Son of James Invite You To Come On Down To Chinatown

The Vancouver rockers introduce you to their signature brand of Chynatruckerfunk.

Son of James capture the soulful spirit of Chinatown on their driving, rolling single Come On — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Taken from the Vancouver band’s EP Chynatruckerfunk, this cut is so funky you’ll have a hard time believing that the gritty, swaggering sound is being produced by a delicate Chinese instrument. Especially with bandleader Shon Wong’s whiskey-soaked commands to “Come on!” harkening back to James Brown’s “Get on up!” But when you listen again, you hear it — a guzheng (Chinese harp) whose sound transcends its genre to become something entirely magnetic and magical.

“The Chinese have such beautiful instruments that pierce your heart, rip through your soul and give you goosebumps,” Wong explains. “These instruments are the key ingredients to a Chinese Canadian sound that I am creating. A blend of funk, rock and soul — a sound I call Chynatruckerfunk. Only with music of our own can we truly celebrate our identity.”

A third-generation Chinese-Canadian born in Vancouver, Wong was always searching for a way to express both his heritage and his personal identity. Though there were plenty of successful Chinese Canadian doctors, lawyers, CEOs and financiers around him while growing up, Wong is an artist, a musician, and a writer, and that made it more of a challenge: “The closest I could ever find to a Chinese role model was Bruce Lee, and he’s been dead since 1973.”

And so the Chynatruckerfunk EP is Wong’s personal journey into defining his own Chinese Canadian identity. “But it’s hard to celebrate when you have no sound. That’s always been an issue for me. Nobody knows what a Chinese-Canadian sounds like,” he muses. “Many races across North America have music that defines them and galvanizes their community, such as African Americans with hip-hop, rap, R&B, jazz and blues.”

Therefore, Wong fused his favorite influences — there’s even a shout-out to Guns N’ RosesParadise City in Come On — with Chinese instrumentation. “Come On speaks from the perspective of Chinatown’s past pioneers speaking to the current state of Chinatown,” Wong says. “When you hear the guzheng intro, we are calling upon all the spirits that have inhabited Vancouver’s Chinatown to speak on the current condition of Chinatown.”

Meanwhile, Wong sings with the world-weary grit and soul of someone who’s seen more than enough in his lifetime:

“A diamond in the rough won’t be what you want
If you ain’t got the heat
The bad and the good are always understood
These are the rules of the street
Come on, get it on
Dance with the devil gonna break your fall.”

Son of James includes Michelle Kwan on guzheng, Adam Richards on guitar/bass, Jonathan Reichert on guitar, Johnny Walsh on bass, Mark Hoeppner on keys, Dave Say and Eric Tsang on sax, Jason Overy and Ed Whelan on drums, and Erica Ullyot on vocals.

Check out Come On above, hear more from Son Of James below, and join the family on their website and Instagram.