International Secret Agents showcases the nation’s hottest new Asian-American talent
By Jana J. Monji 09/03/2009
International Secret Agents will be on a mission Sunday at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, where audience members will be treated to hot hip-hop from Far East Movement, also known as FM, and comedy and commentary from online personalities like Wong Fu Productions and KevJumba, as well as a performance by the season three winners of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” Quest Crew.
James Roh of FM and Philip Wang of Wong Fu Productions said in a recent phone interview that this ISA concert builds on their success last year with sold-out concerts in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It also proves that selling Asian-American artists to the mainstream media isn’t exactly Mission Impossible.
The fact is these guys haven’t been exactly operating undercover.
Far East Movement (Kevin “Kev Nish” Nishimura, James “Prohgress” Roh, Jae “J-Splif” Chou, Virman “DJ Virman” Coquia), has a hit single, “Girls on the Dance Floor,” from their album “Animal” — rated the No. 1 single on DjCity.com. — and has been on two world tours to Canada, Europe and Asia. TV viewers may have seen them as part of McDonald’s Big Mac Chant Campaign, or as spokespersons for McDonald’s Los Ring Campaign during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Partnering with FM is Wong Fu Productions, a San Gabriel-based group (Wesley Chan, Ted Fu and Philip Wang) that formed in 2003 when Chan, Fu and Wang were in school at UC San Diego. The threesome then started making videos that have been accepted at various film festivals, including Cannes, where two of their short films (“At Musing’s End” and “A Peace of Home”) were official short film selections.
“A lot of these artists doing a lot of great things don’t get a proper venue as a mainstream artist,” said FM’s Roh. “Asian Americans haven’t been embraced on the mainstream level, although they have huge fan bases … This is a completely artist-run venture and our fans really do have a say.”
According to Wang, “We have talent that should be recognized. In California, there are so many Asian Americans. Around the country there are smaller populations that need the help, need more visibility.”
To that end, under the sponsorship of JC Penney, the ISA Concert Series will be introducing new talent on Sunday when the winner of their JC Penney Schooled in Style Breakout Performer contest winner takes the stage.
The complete lineup includes: FM, Wong Fu Production, Quest Crew, Kina Grannis, David Choi, Jennifer Chung, Kevin “KevJumba” Wu, Bruno Mars and GLP (Gabe, Leejay, Passion).
Tickets are sold out online, but you might get lucky at the door. If that’s a mission improbable, get on their mailing list because everyone wants to be an international secret agent.
International Secret Agents Los Angeles 2009 begins at 6 p.m. Sunday at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel. Tickets range from $20 to $95. For information, call (626) 308-2865 or visit internationalsecretagents.com.