiness until that one time I went to go school for them, I didn’t realize how shitty it made me felt. And I think that year when I didn’t get no job that was like a sign for me. How can I not get a job? At like a simple Walgreen you know? So that was a turning point for me and I think that was God saying you need to do what makes you happy. And I am doing it! [Laughs with happiness in her words] I’m not talking it, I’m actually doing it.
What are your fears of living in the lifestyle you choose right now?
My fear is…me losing myself. Me not having confidence anymore. Me doubting. Me soaking into negativity. I think that is very scary, when you lose that. I don’t care what people think. People will always think. There’s gonna be people who don’t like you. There’s gonna be people that like you. You can’t impress everybody. But the most important thing I feel is you just need to be truthful of whatever art form you’re trying to present and what chu want to portray because at the end can you walk away and be like, yes I did an honest work. Yes, that was me. What tastes better in your mouth when you walk away from the stage? There’s always gonna be haters, but at the same time there’s gonna be lovers. But my fear is me. Because if there’s no Suab Nag then there’s no Sonic Rain. Yos, me aub? (Right doggy?) [Pets Lucky]
Tell me about any new songs or current music projects that you are working on right now. I remember you mentioned about your release in April 2014.
Yeah, I’m working on this song called “Wrong.” I get inspired, influenced again by people too. Like what I hear and stuff, writing from their perspective and…this is like a heart breaking love song. [Laughs] Ahh, shit. I was trying to write something happy but no. This one has more of like an R&B feel, R&B pop feel. I talk about being honest with yourself and you’re in a relationship but you already know that it’s not working out, but you’re just kind of still in it. My chorus goes like…
But I got to be real with myself
That what we got it’s all gone
Let’s stop pretending it’s all good
When we know it’s gone down wrong
Something like that. Haha, that was like a teaser right there! But um…there’s kind of relationships out there where the fire is not burning but you can’t let go. And you’re stuck in the middle. And that’s a fucked up situation to be in. You’re in a relationship but there’s nothing really happening, but you don’t know if you should let go. And at the end when you let go…in the song it’s up to you to let go if you do or not, but it’s a cliffhanger. I’ve seen people like that and I just wanted to write about it. [Laughs]
Here’s a fun one, I wrote “Pretty.”
“Pretty” is a sexy song. It’s a sexy…deep song of love. I wrote about it, about my girlfriend. But you can take it about whatever. It’s about um…yeah it’s a sexy song. It’s not obvious where it’s like, “take off your clothes,” it’s more of like “swimming in each other’s lips”, kind of like in a poetry form way of sexiness. I think the chorus goes…[clears throat]
Pretty, you’re so fine the way you body sway
Got me trippin’ on your beautiful soul
That’s the chorus. Dang, did I perform…? I need to perform that song again. I want to make it sexy.
Oh so you have performed some of these songs before?
I have performed some of these songs before, except for “Wrong.” I have about 6 songs that are done, so those are the songs that I perform around. They’re more like, um, of a grunge feel, more of like a trip-pop kind of feel. “Imagine” has a lighter feel. That’s about love too. That’s me preaching about love, or that’s me trying to spread the word of love to everyone and to…just imagine if there really was no love. How fucked up would this world really be? So I kept that simple. There’s deep songs and simple songs. And then abstract. And then experimental.
I don’t want to stick to one genre. I want to experiment with different genres, but still stick to my true self in these genres. I hope that makes sense.
I want to be my own uniqueness. I know a lot of people probably won’t like it at first, but it’s always like that. When people don’t understand something they don’t want to accept it. Humans are slow. [Laughs] If you don’t understand something you’re just not going to accept it. That’s just how the human mind kind of works. I appreciate the fast humans ‘cause even if they don’t understand it all the way they’re still open minded to it. But again I don’t care what people think. [Laughs]
I’m just thankful that I can perform even though like, you know, I’m a lesbian and stuff, and people say whatever like…I feel like I don’t look at it as a weakness. I actually look at it as a strength because I am that difference…where people probably will not accept me right away but at the same time for those who are not vocal, who are still hidden in their closet to see another artist, uh…a lesbian artist perform, I hope that it gives them strength to do what they need to do in their life and it gives them strength knowing that we can do what we want to do if we believe in it and put your mind into it. I also want to be an inspiration to those who can’t be vocal about themselves, their identity. And also…I love to make people think about me because I’m not like a female – I mean I am a female, but like girly girl you know.
I was just curious, because you mentioned, “Even though I’m a lesbian,” I was just curious when did you come out?
I came out about…16.
How was your parents’ reactions?
Uh, not very good. [Laughs] They didn’t react that good. Actually, uh…I ran out. I ran away from home. Uh…for about like 3 months. I was staying with my friends and stuff. It was really hard, it was really heart breaking. Um…it breaks your spirit you know, but because I have such an awesome group of friends it kept me alive. And…I never once was willing to settle my identity to be something else. I just don’t want to sacrifice like a part of me to be something else for my parents’ happiness. Um…it was hard. It was hard but it took some time for them to let it register, because at the end of the day the real question is, “Do you still love your daughter?” That’s the real question. And they do.
We had a family talk. I came back home…and it was cool. It was rough a little bit but um…if you’re asking about today it’s cool. Haha! [Laughs] It’s so totally cool. Like they know what’s up. But I also feel like I also opened up a different lens in their eye, like the world is bigger than your world. Sometimes parents are stuck in their world and that’s why children are the shit [said this in a high emphasizing, praising tone] because they open up a different part of that world to their parents. I know that my parents, they support me. My dad was really happy about the gay marriage amendment when they made it public, so he was really happy. And I was like, it touched me! Awwww! You know like, you supported?! Alright! Alright! Thank you, you know. But…definitely, coming out was a real struggle. It’s a struggle. For some friends I heard it was really easy, like yeah it’s okay, we love you. I’m like, dang, you so lucky! [Laughs] But I don’t regret it though. I think that was the breakthrough in our family, the breakthrough of truth.
“Time will always be time, it’s what you make use of it while you still have it.”