An Interview With Son Of Paper
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today! Please tell the readers about yourself and the work you do.
Son of Paper: My name is Kyle Shin. I’m 22 years old and I go by the name Son of Paper, a name that pays homage to my Great Grandmother who came to this country as a Paper Daughter. I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and graduated this May with an East Asian Studies Major from Wesleyan University.
I’m currently working remotely with my small team and with multiple Bay Area artists to create the best music and video content possible. From live streams to Tik Tok’s, adapting to the new landscape of the music industry during COVID has been our major focus. I hope to make art that inspires, heals, and guides young people of color during these difficult times.
How long have you been making music? How did you get your start?
Son of Paper: I first started writing raps back in ‘07 which for me was middle school. Artists like Eminem, Kanye, and groups like Far East Movement really got me excited about hip-hop as both an art form and culture. One assistant teacher in my middle school encouraged me to keep writing and later connected me with Aquarius Groove Music, a selfless mentor that gave me hundreds of hours of free studio sessions throughout my high school years.
Also, places like Donaldina Cameron House gave me a stage to test out my handwritten bars on stage. They warmly embraced all my successes and failures. Thanks to all of the supportive adults and communities I grew up in, by the time I was a senior in a pretty judgmental, predominantly white high school, I was confident enough in my abilities to perform three times in front of four hundred people.
During my early college years, open mic spaces & cultural shows allowed me to experiment, grow and develop a local fan base, find like-minded artists, and find clarity in why music was so special to me. By my junior year, I began frequently performing at other schools in Connecticut, the Bay Area, and even the streets of Seoul. This taste of the rap artist life gave me the confidence to pursue music as a career and journey.
Wesleyan itself gave me the opportunity to study Korean culture and language. Not only am I highly influenced by Korean rap and R&B, but as my language skills continue to blossom, bilingual rapping & rapping on the Korean American experience has become integral to my music. I could not be happier with the more globally aware version of myself that I am today.
What do you do to stay productive? How do you foster creativity?
Son of Paper: I do my best to treat music like a craft and job. I clock in daily whether I’m feeling inspired or not. In order to avoid burnout and writer’s block, I build in breaks, exercise, and eat clean. It might sound cliche, but I’ve found that maintaining my mental and physical health is key to performing the daily tasks of being a musician. Recognizing when to step away from and when to push through an obstacle is crucial to keep my momentum going. Becoming an artist is a marathon of believing in your current and future self.
Music often requires collaboration with other artists/producers. How do you approach the collaborative process?
Son of Paper: Someone said that a great collaboration is one that brings the best out of everyone involved. I think sharing a vision and aligning emotions is critical to make a collaborative work of substance– so when I start a collaboration, I ask them what kind of energy or content they want to put out in the world. That’s usually the jumping-off point to getting on the same page and building something new and beautiful.
How do you stay motivated to make art?
Son of Paper: I do it for myself as therapy. I do it for kids that may have never seen an Asian-American face on TV before. I think my cross-cultural story is an important story to tell– especially in an America so racially and economically divided. Whenever I feel like quitting, I remember how much music has and will continue to change the world. I want to be a changemaker, a mountain mover.
Outside of making music, what do you do for fun?
Son of Paper: I love playing sports, board games, and spending time with loved ones. Not to flex, but — I think it’s safe to say I’m the best chess-playing rapper in the game. Like forreal, google search young Kyle the chess prodigy, haha. Since the pandemic started, it’s been super hard to do any of the things I do for fun. That being said, we all gotta be strong and social distance the hell out of fall 2020. If the current president isn’t going to protect us against COVID, the people got to.
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What advice can you give to those who want to start rapping or making their own music?
Son of Paper: Find a homie that you trust will give you constructive feedback. Although we all sucked at first, you have to embrace your mini failures, rewrite and re-record your verses meticulously, and view rejection as a great teacher. Lastly, try to add something new to the conversation of rap (or any other genre). That’s when you go from echoing others to having a voice of your own.
Do you have any upcoming releases, gigs, or events you would like to discuss?
Son of Paper: Here are my upcoming releases:
Sunday, September 6: “because of u” single on all platforms
Friday, September 18: “Soju Over Ice” single on All platforms
Wednesday, September 30: “Soju Over Ice” Music Video on YouTube
I’m super excited about the release of these two singles. “Because of u” is a disco inspired love song featuring another SF artist Chinoe– this late summer track will make you want to dance or roller skate– or both. “because of u” is about my aspirations for the future, the insecurities I overcame throughout college, and the friends and family that ground me. It’s a thank you card folded into a song.
Soju Over Ice is probably my favorite project I’ve ever made. It’s catchy and melodic with Korean and English lyrics blended a la Jay Park or Ph-1. “I miss soju but why’s it 13.99?” The lyrics poke fun at how Asian Americans like myself put soju on a pedestal as if it’s high-class alcohol, when in reality it’s $2 or less at a convenience store in Seoul, SK. This song is a celebration of the Korean wave of music and entertainment.
If I get signed off of this track, I definitely have BigBang, BTS, and all the Gyopo rappers before me to thank for paving the way. “Get yo money from these dummies.” Soju’s vibrant video was directed by the very talented Justin Guo, another SF Local. Even though these two singles are independent releases, we’re here to do damage and level up for 2021.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Where can readers find you and your work?
Son of Paper: I’m pretty active on all socials but definitely visit my website sonofpaper.com if you want to see all of the projects I’m working on. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if the music spoke to you and you want to say what’s up!
Check out Son of Paper!
A huge thank you to Son of Paper for taking the time to chat with me this week. Make sure to check out their music at the following locations: