Pam Reyes is our next Live at the Landing guest. Read more to learn a little bit about Pam and how her activism plays a part in her life and art. You can catch Pam’s performance Thursday, July 25th at 5:30pm.
1. First off, quick background info! Tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you do.
My name is Pam Reyes. I migrated to Queens from the Philippines with my family and grew up in Sunnyside. I'm a singer songwriter, performer, and a freelance museum educator.
2. How’d you get into music? How long have you been writing your own music and performing?
I took piano lessons as a kid, but quit because practicing felt like a chore! But when I was gifted a guitar at age 15, I was so excited to teach myself how to play my favorite songs. It's frustrating, learning a new instrument, especially without a teacher, but this way I was always doing it on my own volition. I think this was what kept me going. If I had a teacher to take out my frustration on, I might not still be writing songs. At this point, I've dabbled in enough guitar lessons to learn the basics of the instrument and to understand my chordal and melodic tendencies. I'll be turning 26 years old the day I play LIC Landing. I guess it's been a long time of writing and performing, but these things take forever and I'm just getting started.
3. What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
It's a true privilege to be an artist and songwriter. My job is to observe the world around me and feel all my feelings--best job ever. I also never take for granted that I have the best day job--teaching in museums is energizing, inspiring and gives me the flexibility to take time off when I need.
4. How is performing in the park different than your typical venue?
Playing in the park means playing for the public, out in an open space. It is so different from playing a house show for people who already know and love your music. It’s also different from playing in a bar or music venue where you compete with all the sounds of the room bouncing off the walls, floor and ceiling. I grew up in Long Island City (in fact, Long Island City raised me!) and so it will feel cathartic to play my songs on LIC Landing.
5. When you’re not performing, what is your favorite thing to do in the parks?
Parks are the perfect place for potluck picnics with friends and family. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching art workshops, organizing open mics, and playing at Socrates Sculpture Park—one of my home bases in NYC.
6. Lastly, where do you find yourself drawing inspiration from?
At this moment, I’ve been writing a lot about my experience as an immigrant, as a person of color, as a queer woman, as a human being on planet Earth… Which leads me to look closely at my family, my community, the current administration, and even the neighbors that I grew up knowing for years but only from a distance. I didn’t intend to, but my work has also taken a political turn. It’s hard not to be an activist when you’ve got so many feelings. Slowly, slowly, but surely, I’m chipping away at recording this album.