Join Velvet Einstein on Thursday, October 12th @ 5PM when he speaks with singer, songwriter, and scholar, Julian Saporiti, of multimedia project, No No Boy. Tune in to hear their discussion covering the origins and evolution of the No-No Boy Project, turning oral histories into songs, and how Saporiti found himself through time spent at a Buddhist monastery.
Storytelling has always been at the root of Julian Saporiti’s music as No-No Boy. The project developed as the central component of Saporiti’s PhD at Brown University, drawing on years of fieldwork and research on Asian American history to write folk songs with uncommon empathy and remarkable protagonists: prisoners at Japanese American internment camps who started a jazz band, Vietnamese musicians turned on to rock ‘n’ roll by American troops, a Cambodian American painter who painted only the most beautiful landscapes of his war-torn home.
Along the way he started to draw on his own family’s history, including his mother’s escape from Vietnam during the war. His 2021 album 1975 was called “a remarkably powerful and moving album,” by Folk Alley and “gentle, catchy and accessible folk songs that feel instantly familiar,” by NPR – a contrast that gets to the heart of Saporiti’s songwriting.
Latest album, Empire Electric, the third release by No-No Boy, examines narratives of imperialism, identity, and spirituality. It tells stories rooted in years of research and relationship-building, made vibrant and profound through a rich congregation of instrumental, environmental, and electronically manipulated sounds from Asia and America. Every single sound, from the gracious swell of a pedal steel to the warbling pluck of a koto, becomes a part of the poetic recasting of shared post-colonial trauma and the startling joys that can be wrung out of that hardship.