30 Before 30: Face-to-Face Conversation with a Celebrity

#20 from my 30 Before 30 list: Have a face-to-face conversation with a celebrity, preferably over a meal

Clara C, David Choi, me, and opening act Jason Min

David Choi and Clara C are two recording artists who rose to international fame on YouTube. Together they have over 1 million subscribers and over 130 million video views. On Friday, their joint fall tour stopped in Philadelphia at World Cafe Live. One of the ticket options was the “fan experience,” which included admission to the concert, meet and greet, backstage access, and dinner with the band. Even though I would be attending the concert by myself, I decided to splurge on this option.

Thanks to traffic, I was 30 minutes late, but I was also the first ticket holder to arrive (since nearly everyone attending is running on Asian time). The first person I saw when I arrived was Clara, who was starting to set up the merch table. After getting checked in and set up, I went into the concert hall, where David was starting to sound check. John, the tour manager, gave me the OK to take photos and also took dinner orders.

There were four other fan experience ticket holders – two couples – and while David sound checked, we met Clara C. (She likes my scarf.) She brought us onto the stage and introduced us to David. David shook our hands but greeted me with a “Heyyy!” and a hug, since he remembered me from his show in April and from Twitter. Clara led us backstage to get something to drink, and we all snacked on chips and salsa and fresh fruit. The chips and salsa were a big hit all around. We talked about places to eat in Philly, Facebook (and Facebook stalking), tour schedules, how sound check works, and whether or not people actually enjoy living in Philadelphia.

Clara began her sound check, and David sat down with us to eat dinner. He sat across the table from me and shared fries with the rest of us. (I don’t think the fries were actually his…) We talked about school, California, being away from home, ostomy pouches (AKA poop bags), and the distinction between Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. I also took on the complicated task of explaining my job and why I travel for work when I’m a graphic designer. David’s dog, Pepper, goes to a groomer in California – maybe she (or he?) attends Groom & Kennel Expo!

Doors opened shortly after dinner, and the concert began an hour later. The fan experience group sat upstairs in the mezzanine, which was conducive to people watching. The groups of teenagers and college students made us feel old. The non-Asians were easy to spot, especially the leather-clad couple that looked like they belonged in a biker gang. The concert was obviously incredible. (I bet if you search on YouTube, you’ll find some videos of it.) I am a new fan of opening act Jason Min, a Philly local. It was a fun show filled with laughs, audience participation, new music, and aww-inducing stories about the songs’ inspirations.

After the show, I had one more opportunity to talk with David, Clara, and Jason at the meet and greet table. There were several hugs, some handshaking, a few CDs signed, and declarations of “It was so nice to meet you!” David also talked about meeting at his first World Cafe Live show and replying to my tweets. And that’s what’s awesome about attending YouTuber’s concerts. The Internet makes these artists more accessible than more mainstream performers. This accessibility coupled with their welcoming personalities makes the “fan experience” more like a “friend experience.” I hope to see these friends again soon!

More photos here!


Darling It’s You

Darling It’s You, 2012
Hand-drawn type design (digitally colored)

Based on lyrics from “Darling It’s You” by David Choi and Clara C, who are currently on tour together. I just ordered prints of this design to give to David and Clara when I see them (and join them for dinner!) in Philadelphia on November 9. I hope they like it!


Dream Journal: David Choi and the “Toilet Bowl Composition”

Look out, Philip Wang! It looks like David Choi is competing with Phil and the Fangirls for “man of my dreams” (like, literally, my dreams).

I was on vacation with my mom’s side of the family – at least 40 aunts, uncles, and cousins. We were possibly camping – nothing too fancy. We were all divided into various sleeping quarters (basically a bunch of tents on a hill), but we also had a tour bus/RV for some relaxing, air-conditioned cooking space.

It was 6:25 AM. I was still sleepy but awake, making my way from the sleeping quarters to the RV. I hadn’t yet gotten ready for the day, so I was still in glasses and sweatpants with my hair messily pulled back. As I got closer to the RV, I saw David through the window.

David and I had recently gotten married. Though we were on vacation together with my family, it had been a couple days since I had seen him. As I climbed the steps into the RV, I noticed I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and then remembered that David and I hadn’t gone public with our marriage yet. We weren’t Facebook official.

Inside the RV were David and two of my older cousins. David was standing by one of the counters as he worked on his laptop. My cousins were sitting around and eating breakfast. One cousin mentioned that the rest of the family couldn’t sleep either. She pointed to the tents on the nearby hill and said that the other cousins were waking up, too.

David was busy working, so I didn’t want to disturb him. Instead, I sat down on one of the benches and grabbed a piece of granola from a tray on the counter. It was homemade granola with a layer of peanut butter on the bottom. Suddenly my mom and a couple aunts were also in the RV, which now looks like my parents’ kitchen. As they stood by the granola, I thought I heard buzzing. It sounded like a swarm of bees, but I didn’t see any bees in room. I even got up to take a closer look at the granola, just in case the peanut butter was attracting flies. Nothing. I realized at that point that the almost deafening buzzing was just the sound of my mom and her sisters talking and laughing.

David finally looked up from his work, and with a smile, we made eye contact. I got up from my bench and went over to where he stood. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in such a long time,” I said as I hugged him and rested my head on his shoulder. His shirt was soft – light gray with blue, irregular circles all over it.

“I’ve been busy,” he replied, sounding tired.

“How’s recording going?” I asked, almost falling asleep on his shoulder and struggling to keep my eyes open.

“I need to take a break. I mean, I have three string tracks,” he said, thinking it was a bit excessive. I looked down at his laptop where he was editing a new song. I looked up and realized that his face was no longer David’s but my mother’s. I thought nothing of it.

“But I just keep recording them,” he continued, “because I know how much the tracks degrade whenever I adjust the tone.” (It’s like the string tracks are recorded on vinyl, so he felt the need to record back-ups since the tracks get worn down every time he plays it back or fiddles with some dial.)

“That’s why they call it… Oh, what’s the phrase?” my cousin chimed in. “Oh, that’s right. Toilet bowl composition.” (I guess that was supposed to refer to string arrangements and how the layering of degrading tracks makes it sound like everything was just thrown into a toilet bowl. Or it just sounds like crap.)

I woke up from this dream around 3 AM, and just before I fell back asleep, I remembered David’s most recent Facebook post:

So I’ve produced, arranged, recorded, and played almost every instrument on my last three albums. “Only You,” “By My Side,” and “Forever and Ever.” It’s a LOT of work. Rewarding, but still a LOT of work… and stress. For my next album, I entertained the idea of having a bigger well known producer help me out this time which means I would NOT do the producing, arranging, and recording. Which ultimately means it would sound a bit different… not to mention cost lots of money. Of course the songs would be 100% written by me. What do you guys think?

Do it for us, David! Do it for us.

Well, David… If we were really married, I would want you to hire a producer. I didn’t particularly like going several days without seeing my “husband” because he chose to spend most of vacation working… Is doing all the work worth what you would have to sacrifice? I think if you can find a producer you trust as an artist, business person, and human being, it might be worth the risk and the cost.