Photo: Ariff Danial

BY TAMMY SCILEPPI

“Their story is my story.” That seems to be music-loving Queens activist Claire Marie Lim’s (aka dolltr!ck) mantra.

QCA’s 2018-2019 Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) Awardee is a local electronic music artist and technologist. Her project evolved into an inspiring new album called “Colors of Us,” chosen for its capacity to tell untold stories relevant to Queens’ thriving Asian community in Flushing.

Specifically, that area’s young, female-identifying group. Lim says she has a unique ability to connect with them emotionally through similar experiences. Her goal? To make their stories part of her music, while maintaining her artist’s voice and identity.  

 “Claire’s music intertwines these participants’ voices with her own, creating an upbeat and engaging album addressing issues of representation, leadership and cultural identity,” said Kelly Olshan, QCA’s Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) manager.

An advocate of women and young people in music technology, Lim, who is an Astoria resident, sees that group’s involvement in the field as inspiring when she works in different Queens communities. “I see my project as more of providing a platform for young Asian women to have the space to be creative. I didn’t conceive it with a specific message in mind, but it definitely aligns with my personal vision of empowering those around me to be unafraid of being themselves,” she said.

“As a young Asian woman growing up, I was very much aware of socio-cultural norms that I was always advised to follow. I would often adhere to them because I didn’t really know what else to do, and I only realized later on how much my fear of ‘messing up’ in society had made be afraid to chase what I truly wanted,” Lim, who spent most of her life in Singapore, explained. 

“Specifically in Queens, where the community is incredibly diverse, I wanted to take that first step in empowering female-identifying youth of Asian descent to look at where they are physically, mentally and culturally, and fearlessly translate their experiences into art that they can share with others.”

The album consists of songs spanning different sub-genres of electronic music, including house, synthwave, trap, hip-hop, electropop, drum and bass. “The material was based on ideas that the young people involved brought to the table, and the production styles were also influenced by the types of music that the youth liked to listen to,” Lim noted, adding, “Some examples of topics addressed were having faith in oneself, managing rocky family relationships, and being judged for one’s skin color.”

Photo: Sean Chee

Lim does different things related to her profession, such as music production, engineering, programming, and education. She also designs live shows for other artists and incorporates her skills into her own artist project, dolltr!ck, under which she performs live electronic music, DJs and produces.

QCA helped Lim achieve her creative dreams in a big way. “While music is an integral part of our daily lives, there aren’t many people outside of the music industry who truly know about what goes into the making of a new music album, especially from the perspective of an independent artist like myself,” she said. “Funding is a very real challenge, and in some cases it ends up being the main barrier to creating a work. Without being a grantee under ACP, there is no way I could have had the resources to reach out to the students involved, write the songs, produce the music, distribute the album and pay my amazing artistic collaborators who helped with recording instruments, creating visual media and listening as additional pairs of ears in the music-making process.”

For the girls involved, Lim’s hope is that they’ll be able to hear how their initial ideas have been transformed into full pieces of music and be proud of their contributions toward the project, no matter how big or small. 

“For whoever hears the album, I hope that they will realize or be reminded of the potential that music has to shape the outlooks that youth have on their own worlds and communities, as well as society at large,” she added. “It’s an honor to be a vehicle for these young people’s creative thoughts, and I’m especially proud of those who, through this album, had a taste of music-making for the first time!”

Don’t miss Lim’s listening party for the album on Aug. 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Lewis Latimer House Museum in Flushing. This event will feature an exclusive preview of excerpts from her songs. RSVP: https://mp280.infusionsoft.app/app/form/rsvp100?inf_contact_key=d2f3d7fa8ae08069263a60351cf45c0b

Experience a live World Premiere performance of “Colors of Us” on Sept. 15 (4 p.m.) at Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing (5 p.m. – reception). The show is free and open to the public upon registration. RSVP: https://mp280.infusionsoft.app/app/form/rsvp95?inf_contact_key=99e5b657e6c7d3ba9978f25b3dd35547

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