Sincerely, #IvanKNY

We can’t believe it either, but we’ve reached the end of Ivan Polanco’s Finalist Week.

We’re ending each week with a post written by the finalist and addressed to you all. Read further below for what Ivan has to say about how he got started in music, and how he feels proud to be an Asian American in the entertainment field. 

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I am Ivan Polanco, a Filipino & Dominican 21-year-old, certified personal trainer, NPC (National Physique Committee) Men’s Physique competitor and an independent music artist with dreams to let the world hear my music. I am incredibly excited to be a finalist here for Kollaboration NY, and I can’t wait to display my music to you all!

My musical journey began at 4 years old through my dad. As a young father of 23 entering a career as a high school english teacher, he would always find time within his crazy work schedule to work on his craft as a singer/songwriter, baseball player and martial artist. I idolized everything he did, and his passions were later passed down to me. Originally beginning as a drummer, I would practice for hours on end after school beating my drumsticks on school notebooks, pots, pans, plastic bowls and my kitchen table (which my mom eventually scolded me for). Finally at the age of 10, I was able to hone my skills well enough to drum for my father’s band “Den of Wolves.” We performed in venues around NYC, and it was there that my live performance training began. My dad would lie to the venue managers that it was his “birthday” and would like to bring his son with him to perform on stage. When I got on stage, I was instantly hooked.

For a long time, becoming a professional drummer was my ultimate desire. There was such an exciting release of rhythm and movement I felt with the instrument, yet there were times as I grew into my teens that I realized I had so much more to express… until I picked up the guitar. There was something different about playing guitar and singing a song, an alternative peace of mind that drumming couldn’t provide. I was able to feel the gravity that words can hold while singing, along with the true power of guitar melodies. It was a mystery that bewildered me, and I have been in love with songwriting ever since.

My dad would lie to the venue managers that it was his “birthday” and would like to bring his son with him to perform on stage. When I got on stage, I was instantly hooked.

In high school, I joined the Songwriter’s Club, which provided a platform for students to collaborate and create original music. I was able to test the waters of my ability as a singer/songwriter here, performing in school hallways, events, showcases and eventually venturing out into my hometown of White Plains, Westchester County, and then New York City playing my original music in clubs, cafes, bars, festivals and cable access TV shows. To watch my songs unfold into this artistic expression onstage was unlike anything I’d ever felt. I was allowed to be myself, speak my mind and share my thoughts with whoever wanted to listen. I’ve always tried my best to approach songwriting from an honest, sincere place. Hearing songs from other artists that had emotional truth behind their lyrics always left huge impressions on me, so I’ve made it a part of my style to do my best to sing every word with purpose, as my songs at their core are stories I need to release.

I discovered Kollaboration New York while studying at the Musicians Institute of Los Angeles in 2012. Researching more about the Kollaboration organization, I noticed how past finalists were artists I greatly admire such as Kina Grannis, David Choi, Paul Dateh and Clara C. I felt compelled to audition and give it my best shot once I finished school and moved back home to NY in May of 2013.

Besides the help that Kollaboration provides to upcoming artists like myself, being a part of this contest means so much more than just promoting my music. I am of mixed heritage, and as an artist of Filipino and Dominican descent, I’m proud to represent Asian Americans in entertainment. My whole life, I’ve always struggled with fitting in because of they way I look and who I am. At times I’ve been seen as “not Asian enough” or “not Latino enough” to be accepted into certain circles, and my way through this rejection was by allowing my passions through music and fitness to speak for me. I’m comfortable in my own skin and I am proud to have the parents I have.

Besides the help that Kollaboration provides to upcoming artists like myself, being a part of this contest means so much more than just promoting my music. I am of mixed heritage, and as an artist of Filipino and Dominican descent, I’m proud to represent Asian Americans in entertainment.

Entertainment media have always lacked a strong presence of Asian American talent. There are wonderful actors, artists and musicians out there — of not only Asian descent, but also Latino descent — however, they are often type-casted or dismissed as something that wouldn’t fit the image of what’s acceptable in mainstream media. We are all human, and while Asian artists have been on the rise through platforms like YouTube, film and television for the past few years, there’s still a large percentage of the population that isn’t aware of Asian American and other ethnic talent. It’s time for mainstream media to get a taste of what they’ve been missing out on, and I’m happy to break down that door.

It’s time for mainstream media to get a taste of what they’ve been missing out on, and I’m happy to break down that door.

I’m a young guy, but at 21, I’ve been able to record, copyright, and publish two albums (currently recording my third), organize and film five music videos for my original songs, operate several social media sites promoting my music, act as my own booking agent for all my own shows and manage my career thus far as an independent music artist. In addition to that, I also have had my side job as a personal trainer for 40+ clients, and I still pursue my hobbies of athletics through my other passions of martial arts, bodybuilding and powerlifting, and will be competing in my first NPC Men’s Physique show on July 12. There is so much more I want to accomplish, and although fitness is something I enjoy, my ultimate goal is to live off my music and share my songs with listeners around the world. I’ve been working my whole life for an opportunity like what Kollaboration provides, and I am ready to give it my all!

-Ivan Polanco

Thank you all for tuning into #IvanKNY throughout this week. Keep on supporting Ivan by checking him out on his websiteYouTubeTwitterFacebook and Instagram. And of course, support him in person at our showcase on August 30. Mark your calendars now. 

Next week, we’ll be posting on Yut and The Hot Four (#YutandtheHotFourKNY). Stay tuned.