"An act of revisionist subversion." - NPR
No-No Boy is an immersive multimedia work blending original folk songs, storytelling, and projected archival images all in service of illuminating hidden American histories. Taking inspiration from his own family’s history living through the Vietnam War as well as many other stories of Asian American experience, Nashville born songwriter Julian Saporiti has transformed years of doctoral study into an innovative project which bridges a divide between art and scholarship. By turning his archival research and fieldwork into a large repertoire of folk songs and films Saporiti has been able to engage diverse audiences with difficult conversations performing with a revolving cast of collaborators everywhere from rural high schools and churches to New York City's Lincoln Center.
In the spring of 2019, Saporiti expanded the project's scope, embarking on a trip to the Mexican border. Playing concerts for asylum seekers and aid workers, the experience was jarring and laid a new foundation for the No-No Boy project..
Julian Saporiti 2019. Photograph by Diego Luis.
"Imperial Twist" lyric video from 1975.
"The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming " from 1975.
After this trip, No-No Boy eschewed traditional touring, focusing instead on performing in spaces where this work can connect with audiences holding wide ranging points of view. Offering music and service, No-No Boy has continued to travel along the southern border working with a school for refugee children in Tijuana, serving as scholars/artists in residence in Shishmaref, Alaska, and collaborating with dozens of diverse organizations across North America.
2021 brings the new album 1975 released on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings which expands Saporiti's song craft and production, using sound samples recorded at field sites such as the Angel Island Immigration Station, WWII Japanese Incarceration camps, and current detention centers around the US. Turning these sounds into rhythms, Saporiti offers a new set of overlooked histories and nuanced tales of diverse Asian American experiences often centered around overlook musical forebearers.
"insanely listenable and gorgeous" - American Songwriter
Further Reading + Listening:
"Boat People" from 1942.
Smithsonian Folkways documentary on 1975 directed by Albert Tong, 2021.
House Concert for Proyecto Dilley, Dilley, TX, 2019. photo credit: Diego Luis
WWII Internment Camp, Crystal City, TX, 2019. photo credit: Diego Luis