Abstract yet emotionally present
‘IT IS PROOF that something can be abstract yet emotionally present.’ That was Jon's response to the question ‘what music was to you?’ Ruminating over his reply, it dawned upon me that it is precisely that concept of music that defines Jon’s body of work.
A third year undergraduate at NTU’s school of Art Design and Media, majoring in visual communications, Jon juggles his life as a student, an artist and as a musician. When he isn’t playing solo, he makes up one third of another local musical phenomenon; The Huckleberry friends with Marcus Tan and Tok Xue Yi.
Seemingly shielded behind his heavy glasses and wry smile, it took awhile for me to coax a description of his music out of him. The safest descriptor he ventures is ‘acoustic’. Even then, listening to his work it is hard to designate it to just one genre. Perhaps it is the raw emotion that presents itself so candidly in the music that makes it so hard to pin down. Probing further I learn that his influences include mostly acoustic wonders such as John Mayer, Ben Howard, Marcus Mumford and Blind Pilot.
He laughs when I ask him what was the first original piece of music he wrote. ‘I wrote my first complete song when I was about 18 years old. Like a lot of songs, it was inspired by a breakup and was composed at the tail end of a relationship going kaput. Like a lot of songs inspired by breakups, it was horrible.’ He has come a long way since then.
Catharsis. In a word this is the reason why he writes, plays and sings the way he does. Translating his world into his songs so that ‘they’re almost like journal entries.’ It is his journey in personal exploration of faith, life, and love for a resolution, which we experience when we listen. He articulates that for him, music is ‘a bastion of personal expression, and will always be an important and necessary aspect of my life.'
A really interesting acoustic vibe that is mellow yet energetic
Noise Singapore is a body that aims to nurture and make known the creative talents that the country has to offer; Jon is one of their featured artists this year. Mentored by 53a's front woman Sara, he has taken away much from his experience. ‘I think my biggest and greatest takeaway from the mentorship, aside from the technical stuff like vocal technique, was the confidence that comes with performing with industry professionals. That was priceless.’
While busy with schoolwork at the moment, Jon does his best to keep writing and playing music. Currently he is working on his EP, which he describes as ‘turning out to have this really interesting acoustic vibe that is mellow yet energetic.’ Exploring different instruments like the slide or bowed guitars, we can expect a unique sound. Eager to create, Jon also looks forward to collaborations with other musicians.
To Jon, music is rare medium of expression that can be both artistically profound yet accessible to the everyday guy on the street.’
It is hard to disagree with such insight.