Ah Moon: "I want to be known because of my songs"

Late last year I got the chance to interview emerging Myanmar pop act Ah Moon, who is working on an international debut at the moment. To say I was intrigued by her and the circumstances surrounding her career would be an understatement -- as an Asian lit student I know more or less the lengths artists have to go to in Myanmar, but I also know that despite the difficulties, there is a lot of outstanding work being produced.

But like any domestic industry, it's a completely different situation when an act aims for international recognition. Sometimes it comes by accident -- acts like the Spice Girls or Psy didn't actively seek success in the US, but they received it nonetheless. Most of the time, labels will push for acts in "central" countries -- the US for pretty much the entire world, Japan for Asia as is the case of BoA and DBSK, China also because of its sheer size as a market (and its strong ties to most of Asia), and the UK or Germany in Europe.

It's not easy though, which is why I asked Ah Moon what challenges she faces as she tries to break the international market:
It’s a little difficult when international audiences are reading my interviews or listening to my songs and they only get interested in my country or the political situation -- only seeing me as a girl from Myanmar. Which is really great, but I wanna be known because of my songs first.
Her answer is particularly interesting because it brings up the age-old divide between the social value of art and "art for art's sake." And honestly, I see that divide pointless -- instead of being oppositions, to me strength and mastery of craft is what will allow art to be socially-charged. Your discourse can be as intricate or as relevant as ever, but if you lack the ability to perform it -- if you can't play an instrument or sing, or paint or write -- then the potential relevance in your work will remain merely potential.

Watch the rest of my interview with Ah Moon here:

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