Fil-Am musician AJ Rafael announces ‘The Take Me Back Tour’ after 9-year hiatus

Fil-Am musician AJ Rafael announces ‘The Take Me Back Tour’ after 9-year hiatusFil-Am musician AJ Rafael announces ‘The Take Me Back Tour’ after 9-year hiatus
via One Down Media
Richie Traktivist
May 17, 2023
It has been almost a decade since Filipino American singer-songwriter and entertainment pioneer AJ Rafael declared an indefinite hiatus from touring as a musician.
Rafael, who started uploading videos of cover songs to YouTube in 2006, helped build an online music community that promoted Asian American representation on the platform and in adjacent media. His hiatus announcement signaled the potential end of an era and overall movement.  
Believe in music.
These are the exact words of hope that Rafael has asked his fans to hold onto since 2014. They have been a much-needed reminder that within the unknowns and unpredictability of music, there is always room for possibility and rejuvenation. 
We recently chatted with Rafael to discuss his official music comeback, as well as his upcoming “The Take Me Back Tour.”
NextShark: In 2014, you penned an open letter to fans all over the world revealing an indefinite hiatus from touring. Today you are officially announcing your anticipated return! Tell us about your upcoming tour, the inspiration behind it and why 2023 feels like the right time to get back on the road.
Rafael: It’s been almost 10 years since that letter, wow. Funny enough, I want to take the audience back even further to around 2011. Or even 2008, back in those days where I didn’t care too much about the quality of the videos I was sharing. I just knew that I wanted to have fun jamming with my friends and put it out online. I just needed a laptop webcam to share a new song I was writing. That’s what this upcoming tour is about to me, transporting people to their core memories of the early YouTube days with the music that I play. So to the fans who have been with me for a long time, while of course embracing any new fans and showing them my roots, this is for you.
Although it’s been nine years since fans have been able to fully experience an AJ Rafael show, you’ve certainly kept busy through work as an entrepreneur, actor, musical director, showcase producer, podcaster, philanthropist, activist and husband. How has this multitude of experiences influenced the way you are preparing for this tour?
Thanks for mentioning all of those things. I was told a number of times as a young artist to put my eggs in one basket. But I was always somebody who loved doing everything. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have your hand in different things as an artist, as long as you have a real passion for it.
This year, especially, I’ve been getting into some acting projects that I’m not allowed to announce yet, but it’s been really fun and rewarding, so I can’t wait to let people know what I’ve been on set for. But yeah, all of these experiences have helped shape me as a person. And that’s part of the storytelling that I want to share during this tour. The greatest experience of all, though, has been getting married and buying a house with the love of my life, Alyssa. I’ll be sharing our story on tour, as well.
What can fans expect at the show? Anything special planned for this tour that you can share with the fans?
Throwback, nostalgiacore vibes. When I meet fans at these college shows I play, or anywhere on the street or at Disneyland, a lot of them bring up that my music, and my fellow OG YouTube music fam’s music, are tied to memories from high school, or even middle school, for some. I always joke at my shows that every time, at least one person lets me know how I’ve helped them through a 7th-grade breakup.
But it’s real, people come up to me to let me know I’ve been there for them through bad and good times. So I just want to play music and take them back to a time where they felt that, but at the same time, knowing now that in this moment they are healed. Oh, and I will be having special guests for some of the shows. So watch out for that!
Along with your wife/business partner Alyssa Navarro Rafael, you co-head the clothing company Kuyate. Will there be any exclusive drops as part of your upcoming tour?
Co-owning Kuyate has been a fulfilling part of our journey as full-time creatives. We are grateful to have another outlet to showcase our pride of being Filipino American. With that said, of course we are bringing Kuyate merch on the road with us. Kuyate will be printing the official tour of the merch as well.
AJ Rafael
Image courtesy of One Down Media

Can you tell us more about your supporting act, Nieman?
I know Nieman through his cousin, the Philippines’ most streamed female artist, Moira Delatorre, who I’ve made some music with. But he also went to high school with my now-wife, Alyssa, in Diamond Bar. Nieman’s music has that old-school R&B influence while bringing a lot of modern soul to the mix. I’m so glad he said yes to coming on the tour because I love his music, and he was also inspired by and watched a lot of us young Filipino American musicians on YouTube back in the day. He’s also going to take us back to those days because he actually lived it!
Anything else you would like the fans to know?
If you’ve ever played my album “Red Roses” in the car with the windows rolled down, if you’ve saved my YouTube videos onto your iPods, if you’ve sent “We Could Happen” to your crush, if you’ve cried to “Without You,” if you’ve burned any of my songs onto a mixtape CD, if you’ve watched Wong Fu videos on YouTube on repeat, if you watched any of us on BlogTV back in the day… if you want to support independent Asian American music, please come out to a show and tell your friends! Word of mouth will truly help us fill these venues. We can’t wait to play live music for you. Thank you for the support all of these years.
Tickets for Rafael’s upcoming tour will be made available for purchase this Friday on his official website.

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