Head In The Clouds comes to NYC

88rising’s two-day music festival aims to represent and amplify the voices of Asian artists.


The music festival “Head in The Clouds” is coming to New York for the first time this May. (Courtesy of Head In The Clouds and The Bowery Presents)

Lea Filidore, Staff Writer

This spring, 88rising is bringing its two-day music festival, Head In The Clouds, to New York City. Armed with a star-studded lineup, the Asian American music and arts festival will take on the historic Forest Hills Stadium in Queens on May 20 and 21. 

Founded in a New York City parking garage eight years ago by music executive Sean Miyashiro , 88rising is a hybrid management, video and marketing company, as well as a record label, primarily for Asian and Asian American artists and creatives. 

What started in 2018 as a single-day music festival in Los Angeles has now evolved into a larger circuit of multi-day festivals all over the world. Now, for the first time, Head In The Clouds is coming to New York City.

“What we set out to do from the beginning is still our mission today: being a platform for underrepresented or undiscovered voices and artists from all corners of the world,” said Ollie Zhang, the company’s head of artist development.

For Zhang and 88rising, the festival offers artists opportunities to broadcast and showcase their music on a large platform. 

“It’s creating something special where we can bring all these artists together at the same festival and on the same stage,” Zhang said. “It creates a real communal feeling backstage and with the crowd, because we are getting all these artists together in a way that’s never really been done before. To be able to uphold all these artists, we treat them as the headliners they are.” 

The choice to bring Head In The Clouds to New York was not a thoughtless one. 88rising intentionally decided to host the festival in Queens, adjacent to a large Asian American population. 

Many of the artists playing at Head In The Clouds began their careers in New York City. Wolftyla, for instance, is a young Black and Korean artist, content creator, entrepreneur and New York native who wrote her first single, “Feels,” in NYU’s Third Avenue North residence hall. She is set to play her R&B set at Head In The Clouds on May 21. 

The festival is meaningful to her particularly, as a child of an immigrant family. Wolftyla’s grandparents, who came from Seoul, South Korea, live in Queens now. The festival is only 20 minutes away from their house.

“It’s going to be in front of 35,000 people and, for the first time, my grandparents will be able to attend my show,” Wolftyla said. “I really wanted to show them that everything that my family sacrificed moving from Seoul, Korea is paying off.” 

Wolftyla focuses on representation, authenticity and vulnerability in her music. 

“I really like to advocate for representation, and take my inspiration from my parents and grandparents,” Wolftyla said. “My main goal is really just to carve paths and bring representation to my Korean and my Black sides.”

Zhang agreed, and said that there is always something special about a homecoming for artists. “There’s always a real meaning and feeling behind it,” Zhang said.

88rising and Head In The Clouds are breaking boundaries and pushing the limits of music. The upcoming event is one of the only festivals to have all Asian music that draws from a wide range of genres. After years of planning, determination and hard work, Head In The Clouds has truly become an international festival, bringing attention to talented Asian artists.

Tickets to Head In The Clouds are available to purchase through the festival’s website.

Contact Lea Filidore at [email protected].