As the sun set over the series of artificial islands known as Sebitseom, rising up from Seoul’s Han River, hundreds of guests processed into an experience of explosive, living art. The vision of Singapore-brewed, globally consumed Tiger Beer, “Tiger Roar” (as the raucous night was known) concluded a year’s worth of the brand’s Uncaged Night events. The diverse slate of talent—individuals drawn from various industries across a dozen countries—graced more than the stage. In fact, just about every sensory stimulant was considered as a canvas. Korean rappers worked in tangent with Thai experiential lighting designers alongside a Chinese live-painter while Malaysian chefs prepared reimagined cuisine and a freestyle dancer from Myanmar pressed the limits of his body. More than 1,000 people witnessed it all, but unlike previous Tiger Beer events this wasn’t a one-night celebration; it was the launch of the Tiger Roar Collective.
The Tiger Roar Collective will be an incubator and community for every type of artist. And it’s unlike any other branded collective out there. Tiger encourages those within, but they do not make demands of them. All of this is worth expounding upon, as well as the fact that this is a group at the crux of tactile and digital. Venus Teoh (Director of International Brands, Tiger at Heineken Asia Pacific) explains, “The way we want to bring this brand to light is through the creation of a community platform.”
“It’s a digital platform to enable emerging artists to come together and connect,” she adds. “Tiger can then identify them for future collaborations, either together or with the brand. It will also allow us to commission work.” Teoh continues to emphasize the importance of digital here. “We want to introduce more initiatives—not just event-based. The idea is to give raw talent a stage to demonstrate their passionate. We want the world to hear and there are many ways to do this.” Altogether, it’s about amplification and the power of the internet factors in just as much as the future Tiger Roar House in Singapore.
The full scope of the event’s creativity—a microcosm of the collective—is evidenced in the continuation of the Rare Stripes collection, a clothing line previously done in collaboration with Kenzo. At Tiger Roar, Singapore-based fashion designer Amos Ananda Yeo clothed every single performer, creating pieces specific to each individual. Further, he incorporated the art of Mina Kwon—famous for her characters and text-based art. “My desire was to build a cohesive collection that also emphasized the strengths of the 16 individual talents,” Yeoh, who shows during Paris Fashion Week, tells us. Regarding process, he created the silhouette—and declared the level of detailing in each item. There was printing utilized for tiger stripe-patterning—but with the graphics Kwon contributed, all hand-embroidered. Most spectacularly, Yeo used scuba material for some shirts. His vision, and Kwon’s, was bold and unencumbered.
From bacon tacos to reimagined fried chicken, food played a central role in the Tiger Roar event and will continue with importance in the Tiger Roar Collective. Korea’s Bacon Realism—founded by chefs Park Chang Sung and Gregory Etheart (the latter originally hailing from New York), brought their signature taco creation to the table, as well as a collaborative dish with chef Jun Chan. All the while, Tiger Beer was passed in limited edition bottles.
The evening’s most kinetic showcase also helps define expectations for the Tiger Roar Collective. Musician and producer Brandon Mai aka TIN (a member of 88 Rising) shared the stage with charismatic, potent performer RoxXxan. Engaging, emotive and entirely overwhelming, the duo performed a collaborative track that was commissioned by Tiger Beer. (No, there were no references to the brand in the song. They were given complete creative control.)
RoxXxan says TIN is the first person she collaborated with outside her sphere in London, and it was at the encouragement of Tiger Beer. “We spoke and agreed to go off, listen to music and come back with ideas. Straight away my manager sent us this beat from Aces. I got my mic out and wrote a verse. I sent it to Tin and he wrote a chorus.” It continued like that—across timezones and countries—until the track was complete. “I was writing in my bedroom at my own will,” TIN explains, “It’s my own kind of song. I don’t feel like there were any kind of restrictions. It was unbounded.” RoxXxan adds, “They’ve got this plan—and that involves having us do what we want.”
The extravaganza’s home nation wasn’t ignored on the stage. Korean duo Tiger JK offered a surprise performance, while Dok2 delivered a strong centerpiece. Seoul’s 1 Million dance studio won over audiences early on. The programming balanced Korea and the world around it.
“When we look at unconventional, emerging talent, we do not set any other criteria,” Teoh says, when asked about the talent’s diversity. In some ways, it’s unfortunate that our world is such that we must take time to honor the rare instances of diversity in the arts—authentic, representative creative organizations shouldn’t be the exception. Perhaps Tiger Beer will help further shift this. And if so, the TIN/RoxXxan collaboration should act as a testament to its success. Here, the former is an American from Oregon (now in Brooklyn) with Asian heritage; the latter is a queer, black women rapper who moved from Birmingham to London.
“Even in the LGBTQ communities, in music, they don’t know how to label me,” RoxXxan says. “Growing up, I didn’t know where to look. I ended up looking to odd women that didn’t care about what people thought but had this big, big talent.” She’s translated that into her work. “My message today is be who you want. Society loves to deem women who are not feminine as not beautiful or say that they’ve lost part of themselves. You can be beautiful however you want to be.”
TIN adds that growing up, “Everyone around me did not look like me. I think it was, first, just a survival thing: assimilate to the culture. I didn’t have anyone to look up to at this point. It was my dad. I had my dad to look up to. Asian people weren’t cool in America then. There was no one to point at.” And now, it’s him—taking a global stage with other talent and letting their work speak volumes internationally.
Images courtesy of Tiger Beer