We’ve written a lot about Star 2 the last year or so, and so when we were offered the chance to speak to the man himself, we leapt at the opportunity.
Hi there! Thank you so much for speaking to us! We’ve covered a lot of your music over the past year and each track is better than the last! What got you into music in the first place?
Thank you very much! I appreciate the coverage and compliment!! There’s always been music around me for as long as I can remember.
Music is a big part of my culture, the Ka-ren people from Burma. I grew up in a refugee camp where music kept us going. I grew up without parents – with my grandmother and her children. Her oldest son, my uncle, is very musical and played guitar and sang. I also went to church as a kid and sang in the camp and in the U.S. when we came to San Diego as refugees. Music is in all of our festivals. It’s in the weddings, the New Year celebrations, and religious ceremonies. We use electric guitars, keyboards, acoustic guitars, drums. There are all kinds of cool sounding indigenous string and drum instruments. I learned traditional dance too.
When I was in my early teens, I listened to Justin Bieber non-stop. I also loved Akon, Chris Brown and Tyga. Lol…I tried to dance like Michael Jackson. A close neighbourhood friend in our apartment complex had set up a small home studio. We would spend hours freestyling and copying the rappers we liked. I made some music videos rapping half in English and half in my native Ka-ren language. Around that time, I started writing my own songs.
In high school, I got a scholarship to a summer rap program at the LA College of Music, “Rap and Hip Hop: Change the World.” The program included writing lyrics, making beats, writing melodies, and vocal performance. Dr. Luke, the famous producer, was a guest teacher. The foundation that gave me the scholarship wanted me to rap without cussing. It was hella hard! I even had some performances where I was freestyling and had to keep stopping! I went blank and busted up laughing!!
Who or what has been your greatest inspiration in life and why? What about your musical inspirations?
My greatest inspiration is my grandma and what she has done for me. She walked to the refugee camp on the Thai border, over 500 miles in the jungle, as a young woman after her village was burned to the ground. In the United States, she woke up at 4am to pick mushrooms to pay our rent and pay back the airfare that brought us to San Diego from the camp. She came home in the afternoon exhausted and went to sleep.
My other inspiration is our Ka-ren people who have been the victims of genocide and horrible suffering. It’s important to me to bring awareness to their struggle, and that we get back our homeland in Myanmar.
On the musical side, my inspirations are Tupak and Juice Wrld – rappers who touched people’s emotions and make people think. I’m also just inspired by the power of good music – the way it can lift you up! The fun of a great song and the connection of a group singing together. Music moves us and brings us together.
In your latest single, ‘Thinkin Bout You’, you play a Lyft driver, who falls for one of your rides. You have a considerable talent for acting – is this something you think you might go into in the future, alongside singing?
Wow! Again – thank you so much for the compliment! To be honest, I never really thought about acting as a career. I have had hella fun being in the music videos though, so who knows? I would love to try acting if I had the opportunity. I AM a bit of a ham, so I wouldn’t mind trying.
What has been your favourite single you’ve released so far? What’s plans for the rest of 2022?
My favourite single so far is “Real Life” because it tells my story in the camp and growing up in the streets in San Diego. People who grew up like me tell me they relate to the hook “I come from a place where you hear sirens all the time.”
In 2022, I have a few collabs scheduled – Lil Poppa on two songs, Soulja Boy and Scorey, all with music videos. I learned to use a circus trapeze for an upcoming video, and keep your eyes open – I might even get shot out of a cannon!
I’ve spent a lot of productive time in the studio during COVID and the last couple of months. I love my new stuff! It’s sick!! I have a third EP already completed after my EP “Real Life” drops in April with a dope animated video for one of the tracks that’s almost done. I have an entire album of songs after the two EPs that I’ve already recorded. I’m seeking out Ka-ren artists for an international album. I’m also experimenting with different genres and sounds.
I have an acoustic concert that we’re filming next month and a live show here in San Diego in the spring. Also of course – filming more music videos.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be, and why?
Tupac and Juice Wrld. They’re legends and there’s no one like them. Justin Bieber because he is a living legend and still my hero. Also Kid Laroi. I have a perfect song for him to jump on!
Your songs are very relatable, how much of what you write is based on personal life experiences and how much isn’t?
Just about all of my songs are based on real things in my life and experiences. I do also have a very active imagination, which can be very dramatic and kinda builds on what’s actually happened. The songs about heartbreak are absolutely real – and the ones about falling in love. The ones about growing up and also about the world’s tragedies are all from my experience and perspective…very real!
If you could start all over again in your music career, what would you do differently, if anything, and why? What advice do you have for anyone who is just starting out in their music career?
I wish I had studied a few instruments. I’m learning guitar now, but wish I’d played all the instruments I could get my hands on when I was really young and had time to kill. My advice is to write all the songs in your head without worrying what anyone will think.
Also to not let the haters stop you from reaching your dreams. Finally…something I try to remember myself, is to enjoy the process! I’ve met some amazing people and have had a real blast making music.
What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does? What’s the answer to that question?
I have a vlog, The Adventures of Star2, on YouTube. I have a lotta fun doing the episodes. My question would maybe something like, “If you could go anywhere in the world and do anything you could think of…where would that be…and what would you do?”
The answer is: I want to visit Japan! I want to climb Mt. Fuji, see the bamboo forest in Kyoto, take photos of the Blue Lake, feed deer at Nara Park, see Tokyo at night, take the bullet train and eat Japanese food!
I recently learned to make sushi and have backpacked for 12 days in Alaska (with The Adventures of Star2) – we climbed several mountains. But I want to see Japan. I hope to do my vlog there soon!