By Evangeline Cafe
Northwest Asian Weekly
The eclectic sounds of “Tim Be Told” are spreading like wildfire across college campuses and on the Internet. The band’s musical genre is a mixture of pop, soul, and rock. The group emerged from the University of Virginia campus, where it recorded its first album, “Getting By,” inside a school dormitory in 2007. The band will release its first studio-produced album, “From the Inside,” on June 4.
“When we first started out, I don’t know if we really had any clear goals of what we wanted to do,” said lead vocalist and pianist Tim Ouyang. “We just wanted to play music and see what happened with it.”
The band has attracted thousands of followers on networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, and earned invitations to perform on campuses across the country.
Ouyang is excited about the group’s growing fan base. “I don’t think any of us expected that we would grow this much. It has been amazing,” he said.
The band originated in Charlottesville, Va., where students Tim Ouyang and Luan Nguyen sang in an a cappella group together. They met guitarist Andrew Chae, a California native, through a mutual friend and began composing songs together in 2006. Philippine-born drummer Jim Barredo and bassist Parker Stanley hopped onboard to complete the band in 2007.
The group named itself Tim Be Told, which derives from the phrase, “truth be told,” in order to convey the idea that music should be honest, hopeful, and transformative. Tim Be Told has already dedicated many of its performances to raising awareness of social injustice.
“A lot of the shows on college campuses have focused towards raising awareness for different things, [such as] injustices in Africa,” said bassist Parker Stanley.
“We’ve done a couple of shows that raise money for villages, and education for children. This fall we’re going to focus on mental wellness in college,” he said, citing that the second biggest cause of death on college campuses is suicide.
Guitarist Andrew Chae, who moved from California’s Bay Area to be with the group, feels that the band’s central hub in Virginia makes it easy for them to impact a lot of people in a positive way.
“The thing about Virginia is that there are a lot of colleges [nearby]. It’s about a six-hour drive to New York and a 12-hour drive to Florida,” said Chae.
The band members, who range in age from 21 to 25, ditched their traditional career paths to put their faith in music. Many of them are self-taught musicians, and felt it was their calling to share their talent.
“I majored in architecture when I was in school and loved it,” said Ouyang, “but I knew that when I graduated, I wanted to do something exciting — something different.”
“I made a choice to pursue music instead because it was something I felt passionate about,” he said.
Drummer Jim Barredo is thankful for his family’s steadfast support. “As you can expect from an Asian or Filipino family, my parents had dreams of me becoming a doctor or lawyer, but at the end of the day, they knew that if I really followed my heart, they would support me in whatever decision I made. They are totally, 100 percent behind us,” said Barredo.
The band members fuse a wide range of musical styles and influences. They also come from varied backgrounds.
Pianist and leader singer Tim Ouyang is Chinese, guitarist Andrew Chae is Korean, guitarist and backup vocalist Luan Nguyen is Vietnamese, drummer Jim Barredo is Filipino, and bassist Parker Stanley is part Cherokee Indian. The group views the diversity as its strength.
“I think that definitely contributes to the style of music, and it promotes a more eclectic and diverse sound,” said Ouyang.
And while the members are proud of their heritage, they hope their music will have the power to transcend race.
“I see us as part of a larger movement of breaking down racial barriers, stereotypes, and prejudices,” said Ouyang.
The members admit that touring across the country can take its toll, but they find creative ways to keep themselves sane.
“I’m probably the goofiest person in the band,” said guitarist and background vocalist Luan Nguyen, who enjoys dancing for his band mates.
“I like to keep us entertained, even if it comes at the expense of my dignity,” laughed Nguyen.
Tim Be Told’s new album, “From the Inside,” will be available for purchase and download on June 4 though its Web site, www.TimBeTold.com and will eventually be available on iTunes. Fans may also listen to clips on MySpace and Facebook.
Tim Be Told looks forward to recording more music in the future, and is open to the possibility of making tour stops in the Pacific Northwest.
“This whole experience has exceeded our expectations,” said Ouyang. “We’re all in it for the long haul. We are just so grateful for the doors that have opened for us.” ♦
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