Yunna has come a long way since her emergence in the music scene as Wolfbitch (and later Wolfbaby). Rinne EP, out earlier this month on Worst Behavior Recs, is not only a sonic manifestation of the Taiwanese DJ and producer reaching full maturity as an artist but a literal embodiment of her culture, identity and how she sees herself as an Asian musician in America.
Relocating to Taipei to The Bay when she was 10, Yunna struggled for years to understand her identity and express all the dynamic parts of herself. The classically-trained musician (piano, violin and percussion) spent almost a decade crossing the Pacific and back, seeking that sense of community that comes with being a musician. After a long journey of losing and reclaiming herself many times over, the pandemic was the paradigm shift.
"In the last couple of years, I watched a lot more Asian faces come up in mainstream music, receiving support like never before," Yunna said in an interview with Mixmag Asia. "At the same time, post-BLM and COVID, there was a lot more focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPIH) awareness. I felt a lot more encouraged, and even a need, an urgency, to reclaim my roots alongside the people I was seeing do the very own thing I wish I had the courage to do as a child."
"I was also tired of feeling amiss in my identity here," she added. "I was tired of feeling like my roots weren't important, and I was tired of all the sacrifices I made to leave my own country and my own family to make a life here for myself—and then not to be acknowledged and supported."
Moving to LA was the first of many births. Yunna was born as part of the artist's reclamation of her Asian roots as well as her rebirth as an artist. "Yunna is meant to be a direct translation of my Chinese name 雨娜, which I now proudly display on my social media platform and put on the music I'm releasing into the world. It's one step, albeit a small one, but I feel so relieved and so empowered to claim a name I recognize and identify with."
Yunna also gave birth to her first child, and it was during her (isolated) pregnancy that she finally fell into womanhood and harnessed the power not just to be a mother but also a bastion amongst Asian women in music.
"I thought a lot about how my son's future would be shaped if I was not, and we were not paving the way for him and kids like him to have a voice, a bigger representation and less pressure to blend in."
And now, she births her legacy to her newborn son: a debut EP that perfectly summarizes her last seven-year life cycle. Rinne is a five-track dance floor weapon that paints a glossy and feminine finish over moments of vintage-sounding jungle, hardcore and bass. Her classical music background breaks through on the EPs well-constructed tracks. Named for Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Rinne Kokyogaku, or Reincarnated Orchestra, the 1896 concept album explored the eternal cycles of birth, death and rebirth—and Yunna found the concept in line with both her beliefs and reinventing herself as an artist.
"I was raised Buddhist and believe in reincarnation, not only in the physicality of death itself but also in living that many times over in the span of one's lifetime. I think the most beautiful thing about life is that as long as you have the courage, you can shed and rebuild yourself as many times as you want. There aren't any rules to this. In that sense, it is freedom. You do with yourself what makes you happy. This is what I had hoped to achieve with the release of my debut EP."
Rinne is out now on Worst Behavior Recs. Pick it up here