“You can hand over your keys or your life. Make the right choice.” After Thoughts.
Back in 2000, I was the manager of my high school hockey team. It was the first year we had a team and I wanted to do anything I could to play my part and support. I managed the team with my friend, Jennifer Cheney. She was a loving, caring, funny charismatic girl with a smile that made you feel at home. The kind of girl that shined her light so bright when you spoke to her she made you feel like you were the only one around. The team would practice early every morning, so I would swing by her house and pick her up before school, then we would head over to practice. One day that all changed.
My dear friend Jen was in a horrific accident and was killed. It was the other driver who decided to drink and drive. He planned to get drunk that night. Actually, he planned to get wasted. I entirely believe he never once thought about the lives he would be putting at risk and about how many lives would be changed forever. Our community came out in droves of support for Jen. It rocked my life. Death is always around the corner yet it never gets easy. As a high school student navigating a life altering experience I became lost in the confusion of her death. I couldn’t understand how this could happen, even more so why? I made a pact with some friends and myself during this time period that I would never drink and drive. Thinking about it now 17 years later I am still affected by this loss. She left an impression on me that saved so many lives years later.
I never thought I would play a part in a film such as this. It’s a film created by some students of Livermore. It highlights drunk driver awareness and is now getting national attention. After Thoughts has been nominated for the All American High School Film Festival and will be showcased in Time Square later this year. With over 2000 submission from 50 states and over 40 countries, the film was selected for the Jostens category which is “teens taking a stand against societal issues.” I cannot express how proud I am of everyone who played a part in making the project happen. Last year I sat in a classroom and met the high school students who had the seedling of an idea and the fire of a pack of lions in their eyes.
It was impressive. They showed the stamina and dedication to changing the world and they have. This film continues to get picked up and watched, and now it will get showcased internationally, in turn saving the lives of millions, touching the lives of billions. As a creator and artist, we never know what piece or work is going to be the one that others notice. It can be painful sometimes putting our work out there not knowing what it’s going to do. We have our hopes, our dreams, our goals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen. We never know how one of our creations will touch people until it does.
Some of us in life never get the opportunity to hear how much we play a part in others lives. Between work, raising kids, trying to feed mouths or worry about our bank accounts, we tend to lose track of time and how much others mean to us. Then one day someone comes to you and clearly says,
“You changed my life. I’m not sure words can ever explain how much you mean to me and how much I love who you are and what you do, you inspire me.”
The way I see it, we all live on this earth for such a short time, we fight, we claw and we strive for what we want in the future, but it’s appreciating what we have now that really matters.
To the team of After Thoughts: You have left an impression on me and have been an inspiration to all of us in this community and world. There is no telling exactly what this universe has in store for you going forward, however, you can hold your head high and with great confidence knowing that you created a film that is leaving a lasting impression on all who watch it and pay attention. Thank you for allowing me to play my part in this project and thank you for saving my girls and families life. Good luck in New York and what ever happens, keep going!
Early in 2013 I met Elaine. Spunky, smiled a lot, had a rather worldly perspective and a sense of bravado…(I mean brave not arrogance.) From our first conversation there was something interesting about her, it was as if she was constantly thinking about the next step, her next action and where she was going. She introduced herself to me as soon as I walked into the room. With a huge smile she comforted but controlled the room. It is exciting, knowing what I know now. It was fate that connected us to be in the same room, at the same conference, feeling the same way…. There was something more. We had a great conversation that night and made plans to meet up and discuss business.
It took us over 7 months to finally set that meeting.
Looking back now I realized it was that meeting that put the wheels in motion to change our lives forever. We began working together in 2014 and quickly got off to a straight sprint on changing our mindset and truly following our passion and what we believe of this life. At first we would meet weekly and keep in touch. It seems now that was life’s natural way of getting us to understand each other at a rapid speed as life somehow knew we could not afford the option of “taking it slow.” As the year progressed we grew to be great friends as well as great working professionals. She had a lot to learn, but I quickly took to letting her know my crazy concepts and off the wall (sometime brash) thinking.
To My Surprise:
She accepted my process and seemed to find her way as well to achieve her dreams. I can say we were both going through a life change that was exciting. We each had our dreams, goals and storyboards that we were not going to ever let go of. But working together carved a piece out of the universe that aligned us to progressively and quickly reach our goals.
I am constantly impressed by the way she seems to “just do it.” Like I said before, it’s as if she knows exactly what she wants and she is going to grab it, strong arm it and pave her road ahead. As I write she is counting down now to the huge kick off of her next adventure she creatively calls Neon Owl. With the colorful logo of a spiritual owl that symbolizes the real meaning of someones state of mind and strong intuition she plans on taking over the EDM scene with the help of her growing community, spreading the little things that create movements and change the world….belief, acceptance and passion. I got a chance to hear her story so here it is, enjoy!
Spunky Elaine has blossomed into a ferocious Passioneer, a true innovator and leader! The Creation of Neon Owl.
“I‘ve always loved music, but never knew that I could do anything with it.” Elaine Huang
I’ve never been musically talented. Ever since I was young, I’ve always listened to all sorts of music. I started listening to the Chinese music my parents listened to. Later on in elementary and middle school, it was a lot of Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Juvenile, and Lil Wayne. In middle school and high school, Eminem got me through some tough times. It was my escape. I would put on my headphones and my blue Sony CD player and have certain songs on repeat. It helped me channel a lot of anger and negative energy and it allowed me to transcribe them onto paper.
I actually wrote a lot as a kid, and even do now, often times that’s inspired or accompanied by music. Back then I would imagine myself in a different place and time and in a way it motivated me to get out of a certain situation, or strive to work towards a better future. It may be a little hard to picture me today being that girl, but I had a lot of resentment and anger when I was younger. I remember having a screen name “Eminemgurl” because he really did get me through a dark period of my life, and I still love his music and get inspired by it today. Somewhere along the line, whether it was my experiences, circumstances or mentality shift, it combined itself with music and my attitude shaped into a positive and motivating one.
My brother had always listened to a lot of electronic music, (back then it was considered to be trance or techno.) I didn’t start listening to a ton of that until a little bit later on in life. But the thing I really love about electronic music is that for the most part, it brings out a lot of positivity usually without too many words. It’s able to bring out a lot of different emotions. It’s able to make you cry. Make you smile. Get you pumped. Often times it takes me on a journey. That’s pretty powerful for something without very many lyrics. I’ve always liked it, but the moment that I absolutely fell in love with it and it really took over my life was the first time I experienced EDC.
I’ve experienced everything from pop, indie, to country concerts. This was something totally different. People there were carefree. They were bold, friendly, caring, loving, expressive, weird, and everything in between. It was as if all the cliques in high school from the popular kids and nerds to the outcasts all came together to the same place, and you couldn’t tell who was who, and nobody cared!
Everyone looked different, dressed different, tall, short, fat, skinny, none of that mattered. It was like this magical place that everyone co-existed in from different backgrounds, made whatever amount of money back home, had any occupation, looked however they looked, and still were respected and treated equally.
Everyone gave hugs, traded kandi, talked to one another, offered shoulder rides, and was just kind to one another. “That’s when I totally fell in love with the scene, and the music even more.” There’s not a ton of music out there that creates this type of environment. For those that don’t understand it and refuse to experience it, I’ve always highly encouraged them to try it at least once. For those who assume it’s all about the drugs, it’s not true.
If you kept an open mind to actually experience something like that, you’d realize that it’s really about the music, good vibes, peace, love, unity, and respect. It’s kind of emotional just thinking about it, but I wished that people treated each other like that a little more in everyday life.
For a lot of people, music and festivals are an escape. But it shouldn’t be that way. Festivals should be an experience, a great one, a reunion with old friends and a time to make new ones. But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t live everyday as if we’re at a festival. “Be bold, non-judgmental, caring, loving, giving, open, and free.” I think that’s what makes me to fall in love over and over again with electronic music, and the culture that it embodies.
I’ve always loved music, but was never musically talented.
So I never really gave pursuing something in the music industry a second thought. I’ve always been interested in people. I always strive to be the boldest version of myself, and inspire others to do the same. I’ve always wanted to help people, in ways big or small, and always thought that it was bullshit when people would tell me they’d help people “one day” when they’ve made it.
I believe that being the best version of you is to always be kind, whether that’s at a festival, on the street, or in everyday life. I believe that it’s being true to yourself, your passions, and your values. It’s constantly learning, growing, and challenging yourself. “It’s not being afraid to take risks.”
Neon Owl is a community that connects people through music, passion, and giving back. We promote up and coming artists along with already established artists. We share good music and generate content with a refreshing twist. We do this with no drama and no gossip. We share the music while getting to know artists better as people, beyond just the art. It’s a place they come to share their stories, their struggle and challenges, and how they overcame them. Hopefully that inspires their fans and others to keep pursuing their dreams and their passions, or to take that first leap of faith.
Without risk, there are no rewards.
Once again, I’d love for music too not only “be” an escape, but an enhancement in life. “A motivating factor.” There’s too much content nowadays that’s just consumed to pass time, or for entertainment purposes. While that’s all fine and dandy, I’d love to bring a positive take into this. Artists are celebrities and role models, whether they think or not.
A lot of DJs and producers are still in between that realm of “Am I a celebrity? Do people want to hear my story?” Usually their stories aren’t told unless they’ve really made it and become big. But it’s important! It’s not easy pursuing a career in music. People really relate to chasing dreams, sacrifices, challenges, and truly following your passions. As much as music can help impact someone’s life in a positive way, so can a story.
Right now we work with different charities. We’re small, so our reach is only so big, but that will never stop us from giving now. Of course we’d love to have a bigger reach, bigger audience, and more people spreading awareness along with the message. We’d love to reach more artists, spread the message at more events, and have a presence everywhere! Ultimately, we’d love to partner up with artists and fans to throw big charity events. Down the line, we’d even want to start our own charities.
So we would appreciate your help to spread the Neon Owl message, share the Neon Owl brand, and expand the community together. If it’s a shirt you want to rock, a donation you want to make, an interview you want to share, or just telling people about Neon Owl and what we are about, every bit counts. No action is ever too small for a good cause!
Honestly, this was just an idea that I came up with when I woke up one day. I was at a good job, making great money, and enjoying what I did. But I asked myself “What my true purpose was in life?” and “What my true passions were? I was able to answer with “music, people, adventure, experiences, and helping others.” Then I just packaged all of that into one, hence the birth of Neon Owl.
“It’s just a crazy, yet simple idea. It’s nothing you can touch but it’s something you can feel. I feel it, and people probably think I’m crazy. If I can inspire one person to feel the same and act upon that, then that’s one person’s life changed or made better. I’d love for people to connect with what I feel, and what music embodies, and use it to become a better version of themselves and then use that to help make this world a better place. It’s not always about the biggest significance or the biggest change. Sometimes change starts small, but I believe in the domino effect and the law of attraction. So I guess I’m a little crazy, but I believe that through music we can change the world.”
It might sound too good to be true, or too much like a dream. But when has it taken anything less than a crazy dream to make something extraordinary happen?
That is it. That is Elaine and Neon Owl. That is everything that I have come to know of her, passionate, successful and a real believer of dreams coming true. It’s only been a couple years now since we have known each other and we are now moving in entirely different directions, but I know somewhere in the future our paths will cross, maybe standing on the stage of stardom or sulking in the tears of our sorrow, but wherever this adventure we call life takes us, I know I will be able to reach out for her inspiration and strength for support when needed. Thanks for the good times Elaine!
To the ones reading this go out and find your passion, live life, be you, be respectful and make sure you do it with love. #Youbetterbeliving. Drop the Armin beat!
If you’d like to find out more please visit the Neon Owl site to watch videos of artist interviews, as well as purchase swag for a good cause and support the community.