BAHAY Collective: A home away from home for Asian creatives in the diaspora
The creative collective is back to give hope to young artists struggling to take the next step in their careers
BAHAY started as a concert to raise donations for the Philippines’ Typhoon Mangkhut Relief Fund in 2019.
The event was hosted in collaboration with the McGill University Filipino Asian Students’ Association and the McGill Association of North American Born Asians.
Today, BAHAY Collective is an upcoming creative studio and agency that fosters and promotes artists and musicians—particularly the Black, Indigenous, People of Colour community in Montreal. Before the pandemic, BAHAY hosted around 15 concerts and now has other concerts and events planned for the future.
“The pandemic was a very pivotal moment for us, where we had to decide what we wanted to do with our organization moving forward,” said Chuong Trinh, one of the co-founders of the collective and whose stage name is Lil Waterboi.
“The pandemic closed a lot of doors and events, and that significantly shaped us. It helped accelerate the decision of not becoming a [...] club and instead becoming a company,” Lil Waterboi added.
Though BAHAY, which translates to “home” in Tagalog, started from a university background, the collective is now a music studio and agency on its own. Co-founders Lil Waterboi, Mandy Tran, and Jholeson Miracles, whose stage name is JTONDABEAT, all work on it full-time.
Nevertheless, an essential goal of the collective is to reach out to the university community specifically and inspire young students to pursue their dreams and passions.
Lil Waterboi proves that making a career out of a hobby and a passion is possible.
“We want to make it normal for people to pursue artistic careers,” he said. “This is what BAHAY is about. It’s to show people that you can make money.”
After dropping out of school to focus on his music career and work on BAHAY, he feels fulfilled and proud to produce music that he loves.
“The moment I realized I can do what I want and I’m allowed to do art as a career and that I’m allowed to do things without the approval of my parents, it just unlocked something in me, and I never stopped.” — Lil Waterboi
Lil Waterboi explained there is a stigma in the Asian community around pursuing traditional and more stable jobs rather than passions. He emphasized that not following a conventional career path and getting a degree can still lead to a successful life. He wants to show students and young adults that there are opportunities beyond school to pursue dreams, passions, and to make a living out of it.
“The moment I realized I can do what I want and I’m allowed to do art as a career and that I’m allowed to do things without the approval of my parents, it just unlocked something in me, and I never stopped,” he said.
JTONDABEAT, who dropped out of mechanical engineering to pursue music, also shares the same aspirations as Lil Waterboi.
“My main role at the company is just to [build up] artists. I want them to come here and make them feel like they are at home and they are ready to level up their skills,” JTONDABEAT said.
Another member of BAHAY who has put their passion above a conventional career is Mandy Tran, a Concordia student majoring in marketing and minoring in entrepreneurship. Tran is a musician, the COO of BAHAY, and the music manager of Lil Waterboi and JTONDABEAT. She described her experience working at BAHAY as a job that doesn’t feel like a job.
“I used to be in co-op at JMSB, and I was in full-time school. I wanted to work in the Big Four, in all these big corporations. I tried it out and realized it was not for me,” Tran said.
Since joining BAHAY, Tran now works doing what she loves most: music and business
Collectively, BAHAY and its artists aim to encourage people to take the next step towards their passions.
With the pandemic’s ever-changing restrictions, BAHAY is more than ready and looking forward to organizing many events for young artists around Montreal.
COVID-19 permitting, BAHAY will be celebrating their third anniversary by hosting a concert in March.