Interview by Kevin Williams & Alan Ng
Words by Kevin Williams
Photography by Christine Tang
The justalilhype! Crew caught up with Curtis Lum, founder of the clothing line Chinamen’s Club and one of the co stars of the web series Chasing Moods. Curtis is involved with many aspects within the urban culture scene of Vancouver and he talks to us about his roots from working at Dipt, to his views of being an actor and promoter within the city. Meeting him was a testament that Curtis is indeed on his route to becoming successful as life continues on chasing moods.
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started doing the work that you do.
It all started when I was 18 and I first started working at Dipt. I pretty much used that for networking because there were a lot of cool people who worked in the acting industry, fashion industry, or in the club scene coming in and out daily. So working there I learned how to sell, I learned how to dress people, I learned how to network and I learned how to really hustle.
Looking back I consider myself fortunate, everything I ever got my hands into and produced, it has always been something I have been passionate about. At the same time, whether it was clothing, show, club nights, it was suited to fit my lifestyle, my vision. Like, if I didn’t see what I liked on the racks, I’d produce my own shirts, which is what we did with Chinamen’s Club. We did our own show, with content we thought was hilarious. We did our own club nights with music and a vibe we wanted to hear. I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time but looking back that’s exactly what it was.
You mention your clothing line, what was the concept behind Chinamen’s Club?
It was kind of a play on words, our tagline is “born to make it”. Whether it’s in the factories or in the business world, we are born to make it. So we took a stereotype of the Chinese, “Everything is made in China” and we applied it to our society how we want to make it in life. We took a lot of these Asian inspired concepts and flipped it and made it cool. I definitely wanted to represent my culture with that brand and we did a really good job. We had it in stores in New York, LA, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. It was a cool little pet project.
Keep an eye out cause Chinamen’s Club is going to be making a huge comeback this spring with new designs that are off the boat!
Having worked with so many people, who would you say your biggest influences are?
Coming up in the game I guess you could say I have had quite a few mentors. I’ll give Justin Jung the official shout out, and my good homie Les Birch who was actually my co-producer and creator for Chasing Mood. I learned a lot from those two. The two of them kind of took me under their wing and showed me the ropes of how to take the city over.
Lately you have been doing a lot of promoting, what do you think has been lacking with the Vancouver club scene and how are your nights different?
I think what was lacking for the longest time was a good solid night worthy of getting dressed up for, and getting hyped up for. I think one key ingredient I have stuck to since day one is that I have always wanted to give the customer more than they paid for. I’ve always tried working with the best as far as other promoters and dj’s go and have always kept the music and the talent fresh. There is nothing worse than paying a high cover charge to see, no offense to local DJ’s, but to see the same weekly DJ’s over and over again with the same crowd where the vibe of the night gets super repetitive. I have always tried to give more.
What do you have to say about Promoters being the most hated on Facebook?
I’m the most hated on Facebook, but once or twice a month, I’m the most loved and all of a sudden everyone is my best friend. I even find I have new cousins and at times new girlfriends.
Working as an actor, you have had a lot of different gigs. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that and what has been your favourite experience?
I have kind of dabbled in everything, from TV to commercials to movies. I guess the most memorable one was definitely Dim Sum funeral. It’s an HBO movie that changed my life quite a bit as far as turning friends and family into believers, that this is something I can actually do for a living. Landing that proved a lot of people wrong. The most fun I would have to say was actually Chasing Mood where I was the actor of it but I was also handling a lot behind the scenes. We tackled everything on our own; it was a great learning experience. We were learning on the go, I was able to grab a real serious bond with other local talent; directors, actors, and I think a lot of people give a little respect because we went out there and did it on our own. We didn’t really get much help, it was just a matter of us using all of our resources that we had to the best of our abilities.
For those who have not heard about Chasing Mood, why don’t you give us a little rundown of what it’s about and where you see it going in the future?
It’s a show about two aspiring actors who live in Vancouver who are just trying to get by. It shows their struggles, the ups and their downs. It’s a comedy, but it’s also very real. Season two we are really aiming to be a much more rounded production. I’d like to see it be up for a Streamy award. That’s pretty much like the Oscars except for online content. To be mentioned and to be considered in the same light as some of these other Streamy shows that have won the award would be an honour. This year is our year though, I can feel it.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
As of right now I think acting is my strongest interest but really I would like to just be the face of a new up and coming generation; The lifestyle guy. I have my hands in enough different avenues that I think I can achieve that. But for right now, my strongest focus is in creating a brand for myself.
If you had to take on something entirely new, what would it be?
I would want to be a blogger for justalilhype!
What advice do you have for youth trying to start out in the game?
Never be afraid to fail, never be afraid to be wrong. Never be afraid to be different because at the end of the day, failure is where you learn to build and be better at doing what your doing. Vision is key, knowing what you want to be and who you want to be and staying true to that will take you a long way. There will always be people who want to deter you away from your goals but stay true to who you want to be and have an end goal.
What is your end goal?
I’m always going to be working; it’s in my blood. My grandfather is like 80 and he refuses to retire. But my end goal is to be comfortable and be able to look back and be satisfied with everything that I have accomplished knowing that I have made my mark on this city and in this world and have made a difference in whatever industry I’m in. Entertaining is big for me, whether it is acting or providing entertainment for people, or even serving. I enjoy giving people a reason to be happy.
Any future projects you would like to mention?
We are starting to shoot Chasing Mood for season two. As well I have a few other shows that I’m going to be in this late spring or early summer. We just landed a new night, Empire Thursdays at Barcelona in which we plan on conquering as much ground as possible with that. I got two of my favourite DJ’s in the city, DJ Hustle, and DJ Seko as the residents. It’s a great night, with all new flavour, higher end hip-hop. We plan on bringing a lot of acts through the city there as well. Other than that, I’m going to keep on keeping on, striving to achieve as much greatness as possible with my team (High Society) and for my city, Vancity.
What is HYPE?
HYPE is a tool, it creates an energy, like a buzz around something that gets people and attracts people as it grows but at the same time if you hype something up you have to be able to back it up. To me there is nothing worse than false HYPE.