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Songs of loss, songs of hope, songs of an elusive home. 
Songs from an American in Asia, an Asian in America. Joyce's debut album!
Songs of loss, songs of hope, songs of an elusive home. 
Songs from an American in Asia, an Asian in America. Joyce's debut album!
Songs of loss, songs of hope, songs of an elusive home. Songs from an American in Asia, an Asian in America. Joyce's debut album!
220 backers pledged $15,616 to help bring this project to life.

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Joyce Kwon's New-American Folk Album, Dream of Home

$15,616

220

Do you know the story of stone soup? You know the one where a stranger comes into town, claiming he can make the most delicious soup with a stone … if only he had some water to boil ... some vegetables ... seasoning ... The villagers gather around, each adding to the pot, curious to see just how soup can be made of stone.

Let me share a new American version of this old folktale.

Nearly a decade ago in Los Angeles, singer/songwriter Joyce Kwon started studying gayageum, the traditional 12-string Korean zither, under a wise teacher whom she loved like her own grandmother. She envisioned herself playing gayageum on stage one day but put that dream on hold to hone her craft as a jazz singer in New York City. Meanwhile, her teacher became too frail to continue giving her lessons. She gave her blessing for Joyce to study with another teacher, with funding from the Berkeley community, and passed down her gayageum just weeks before she breathed her last.

With the precious gift in hand, Joyce went to Seoul for two years and spent her time diligently practicing the traditional repertoire and began writing songs on gayageum to comfort herself as she dealt with losing family and feeling utterly foreign in the country where she was born. A couple of friends encouraged her to record the songs: big sister HeeSung Kim insisted on making her a music video and old moss/keyboardist Ross Garren said he’d produce the record.

It was to be a solo album but Ross thought it would be even better with more rhythm and harmony. How about adding some tambourine and triangle ... Mellotron and Marxophone ... Harmonica and Harmonetta?

Ross and Joyce sought out the mixing wizard, Keith Armstrong of North Hollywood, for his audio engineering magic. Fellow townsman Erik Kertes came by with his pep and bass while drummer Gavin Salmon laid down the groove and garnished the songs with a shaker the volume of a few packets of salt. Bay Area legend Hitomi Oba added her tenor saxophone lines, at times fiery, at times fluttery, and trombonist/chef Nick DePinna threw in bold brass with the capacity to shock. Born and raised Angeleno Brandon Bae filled out the tunes with his informed and inventive guitar playing.

All of the ingredients together resulted in a novel, yet palatable collection of songs with a base of Korean folk, Black American Music, and contemporary production.

But the soup isn’t ready to be served yet. We still need spoons and bowls … a ladle ... We need your contribution to complete mixing, master the audio, manufacture CDs, and get publicity help to spread the word since the aroma can only spread so far on its own.

These are songs that will help restore a heart broken thrice over with grief, songs that will resonate with immigrants who feel alien in the land of their ancestors while simultaneously rebuffed from their home country, songs that will nourish weary souls in their search for an elusive home that no giant head in the Emerald City can help them find.

Wouldn’t you like to be a part of this new American tale?

*~*~*~*

Little Bird

If you pledge Little Bird, I'll email you a PDF of the sheet music and mp3 to the song.

An excerpt of the sheet music for Little Bird
An excerpt of the sheet music for Little Bird

As you can see in the snippet above, the top staff has the vocal part notated and the bottom staff, gayageum. Chords run across the top so that you can also play it on guitar or piano. It's easy to play and appropriate for beginners (helpful if you can read chords) on up! Even if you don't read music, this handwritten score will look nice printed on paper of your choice.

You can listen to the solo voice/gayageum version of Little Bird below:

Three Sister Bears

gayageum bookmark prototypes
gayageum bookmark prototypes

Pictured are prototypes of the gayageum bookmark that I designed, lovingly laser cut by my baby sister. The final product will be cut from bamboo plywood and look even better :) Use it to keep your place in one of the recommended Asian-American authored books.

More about the project

This will be an album of eight songs—a compact and complete statement. Other than two which are original arrangements of traditional music, the songs are my own which my producer Ross Garren and I collaboratively arranged.

My projected expenses for this project are, at minimum, double what I'll get from meeting my Kickstarter goal; I'm planning on investing up to half of the budget myself.
My projected expenses for this project are, at minimum, double what I'll get from meeting my Kickstarter goal; I'm planning on investing up to half of the budget myself.

Risks and challenges

The release date is yet to be confirmed as that is contingent on other agencies related to promotion of the album. The music has already been recorded and is currently being mixed though, so I wouldn't worry about receiving the album and rewards in due time.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Digital Download

    You'll get a digital download of the album PLUS access to a series of posts detailing the process behind the album.
    We're talking spreadsheets & sample budget, mood boards & creative, search engine optimization & marketing tools—the nitty gritty of launching an album.
    It'll make an applicable resource for indie musicians and an informative read for anyone interested in the many facets of the creative process.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Little Bird

    In addition to the Digital Download package, you'll get first access to a PDF copy of the handwritten sheet music to my song Little Bird. I'll email it to you along with the corresponding mp3.

    (Look in the About section for an excerpt and a link to the solo recording)

    Includes:
    • Little Bird sheet music & mp3
    • Digital Download package
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Compact Disc

    I'll mail you a CD of Dream of Home!

    Includes:
    • Dream of Home on compact disc
    • Digital Download package
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    26 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Signed Cassette Tape

    I'll mail you a cassette tape of Dream of Home that I've signed! The booklet insert will include all of the lyrics <3

    Includes:
    • Dream of Home on cassette, signed
    • Digital Download package
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Signed Compact Disc

    I'll mail you a CD—signed!

    Includes:
    • Dream of Home on CD, signed
    • Digital Download package
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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Joyce Voice Ross Moss Discography

    I'll mail you a signed copy of Dream of Home along with my 2011 EP, To a Certain Boy, which I also recorded with Ross. I have just 15 copies available.

    Includes:
    • Dream of Home on CD, signed
    • To a Certain Boy EP
    • Digital Download package
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    Reward no longer available 15 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    T-shirt designed by Joyce!

    Place an order if you'd like an album tee designed by me! I'll be in touch about your size. This comes with a signed CD.

    Includes:
    • T-shirt designed by Joyce
    • Dream of Home on CD, signed
    • Digital Download package
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    14 backers
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Three Sister Bears

    This is a very special and limited offer made with my sisters! I've designed a bookmark shaped like the gayageum, lovingly laser cut by my baby sister, a student of technology and math. My other sister, who works with Asian Pacific American communities in the Bay Area, has drawn up a list of books by Asian-American authors she recommends, with a brief intro to each.

    Included are two signed copies of Dream of Home so that you can share a CD with your sister or a friend!

    (Look in the About section for a picture of the bookmark)

    Includes:
    • Gayageum bookmark, signed
    • Recommended list of books by Asian-American authors
    • Dream of Home on CD, signed
    • Digital Download package
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    Reward no longer available 23 backers
    $
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Skype Lesson

    Joyce is an experienced music instructor with degrees in vocal performance and composition. Sign up for a lesson over Skype on any or all of the following: singing, songwriting, composing & arranging.

    Includes:
    • 45-minute lesson over Skype
    • Digital Download package
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Producers Lunch

    We'll take you to one of Joyce's favorite sandwich places in Downtown Los Angeles! Tell us about yourself. Ask Ross what it's like touring with Ben Folds or scoring music for television. Ask Joyce what her favorite sandwich is or about sandwishing.

    (Offer open only to LA residents who can meet us downtown)

    Includes:
    • Sandwiches with Joyce and Ross
    • Dream of Home on CD, signed
    • Digital Download package
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    Limited 1 backer
    $
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Spoons & Bowls

    Thank you for helping set the table for my stone soup! I'll write you into my stone soup story and send you a signed copy along with a Dream of Home spoon. You will also receive everything in the Three Sister Bears package.

    Includes:
    • Spoon & signed story
    • Three Sister Bears package
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    Limited 3 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Solo House Concert

    Joyce with her gayageum in your living room. I'll come play an intimate, hour-long concert at your home in Southern California. I might bring some Korean snacks. And you get everything in the Three Sister Bears package!

    Includes:
    • House Concert in SoCal
    • Three Sister Bears package
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Soup Ladle

    Thank you for helping serve my stone soup! I'll write you into my stone soup story and send you a signed copy along with a Dream of Home ladle. You will also receive everything in the Three Sister Bears package.

    Includes:
    • Ladle & signed story
    • Three Sister Bears package
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Funding period

- (30 days)