By Adam Chau and Mimi Chen, AsAmNews Staff Writers
The production/DJ duo from Huntington Beach, California, consisting of members Johnny Lee and A’shanti, released the song and video Tonight in response to the myriad of Asian American hate crimes across the country.
“What began as an anthem to support #BlackLivesMatter has evolved into uplifting the AAPI community and the LGBTQIA+ community-really, empowerment for all people,” said Lee.
The video has footage from rallies across the country protesting the anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. and the shootings in Atlanta.
The video also features recognizable faces such as Lisa Ling, Simu Liu, Dante Basco, Kelly Hu, Hayden Szeto, Michael Campion, Christian Isaiah, Cade Michael, Henry Fong, KLAXX, Kaleena Zanders, Mighty Shock LA, Kevin Krieder, Kelly Mi Li and Kane Lin.
The duo shared more information on their Instagram about why they released Tonight.
“The song Tonight was not only a way for us to express our anger and anguish during this time of crisis, but we wanted to show our support for all our brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation. We must do our part. We must speak out. We must unite. Join us in spreading a message of love and solidarity to all those still fighting for their equality and humanity.”
In addition to being one half of The Hotel Lobby, Vietnamese American Johnny Lee also won a VMA in 2017 for directing the music video Standing Rock by Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas and Shailene Wooley.
AsAmNews recently sat down with members of the band and activist friends to discuss their efforts.
According to producer Jessica del Mundo, it was critical to show solidarity amongst different people. “This is not just intended to be showing the solidarity amongst Asians, it’s also showing our supporters and friends who are other people of color, but also other folks that are non Asian. And you can see in the video footage, there’re clips from LGBTQ plus rallies that the guys attended and supported. There’re clips from Black Lives Matter rallies.”
Lee noted that the clips were drawn from their lives, which they document constantly thru social media. “We didn’t plan this music video. We just kind of pasted together our real lives and a lot of the footage is on our f–king cell phone. People don’t know that. It’s not even like a Hollywood production. The footage that we have, I can show you the original stuff on my iPhone.”
Added Lee, “the overall meaning is just really equality for all, that’s really what the song is about. And now with what was going on recently, with the Asian American attacks, you know, it was something I couldn’t ignore anymore. And I wanted to visually represent, you know, Asians on there just to try to bring more, you know, awareness to that to the movement and just kind of do my part, use our platform to try to try to do anything to make a difference.”
Lee talked about how he wasn’t even aware he was being bullied as a kid. He just assumed that that was the way of the world in terms of his treatment. “I was beat up a lot walking home from school because I was Asian. I don’t think Asian kids are being beat up outside walking over school, but our grandparents, our parents, alright, so that’s different. So that’s f–king worse.”
Tai noted he too had similar experiences, albeit from his perspective as a Black person. “When I was a kid, I remember my mom biting her tongue a lot with certain interactions, you know, with the way people treated her I think she was trying to show us, you know, to teach us how to react and not be the stereotypical person that they expect you to be. And I find myself doing the same thing with my kids.”
Also attending the group discussion with AsAmNews was William Lex Ham, an activist from the East Coast, who noted the other initiatives with which they intend to move forward.
“Now that there’s national awareness, there is a lot of people from our community that really care. So now it’s like, what do we do? So we’re moving from our awareness to solutions, focused actions. And one of the things that we’re fighting for through my nonprofit called Asians in America, is Asian American Studies in our schools K through 12, to work to dispel a lot of the perpetual foreignness that is placed on our community, and to give our kids a sense of pride by knowing their history in our country.”
He added that he “didn’t really know about our history in our country at all” until he watched the PBS series released last year called Asian Americans. “It gave me so much context to our standing in our country and gave me so much pride as an adult.”
Hotel Lobby drew their name from the amount of travel they experience as musicians. Explains Lee, ”we are always staying in hotels. And the place you meet at is the hotel lobby, whether it be like you meet there and before you go out to eat or, more specifically, after we party at the end of the night, and they kick you out of the club, the only last place to go drink is the hotel lobby. So it was almost a joke. We made that the name because we wanted to be like a party kind of a crew party. Music EDM represented party music to us.”
To see the more serious side of Hotel Lobby, here’s the video for the song Tonight with royalties donated to several charities for #StopAsianHate, including StopAAPIhate.org and HateIsAVirus.org.
YouTube channel for The Hotel Lobby:
All Social media @TheHotelLobby
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