Kollaboration and competition

People dressed up in fancy clothing, busy volunteers, cameramen, and excited chatter in a theatre: you might think these sights and sounds describe the typical build-up to a movie premiere at TIFF, but in this case they actually describe the sights and sounds of a concert called Kollaboration. Or, as it could also be called, a kickstarter for young artists.

Founded by Paul “PK” Kim in 2000, Kollaboration has since become a global movement. The first show was held in Los Angeles, and now it takes place in many cities all across North America, including San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Tulsa, and even Honolulu.

[Intentional Accidentals] blew the audience away with their harmonious, beautiful tunes and synchronized choreography reminiscent of what you might see on Glee.

There’s a wide variety of creativity on display, including singing, breakdancing, beatboxing, rap, and comedy. Kollaboration’s mission statement is “Empowerment through entertainment”, and they seek to promote a strong Asian and Pacific Islander presence in entertainment.

When the show began, it didn’t take long to notice some similarities  to American Idol (or to any talent competition shows in that style). Like Ryan Seacrest, Kim—who is also Kollaboration’s host—was  very charismatic. Following every act, he would share a little joke with a sense of humour similar to Russell Peters’.

The judges were Sylvia “Beautycakez” Ta (a YouTube beauty guru), beatboxer  Terry “KRNFX” Im (a 2012 finalist on Canada’s Got Talent and the first-place winner at Kollaboration Toronto in 2008), Derrick Fung (the CEO of Tunezy, an online platform that allows fans to support and discover  their favourite artists), and Helen Kim, a manager at the Sheppard Centre branch of TD Canada Trust (which is the primary supporter of Kollaboration). In the same way that Simon, Randy, and Paula of American Idol are renowned in the American entertainment industry, the Kollaboration judges are acclaimed in the Asian and Pacific Islander artistic community.

Since Kollaboration is a small non-profit organization, there is no record deal or million-dollar prize handed to the winner. But what they do receive is still spectacular: $1,000 and the opportunity to open for Clara C and David Choi (well-known musicians in the Asian YouTube community) on their upcoming fall tour.

The show kicked off with a marvellous a cappella performance by the enchanting group Intentional Accidentals. They blew the audience away with their harmonious, beautiful tunes and synchronized choreography reminiscent of what you might see on Glee.

They were followed by the lovely Sylvia and Jerome, who had the crowd singing along and waving their arms to their cover of fun.’s “We Are Young”. The third finalist was the alternative rock group Maybe Refuge, who offered the audience the comfort of  their cover of Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”.

Up next was a freestyle singing and dance competition featuring members of the audience. The dancers duelled while the singers showed off their vocal prowess. One girl particularly wowed the audience with her renditions of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Empire State of Mind”.

Our attention was soon brought back to the stage by the comedic antics of Asiansploitation. They had the audience laughing uncontrollably with their skit involving a parody of Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You”, which they turned into “I’ll Be White for You”. Their act was followed by the final three competitors: the breakdancers Team Sexy, the Korean rap duo Thoroughbred, and the mesmerizing beatboxer Young.

The audience was then treated to two guest performances. The first was given by the singer-songwriter Joseph Vincent,whose humble demeanour and smooth vocals have earned him a strong fandom on YouTube, with over 240,000 subscribers. He also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year, where he performed Mike Posner’s “Cooler than Me”. At Kollaboration, he delighted the crowd with his cover of Maroon 5’s “Payphone” and several other songs, including his soon-to-be-released single “Blue Skies”.

The second guest appearance was a rap duo from LA’s Korea Town, made up of the artists Dumbfounded and DJ Zo. They had the audience standing on their feet and bobbing their heads to their energetic rhythms and cool sounds. Before they left, they welcomed judge Terry “KRNFX” Im to the stage and the two  DJed in the background while Terry broke out his famous beatboxing sounds.

At the end of the show, Maybe Refuge and Young were crowned the winners and earned their place on David Choi and Clara C’s tour. Confetti flew all around as the audience applauded and all the Kollaboration crew and performers  took a much-deserved bow.

The night concluded with a meet-and-greet with Joseph Vincent.

All in all, Kollaboration was an exceptional experience, and I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to go next year.

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