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Life & Work with Coy Lim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Coy Lim.

Hi Coy, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I grew up in a multicultural household, my dad is American-born and my mom is a Chinese-Filipina immigrant. Growing up in Nebraska as one of the few mixed or Asian families, my brother, mom, and I were rather culturally isolated. However, my family always made it a priority to stay connected to our roots by celebrating American and Chinese holidays, learning how to cook my maternal grandmother’s recipes, and staying in touch with my huge extended family in Manila.

As a little kid, I was pretty shy until a microphone was put in my hand at a family birthday party in Manila when I was 4. They couldn’t get me to stop singing after that! I started piano lessons when I was 8, and after the piano teacher moved away from my small town when I was 10, I continued teaching myself the instrument and how to write music by imitating what I’d hear on the radio.

When I was a teenager, I was particularly influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Regina Spektor, Kurt Elling, and Beethoven, and would imitate their music on the piano, saxophone, and with my voice as I continued teaching myself by ear throughout my teens.

After winning the Nebraska Young Artist’s award in high school for music composition, I ended up auditioning for a few music schools as both a composer and a saxophonist, and ultimately ended up at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Music Composition, with a minor in Music Technology.

When I first started school, I was double majoring in composition and biology, since music and biology were, to me, the two things that helped me understand life the most. After taking voice lessons at the minor level during college and tying together some of my anatomical knowledge, I was able to lay the groundwork to develop my scientifically and holistically informed style of teaching healthy vocal techniques.

Currently, I live in Denver, Colorado, and work as a freelance performer and composer, as well as owning my own private voice, piano, and composition studio.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Growing up in cultural isolation as a kid certainly left me longing for community for a long time. The piano, saxophone, and songs that I wrote helped me feel more connected to the world outside of my small hometown and led me to look outside of geography to find community and happiness.

As a queer, half-Asian woman, I have often found myself not fitting into the molds of many of the spaces that I have been surrounded by historically. I spent a lot of time while younger trying to make myself fit in with communities, musical and otherwise, that would constantly reject me because of my identity. This is why I have done the painstaking work of creating my own artistic, communal, and personal spaces.

It is also why I style my music as “witch jazz.” Having always felt like I was an outsider looking in, I figured I may as well attract a coven of folks that felt the same! For me, “witch jazz” acknowledges the divine and mystical power of creating art. I see my songs as spells, and I cast these spells so that those who listen might feel seen, heard, and healed.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
As a self-employed musician, I do a lot of different jobs that often change seasonally. My favorite project right now is my witch jazz joint, “Coy Lim and her Halo-Halo Band.” We recently released a new EP called “Mirror, Mirror” that really encapsulates our funky neo-soul meets rock and roll style. Halo-Halo (pronounced hollow-hollow) is a Tagalog word for a delicious shaved ice dessert with a lot of fun flavors and textures blended together.

Literally translated, it means “mix-mix,” which I thought was cheeky and fun considering I am a mixed-race person who often has a varied mixture of different musicians onstage with me depending on the show. This latest EP features me on vocals and keys, Jake Alvarez on guitar and bass, Chree Bagheera on drums, and Brionne Aigné, Christina Adamoli, and Dax Oliver on background vocals. We recently sold out Dazzle during our EP release show, and are planning a special “Halo-Halloween” show at Enigma Bazaar on Halloween night this year!

Another project about which I am extremely passionate is a film I am currently scoring for my best friend and longtime collaborator, Sam Meier. The film is called “T-Minus,” and it is a short romcom that focuses on a trans man named Andrew accidentally getting pregnant with a former one-night stand named Lex. It’s a beautiful story that culminates with Andrew finding community and acceptance as they support him during his abortion.

Last year, I scored a film for Sam called “Big Baby” that ended up being an official selection of the Oscar-qualifying St. Louis International Film Festival; and this year with this film, I am so excited to see where we go! I’m currently writing original music for this and doing the sound and audio with my partner Jake Alvarez. We recently started a production company called “JoyCakes” that handles any post-production audio needs that clients might have for film, advertisements, and more.

Finally, I am the owner of my own private music studio, where I am focused on offering a decolonized and holistic approach to the study of voice, piano, and music composition. I have many students of all ages and am happy to offer lessons that focus intensely on technique, theory, and building strong foundations for success in any kind of music performance setting.

My students range in age and ability from professionals in their fifties taking their technique and theory further, to kids 6 and over beginning their first instrument. I love being able to offer a safe, non-judgmental, healing educational space for all of my students, whether our lessons are online or in person at my home studio.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I like how Denver is a liberal cultural hub for Colorado, and that we have access to some of the best artists in the world; both on our local scene and with how many touring acts that come through. As an artist, it’s also very inspiring to have access to the culture of the city as well as access to the mountains when I need to decompress and commune with nature.

I enjoy the history of the city, particularly the rich history that the communities of color have contributed to the artistic and cultural fabric of the western United States through their perseverance and dedication to the beautiful land here. As a music teacher, it’s also lovely that so many folks are wanting their kids to take music lessons, and that I have no shortage of dedicated people in my studio who wish to learn more about our art.

As a queer, Asian woman. I would love for the city to celebrate our diverse communities and their contributions to the culture in more actionable ways; such as more funding for cultural community events, more support for artists (particularly for artists of color and queer artists), and the intentional creation of space for diverse folks to hold positions of leadership at the highest levels of local government, commerce, and more.

Pricing:

  • Private In-Person Lessons: $80/hour $40/half hour
  • Private Online Lessons: $70/hour $35/half hour
  • JoyCakes Music/Audio Production: Contact for a quote!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Gab Kaplan Photography

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