Larissa Lam talks about her career and her latest album, Love and Discovery.
Larissa Lam constantly surprises people with her big, powerful voice. This petite, Chinese-American singer-songwriter has toured all over the U.S and Asia, captivating audiences at major venues such as The Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theater, Lincoln Center, The Grammy Museum and Staples Center. With every performance, she brings incredible energy and passion not normally associated with nice Asian girls like her.
As Lam recalls, “I had someone once tell me ‘You’re the Asian with the most attitude I’ve ever met’ and he meant it as a compliment.”
For more than a decade, Lam’s bold musical “attitude” and smart songwriting have been showcased on numerous critically acclaimed albums including her upcoming 4th solo album, Love & Discovery. For the new album, Lam collaborated with producer, David Longoria, who has worked on numerous platinum selling recordings with artists such as Sting, George Michael and De La Soul. Longoria has had success on the Billboard dance charts with CeCe Peniston peaking at #14 and hitting #21 with his hit Zoon Baloomba in 2013. Lam’s new songs aim to make an even bigger impact on the charts.
On Love & Discovery, Lam takes listeners on a musical experience that includes EDM, R&B and jazz. More impressively, she penned all 12 songs on the album. These lyrically and melodically rich songs are not just about love, but a discovery of one’s inner strength and character. Love & Discovery has been almost four-year journey that pushed Lam to the brink of walking away from music.
Lam explains, “I had many moments of self-doubt and that’s definitely reflected in some of the songs. I encountered many obstacles along the way and really had to ask if this was something that I should be doing. In the end, I believe the struggle inspired better songs.”
More than just your average artist, Lam picked up the nickname “The Singing CFO” when she put her Business Economics degree from UCLA to work as the Chief Financial Officer of NSOUL Records. It was also at NSOUL where Lam’s singing career began when she became one of the lead singers of the gospel/techno/house group Nitro Praise. Legendary DJ, Scott Blackwell, produced the group. Lam toured nationally and recorded three albums with the group before embarking on her own solo career.
A prolific writer, Lam has composed original music that has been heard across the TV landscape including on Days of Our Lives, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz, E!, TLC and more. She has also produced and written music that has appeared in feature films (Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell) and video games (Sleeping Dogs). Her song, “Breathing More” appears in the video game, Dance Dance Revolution: Universe 2. In addition to being a recording artist, Lam spent nine years hosting a weekly talk show on JUCE TV (formerly JCTV) broadcasted across the US and on almost every continent.
Lam’s relationship with music began at age five in her hometown of Diamond Bar, CA when she was forced to play the piano by her mother. However, growing up the only daughter of Chinese immigrants and a straight A-student, Larissa was brainwashed into thinking she would become a doctor, just like her father. By age 13, she had written her first song. Before graduating from high school, Larissa realized she had no desire to become a doctor as her parents hoped. Instead, she felt a call to become a music producer and songwriter. Now, she cannot imagine a life apart from music.
While she easily embraced her identity as a musician, Larissa struggled with her cultural identity and initially rejected her heritage.
She explains, “When I was a little girl, my favorite movie was Grease. I wanted to be ‘Sandy’. I wanted blond hair and blue eyes but I would look in the mirror and just see plain black hair and dull brown eyes. All the popular girls in school had that “All-American” look and not the Asian-American look. As an adult now, I’m proud of the way God has uniquely made me. I now cherish the rich heritage my family has given me that enables me to bridge cultures.”
As a result of her newfound appreciation for her identity, Larissa is very passionate about promoting diversity in media. In May 2014, she was invited to represent artists in a historic White House briefing and summit of Asian American Pacific Islander faith leaders. She served for two years on the Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month committee for the city of Los Angeles under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. She has spoken at numerous universities such as Yale, UCLA and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Lam hopes her music will continue to cross cultures and empower others to shatter stereotypes.
Larissa currently resides in Pasadena, CA with her husband and fellow artist, Only Won. In her spare time (when she has some), she enjoys watching TV shows like Person of Interest, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Once Upon a Time and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She is a big musical theater geek and NBA fan. A highlight of her life is singing the national anthem at a Laker (her fave team) game. She also has an unhealthy obsession with Garfield and penguins, which she probably shouldn’t be confessing here.
Sidebeat Music is a show on Actors Entertainment, a channel on the Actors Podcast Network, a Pepper Jay Production.