Simon Tam (musician)

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Simon Tam
Simon Tam, 2012.jpg
Background information
Birth name Simon Shiao Tam
Born (1981-03-30) March 30, 1981 (age 36)
Origin San Diego, California, United States
Genres Indie rock, dance-rock, electro, post-punk revival
Occupation(s) Musician, author, college professor, activist
Instruments Bass, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, vocals, MIDI programming
Years active 1996–present
Labels The Slants, Pacifiction Records, SBG Records, Boot to Head Records
Associated acts The Slants, The Stivs, Last Stop Tokyo, Rockaway Teens

Simon Tam (born March 30, 1981) is an Asian American musician, author, and activist. He is best known as the founder of the world's first and only all-Asian American dance-rock band, The Slants, who won their case[1] in the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) against the U.S government in a landmark legal battle to expand First Amendment rights for minorities.[2] As a musician, he sometimes goes by the name "Simon Young." He has won numerous "Album of the Year" awards from the Portland Music Awards, Willamette Week, Rockwired magazine, and others.

In addition to his music, Tam also is actively involved with the music industry as a regular contributor for Music Think Tank, ASCAP, Huffington Post, and Last Stop Booking.[3] In 2012, he published the book How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements. In 2014, he published his second book, Music Business Hacks: The Daily Life of the Self-Made Musician [4]

Tam is a social activist, dedicated to raising awareness of racial disparities, social justice, and issues that affect the Asian American community.[5]

Tam is known for filing a case (In Re Tam) against the United States Patent and Trademark Office to Federal Courts[6][7] on the grounds of being denied rights based on his race.[8] This led to several TEDx talks on systemic racism.[9][10] He has appeared on the TEDx stage 12 times, as a speaker, performer, and emcee.

In 2017, he was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance - Portland Lodge. In 2014, he was named a "Portland Rising Star" [11] by the Light a Fire Awards and received a "Distinguished Alum Award" from Marylhurst University.

Music career[edit]

Last Stop Booking (1997–present)[edit]

In 1997, Simon Tam founded a label called SBG Records. He released compilation albums and produced live events in San Diego, California, before moving to Murrieta, California. In Murrieta, he re-branded the company and began working under Populuxe Entertainment and Last Stop Booking, with a greater focus on booking and promoting shows for touring bands. Later, he relocated the company to Portland, Oregon, and began a blog that focused on helping artists navigate the music industry by giving free advice.

The Stivs (2003–2006)[edit]

In 2003, Tam joined punk rock outfit, The Stivs. While with the band, he worked on releases "T.B.I.L Revisited" and "Sweet Heartache and the Satisfaction." The band made a short appearance on The Price Is Right with Bob Barker, and used his voice as the introductory track to an album.[12][13]

The Slants (2006–present)[edit]

In 2006, Simon Tam founded Asian dance rock band, The Slants, using the stage name "Simon Young." The band quickly gained notoriety for being one of the world's only all-Asian American rock acts and for touring anime conventions.[14] They were also launched into the spotlight for turning down a million dollar recording contract and offer at a reality TV show[15]

In 2009, The Slants released "Slants! Slants! Revolution," which was a collection of remixes and donated 100% of the profits to charity.[16]

In 2011, The Slants were invited by the Department of Defense to headline a series of concerts for U.S troops serving in Eastern Europe, an effort dubbed "Operation Gratitude."[17]

The Slants fought the United States Patent and Trademark Office over the right to use and protect their name.[18] They prevailed in Federal Court on December 22, 2015, and ultimately in the United States Supreme Court on June 19, 2017.[19]


  • 2004: The Stivs (The Stivs) – T.B.I.L. Revisited
  • 2005: The Stivs (Boot to Head Records) – Sweet Heartache and the Satisfaction
  • 2007: The Slants (The Slants) – Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts
  • 2009: The Slants (The Slants) – Slants! Slants! Revolution
  • 2010: The Slants (The Slants) – Pageantry
  • 2012: The Slants (The Slants) – The Yellow Album
  • 2016: The Slants (The Slants) - Something Slanted This Way Comes
  • 2017: The Slants (The Slants) - The Band Who Must Not Be Named EP


  • 2012: How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements
  • 2012: Where Are You From?: An Anthology of Asian American Writing (Volume 1)
  • 2014: "Music Business Hacks: The Daily Habits of the Self-Made Musician"
  • 2015: "Trademark Offense" (essay published in Oregon Humanities magazine)


  1. ^ "In Major Free Speech Victory, SCOTUS Rules for 'The Slants' and Strikes Down Federal Trademark Restriction". 
  2. ^ "Justices add eight new cases to docket for upcoming term, 2015". SCOTUSBlog. Retrieved March 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ "The Last Stop Booking Blog". Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  4. ^ "May 31, 2014 State of Wonder". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "NPR All Things Considered". Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ "NPR Codeswitch". Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Asian-American band blocked from trademarking 'The Slants' – The Daily Caller". The Daily Caller. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Portland band". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "TEDxUofW talk: A New Slant on Racism". TEDx. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  10. ^ "TEDxSpokane talk" Give Racism a Chance". TEDx. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Marylhurst University". Retrieved November 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ "The Stivs (punk rock band) on The Price Is Right -Bob Barker". YouTube. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ "The Beat is Loose Album credits". Caustic Fallout. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  14. ^ "The world's only Asian-American dance rockers: Q/A with The Slants". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Slants are not a gimmick". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ "ROCK OF ASIAN: New Album From The Slants! – DISGRASIAN™". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Operation Gratitude: The Slants bring APIA rock to Sarajevo". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Portland band the Slants and the United States government ask: What's in a name?". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ 'Matal v. Tam'

External links[edit]