By Victoria Merlino
The artist dolltr!ck emerged by accident.
While studying in Boston at Berklee College of Music, Queens resident Claire Marie Lim originally wanted to be more of a commercial musician. But after taking an introductory class on music technology, Lim discovered she loved electronic music.
The 24-year-old dove further and further into the genre, christening herself “dolltr!ck” for a DJ name assignment in a turntablism class, a moniker that stuck.
There was just one nagging issue.
“I think I was the only girl in a class of 12 students, including the teacher,” Lim said, adding that she felt “acutely aware” of the class’ gender composition. Though the gender gap has decreased in the department since her time there, she said that initial experience still sticks with her.
In a genre dominated by men like deadmau5 and Daft Punk, Lim is not your typical electronic musician. But she hopes to not be atypical for long.
“I think it comes from many, many different places but one that I've definitely seen and experienced firsthand is just visibility and representation,” Lim said, when asked why more women haven’t been drawn to playing electronic music until now.
One of Lim’s major goals with the dolltr!ck project is to help be the female, Asian representation that the genre needs, and help empower other girls and women like her.
That’s where Lim’s new album, “Colors of Us” comes in. Sponsored by the Queens Council on the Arts’ Artist Commissioning Program, the project seeks to empower female-identifying young people of Asian descent.
Lim told the Eagle the album has been brewing for a long time, but the idea became more defined last October, when she performed an electronic music show with friends in Boston. Four of the five performers were women of Asian descent, spanning South Korea, India, Malaysia and Lim’s home country of Singapore.
“Even just seeing us take the stage, like visually, I found that so inspiring,” she said, after watching footage of the show. “I said, ‘Imagine all of the little girls who will look at this … and be inspired to do music and electronics and venture into something that women traditionally aren't represented in that much.’”
Lim expanded upon this idea, eventually recruiting more than 50 middle school and high school-aged girls of Asian descent in Flushing and beyond to collaborate on “Colors of Us.” The album speaks to the lives and voices of these girls, touching on themes like being in control of your own destiny, making your family proud, being proud of your heritage and falling in love.
Some of the girls Lim worked with lied to their parents about collaborating on the project because their family wouldn’t support it, something she said that she could relate to.
“My own family wasn't too supportive of me in music,” Lim said.
Though her family was fine with her performing music as an extracurricular activity, she said they pushed back when she wanted to go to college to learn music. They have started to come around more though, Lim said, as her star continues to rise.
As a music technologist, she wears many hats, not just with the dolltr!ck project, but with creating specific music for clients for advertising and assisting with clients’ live shows. She is also a DJ for the Grammy-nominated children’s music group the Alphabet Rockers, and has worked with organizations like Beats By Girlz, SisterSMATR, Girls Rock Campaign and Women in Music.
“I think even they are willing to acknowledge that they were hesitant for the most part,” Lim said, though she jokes about it with her parents now. “I totally understand, like it's a very volatile business.”
Lim hopes that those who listen to the new album, which debuts on Sept. 15, will hear and understand the voices within, and find a part of themselves in it. And as for the kids who helped her make it, she hopes that they will be proud of their work within it.
Though the music industry can be elitist, Lim said, it has also been a place of revolution, change and self expression against oppression.
“I think continuously realizing that music has the power to do that for people is something that has kept pushing me forward,” Lim said.