INTERVIEW: Rich Brian, NIKI & Warren Hue Talk Asian Representation On Marvel’s Shang-Chi Soundtrack

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is the second film from the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and debuts the newest hero, played by Simu Liu, Shang-Chi.

Keeping in line with the movie’s Asian flavour, a host of Asian artistes appear on the soundtrack including Rich Brian, NIKI, Warren Hue, and stellar line-up including Anderson .Paak, Swae Lee, Jhené Aiko, Mark Tuan, Saweetie, Audrey Nuna, Guapdad 4000, keshi, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, and DJ Snake, among others.

JUICE got to sit down with three renowned young Indonesian artistes – Rich Brian, NIKI, and Warren Hue – who shared their experiences of collaborating on the soundtrack…

We’re all really excited about the soundtrack, but it’s only fair to hear it directly from you. So how do you feel about this collaboration? 

NIKI: It has been an insane privilege and honour, obviously, to be a part of something as gargantuan as Marvel. It’s just been a highlight and I think I can speak for all of us. It’s been like a career high for all of us. And it’s awesome to be a part of a project where you feel directly represented and seen, as an Asian. And so yeah, it’s been super awesome.

BRIAN: I feel amazing, it feels insane. Because, you know, it’s something that we’ve been working on for so long. And I feel like for me personally, the whole time I was working on it, it’s something that I don’t know, it’s like, when you’re really deep in the process of it, you’re just kind of focused, and you’re just making sure it’s good.

But sometimes you kind of forget how crazy it is, until it happens and until it comes out. And the day it came out I started seeing the trailers on YouTube and stuff, and like hearing my voice on it. It was insane. It came out on September 3, which is my birthday, and I went to the movie theatres, and I actually watched it. And it was nuts, seeing just like, what we did in the studio for so many months, and just kind of seeing it actually happen in front of us and the big screen and our names flash out in the end credits. I’m really proud of it and I’m really, really happy that it’s something that we were able to be a part of as three Indonesian artists being a part of this. And I would never expect something like this to happen. Even, you know, if you even if you told me that this would happen like a year ago, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t believe it. 

Source: Marvel Studios

WARREN: Yeah, it’s insane, especially being like a new artist in the 88 rising collective. And I just got this opportunity very early. And I was just super like, astounded. Because I was the biggest Marvel fan growing up. And just seeing the first Asian superhero to pop up on a big screen, I think is going to do a lot for the culture, and just, you know, kids that look like us. I’ve never been happier to see the movie and watch it roll up.

Source: Marvel Studios

Cool! Niki, I saw a tweet from you saying you recorded one of the songs from your living room, What was that like? 

NIKI: Yeah, most of my songs were done in my guest room, that’s also kind of my studio. And I just plugged in a USB mic into my computer, and I just track my vocals here. So I really feel like it’s kind of ironic because we’re doing like this gigantic, global Marvel soundtrack. And yes, it was done in a DIY sort of way. It reminded me a lot of when I was working on my first EP, when it was literally just me with my headphones, in a bedroom. And yeah, it was sort of like paying tribute to that era and kind of reminded me of when I was just starting out. So it was, it’s really cool. It’s really cool to be able to say, “Yeah, my vocals on a Marvel soundtrack were recorded with a USB mic in my guest room.” 

So what was your favourite part of the movie? Without revealing spoilers of course. 

WARREN: Wow, that’s pretty difficult. I watched it just last night, and it was amazing. So yeah, the best part was probably the fight scenes. It was just so cool. Just the choreography of the fight scenes and everything. I love fight scenes so much. I’m a big fan of superhero movies. So just seeing them get into the kung fu and like, whatever they’re doing, it’s crazy. It’s just so beautifully pieced.

NIKI: Okay, it’s not a spoiler because every Marvel movie has it, but I’m just gonna say to stick around for the end credits scene. That was my favourite part. 

BRIAN: Oh man, so I’ve only seen the movie once and I really, really want to watch it again. But from what I remember, there was this small scene in the beginning when the parents were introduced. I honestly don’t remember if they were dancing or they were fighting or something. But the way was shot and the scenery and everything. It was just, it was so beautiful. It was just like, that’s what made me think, “Okay, this is a good movie. Let me just really sit down and focus on this real quick.” That was fire.

Source: Marvel Studios

Alright so, if you guys had a superpower, what would it be and what would be your superhero name? 

WARREN: I would probably be able to freeze time. That’s my superpower. Yeah, I don’t know. I got a lot of stuff to do. And I just wanna pause my life a little bit. You know, just to relax. You feel me? 

BRIAN: So for me, I think my superpower would be I want to be able to do something and experience it for the first time again. I think the biggest thing in life is like people just do stuff and they get bored of it. And then that’s what makes them sad and depressed. So just doing something and experiencing it for the first time again, I feel like that’d be like a really cool thing to do. Because I can listen to a song for the first time again. And that’s like such a cool thing to do. And my superhero name would be Henry Golding.

NIKI: Um, so I recently got into gardening. I’ve been growing a lot of plants and having fun. And so I would want to have a superpower where I can just grow plants, like they can explode out of the earth. And I can manipulate it and kill people, maybe. But you know, like, do whatever I want with the plants. 

Source: Marvel Studios

Very cool, but which Marvel characters would you guys pick to play, given the choice? 

BRIAN: I’ve always wanted to play Spiderman. I don’t know why. I think Spiderman is cool, because you can do a lot of things and the stories are really interesting. 

Which Spiderman? 

BRIAN: I want to be in that scene where Tobey Maguire was dancing. When he had the black suit on. Okay, that’s what I would do. Yeah.

WARREN: Probably. Dr. Strange. He’s crazy, he can do anything in the world. I’ll be like, technically invincible. That’s the dopest thing ever.

NIKI: Um, I really like Wanda. She’s pretty OP and I just love her cause she’s so powerful. 

Alright, and finally, what do you have to say to all the budding Asian artists trying to make their way into the world? 

BRIAN: I think, take advantage of the amount of other Asian artists out there because just a few years ago, there weren’t really that many. And now you can take inspiration and be your own thing. You know, like, you can create your own blueprint and be something that is so exciting to the point where other people that you’re a fan of will see you and be like, Wow, that’s cool. I’m inspired by that. I’m just really excited to see what other Asian artists kind of pop out in the future. 

NIKI: Just kind of be yourself. That’s so cliche, but truly, like, at the end of the day, people are going to gravitate, people are going to keep coming back to you, for you and your music, and your art. Don’t try to don’t impersonate people. Because it’s very obvious when you try to impersonate people. Be the best version of you. 

WARREN: Yeah, this project is definitely gonna inspire a lot of kids out there a lot of new Asian kids to just go on do music. And I remember like, literally three years ago, being just nobody at just starting out on music, and music was just like a huge reference point for me. Yeah, it was just inspiration. And yeah, be yourself. Always be yourself. Don’t try to be anyone else. Focus on yourself. Just don’t care what other people think about your music. And if you believe in it, that hard is gonna work out trust me. Manifest that and dream big. 

Make sure to listen to the entire album on Spotify!