By Vanessa Tam
VANCOUVER – Setting him apart from most other DJs and producers in the progressive house world, Tim Wu, commonly known as Elephante, has one unexpected piece of paper up his sleeve: a diploma from Harvard.
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Wu has already accomplished a lot in his 27 years of life and isn’t willing to waste another second on something he isn’t passionate about. “I just started my career a little later,” Wu explains. “[And] I wonder a lot what would’ve happened if I dropped out or moved straight to LA, but I’ve been really fortunate with my career so far so it’s hard to regret anything. Like on the one hand maybe I’d be Bieber, but on the other maybe I’d be addicted to heroin under a bridge, so who knows.”
“As far as school, I’m pretty much using nothing practical from my degree,” he goes on to say. “I know that I’ve tried to have a normal life and hated it, so every time I’m frustrated or depressed about music, I still know that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”
Building off the success of his popular single “Closer” from his debut EP I Am the Elephante, Wu knows exactly what it is he wants to achieve with his career and how to get there. “For me, it’s really just about having severe tunnel vision and just focusing on what’s in front of me; like literally take life hours at a time,” he says. “There’s a broad vision, but if I try to take it in all at once I’ll have a panic attack. And of course I’ve had a some amazing support from my team and other artists, but I find that if you just keep trying to have little victories every day then it [all] adds up.”
Navigating a vast landscape of EDM artists that are mostly of European and Australian descent, Wu has been able to find success alongside a growing group of Asian American artists including Steve Aoki, Tokimonsta and ZHU who are all making waves in their own right. “I actually think it’s probably better in EDM than the music industry or pop culture as a whole,” Wu shares. “But [there] definitely still a long way to go.”
“My view is that it starts with the general cultural perception of Asian Americans (AA) as being doctors or engineers, not artists,” he goes on to say. “There’s probably generations of talented AA kids who could have been amazing musicians, actors, whatever, but never really believed that it was possible. But it can also be tougher to have a career because some audiences also think of AA artists as a novelty, so it goes both ways. I think it’s getting better though as AA artists are becoming more visible. I try not to think about it as it relates to me too much though – there’s nothing I can do to change it, so I just try to represent and do the best work I can.”Celebrities, Celebrities Nightclub, elephante