Kaya Conversations: Shaun Mejia

Want to hear what cultural harmony sounds like? Read on to see how 70’s Filipino love ballads and American folk songs inspired this artist’s diaspora story and musical tastes.

Shaun Mejia is a Filipino American multi-instrumentalist based in Mukilteo, WA. He works with various non-profits within the Seattle arts community and is currently working on recording his own music.

By Kristen Navaluna

We are exactly one week away from Kalinawan, Arts + Open Mic and we can’t wait! Up next for Kaya Conversations is our interview with musician Shaun Mejia. Being influenced by two different cultures is a common experience for many Filipino Americans, and Shaun is no exception. Keep reading to learn about his family’s migration and the non-profit community that inspired him to pursue music.

What is your diaspora story?

My parents were born and raised in the Philippines — my mom from Solana (Cagayan) and my dad from Pangasinan. After graduating from college with a degree in nursing, they were able to move to the United States where they bounced around from California to Chicago and eventually settling in Hawaii, where I was born. When I was around 10, we moved to Mukilteo, WA, a half hour north of Seattle. Been in Washington ever since.

How did you get started in music?

I got started with music when I was a kid. Like every Asian family, my parents forced me to take piano lessons and I started playing drums in my middle school band and picked up on guitar and bass to play with my buddies’ bands.

How is being a part of the diaspora influenced your art?

I think a lot of my musical tastes were influenced from my diaspora story. A lot of the music my parents listened to was either 70’s Filipino love songs or American folk music that made it’s way over. My dad would always play these CDs and it stuck with me.

Many people believe art is a form of community work or activism, do you feel that way about your own work?

I definitely think my own work is a form of community work mostly influenced by my involvement with The Vera Project, an all-ages music and arts non-profit. I’m very thankful for how they pushed me to play music and get involved with the community.

The theme of our showcase is “Kalinawan”, a Filipino word that means clarity, peace, sense of vision. It can also symbolize a newfound perspective that arises from a deeper sense of self found through exploration of his or her own history or culture. What creates a sense of “Kalinawan” for you?

I’d say family and art create a sense of “Kalinawan” for me.

Kalinawan, Arts + Open Mic will be hosted by Kaya Co. Seattle on November 20th at Hillman City Collaboratory.

For more details on this event, visit our event page.

Interview by Kristen Navaluna, Kaya Co. Seattle.

Kristen, a graduate of the University of Washington , is the Marketing Communications Manager of Kaya Co. Seattle. She loves watching Project Runway, listening to alternative music, and exploring nature landscapes and creative spaces in her travels.