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Meet Mitch Chang of Kala Koa Entertainment

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mitch Chang.

Hi Mitch, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii. While a student in the University of Hawaii music program, my guitar professor – who had been a student of Pepe Romero at USC – introduced me to flamenco guitar accompaniment for dancers, saying she thought it’d be right up my alley, based on my personality and “temperament”. Little did I know what a profound impact this introduction would have on me; my love for flamenco eventually brought me to California in 2000 where I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to learn and experience flamenco both from local teachers/performers and visiting artists from Spain. When I first moved here I was playing a lot but still needed a “real” job; through some friends who’d also moved from Hawaii, I fell into the mortgage business. But when the recession hit in 2007 I found myself needing to reinvent myself and quick; I cashed out my 401K and put every dime I had into the first annual Southern California Slack Key Festival January 2008. Over the past 14 years I’m grateful to say this festival has opened doors for me and has led me to be able to present other concerts and festivals showcasing the music I love and artists I look up to, including the L.A. Flamenco Festival and the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When it comes to concert production/promotion, the financial risks will always be there. They say one has to have the fortitude to be able to light $100,000 on fire and walk away without looking back. I’ve definitely had my share of monetary wins and losses. And when you’re first starting out, there are a lot of people looking to use you and take advantage of you. I would venture to say I take more risks than the big-time presenters whose decisions are purely bottom-line based and have gone through any number of profit formulas. Not to say I go in blindly but I basically only present shows and music I like because that’s what’s fun for me. If it’s not something I feel passionate about, I don’t want to do it.

As you know, we’re big fans of Kala Koa Entertainment. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Kala Koa – or kalakoa – is the Hawaiian-ized way of saying “calico” as in multi-colored. I consider this the perfect way to describe the wide variety of music that I personally enjoy and have introduced audiences to: flamenco musicians, dancers and singers; gypsy jazz/acoustic/rock guitarists; hula chanters; ukulele musicians, and so much more. Just within the Southern California Slack Key Festival, there is a beautiful spectrum of musical styles and colors that keeps audience members engaged and coming back for more, to the point where it’s earned me a certain credibility and trust; most of the slack key audience will purchase tickets for the following year’s concert without even knowing who will be on the bill.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Los Angeles is a mecca for artists of all disciplines and it’s always fascinated me. Axl Rose came here from Indiana. The Van Halen brothers emigrated from the Netherlands. Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone were both born in New York but have chosen to live here. The only bad thing about the L.A. music and arts scene is that there is too much going on at any given time where you’ll never get to experience it all!

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