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Rising Stars: Meet Larry Chang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Larry Chang.

Hi Larry, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Born and raised in Taiwan, music has always been an important part of my life. I started to learn classical piano at a young age, and ever since, music has become my way to not only express myself but also connect with the outside world. As I grow older, my passion for music grew deeper. I learned to play more musical instruments, joined orchestra bands, and started to write my own music.

College provided me with opportunities to work side by side with accomplished composers to score for many well-received feature-length commercial films and theater productions in Taiwan. Two of the films I worked on even got nominated in the Best Original Film Score category at Golden Horse Awards, the equivalent of the Oscars in East Asia.

These initial opportunities stoked my creative endeavors for more. I decided to come to the USA in 2014 to explore what more my music can offer to storytelling. I chose to pursue a Masters’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University which provides me abundant spaces and resources to experiment on music composition for interactive and immersive media. My education at Carnegie Mellon allowed me to combine art and technology like video games, location-based entertainment, and Virtual Reality experiences, my music has evolved its structure to tell more compelling stories to the audience. With all the efforts I made in music and sound for interactive and immersive media, I was glad to get the invitation to share my insights at GameSound Con, the biggest game audio-focused conference in the world.

Now, considering myself as a storyteller, I am dedicated to telling stories in the form of music and audio. In order to get more inspiration and opportunities to collaborate with other amazing people, I fell in love with traveling as it broadens my view and enables me to see things from different perspectives.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The path is never easy for an artist especially when our creative work is coming from the bottom of our hearts. To stay authentic and true to our stories, we need to do a lot of soul-digging and that includes examining and facing the most vulnerable part of ourselves. And I am no exception. On top of the internal struggles, I also experienced a lot of pressure when first introduced to this country with the language barrier and cultural shock.

As an immigrant with all his support system on the other side of the globe, I constantly felt frustrated to communicate with people. Facing a completely different cultural norm with different expectations and rules, I found myself walking on eggshells for a long time as I was so terrified that my good intention got misinterpreted and offended other people. But it never stopped me from pursuing my dream. With the guidance of friends and lessons from past mistakes, I learned how to express myself and understand others better.

Looking back, I feel appreciated that the bumpy road lead me to where I am now. By overcoming one obstacle after another, I have become more sophisticated, humble, and well-rounded. And it reflects not only on my work but also on the way I carry myself and handle interpersonal relationships. There is truth to the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
My main focus had been on writing music pieces and creating sonic branding for stories of all sorts. I value working on my personal concept album projects that tell stories based on my own narratives and background as well as collaborating with clients and other creative souls to develop collective stories that are larger than myself. So far, I have accomplished and released several projects that I am really proud of.

I worked with Construct Studio, an SF-based VR studio, to create immersive music and sound experience for their interactive VR narrative experience, The Price of Freedom, and a Tower Defense-inspired VR shooter, Home A Drone. Both are released on major game distribution platforms like Steam with very positive reviews.

I also collaborated with Pittsburgh-based Orta Interactive Studio to score and design interactive audio for Little Pizzeria, a cute mobile AR narrative experience teaching kids about tomatoes. As well as their heavier location-based immersive VR documentary projects, Auschwitz VR and Kristallnacht VR, which are installed in the Mania Nudel Holocaust Learning Center in Miami.

My most recent personal concept album project, The Legends of Altair and Vega, is based on a well-known story in Chinese Mythology. It is a love story about the forbidden love between Altair, a mortal man, and Vega, the Goddess of Weaving. In the story, Altair is set on a journey to reunite with Vega who was taken away by the authority in the Heavenly Palace. Altair encountered various characters along the way that became his teammates to help him achieve his mission. Each music piece in the album is a chapter of the story.

Having a background as an Asian immigrant blessed with the understanding of both western and eastern musical culture, I try my best to advocate Asain representation and invite people to listen, appreciate, and gain more knowledge about the voice, stories, and perspectives of the Asian community in this country.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
With the growing awareness to encourage inclusivity and diversity, I feel the entertainment industry is becoming a more friendly field than ever before. Many companies and organizations are making efforts to push the boundaries and provide opportunities to advocate narrative justice. We started to see and hear more amazing stories coming from the perspectives of women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants, and many more that were overshadowed in the mainstream media. Being optimistic about the path we are heading towards, I will continue to create and tell stories with my authentic music wholeheartedly. And I will make sure my voice is as loud as it can be.

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