Tag: Twisted Optiks

2012 Cocktails for a Cause Sets Stage for Entertainers and Community to Unite

ATG Team and Entertainers

DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions hosted the return of their charity event Cocktails for a Cause (CFAC) on Wednesday, May 30th at LaGrange in Deep Ellum. Guests enjoyed Asian tapas, drinks, live entertainment, got a chance to win raffle prizes and learn more about ATG’s cause. The fundraiser packed the venue and raised several thousand dollars for the 501(c)(3) organization’s supported orphanages in Asia, outreach programs and scholarship fund.  Guest emcee and local Dallas man about town Sam Liu kept the evening moving along with his unique, golden voice, with energetic performances by up-and-coming Asian American artists Xwansongs (from Houston), hip-hop performer Twisted Optiks and indie pop band Duette.  San Francisco comedian Mark “Zhangster” Zhang stole the stage at the end of the evening with his signature raucous humor.

ATG Founder/President Tammy Nguyen Lee is grateful for the outpouring of community support. “It takes a lot of time, effort and sacrifice from our ATG team of volunteers to put on events like this. We work to promote good, quality entertainment and bring the community together to raise money for a worthy cause. We are so thankful to all the people who continue to come out and support us and the artists. It makes all the effort worthwhile to know that people also appreciate what we do to make a difference.”

Comedian Mark "Zhangster" Zhang

Mark “Zhangster” said, ” The night was filled with tremendous fun energy! It’s a great honor to support ATG, because as artists, we spend so much time working on our craft that sometimes we forget in life there is nothing more important than being loved.”


Xuan Nguyen of Xwansongs is a veteran performer to the ATG audience. Said Nguyen, “It was wonderful to see people pull together and work to help others in need. The evening was filled with infectious laughter and an overwhelming sense of unity from all of the artists and ATG staff members who rallied together to give back to the community in our own unique ways. We are humbled and blessed to be a part of Cocktails for a Cause.”


Twisted Optiks


Hip-hop performer Twisted Optiks (aka Ronnie Chea) entertained the audience with his unique musical flavor and improvisational freestyle. Said Chea, “Cocktails for a Cause was certainly an inspiring evening. I had the opportunity to work with various artists and people with hearts to bring both entertainment and awareness to the public. It was an honor to be a part of honor ATG event, where I am able to showcase my talents to bring hope and help others in need.”

Tex Sirisawat, front man of Duette, said, “We think the night went great. It is important to have an opportunity to use art not only as an expression of self, but also as a vehicle for unity and to help those in need. If we continue, and they continue, the cycle will never end.”

Tex Sirisawat of Duette
Emcee Sam Liu

Entrepreneur Sam Liu, who has emceed all three of ATG’s Cocktails for a Cause events, added, ‘It was very exciting to see Asian American talent showcased in Deep Ellum. What an amazing night for an excellent cause!”

All photos of the evening are courtesy of David Loi Photography and can be viewed at the ATG Flickr site.

To read about ATG’s upcoming events, please visit – http://mnt.32c.myftpupload.com/events

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.


ENTERTAINERS UNITE AT 2012 COCKTAILS FOR A CAUSE: Asian Musical and Comedy Talent Come Together for Charity

DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions will host their 2012 Cocktails for a Cause, a charity event with the purpose to raise funds for international orphanages, ATG’s community outreach programs and the ATG Artistic Scholarship fund. The event takes place from 6:30 pm – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30th at LaGrange in Deep Ellum, located at 2704 Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

The event  is headlined by San Francisco-based comedian Zhangster (Mark Zhang) and is preceded by performances by emerging Asian American musical artists, including Xwansongs from Houston and local Dallas acts Twisted Optiks and Duette.

The organization has become known for their successful Fashion for a Passion event, a showcase of emerging Asian American designers, musicians and artists. ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee explained the history behind this event. “Cocktails for a Cause was the first event our organization ever hosted. Although similar to FFAP in many ways, ‘Cocktails’ is an intimate, more casual event that helps introduce us and our mission to the community in a fun way that entertains and enlightens our audience. This year, we’re adding a comedian to the mix, and who knows what will happen. We’re fortunate to bring back CFAC to an already hefty programming slate, and it’s a great segue and kick-off for Fashion for a Passion.” This year’s FFAP takes place on October 13th at the Dallas Contemporary.

Comedian Zhangster will headline CFAC

Mark Zhang, also known as Zhangster, is praised as one of the most unique new Asian American comedic voices. His high energy comedy hits hard on social issues with clever twists. His improv is unpredictable, and his audiences are always surprised by his edgy wit. “People always say it must be great to make people laugh on stage, but to me it’s nothing compared to the people that goes out of their way to help the unfortunate,” Zhangster said. “This event to me is like a delicious hamburger…It takes many parts to make it work, and when it’s all over with, I can say I was the lettuce for that amazing burger.” Zhangster has been ripping through the comedy scene from West Coast to East Coast from Northwest to Southeast.  Zhangster’s powerful stage presence has been electrifying top comedy clubs around the country and even internationally like England, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.


Xwansongs, a trio that includes Xuan Nguyen, Stephen ‘Nez’ Nesbit and Chris Cuchapin, is known to have a steady stream of songs that were brought to life encompassing several different musical styles and moods. Nguyen said, “I am honored to be involved in Cocktails for a Cause, because it is always humbling to work with others who are so passionate about putting the needs of others before their own. I hope to pay it forward because in my life I was fortunate enough to have good people step forward in my time of need and I’d like to do the same for others.” Currently, they are performing with their close friend and fellow musician, Duane Roger Perez, as a guest guitarist for live shows, gracing stages from Houston to Dallas to Louisiana.


Duette is an indie-pop band from Dallas, fronted by Tex Sirisawat and Angela Yi. The group aims to capture hearts, while also proving that you can make it out of heartbreak alive. “It means a lot to us as artists/musicians [to be a part of CFAC], because it solidifies the hard work we put in is creating something unique and positive that ATG thinks should be presented and represented by other Asian Americans,” Sirisawat said. “We hope to reach a new audience and be able to help ATG raise money, create awareness and find solutions.” The band is influenced by everything from ’50s music, ’90s Indie-Rock to ’80s New Wave and Synth Pop, with a little dash of Motown thrown in.

Twisted Optiks

Twisted Optiks, also known as Ronnie Chea, is is a hip-hop artist who also works as an Audio Instructor/ Mentor for students at Styles of Music Productions in Oak Cliff. He explains that the program plays a big part in mentoring the youth to find who they are and to overcome the negative aspects of life. “It is an honor to take part in these events. I feel that there needs to be a greater awareness of the talented and hardworking individuals of the Asian background. Many go unappreciated and should be allowed to display their gifts that may potentially bless someone else to rise and share their unique abilities,” Chea said. He is also an audio engineer, producer, songwriter and lyricist  who wants to make an impact in society with music that speaks to the mind, heart and soul with genuine sincerity. “I only hope that through the music I share, someone may receive the message and find hope and encouragement from it. I speak on my own experiences in life through my music and do my best to bring it in the most professional quality as possible. In turn, I hope that it inspires and uplifts others to let their voice be heard and their skills be shown.”

Admission to Cocktails for a Cause is $25 in advance, includes a complimentary cocktail, Asian tapas, drink specials and entertainment and can be purchased at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com/events starting Wednesday, May 2nd. Admission at the door is $30 as available.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian-American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. Their premiere documentary feature, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, has received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.



Going Against The Grain: Twisted Optiks

ATG is excited to bring to your consciousness Twisted Optiks (aka Ronnie Chea), a talented hip hop musical artist who performed at our recent Fashion for a Passion event.

“I’m just a humbled emcee blessed with a God-given talent to rock the mic. It’s been a long journey to get where I am and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. Twisted Optiks – see things in a different perspective; cross-eyed or as I see it ‘Eyes on the Cross.'”

Full Name
Ronnie Saroun Chea

Wichita, Kansas/ Fort Worth, Texas

Current City
Carrollton, Texas


What does it mean to you to  “Go Against The Grain?”
I believe that going against the grain means to seek alternate paths of life other than the norm. Being Asian and working with hip hop sets me apart from the norm. Where I stand out is that I want my music to make an impact in people’s lives and give them inspiration to also go against the grain and follow their dreams and ambitions, and not just live a life with regrets.

What made you decide to pursue a career in music, specifically this type of genre?
My parents loved music, either in singing it or making it. Of course my music is not necessarily similar to my parents’ music, but the ambition to let our musical talents shine is definitely apparent. I fell in love with the hip hop culture and the use of the English language to create poetry upon music. I went from writing poetry at age 16, to producing music, to surrounding my life around music. I currently instruct audio engineering to probation students in South Dallas, and it is a blessing to be a part of making a positive impact in the lives of my students.

 Well to sum up what my style is, I love lyrical, underground hip hop that appreciates the culture, life and the need to make a change in the mess on the radio that people assumes is hip hop. I always loved how a picture can be painted from words and loved creating rhymes that reflect reality, my life and what I face each day.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in a very competitive industry?
As an Asian American, I realize that this path I chose is quite narrow and people being successful in my field are few and far between. I realize that there are many who strive to make a name for themselves in the talents they have and even when they give their all, are rarely acknowledged for it. I spent a great deal of time finding out who I was in the hip hop scene before I came to the understanding of who I am today.

I chose not to follow the trends, as I realize that it can be a big risk for me. I realize that what I have to offer is not your “usual” and may be less likely to catch much recognition or fame. But my greatest aspiration is to give the world an “alternative” to the lukewarm, uninspiring, and demoralizing sounds we call “radio hip hop.” Not all songs are bad, but what I hear now a days is built solely for commercial use and offers no benefit or motivation for the listeners other than promiscuity and violence. I’ve seen the ups and downs of the industry, but I realize that what I get out of life is what I put in. My aim is to reach that single person that needed the music at that very moment to encourage them to face life’s struggles and to overcome them with victory.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?
My greatest accomplishment, in all honestly, is that I am alive. And I don’t just mean breathing and being able to function. I mean that I am actually living my life with a purpose and a mission. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, computer science or business major, but I am one who decided to go the road less traveled. If this path wasn’t for me, it would have fizzled out a long time ago. But I am still going strong and growing each day more. Each day I am honing my skills and perfecting my craft. God’s got me here for a reason and I will do all I can to share my message of love through music.

What’s up next?
I am currently working on finishing a new album and possibly a music video. No set dates as of yet but I will try to get things done as soon as possible!

Visit the Twisted Optiks Facebook Page.