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Meet Krysada Phounsiri of Sahtu Press, Snap Pilots, The Calamities & Killafornia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Krysada Phounsiri.

Krysada, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My immediate friends and family call me Binly. I am Lao American, born in Laos and raised in Southeast San Diego, CA. Came here when I was 2. I grew up in San Diego being involved in Cultural Lao Dance. My first love was Skateboarding. I started dancing in the art form known as Breaking, or what mainstream knows as Breakdancing, back when I was 13. That was the beginning of my journey in Hip Hop.

I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a double major in Physics & Astrophysics with a minor in Poetry. I work as an engineer for one of the BioTech companies in San Diego. I published my first book of poetry, Dance Among Elephants, under Sahtu Press. This was roughly in 2014, but I’ve been writing for many years before.

My journey in photography started in 2012 while living in Vegas. I was dancing with the Jabbawockeez for a year in Vegas (not part of their crew) and grew passionate about taking photographs as another creative outlet. My whole life has been based on the love of creating something out of nothing. I learned that growing up in my environment. I was always curious about the world, and what the universe has to offer.

I weave myself in these mediums to express myself; it makes me feel alive. Currently in my life, I’m sailing multiple ships; with many things to deliver hopefully by next year. I’ll keep pushing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The difficult part was creating my own path. To be honest, a lot of the people in my childhood life were good souls. We all wanted to have fun and enjoy what was on the block. However, many left and went into gangs, trouble, drugs, and other issues that stem from under-resourced neighborhoods. Not everyone went into these paths, but it was a reality of where I came from. It was hard to explore other aspects of life, didn’t have a role model to look up to. I ended wanting to create the spaces that I felt I needed and what my friends needed.

There were financial struggles every step of the way, along with figuring out expressing myself in the arts when I had no idea how to at first. Being the first person in my group to do various things, I was usually the tip of the spear. With that, there were and are still many times I feel alone. The criticisms across the art mediums tend to come and go over the years.

Art became a space where I can be free. I stayed focus on that idea, it’s helped me get through many challenges. Whether they were breaking competitions, submissions for poetry or photography work, or the criticisms/naysayers, I always did my thing. No smooth sailing, but I love that it’s on my own terms for the most part.

What has also kept me grounded was my love for my community. I come from a family of refugees to who fled Laos due to the Secret War. Not all of us were refugees, I was not, but we all carry that legacy with us when we reached America. I was the middle person; the bridge between home and homeland. I believe the Lao American Community are as resilient as they are creative and it motivates me to keep representing.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sahtu Press, Snap Pilots, The Calamities & Killafornia – what should we know?
Snap Pilots: Creative Movers and Thinkers who travel where ever the Aviation of Light takes us. Where ever the feet touch, an opportunity to snap follows. We Snap what we feel like snapping and share it to the planet’s citizens. These photos are free for all to look at in hopes that it leaves a timeless impression.

Sahtu Press: The Mission of Sahtu Press is to publish and promote enduring contemporary Lao American literature and to create academic and grassroots learning opportunities. Sahtu Press acquires, publishes, and markets high quality, imaginative work from emerging and established Lao American writers or those working on issues of interest to the Lao American community.

I created Snap Pilots alongside a good friend and crewmate of mine. Sahtu Press is a non-profit. I’m known for being engaging deeply in dance, photography, and poetry. For Snap Pilots, I hope to continue to grow and capture stories.

I have a personal project called Beauty Beyond Scars, where I am to gather stories of people who carry physical/mental scars and have them tell their story while capturing photographs of them. For Sahtu Press, I am proud to represent a press that advocates for diverse perspectives. It’s our stories, written in our own terms.

There are less than 40-50 books written by Lao American authors within the 40+ years of the community residing in America. I want to help change that and encourage the community to pursue their passions in whatever industry they choose. We are few and far between, but this generation is growing.

Growing up, it was hard for many to aspire to something. This was due to the Southeast Asian Community focused on surviving and adjusting to a new life. Now, we have an opportunity to strengthen ourselves educationally and artistically. I believe Sahtu Press is a leader in this aspect and I want to contribute to this vehicle.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are so many who have inspired me directly or indirectly throughout my journey.

My family, I love them. I always wanted to help give us a better life. My little Brother, Kennedy aka EraNetik, who has been my partner in many spaces through our entire lives, he motivates me, and we both do our best to help bring visibility to what we love to do and our community.

My cousin, Holliday, who I consider a big brother. He’s inspired me to treat and respect people with honor and as equals. He’s also a catalyst for my passion in diving into music and using music as inspiration for many aspects of my life. Marcos Ramirez, for helping me find my voice as a poet. He was the one who woke me up with poetry and helped me find purpose in my writing.

Bryan Thao Worra and Nor, for believing in my poetry and gave me the chance to publish my work so we can continue creating our stories. Moshen, a man of much wisdom. Our time together training in Berkeley, road trips to competitions, conversations, and hanging out together has taught me so much about life and what it has to offer. He’s always encouraged me to be free. There’s never a dull moment between us.

My crews, The Calamities & Killafornia. My sister, for always supporting me in all the work that I do. Her resilient nature rubs off on me and helps me push forward. Bruce Lee, because he’s my idol. He’s the man! As I continue the grind of exploring life, I am reminded that I am not alone even when it can feel that way sometimes.

There are so many people, even ones not listed above, who have supported and encouraged me to keep going. It’s been wonderful, and I am thankful of having people in my life who have given me a chance, given me an opportunity to do what I love to do.

Contact Info:

  • Website: snappilots.com & sahtupress.com
  • Email: snappilots@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @BboyLancer, @SnapPilots, @SahtuPress
  • Twitter: @BboyLancer & @SnapPilots


Image Credit:
@eranetik, @mike_spades, @artofnor, @kevintheeel, @kienquanphotography, @dr_wtpho

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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