“Stop APPI Hate: The Benefit Album” aims to fight hate

by Ricky Rillera

The “Stop APPI Hate: The Benefit Album ” | Photo by Sheryl Reyes

NEW YORK — Music and the spoken word have been at the center of protest actions throughout generations created to raise awareness or support social issues such as ending slavery, gaining the right to vote, or participating in socio-political affairs. In almost every culture, a genre of these songs exists.

Recently, with the rise in Asian Hate, Ted Reyes and his wife, Sheryl Mae, both musicians, pulled together a group of artists in the US and other parts of the world to collaborate and produce a 14-track benefit compilation album. The shared purpose of the artists is to raise funds and awareness for the Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate.

The Philippine Daily Mirror interviewed Ted about this Filipino American pioneering work to benefit a cause.

“I started working on it, right after attending the March 21, 2021 Stop Asian Hate rally in Chinatown, New York,” Ted said. “From contacting musicians to screening submissions to working in the studio, and then finalizing the product.”

The project’s creative vision was to bring the protest experience into a concept album format, complete with speeches, ambient sounds, and songs. “So when the album is played, the audience is immediately transported into that space,” said Ted.

After much effort and burning the midnight oil, a final cut of Stop APPI Hate: The Benefit Album came into being and was released in May. The album combines songs, soundscapes, and spoken words addressing the crisis with yellow and purple colors emblazoned on its cover. Ted said that they took all the speeches from actual protest actions all over the country after the brutal and deadly attacks against the AAPI community across the United States.

The Stop AAPI Hate: The Benefit Album Promo

The album also has speeches from the White Coats Against Asian Hate, notably Dr. Michelle Lee, Dr. Natty Jumreornvong, and Dr. Calvin Sun. It also has the protest songs of Kanako Omae Neale, The Burning Diamonds, Raincrowd, Scarlet Gum, Peter Cho, Ragan Martinez, Telecommute, Happy Dad, Josh Bonifas, Ciudad, Atoms Apart, Prize Violet, and Klub Kuryente.

Ted said the project is the actual labor of love. They did not get any grant or funding to produce the album; the production cost came from their pockets, and 100% of all sales will go to StopAAPIHate.org. “The only return is that wonderful feeling when you know you made a difference. That is priceless,” Ted said with humility.

With a limited budget, Nick Bolton, owner and master engineer at Holy Tapes Mastering in Jersey City, helped in the project after learning that it was for a cause. “He rejiggered his rates to accommodate us. The result is astounding,” said Ted. “The album sounds phenomenal and he allowed us to have enough money to have the album pressed. A mastered album is a thing to behold and this album is such a thing because of Nick’s expertise and kind heart.”

The limited CD version of the album is available to purchase HERE, and listeners can stream the songs on all major streaming platforms.

Ted owns NSFU Publishing, an outfit that published the three songs and included them in the album. Time to Rise by Scarlet Gum, Why Hurt by Happy Dad, and Julie Anne by Telecommute. Composers and other artists in the album self-published their songs.

Ted is an electronic music producer, and Sheryl is a vocalist-guitarist, and they call themselves the Scarlet Gum. It is an American electronic pop duo formed in Jersey City, NJ, during the pandemic peak in 2020. Their repertoire mainly consists of cover songs and some originals from their previous groups. From its start as casual live-streamed performances on Facebook and Instagram, Scarlet Gum quickly became a serious duo that released quite a hefty song volume since then.

Assembling a large group of artists to partake in Ted’s unique project is not an easy feat. He met these individual artists only through this project. But Ted said it was not difficult to gather musicians and producers to come together for a cause. “The rise in violent attacks against the AAPI community due to the COVID-19 pandemic definitely galvanized the artistic community from the very start,” Ted said. “Most of the songs in the album were written for this project. So there’s this fire within them that need to come out.”

The Scarlet Gum: Sheryl and Ted Reyes | Photo via Facebook

Ted and Sheryl have always been into music since they were kids. In their college years, Sheryl managed their band, The Freesouls, under contract with BMG Records Pilipinas in the late 90s. She started playing keyboards at 10. Ted was 14 when he began writing music. “So music has always been a major part of our lives,” Ted said.”

The couple intends to produce Volume 2 of the project due to Stop Asian Hate: The Benefit. “But we’ll see how it goes,” he told the Philippine Daily Mirror. “As for Scarlet Gum, yes, we are planning to release a few more singles this summer and a full album in the fall.”

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