The vibes were off the charts on Thursday, Feb. 11, as Asian Pacific Student Programs (APSP) kicked off their Lunar New Year celebration with a performance from Royaljag, a band that hailed from San Bernandino and gave attendees a relaxing and groovy show as they played songs off their “IDKHIGH” album. The band consists of twins, Jay and Roland Garcia, and their best friend, David Ajoku, all of who dub themselves the “chameleons of pop” and make music in hopes of people grooving with it. Attendees were able to groove along with the members of Royaljag as they played songs such as “909,” “Foreign Exchange” and a few others.
I personally had no prior knowledge of the band or their music, but when I tuned into the Zoom link, I was pleasantly surprised. The best way I could describe their music was that it made me want to dance and feel happy, which is something that rarely happens. Royaljag’s set definitely set up the atmosphere for the rest of the event, as it got attendees hyped. There were also comments in the Zoom chat with people asking where they could listen to their music. They are available on Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud. I believe it is safe to say that Royaljag’s performance has garnered them new fans.
After their set, the host, Angelica Garcia, appeared on screen to begin the Q&A section of the event. Garcia asked the members what genres or artists influenced the band, and according to Ajoko, they were inspired by the music their parents listened to. Roland, who plays bass for the band, claims that their inspiration came from boy bands and that as a result, their first extended play had a pop mentality with an indie sense.
During the Q&A section, students were given the opportunity to ask the band questions. Melissa Wong asked, “What was your favorite part about being on tour, and what do you miss the most?” Roland immediately said that his favorite part about touring was hanging out with his best friends and playing their music every night. This sentiment was shared amongst the trio, although Jay said his favorite part was being able to arrive at a venue early and explore. For Ajoku, it would be the people he misses.
Overall this portion of the event was very relaxing and gave attendees the chance of getting to know the band better. Students were able to relate to them even more when it was revealed that Ajoku had actually gone to UCR as a biology major and dropped out in his fourth year to make music. The three shared their memories of visiting Ajoku and playing music at the Rivera Library. Their first shows were at The Barn, and according to Roland, “UCR was definitely a start and will always have a heart for us.”
Up next, APSB coordinator, Thuy-Vi Le, began the Lunar New Year student info panel. Le introduced panelists Kirsten Phan, Sydney Dao and Van Tran as they broke down Lunar New Year traditions. Le encouraged the panelists to share their personal stories with Lunar New Year. Dao recalled a time where she was watching traditional lion dancers at the temple and ran out of money as a result of giving it to her little cousins. Tran also remembered the times she would make traditional rice cakes with her grandmother. Hearing these stories was very heartwarming.
Le asked how they would celebrate Lunar New Years in quarantine. Tran shared that usually her family would hold huge gatherings, but due to the ongoing pandemic this year, they are restricting it to only their family. However, Tran explains that regardless, the spirit of family is still there as they FaceTime their extended family members. Dao claims that she usually goes out with her lion dancing team, and although they are not having a big celebration, her mother still went all out with decorations, even buying apples with engraved Chinese characters. For Phan, her family has supported local small Vietnamese businesses.
One of the last questions Le asked the panelists was if they had any tips or advice for a fun celebration. Phan explained that spring-cleaning is very important. “Cleaning your room and space will help get rid of bad spirits and will bring you into a clean and happy new year,” she said. Dao shared that being there for friends and family is important. For Tran, her tip on having a good New Years was to eat their culture’s traditional food. “Anyone is welcome to celebrate with us as long as you respect our tradition. Try out new things and as long as you keep the spirit and the purpose of new year in mind, you are free to join us,” she stated.
Le also shared her sentiments and claimed that Lunar New Year is such a family-oriented holiday that anybody can celebrate. “[You] just have to have the right mindset and respect for our traditions,” she stated. Lastly, Le showed viewers a video on traditional Chinese lion dancing before the event concluded. The welcoming atmosphere was a great way for APSP to connect students for this cultural celebration.