At first blush

At first blush

A brand-new pan-Asian girl band is hoping to conquer the US

November 04, 2012
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Blush features (from back) Hongkonger Victoria Chan, Korean Lee Ji-hae, Angeli Flores, from the Philippines, Natsuko Danjo from Japan, and Indian Alisha Budhrani
Blush features (from back) Hongkonger Victoria Chan, Korean Lee Ji-hae, Angeli Flores, from the Philippines, Natsuko Danjo from Japan, and Indian Alisha Budhrani
Photo: Edward Wong
A new force threatens the United States This time it’s an Asian invasion – of the airwaves and album charts. Five girls are bent on accomplishing a feat many foreigners have tried, but few have managed – to conquer America’s music scene.

“The time is now,” says 28-year-old Victoria Chan of Hong Kong. “We want to make it big around the world. Asia is where our heart is and Asia will always be our home, but we want to make it big [globally]. [There are] so many Asians around the world. We just hope everyone can relate to us wherever they’re from.”

“And it’s never been done before,” adds Alisha Budhrani, 19, who is originally from India but lives in Hong Kong. “You have Wonder Girls and stuff, but there’s no pan-Asian girl band.”

So meet Blush – the first pan-Asian all-girl band. They are hoping to carve a name for themselves in a market that’s been notoriously difficult to crack. By the end of their indefinite stay in the US, Blush hopes to become a household name.

Rounding out the multinational band are 26-year-old Lee Ji-hae from Korea, 21-year-old Angeli Flores from the Philippines, and Natsuko Danjo, 20, from Japan.

They joined forces after April last year when a Hong Kong-based media production company called FarWest Entertainment launched Project Lotus, an Asia-wide talent search in the form of a reality television series. It will air as a 16-part series in late August. The five girls beat out thousands of contestants to join Blush.

“I found out about Project Lotus while [I was] in Tokyo,” says Natsuko, nicknamed Nacho due to her love for the crispy snack. “At the same time I found out about an audition as a backup dancer. I wanted to do both. Then I thought, I can be a backup dancer [anytime]. But I want to be a star – I want to sing, dance and be on stage with an audience cheering. That’s why I went to the [Project Lotus] audition.”

Blush had their first major gig in May, when they opened for Justin Bieber at AsiaWorld Expo. A little more than a month later, they released their first single Undivided, featuring US rap megastar Snoop Dogg, as a digital download on iTunes.

The song is in English but, true to their diverse roots, ends with a refrain of “I love you” in Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog and Hindi. The world premiere of the music video was broadcast July 1 on Channel [V].

Up next for the girls is a live spot on So You Think You Can Dance this Thursday.

“Me and my mum used to watch [the show] all the time,” says Natsuko, who learned to dance at age three at her mother’s dance studio. “She would be like ‘I could dance better than him or her’,” she says with a laugh. “She was so excited when I told her. She told my entire family: ‘Nacho’s going to be on. Watch it!’”

Whether the girls become trailblazers for Asian musicians or return home humbled, they deserve kudos for taking the bold trans-Pacific leap. But while they’re away, we wonder, what will they miss most about Hong Kong? “Bubble tea,” deadpans Alisha. “I’ve tried the bubble tea in LA, “and it’s not the same.”

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