« Good Life Project

Wu-Tang, Power & Possibility | Sophia Chang

2019-12-17 | 🔗

Sophia Chang is a force to be reckoned with. A soft-spoken French-lit major in college and the child of Korean immigrants raised in Vancouver, when she first heard "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five everything changed. Taken by the mix of urgency, anger, and pride that was hip-hop in the 80s and 90s, Sophia rerouted her life to New York, quickly becoming a fixture in the music industry and hip-hop scene, and finding fast-family with the legendary Wu-Tang Clan.

Over the years, Chang would end up not just a member of the Wu-Tang family, but also manage a number of the group's individual members, as well as other legends including A Tribe Called Quest, Raphael Saadiq, and D'Angelo. In 1995, she left the music business to train kung fu and manage a 34th Generation Shaolin monk, who would later become her partner and father of her two children, before returning to music. Now, after decades of being the force behind other amazing artists' stories, she's finally telling her own story in her breakout audiobook, The Baddest Bitch in the Room.


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Growing up in vancouver the youngest kid of terrain, emigrants, Sophia, Chang, loved music by high school she's into all sorts of different things. Wave and then eventually punk, but the money She heard grandmaster flash and the furious fives. The message it was like something inside of her some primal urge came alive. She was hooked by the beats by the lira and the artist who were tapping the power of music to speak with so truth that resonated deeply with her sophia. added to new york and soon after found herself immersed in the music, seen befriending poem, legends like Joey Ramone, working with the legendary Paul Simon and then quickly, dropping into the hip hop in the late eightys and ninetys, where she'd man only build a decades long career as what because the fur asian woman and hip hop, but also become deeply
France in the work and the lives of iconic nine person hip hop whew. Ten clan, where she became cannot not only family but over the years also manage a number of their individual careers as well as over time. Those of many others, like a tribe, call quest wrath. Hale said the and so many others now in the middle of all Sophia took some time and stepped out of them. business for about a dozen years to train come who and manage a thirty fourth generation chauvelin monk who she'd help build into a lobal name while also becoming partners and life and work and raising too. Its together That relationship would eventually end leaving so in her early forties as she describes it broke in stepping into a new season where she would have to reclaim much of what made her come alive. Rediscover music and re. Imagine what this next of life, would look like a season where she'd stop telling the story, others, and for the first time start town
the story of her own remarkable life. Much of this is dead, in her incredible audio above her back this bitch in the room and we die into so many powerful touch eyes, plus so many other really pivotal stories in this conversation so excited to share with you. I'm Jonathan fields- and this is good life project- the How does a I even work where it is creativity come from it's the secret to living longer ted radio. Our explores the biggest questions with some of the world's greatest thinkers. They will, prize challenge and even change you listen to, and pierre is ted radio, our whatever you get your PA guests. So the ten percent happier podcast has one guiding philosophy. Happiness is still that you can.
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My mother tongues of Chang was born in key on north korea, in nineteen thirty, two we share birthday which convict stored in her. Yes, I was my mother's birthday gift and she fled north korea. when she was fourteen? She was one of nine siblings and her two brothers had preceded the eldest children, the two This brothers had proceeded heard then you she and her older sister were the next to age down and they followed them. And the assumption was all of them would follow, and so she went This harrowing they went on this harrowing journey. They got to the train station, they were supposed to get off that she and her sister and they got off a stop to early. because there was a north and south which they didn't realize and they got off the police were there. They were already anticipating. The people were going to try to be escaping an
No, the country had already been kind of divided. You know that were to be communist, and then this out would be you know with the americans, and so a lot of people are fleeing and she was also came from. Relatively wealthy family and they also knew what this means is that all this is going to be taken away. so they get over the wrong start. They get taken in by the police and you know there irrigated there. Two teenagers, I mean she's fourteen her elder sisters. Sixteen then in arrange a story. They separate them and of course they don't come up with the same story and they said okay you're trying to escape we're going to send you back on the first train tomorrow morning, and There was a man in the station who was who overheard it and he was clearly somebody great authority, and he said you know what I'll make sure they get back to the hotel and, in the meantime, I'll give them a tour of the city, and so he gave the mature the city while their walking around the city. The actually see the name of the hotel yeah that was supposed to sneak them south, and so they they clocked it that night they go.
The hotel, my mother sister, gets incredibly ill, the police come, next morning to take them to the train station and they see how sixth she is, and they say will give you dared arrest, will take them all morning, so that day they run they they figure out as ill, my aunt was they get to the hotel. They fight the guy in the dead of night, he sneaks thumb to a beach where they on a boat air with thirty other people on it honey boat and they cross its. Not that long overdue ernie, but it felt very long to my mother and then they get to the other side and my mother. he says I never seen trucks so big in my life, because there were the can military trucks and its what's fascinating is that there are lots. things that she doesn't remember, but this room she remembers so clearly. I think this is common like there are certain memories, especially if they are associated with trauma they we still see like it happened yesterday
so she's To the south she joins she and her sister join there. The two brothers, the eldest brother, goes back to the north to try to get the rest of the family, but it's all too late. The last boats, leaving, and he is you know that their mother sense him back and says, there's no way that we can all make it there's a baby. You just have to go alone. and so it means that my mother did not see her parents or her other five sibling since she was for and she never will, and you know I asked her do where do you think the aren't she said They are still alive there, probably in labour camps right now, can't you know. My kids are seventeen and nineteen, oh dear children. How would you similar yeah. Ok, so I mean fourteenth think about I've never seen you again and never seeing you know anybody again. So
so really devastating story, and then she met my father in the south at them towards jack witches s on national university, and he had also gone through a harrowing experience when he was younger because of the japanese annexation and- near my father- spoke impeccable god rest his soul, impeccable, japanese, so all the cream of my parents generation. They all learn. Japanese, they spoke it, they read it, they wrote it and he was one. Very few koreans. Who is allowed to go to a japanese specific school because he was so smart and pick us, because you specifically gifted mathematics- and you know that The teacher there that really favoured him and did not know that he wasn't japanese because of his because spoke so well and when he found out he was just enraged and would do everything to humiliate my father. He would beat him and he would accuse him
stealing and stuff like that, and yet my parents, despite all of this, had such a great capacity for joy and joie de vivre. You know and we all love eating, you know we love cooking. We love beautiful things. You know we love opera and fine art and great literature and funny movies and blue sky eyes, and all of that you know I took my mother, my mentor Michael Austin. Listen california, and he has said the family has a beautiful house in malibu, and I took mother there, and we will. walking on the beach now my mother's eighty seven now should probably eighty five at the time, but she's an octogenarian, and we walking along the beach, and she was picking up everything going. I've. Never seen sea weed like this. I've never seen kelp like this like picking up rocks and she was like sports shoes like a boy, her girl scout
and I remember the last time I saw my mother that curious and it was so touching to take her to a place that fella discovery for her. also that she still has that in her youth, that she's lived. Eighty five, here's and she was still like. Oh my god, this is so cool, like a sense of wonder exactly a sense of wonder and children are there, so it's three generations of us living this way you know and watching them respond to her curiosity was really go. just so. Yes, she met my father in diversity and they got married. My brother, he sought Chang, ten, smarter, people I know, was born in Seoul in sixty two. I father went to vancouver to do his grad studies, matthew, at the university of british columbia, and then my mother and my brother followed, and then I born. I was the first in my family, extended family worn out. Both sides born outside of korea was also the first and may be still
to this day, the only one named in english, so I was named Sophia Korean name is, is a korean zation, so to speak of my english aim as opposed to do you know, you're exactly Korea name is chunks haughty, so so he is the translation of them Sophia, but my father named after a polish mathematician, I'm curious. What was the m. What was the reason they decided that you would you start out with an english now you know, I that's a really the question. I think it was probably really significant to my parents that they work, that they had done this migration and that's that they thought you know for our first child born. Here we will give her an english name. You know that my father has already been in vancouver now for a couple of years and he has learned english and and then then teachers
the maddox for forty years and I think that they probably without ever saying it, maybe not without you Articulating it to themselves, they probably wanted us to assimilate, as they understood how difficult it would be. That's why I lost my language, my brother and I both korean was our first language and we both lost it, and I think this is very common for first gen immigrants and it was probably all part of the same, im notion, yeah, it's like going along with the physical change in location, ryan, geography and country. It's early, this, this dividing line, which represents a bigger shift and almost like identity yeah, at least exactly superficial identity, exactly exact what how old were you. That's said. I love my name because it means wisdom. Yes, this pretty cool? Actually, how were you in when you learn the story of your parents.
So my was probably nine or ten what prompted it. I think I asked my mother, you know and the detail that I give my memoirs. I only learned in writing my memoir. What I knew when I was ten was we escaped at fourteen? We never saw the rest or family again, and my mother never really went into detail now. What I have learned since then is that, apparently, this is common for people who have been through traumas. They don't really like to talk about however, when my mother told me both times first in the in the shortened version and then second, as I was writing in the more lengthy version, there was no emotion, My mother is she's, just the strongest person I know It doesn't mean that she doesn't have emotion.
mean that she doesn't feel, but it didn't. It didn't seem difficult for her to tell me the story yeah. Well, I guess You know fifty some odd years removed at that point. but yeah, I'm always curious about how those stories get trends. To the to the next generation and end, then why? What prompted and fascinating also that you got just enough to satisfy the dressed up tenure of a ten year. That's right that moment. Adjustment also not caused trauma. That's right! I m a turk like a long time, they you to go back again. I wonder what would have happened if you pressed her back yet really that's a really interesting notion- I don't I don't really know, but you know one of the conversations that I had with the very smart girlfriend, a mine whose curry american version korean immigrant said you know Sophia. We never talk to her parents about their internal wives,
I mean, did you? Did you ever ask your parents? Are you happy, Will your dreams? Are you? You know you doing it? Did you ever? Of course we didn't and that's that's, not a good or a bad thing. That's just how the fuck we grew up, You know what I'm saying I'm an especially as immigrants. You know we weren't thinking about that We were just you know. My parents were just thinking about. How do we do this? The best we can you know, and so we just you know I I I say this at the end of my memoir. I asked my brother just in the last few months. Do you think mom is happy and he goes, I don't know that's so fear- and I dont think mom knows how to answer that again. Like I said it doesn't mean that she doesn't, she doesn't have joy but recession around am I happy and my living in actual eyes life and my fulfilled my parents didn't talk like that. I don't think any of my the dead
asian immigrants of my parents generation spoke like that. I do my job. In a very, very aware of my internal life, but I'm just a different generation yeah. I think it's a generational thing and also do what you've been through, but but for sure you know I feel like I were both kind of like on the edge of gen X. Spammer yeah we're in the pit what kind of a note in the customary raise yet surely we can figure out whether were yelling, there's something really big out there for us or whether just like in life is entirely nihilistic yea, but we weren't taught you now really from a young age like go after meaning and purpose of actual. As I think that conversation started because of a recent appeal, because I feel it even forty year olds. Don't talk like this there. You know small short of the millennium. I hate using cite the broad terms like ran ills, but I do feel Agus relate people were in their midst there Fish is tired, started tim created touchdown somewhere in the late nineteenth right and if younger our parents right I mean this ended their generation before that.
It was largely about staying alive yak as of war rallo right through echo. your stand? Why wasn't about like? How can I stop actualize intransigence and find joy yeah. It was keep her head down. Stay saves question, put food on the table no question here, but it is interesting. back now. Look when you look at the research on unhappiness young people generally faint feel like yet. At the happiest moment of lives, but you actually look at the research. What what did they feel like is the happiest people when they're when they're, okay, okay right the research shows that actually we go through window sort of like a dip in the middle of life, where we get less happy like forty yeah, ok, but the happiest part of our lives is that she's, like sixties and on from most suitable cause. You settle into a place of cavalry. You ve done a lot of what you feel like you're here to do, and you you ve you been knocked around
I think it's a place of just more. I feel you have greater access to gratitude. That's a pretty way of putting it. right, and I think also that I mean I'm only six years away from sixty. I think that for me. I mean I've always been a happy person, but certainly I get older life gets better, a huge part of that is children. You know, which is a privilege because we get to live again through our children. Part of it, too, is that I in love three times and that's an embarrassment of riches, some people, god forbid, may not ever experience it. and I had a mighty mighty love within me. You know that was transfer and transcendent and sublime and uplifting and all of those things, but certainly there's not. I mean I'm in a constant state of
Self examination self, interrogation of criticism, self renewal, self love and therefore self actual alsatian right, but despite this call still working of this internal machine? I am all. Could you gonna pull, as the french would seem very good in my skin and keenly aware? Why am I know my frailties and I know my strengths and I'm very happy with who I am, and I think it's to your point about the fact that I've lived fifty four years and I have had plenty of trials brush the plunge to and had embarrassments and humiliations and failures, abject failures. at this point. In my life I don't regret anything and nothing is, truly a failure to me, because everything has an opportunity to learn and so if I learn that means of received lesson,
I received a lesson than ever received a gift, and how could I regret that can argue in a bed, let's jump into some of the moments alone against and some of those experiences you so you end up growing up in vancouver and into the sixteen as a kid, but not the way that you eventually weren't music right, tell me in the early days. What was it for you? I was when I was a kid yeah disco was the first shown that I remember I so in nineteen. Seventy six, I believe, is out of when it really starts bobbing I'm eleven years old. But since I was a child, like, I remember, dancing at three very clear memories, Soil was love music and the house was always filled with music, because my father loved opera, he loved class music, but he also, you know. We heard chonta like we heard, Edith p off right. And we heard lots and lots of beautiful
music, so isles had this attachment to music but disco. I think what was in three about disco was that it was also dance. Music, and that was a lot of fun and then I got into high school it. It was new wave and punk, but I was primarily a new waiver and then in the twelve later heard the message and everything turned around message by grandmaster flash and furious five and my whole. My head was done in that way. Was it about that that was so different. You know I've thought about this. A lot of talked about a lot of written about it. I first of all, just as he said, Even if you don't like hip hop, you couldn't were denied the power of song. The beats are amazing and then the lyrics- and I think up in vancouver in suburban vancouver hearing about this other
world that is so concrete jungle. The kind of open my imagination to oh, it's you know, vancouver is really a singular, a single experience, but in retrospect I think, I re examine it and probe further I thought you know. Essentially I was a yellow girl growing up in a white world, and I wanted to be white and what I heard in the message again this was not what respond. What I thought about at seventeen, think about now. Is it was the first time I had heard a person of color take a see in their own story and tell their own story, because for me growing up in vancouver the only other no color, I saw were the other members of the cream community
and then some chinese people and some indian folks, but had very little interaction, and certainly none of them were artists right. So I wasn't exposed to any of that. so what do I see? The representation I see if people of color is media, so it's hollywood and magazines in its advertising and all of that is through the white lips. And not particularly car into right, and it's not particularly Brian, and there's no love there so the message I realize now, like all my god, because I didn't upon army or jazz or gospel, I didn't grow up on that stuff. and so I hear the song- and I realise there is such a sense of urgency and clearly there oh a train, I'm a french, let major. So I responded to but there's a sense of urgency is a sense of anger, but also the pride because the asians that I knew the greens that I knew they didn't striking?
being proud of being asian. None of us. I mean I was little, shamed of it for sure I don't know that the other folks were, but I feel like anybody was that you know there was no such thing as an asian american studies department group on campus. None of that happening back when I was in school in the early eighties, so it really resonated deeply with me, and that was my gateway into hip hop and its song the changed my life changed. My life not yet- global private aviation leader is known for personalizing every detail of your travels because net, yet standard is not just to meet their definition of perfection its. exceed yours, discover more at netjets dot, com,
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Insane to me, it was like this is different because at your same age Alex similar musical experience in terms of like what were listened to you back then was. Will you listen to punk a new way to? little bit of remains yeah, like it. but he had the felling just so. I could pretend I had a little bit of an edge to the creeks and you're middle class white kid coming up on listened to the roads. So it's like I took just a touch of it but yeah what was fascinating to me, how quickly those early voices crossed over into mainstream music. I feel I think they think they jumped the charter really fast, and so everybody was listening, and so the story starts to introduce measure that happened beyond new york attic. I have no contact short, so I don't know but is really curious. Question is in new york. It definitely dead, dominated I'm sure. Yes, the soundtrack of the city,
hundred percent and then that aspire so much more and I remember setting college and- it is an outrage club dj and where do we go from spinning, like house elect exposition shannon and all these yelling stuff like this and then that stuff starts to drop me of what is that here here, factly some. mutation was a major shift, yeah yeah and then I was out of the booth at the time, but I remembered an was it ninety fearful bible, it dry? Oh, my god, that's so funny saturday, the gym literally today was wearing a fear of a black planet too yeah like that was like. Okay, everything is different. Now yeah do the same. Experts yeah. I and you know spike liese, making movies. You know and that's that totally lake shifts the tectonic plates as well, for me, and I am sure that my being drawn to hip hop was actually tied to identity, So I hear the message I moved to new york. I get this great joy.
Doing in our being a talent, scouted jive records. I am working with some of the best talent, in the industry. I get to sign I own artists and I have to create and forge he's really great friendships, and you know the hip hop community, welcomed me and embraced me and that was a huge privilege cause. I'm a korean canadian french lit major right too. really belong. Joy deserve to be here. I asked myself of those questions, but a hip hop didn't care they're like ass, though you know, come on it, but the really the turning point. For me, my life, my future am my identity was meeting routing. That was the big bang, so pay their patients. so I'm a song doing ninety ninety one. Ninety two, ninety three, ninety two, ninety three, I guess I'm doing an arch, I records, I get the water.
Clan demo, like everybody in the industry, did there was a bit. There was already a buzz around the sun protecting neck, which had been released independently, into it. I love it, but none of us can sign wu tang clan because the river famously asked for a non exclusive deal, which means that when you signed the group, no label is not going to have the excuse, right to release the solo artist. Will I'd? Was anybody given that the only way right ever and this is for ever had nine not produced any nine guys, nine guys- and I dont- I actually dont- know. Anybody has gotten since, like he was really fucked up the industry and what happen was at every group. Thereafter said we want her, we want an honest, like risen, we're like everybody like no fuck. I hate that I think that it was a really good call for loud records, because lieutenant clan really put lad records on the map and so
I couldn't sign them, but then to share with jive still that's right, on which I have and there's no way they were going to. Let me do that and then, and then I get another demo for group called the grave to goods which reserve cofounded with prince Paul, who was the creative impetus behind deal a soul and it's what they called horror corps. and this group I could sign, and so I met with him because I wanted. I really wanted to sign them, but I also wanted to know I want to meet the mine behind booting, and you know we met and we just hit it off, like a house on fire, and I was the context of the first. Maybe So I heard the demo- and I called the phone number which I remember to this day- is like a number on the tape. Yes, but like handwritten road, and we go to this restaurant that was called locks around the clock at the time. then has changed over probably thirty times since then northeast corner twenty first in sixth and I ate a burger and we were talking we talk first about the grave digger than we talked,
wu Tang and then just about life. about family, and you know, reserve is a deeply intellectually curious person and it was like going on a journey. You know I have said many times that I believe the result is the bruce lee of hip hop and what I mean by that is. She took all of these different traditions, musical traditions, and then he blended them into his own style. You know bruce founded, you can do it and I think the backup Will we be said of other hip hop producers, but what I dont think you could say about any other hip hop producer is that they are also philosopher loss of her? I mean the extraordinary thing about Bruce Lee s greatest martial arts that ever lived, probably one of the greatest athletes that ever lived, and he was
that's kind of amazing and- and I think that that part of that has to do with the fact that he's chinese and grew up in a tradition is probably steeped in philosophy, like a remember my father saying: does every asian is raised loosely in the union traditions of buddhism, taoism and confucianism. Just like here, you there's a generally kind of christian ethic going on and so I just remember thinking, oh my god he is so that is just one of the smartest motherfuckers I've ever met. Where were you surprised by that? Because here's, a guy who came up in tough neighborhood in staten island aka a bite especially back then the forgotten borough and then still fighting right by them, but also I mean for him
to be so studied and so deep into not just like. I know I hit him that that crew really crew, martial arts and right through, but it wasn't, it wasn't just the movements right it was. It was that it was a teaching teachings. It was no question I mean the ethos: yeah yeah. I was surprised by. and I know you're not asking this- I certainly was surprised by how smart he was, but I, was surprised by how expansive his world view. Was and I mean he's an auto- died out for sure, And I mean most most it's when they go on tour, especially when they go round the world they kind of are looking for comfort. You know find me the food, that's kind of the closest to the food that I eat he's not that person in addition to being intellectually curious, he's also culturally curious and spiritually curious
so he gets to a new country he's going to do his exploration and he will learn there. He is like a giant sees punch any So much so. I think was more surprised by just the bahamas. Nature of his mind and the experience that he had created for himself in reading, so voraciously we should probably also just a touch more about who really is and also what meeting is, so the result is the founder and they call him the abbot of the wooden clan in bhutan clan are probably I'm done. ITALY, the greatest hip, hop group of all time. They came out nineteen ninety three and time. The west coast, was really on the come up. When I first
and in nineteen eighty seven people were paying that much attention to anything outside of new york, but by ninety ninety three, you know you have doktor dray. You have been doubly way. You have easy, Brazil and then what it comes along and there was a kind of a sense of pride for us on the east coast like gathered, be they kind of broader back, but they Also, justice, huge cultural movement, like I, you know their eggs. They exposed a lot of the country and the world frankly to martial arts movies, but also to hong kong, cinema action, cinema I think that if it wasn't for futon clan, we wouldn't have rush hour. I think that if it were For routine clan, we wouldn't have the success of crushing tiger hidden dragon. I just don't think people would have been paying it as as much attention. There wasn't just about them in their music. It was about the effectively becoming cultural gatekeepers.
open the door and in the wider and ambassadors yeah absolutely and evangelist yeah yeah. So you end up connected with the result very quickly and with everybody else, and they grew up, and it sounds like it's like just this instant love, fast yeah you know. The interesting thing is that when I look back, I kind of wonder. Why me, though, there were so many people around them and had he answered, I I can't but I did ask required and goes this question and goes like those gods plan, so you were supposed to be with us, Rick once said something very, very Similar, like you, we needed you. I never thought they felt that way. I just felt like I was this but they let tag along everywhere with them. I and I,
I think an answering that question and what I really hope that you gathered from my memoir is that I really wanted to tell people about the death of their humanity? there are so many other ways of routine clan story has been told in depth, but there's only one Sophia chain. I am the only person that can tell my story visa, be that I am the only person that can look at them. This lands, because it is so uniquely mine. You know what I met them I didn't start managing dirty, bastard, god rest his soul until ninety five, I met them in ninety three. So for the first two years there was oh transaction. I wasn't dating any of them why and giving them jobs. I we. Why didn't?
jenny them. I hadn't signed any of them. I wasn't getting any of them work or anything so was a purely it just about being Francis was clean, exact. And so there was no leverage right. There was That and when I think about at the time you know we knew Every the industry knew from the damage that they were going to be huge. We just now it's just my god, a deluge right it's just this. kind of like this story. The sooner me that happens and for Whatever reason you know, they plucked me out of the crowd. And so I say that the hip hop community had welcomed and embraced me, but wooten claimed me and that's a very different feeling. You know method. Man was the first person ever say to me so few family of growing up there
the korean immigrants. We never talk that way. We didn't you sat language family to us was literally dna. whereas they really embrace me and claim me in a way that was so profound and also extremely demonstrative. You know I say You don't really know me unless you know me as a mother, and you see me around my children and Also, by extension, Unless you see me around watering. There's also really be part of me that you dont know like once. You see me around WU, tang clan and see me interacting with them. Can I go? Oh, I get it first of all, I'm five four and a half I'm a buffet, in dripping. Wet six of them are six feet tall and better and their strong and to some people menacing, clearly not to me, and so did it just must have looked so anonymous anomalous like this little.
A girl like what is she doing like what is twill quicks going on an end to this day I am often the only woman in the room with them, and I am granted this incredibly privilege space with them, but more significant. that is how you know again, I'm in is cultural denial going on their cultural rebellion going on anyone, and until I met looting and they kind of showed the world an Sophia che. The beauty in the profundity of asian culture. I they introduced me to John Woo. I start watching John woo movies. I fall in love with italian fad and they, you know they introduce he d come full movies. Esto watching kung, fu movies,. And as a result, I trained in kung fu, and I happened to train and confused the thirty fourth generation chauvelin monk mainstreaming. I leave the music business to run his temper and a train fifteen hours a week where business partners we become
magic partners, and then we have children. So when I look at my children, I wouldn't have these children if it wasn't for Wu Tang clan and that's huge- and I came back around to me and being proud of my heritage because of WU tang clan. They took me through that chamber. They led me through that chamber with love and grace. So when they said to you, God's plan self yeah kind of feels it is yeah. I mean what are the odds that I like kind of bury myself in the universe and their call which aunt clan they call staten island shall win. And then my boyfriend, is a shell in mock like water, with a fucking odds, and then I introduce them to him and then I deuce, a tour to go to.
shall and temple on its fifteen hundredth anniversary and resume comes, and so I take residue shall and temple, and I take him to woo tank temple and a boot and temple the the app water and clan meets the actual abbot of. hang temple and they have this beautiful exchange and the absolute and temple gives the abbot of WU clan taoist music. I mean if you wrote this in a movie, I would say: bullshit forget it go back to the drawing board, that's garbage because it could never happen, but it did. What was it like free you to be there in that moment and be a part of that. I you know taking risen to shaolin temple and he was the first artist and fifteen hundred years to ever, perform at the gates of the shaolin temple and then to take em two mile high WU mountain. Of course I as a prank
isner and my husband, so to speak as a shaolin monk and I've seen all the movies- and you know, crouching tiger was shot at the temple of the purple cloud, which is wu tang. So all of the cultural on tax and all the excitement. I have because I've read the books and I've seen the movies and, oh, my god, the plum blossom stakes, Noma god, the red doors and everything so there's that well, which is itself waiting an amazing as a practitioner and as a fan, but I think more proof, I was watching river and thinking. This man was one of eleven, children, is by a single mother and two bedroom apartment in the projects of staten, island and part of his childhood. And his dream in his escape was disappearing into kung, fu movies and again he's name, the scooter, incline after all, tat mountain and
causes barrel shall in and I bring him here And so there's this extraordinary third person, you could call it experience of watching him Get that, but in the end to I would not have been there if it wasn't for him so, did. I arrange the triple short sighted thing exactly that their heads right right, the sickle blessing type of internationally. He mentioned it wasn't just you and there is there. There was also coming yes, which a a I a chapter in your life. You know where. You mean this thirty fourth generation children, monk, astonishing marshall, orders, and it becomes a real, is certainly get in and opening up of a chapter where you step largely away from music, this thing
had been such an essential part as a good beat your heart for so long, and you step into this relationship. You step into the world of practicing and meaning hours and hours a day, but also your partnering, with this person in life and having children with it person and, and also along with that. Turning your genius for two living ideas and stories and people and brands loose on him, and on I'll win. Kung fu saying this will be my devotion for the season. So, your entire life becomes wrapped up in the person, the entity, the idea, the experience of, shall lynn and and fu and being a moment, a partner which is really good for a window of time. But then it's not that's right, Well, I think fifty four percent of marriages and a pinch of artists,
So the us not being together is a couple I dont think is that surprising, because I think it's pretty cool. I also think, particularly once you have children, especially in new york, but yes I mean I it for thirty years I was in the service of extraordinaire we talented men and You manage people, you really are in the service industry and You must you should subjugate all your needs and desires to what best serves them. That's what the best managers to does mean you don't get Paden gettin taken care of, but that's that's your mary function and so to do that with the man that I was in love with and who was the father of my children meant that I really had eggs in one temple- and you know
if I knew them what I knew no now. I think I want to change anything cato it was an a mate. You know I consider that one of the you know the second act of my life and I've been fortunate to have many. And I don't regret anything you know child, then I don't. I don't live with regrets, philosophical except when I'm a shitty mother- and we did this beautiful thing together, a look there's no, Well, the way I could have done it without him. Obviously he is the talent, but there's no way he could have done what he did without me. There's no way he would not have met reza without Sophia Chang you now people are like. Oh, you ever is introduced under no, no, no fucking way. We are not being revisionist here, let's be very clear february. Third, I met yet mean February tenth. Ninety ninety five by
the training and later that year I introduced him to reserve java and the rest of oil tanker. But I also believe that those were fateful! All of these things were faithful and I think it's entirely past For that reason, yemen knew each other in a pass lifetime and I knew risen, a pass lifetime and so coming out. You know with the dissolution of the relationship within me. Yeah, it's like anything. It's harper in its disappointing in there's some humiliation in their because he's a big fish in a small pond. And a lot of my identity is tied to him I mean I never truly lost sight of myself and I you know I was a child. My mother tells me I would I've always been very self assured. So it's not like I lost sight of Sophia Chang was or lost my confidence, but I certainly tethered my identity.
and because I believed so deeply in him as a marshall artist as a spiritual leader as a chance this master as a visionary who wanted to replicate the showman temple in america, and I also watched thousands of people's lives transformed at our temple I saw a man in his probably round my our age in his mid fifties, who couldn't go up. Stairs the subway stairs without having and puffing and having to stop and he stopped. training and he became fit as a fiddle and one of our best students. I watched people who went from being really kind of shy withdrawn to being far more, outgoing and confident you know, we made serious serious changes and, being part of something that was that transformative for so many people was really powerful and I'm really grateful for it.
and it just didn't make sense to me anymore, especially after the children you know it. Mother, we really gone when their young. We really take on everything the bulk of the work, and so then I felt like ok, I manage the temple, I manage m me- I mean As your household I manage the children, I'm where they go to school, which stanchest, which doktor all of that kind of stuff, and it started to feel a little suffocating and that's when I decided I kind of need to break up professionally and did did so stuff in fashion and started managing reserve and then eventually, the marriage in other relationship just fell apart altogether, yeah, hey, it's johnny
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call or go to state formed our com for a quote today. you find yourself at that point in your early forties single two kids. I'm broke ray. I mean this is, and yet you have is an incredible through history of accomplishment and power, and It will do amazing things it. Nobody else can do in the music industry, and then you have this in edible season of astonishing accomplishments in the world of martial arts and building shall in temple then you move into this window in your mid forties it's sort of like okay- I I need to entirely recreate everything again in any describe in your member, the cure in this season of life and you're living in the you're, trying support two kids and in your your taking money from your pants
and that point we knew we didn't know. This was going to happen being forty three years old yeah I mean it's kind of damage. I medicine my television shows about yeah. I mean I essentially wake up at forty two and the right has been pulled out from under me and I'm not a victim. I helped make that rock. You know it's not like? I was blind cited by you, know like falling piece of scaffolding, york city, I created this world and when I walked away man, you know in one fell swoop, I lose my husband
again, we were never married, but it's easier than calling him about my partner. I lose my husband best friend, my business partner, the father of my children, and dream. Hill replicating the shell and temple was Also, my dream, and so on, that is gone and ass. Then ok, Sophia Chang. What the fuck are you gonna do now and you have to rebuild yourself now again. I have the privilege of a middle class safety net. I am very well connected, I am super smart. I am super confident. I will say that and through all of that I was never devastated. I never had nights right, cried myself to sleep. I never head mornings where I couldn't get it.
Bed, I'm just not that animal. I just that. Nothing gets me down like that. but yeah. Of course it was sad. You know You know, I say my more. There is no loneliness like the lonely Yes, you feel and our relationship when you remember what it used to be. You know somebody asked me so what's it like to be in love- and I said, what's it like to be in love, it's like you, swam in and out of each other, it's his gorgeous feeling of, like being, Spiritually and physically and emotionally and psychically intertwined, like begin in the young symbol and one that falls apart, you're, not even in the same pools anymore and because you experience this deep
and satisfying love when it goes itself. and so I had to rebuild myself and. Just do what I always do, I'll fuck it copy people figure it out. You know attempt agencies. I went ahead. Hunters, none of them were fruit, fucking, none of it go. You don't have traditional resin, that's exactly that. I know well. It was the wrong whisper about the shaolin temple. I worked at a fast food place. Maybe it's like whoa. What is this lineup exactly a little bit unusual, and so I just you know callback, and then again to talk about my mentor Michael Austin, he was always there. You know
I think, to this day, every time he's in a room and has a meaning in the back mind is how can I bring Sophia into this for me and for him, but me. You know, especially when I was struggling. You know. I know that that hurt him. He is. I know, he's kind of like my godfather, that way, and our families are very close, and so you know having somebody like that is really special. And so he said, you know now rodgers legendary producer and a couple of other partners, and I are starting this management company we'd like you to come and run it, and that was you know, just life preserver I needed, and it was also a non trade back in the music business and then are on our first glance was right. Elsa, dick and Raphael, gave me the gift back of music.
So for the time all the time that I was with Yang Ming and that's not, this is not his fault, it was mine. I wasn't really thinking about new music, I mean the truth of the matter is apparently statistically most of us stop listening to new music at thirty, and that was absolutely the case for me and music, as you know again since I was three years has been my constant she's, my love. And she's my best friend, and even when I put her way, closet, she's always waiting there for me and a rat managing rafi, always like god I haven't felt this energize cited about new music and so long? A no! No, you know, probably no coincidence that the item that I managed for I consider to be as magnum opus. The way I see it was his homage to motown and stacks right. So there was familiarity in that for me as well, so that that's what brings you back in to say
back into her life on your terms in a different way: reconnecting with music. Put you back in on a path of financial b okay and which eventually also leads to you know you doing that for a while you getting involved in an hour but not swear lake straight in our more in the business of right on the on the administrative side. Yes right and I guess he you- you ve kid your growing up, which it seems like for you like that, like really the heartbeat of everything you ve done for the last eighteen twenty years, it always points back to that has to, and it does for you too. Of course it does. I mean you, nice hamper them for the second, I gave birth. Two things were very clear number one I would die from my child. You know you hear people say that all the time, but I think until you have kids, you don't really understand what that means and number two. I would kill from each other
and I am not a hopeless person. I thought I'd, never punched any, but I I would feel really sick? If I even kicked her punch somebody, but, oh god, you come for my kids, I will fucking eviscerate you and yes, I mean every hustle Every move every deal. I negotiate every meeting that I'm in you know I just did a week of pitch meetings about this. Television show that a referencing last week in l, a and yeah I'm thinking about houses good for my kids, not about how they're going to be a part of it, but this is going to be good for my kids, you know thinking, ok september, twenty twenty I will have an empty nest and my daughter will be after college, and I will have more the focus on something like this right- and I call my kids- and I too about the meetings and I met this person today went really well them that you know. You know that you
just because your kids of this age, like all that great mommy, I'm so happy for you, I'm so proud of you. First of all, again, nothing we would have ever said to our parents, and but you know With the memoir. I cancers, I mean, of course, I care about what everybody thinks. Of course I care what my friends and what my mother and my brother thing, but no more than my children and they were so lighted and they came to the party. My daughter does not lie parties, she came to the launch pretty my son was there and They were just like mommy, we are so proud of you because they also know what their mother did for thirty years. They watched me do with their father and I did it well and I did it gladly and now that's them going mommy it's your turn. Also, I mean part of my curiosity. It sounds like you're sue. You ve been fairly transparent with everything you better have got with my
it's yeah, oh yeah totally. I know it's not like they all of a sudden you're revealing all of this new stuff to them. It's like they've been along for the ride with you. Oh they have yes, I mean how I'm talking to you is how I've talked to my literally since they were born, I've never die. Down my vocabulary. I didn't curse at the time, but now we just I just curse over time and when I left their father, I was very transparent with him about being broke, And when I talk to you about it now there like mommy, we never felt it be only recently thought about was because you said a bit, but I really wanted to be clear with them that I was trying my best and that there are certain things that we can't do, but the truth of the matter is my kids were never those kids that were like we want. Oh, why I want this, we want their wives. Are how so small. Why can't we blah blah blah? My kids, you never really
I got my kids are spoiled like that. I mean I didn't have them, he's by them and I don't have the constitution as one might children either. But you know stuff like we. I went to movies at the amc theaters before noon, because it's half price we snuck in all of our snacks. That's also an immigrant thing like even when I become rich, I'm never going to fucking pay for movie theater popcorn, I'm not doing that shit, it's just an affront and and they just you know, but they were always right there with me. and so supportive than you know. My daughter, she loves me full time now she often put me off the It's like something will happen. Like the other night I broke of oz, and I was like fuck that fucker said mommy, it's ok, it's just have bought you know, and so You know you get to the stage where you see your children as caretakers,
and how they take care of you, but you also see how they will take care of their own children. Should they choose to have them and that's an amazing transition, like my. My son is I'm going to school upstate and he was so excited, isn't sophomore year and he said: let's go apple picking. You know will it let's go apple picking and he did all the research and he chose the orchard, and he said you know me when you get off the train meet me at this grocery store and will buy food for a picnic, and these are the restaurants. We can go to he's, never done it before, because first of all, his mother is a producer. Her manager- and I am the expert on logistics and movements, and it was so gorgeous just to say you know it's wp you Do it because he wanted to add its such a delight. You know my girlfriend yeah, she's work, edition asian voices, have posted ashes, an embassy, and she said Sophia the thing that I've heard you say that have never heard any other person say when you talk about
children. You talk about the fact that their good people- that's all I care about good kind, just empathetic, progressive voices for the voiceless defenders of the week where they go to college. I don't give a shit they do for living. I don't care I'll make money, you don't do the thing that your passion about- and I think that this is how I am the bridge generation of asian immigrants, because my parents extraordinary. They let me do whatever I wanted and supported me in that, but most asian immigrants the children evasion. Immigrants were not told you wanna, be a sculptor goal. Will support that? You cause that's not what they come over here for they don't. You know they come over here
security, and so when you do something that seem that's creative and therefore a kind of unsound they're, not gonna, do that, but me. All I care about is that my children are good people. That they understand that we're here to be in the service of others and I will do whatever it can to support their endeavours as long as they do those things as we sit here. If he has a year in the middle of this new season, two words you spend so much time supporting she spent so much time telling the stories of others building on behalf of others, and your stepping into this season of know that this is my story. This is this is my value. This me stepping out and the story that I've lived that I'm continuing to lead and telling as moment by moment.
Value and- and I want to push that forward. Nobody else was, I feel, like you know, I'm. I look back and I essentially helped extraordinarily talented storytellers for thirty years. I truly think there's nobody better at it than me, but I realise that the real then I'm so good at it. Because I myself am a storyteller. You know a dear friend of mine, she's, a hollywood producer television producer, incredibly smart and super, sperience, and I spoke to the other day, and she listened to my member for the second time she said you know Sophia, I have read many many many many scripts. I have watched so much television produced, so many shows- and you our story, teller,.
and you're an amazing story. Teller. Certainly, my proximity to storytellers has made me better at it. And this is how I feel once I decided once I was told, write a book, they could rat my head around how this was not an exercise in narcissism itself, aggrandize, aggrandizement and self enrichment. But in fact, the way that I could be in service of others, she changed the world, because I think I'm fucking changing the world, then the damn breaks. Then I realize oh shit, There is no limit to the ways that I can tell my story. I mean to be a piglet. I will want to pulitzer I will win an emmi. I will want to grant me listen to me. Twenty twenty one february, twenty twenty one I want to fucking grammy, I'm pulling a no db, unborne rushing. That's it! I'm snatching out of the hands of whoever the fuck. It is
I will ask oscar and I will want to tony- I will do one woman show. There is no doubt in my mind I'll do all of these things. They will all be round my story and again because I now understand how my story can be Spiralling to others very, very talented and smart comedian and writer hurry gondola, an indian man interviewed me also child of immigrants and interviewed me for studio three sixty and at the end of the interview, He said you know Sophia. My only wish is that it Fourteen year old boy, growing up in new york city. that I knew. But in the middle of the music there was defining my youth. There was an asian and that really broke my heart because I, those two me anonymous. There was one point where sky
My images of google, like- can you please take that down, I didn't, want to be in the spotlight. I worked with the people in the spotlight and I was very With that again, I dont have regrets about it, but now understand, but I did pay a price, but could have been inspired. Somebody like hurry and I've heard from other kids too, I wish I knew I wish I knew. and so I am very delighted by the idea of stepping out and telling my story. I dont want to be famous I worked with Paul Simon and nineteen. Eighty seven I've been around famous people for a long fucking time. I know the price you pay, it's not that you know she's, not pretty. Yes, there are plenty plenty plenty of works and the only reason I've chosen to step into the spotlight again and to take the microphone and get on a stage. because I know that I can be in service of others, because that's what god put me here for, but I'm not excited about being famous, I love
You know Sonya Chang, god rest his soul. I talk about her my memoirs. She said to me in he may be. Seventy was parsons personal assistance. She said so sure anonymity. I was twenty two at the time. I don't really know what the fuck. That means that boy do I know now and elsewhere. social media before everybody, had a video recorder and a cam and end of cameroon, their phones in their hands. But again I will. Gladly abdicate my anonymity. If I can help other people, it fills a good place for us to come full circle as well so silly here in this, hair of a good life project, yes in his wonderful room gear, thank you. If I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up oh to be with my kids. And to be surrounded by my friends and to be
in delicious and to be healthy, that's wealth! To me, that's the only wealth it matters to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So much for listening and thanks also to our fantastic sponsors who helped make this show possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today, show notes and while you're at it, if you ve ever ask yourself what should I do with my life, we have created a really cool online assessment that will help you discover the source code for the work they are here to do. You can find it at spark a type dot com. That's s, p, r, K, e t, why p dot com or just click awake
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Transcript generated on 2023-06-25.