By Jocelle Koh

Fiercely proud of his heritage, Chinese-Canadian pop act Tyler Shaw is certainly one to watch. On top of creating a unique brand of dynamic, infectious pop that is entirely his own, the veteran multi-platinum artist has consistently used his artistry as a platform to show off his Asian roots. Especially with all the race politics and issues that threaten to divide Western society lately, a voice like Tyler’s is needed now more than ever.

Sharing with us a selection of long-time favourite Asian artists and songs that have inspired him both in his career and in his personal growth, Shaw takes us on a musical journey that shines a light on Asian and diaspora artists from a new perspective. Few and far between at first look, Shaw has drawn out strands of international pop culture that Asian artists have contributed to at one point or another that many Asian diaspora music lovers would be familiar with.

Be it the Cantopop/Mandopop songs our parents taught us to love, the unstoppable force that is K-pop that stimulated many of us to get in touch with our own heritage, or the Asian diaspora artists such as Tyler who show us that we belong, even when we think we don’t-these are the moments that make up our lives. And it is empowering to see Shaw inviting us to share in these personal moments with him.

Read what he had to say about these Choice Picks, and check out the playlist down below!

Track 01: Eric Nam – Love Die Young
I love Eric Nam’s voice. I feel like him and I fit well together in the music world. We would probably write some incredible music and hope to work with him in the future.

Track 02: Jacky Cheung 張學友 – 我真的受傷了 I’m Really Hurt
Jacky Cheung is one of my favorite Asian pop artists. I grew up listening to his music when I was spending time with my dad. My family would play his music in the car on long roadtrips.

Track 03: Run River North – 29
Love this Asian indie pop band! The first and one of few I know of. Good energy for road trips and vacations.

Track 04: BTS – Dynamite
You cannot escape BTS! They are pop music royalty on a global scale and have such infectious lyrics and production. I’ve been listening to Dynamite non-stop since last summer.

Track 05: Far East Movement – Like a G6
This is a throwback for me that I had to include. Reminds me of growing up and hanging out with my friends at house parties. I remember thinking it was so cool that an Asian electro/pop group had such a massive song. At the time, I’ve never seen that before.

Track 06: KILLY – Killamonjoro
A fellow Canadian artist who has a similar story to mine, living between Toronto and BC. This song is on my cardio playlist because it just gets me pumped up during an at home workout.

Track 07: MC Jin – Money
In the Western world, you don’t hear of many Asian rappers in the mainstream. MC Jin is incredibly talented and I appreciate his lyricism, both in English and Chinese. He’s got a smooth delivery and I just recently discovered his music and I’m definitely a new fan!

Track 08: Bruno MarsThat’s What I Like
Bruno Mars is a legend in the making. One of my favorite artists to listen to hands down. All of his albums are so impressive to me and the type of records you can put on and listen through from top to bottom. I’m not sure how many people realize that Bruno is half Filipino. I’ve read about his challenges breaking into the industry early on and I applaud him for his tenacity. Hard to sit still when I listen to this song.

Track 09: Giraffage – Slowly
This song has a chill Saturday night vibe about it. Pour yourself a drink, unwind and listen to some Giraffage. Just has a relaxing quality about it with enough tempo to keep you engaged.

Track 10: Wanghua Chu – Defend the Yellow River
I’m secretly a massive fan of classical music and I could drive for miles listening to this type of music. It’s very sensory for me. This song happens to be my YeYe’s favourite song. I appreciate a well composed classic hit and the musicianship involved! This song makes me feel connected to my YeYe all the way back in Hong Kong.

Track 11: Tyler Shaw – North Star
“‘North Star’ is about navigating towards something or someone positive in your life who just makes you feel good. That’s what keeps me motivated and inspired. I think of my album as a road trip soundtrack because it covers a little bit of every emotion and feeling from what I’ve experienced over the last few years since my sophomore album INTUITION in 2018. I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner for only writing and performing acoustic love ballads. I found balance in my sound and I’m so proud of this new album.”

Track 12: Tyler Shaw – Be Like You
Songwriting is storytelling, and for me ‘Be Like You’ is a story so many people can relate to. I wanted to write a love song that from a past tense experience, that tapped into that deep ache you get thinking back to better times together. “Be Like You” is about trying to move on from someone you once were in love with and that feeling when that person seems to have moved on. This song reflects the raw honesty and vulnerability you can expect from my upcoming album.