Next Tuesday local pop singer and producer Yen Tech (aka Nick Newlin) will drop his debut mixtape, Revengeance, and the Reader snagged an exclusive premiere of one of the songs: “T.R.O.U.B.L.E.” The 27-year-old moved to Chicago to study new media and sound at SAIC and debuted Yen Tech as a “techno-slash-hardcore experiment” at Miami’s Art Basel in 2011, but Newlin got bored with that musical approach and decided to use Yen Tech as the vehicle for something he’d long been yearning to do, which is make pop music.
“Yearning” factors prominently in Yen Tech’s aesthetic, including the name—Yen is Chinese for yearning or longing. Newlin is actually half Korean, but he plays unspecific pan-Asian in his pop identity. He says he remembers the way kids in Seoul would react to his “racial ambiguity” when he was a child, and ever since then he realized he could play around with his appearance. Newlin says he likes the way the name “Yen Tech” embraces an aesthetic idea of Asia (as well as money and technology) in a broad sense, and other folks are pretty comfortable toying with that too; when Dis Magazine debuted the video for Revengeance cut “Forever Ballin’,” the site called Newlin a taikomochi, which is a Japanese male geisha.