Julian Saporiti is a musician, scholar, and recent Portlander. He was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee before going to music school, joining a rock band, and touring throughout North America and Europe. After the rock band broke up, Saporiti attended graduate school and earned masters degrees in American studies and ethnomusicology. During his scholarship, Saporiti began his project, No-No Boy, which “turns archival study and fieldwork into a large repertoire of folk songs and visuals” in order to engage audiences through song and storytelling. Currently, Saporiti lives in Portland and is continuing to work on No-No Boy as well as finishing up a doctoral degree in American studies.

In this interview, Saporiti begins by speaking about how he came to live in Portland and how the Vietnamese community and its presence here differs from where he grew up in Nashville. He then shares some of his mother’s experience growing up in Vietnam and coming to the United States during the Tet Offensive, and explains how his family’s experiences and history have impacted his Vietnamese identity in various ways. Saporiti also makes sure to note the importance of recognizing individual experiences as a historian and storyteller, and is careful not to categorize or generalize people as an “immigrant” or “refugee.” He shares stories about his mother and her family and the French identity they also contend with. He goes on to talk about his experience in music and academia and his work on the No-No Boy project, giving background on two songs excerpted in the interview. At the end of the interview, Saporiti speaks about the importance of telling and recording stories and art using methods outside of traditional academia, as well as his upcoming projects and goals he hopes to achieve.