Armed with her signature Chinese guzheng, Los Angeles-based artist Jett Kwong and her experimental-pop orchestration is truly remarkable on her latest single “Cream.” What is dubbed as an “ode to summer” and “lusting over someone and ultimately lusting over an idealized version of a person and the past itself,” takes form as a beautiful, and stirring piece that not only sonically melts for the hotter days ahead, but touches on broader issues of identity.
“I was inspired by the realization that we all, including myself, fall prey to the romanticization of history, and the exoticism of Asia and Asian people. This to me is a legacy of colonialism, and that lens is particularly interesting when I apply them to my own family’s stories of surviving war, flourishing in post WWII Hong Kong, and immigrating to the U.S.,” explains Kwong.
Gliding beautifully across strings and penned from a scenic view of Kwong’s grandparents, the airiness seems to mask a somber reality. The track wanders, as does the narrative, and delicately tells the story of the blended shade, cream. Kwong’s vocal runs are spellbinding, tender, and yet so light, enough to say they pulsate effortlessly on the alternative-cinematic track.
The warm and picturesque aurora is breathtaking and Kwong’s vocals lead the hook with a lingering feeling of love, graciously welcome with harmonic layers near the end. Continuing to spark conversations about identity, the artist’s continual use of rooted inspiration melds to a universal, audible statement which prevails as a timeless voice.
“I am inspired to tell not only my and my family’s histories, but a broader story of culture – to be a conduit for those stories and to find more innovative ways to express them.”