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an interview with hongjoin

Photo credits : Thomas Nguyen

Singaporean born, Boston based 22 year old hongjoin presents us with his newest single "My Dream" where he writes about "the struggles of chasing a dream whilst away from home whilst being in a long-distance relationship." From being  as a 2023 Spotify Radar Sea Artist, dabbling in different genres and creating his own DIY process there isn't anything hongjoin can't do. hongjoin and I talked about how he started in music, his newest single and so much more.

Hi hongjoin! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. For those who don’t know you can you introduce yourself?

Hello Melody! Thank you for having me on it’s such an honor to be here. My name is hongjoin and I’m a singer-songwriter-producer. I’ve been making music properly for about 3 years now and I’m inspired by sounds that make you feel a strong sense of nostalgia. My music mostly revolves around themes of love, distance, and growing up.

How did you get into music?

Just like many other DIY musicians today, I started during the pandemic era posting videos on YouTube, mainly doing covers of artists that I loved. All I had was my phone, but eventually I got into producing and spent all my free time learning it through YouTube tutorials. I put out my first song at the end of 2021 just for fun, and had no idea that it would resonate with many people beyond my social circle. I kept at it and released music that I enjoyed just to express myself, but it got to a point where I saw myself taking it seriously. Through music I got to meet many inspiring individuals and creatives, and of course the listeners mean the world to me. I got into music just as a hobby but finding a community through doing music has made me motivated to stay and continue putting art out into the world.

You’ve recently released your newest single “My Dream”, congratulations! Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Thank you and of course! It’s about balancing a long distance relationship you have, and leaving your home to chase a dream. I have to be honest and admit that I wrote this song based on my own personal experience, which is why this song was so scary to put out. I feel like with any ambitious dream, it’s always so hard to put into words the feeling of inner conflict. Like, when is it okay to tell yourself, okay it’s time to stop, and let’s pack our things and go home because someone is waiting for me. This song is me putting into words this feeling the best I could.

What was the creative and writing process behind “My Dream”?

The lyrics to “My Dream” actually came by pretty quick, I’d say about 20 minutes or so? But the production took way longer as I was very intent on building a specific soundscape around this track. If you listen closely to the sound design behind this track, it feels like you’re in space and these little sparkly synths I added resembles the feeling of separation to me. I loved building an environment that matched the mood of the song. Production is always so important to me and hopefully the ear candies here and there make you feel a little more emotional.

I heard you are originally from Singapore, and live in Boston now! Have the two cities inspired your music at all? If so, how?

Yes I do! I feel like the two countries are so different yet so similar. Different in the sense that the cultures are worlds apart, Singapore being a lot more focused on success but the States being more focused on finding fulfillment. I will always identify as a Singaporean which is why I appreciate the hustler mentality that I adopted from growing in Singapore, applying it to my creative world and always pushing my tracks to be the best it can be. Being in the US has definitely opened my eyes to more horizons and exposed myself to more approaches to life. I think to write honest music, you have to experience life and write about it in a reflective and appreciative way. The friends I have in the US have also helped me so much in my musicality and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to experience life in the far ends of the world.

One of my favorite things about your music is that you love the DIY process. What made you want to follow this process than doing it the way most other artists create their music nowadays?

The DIY mentality is definitely something I hold close to my heart. But as of late I’ve learnt that DIY no longer means “do it yourself” but rather “decide it yourself”. I used to be a one man team, from writing to producing, to marketing, etc. But as I grow as an artist, I slowly realize that being apart of every decision of the music making process, to the marketing process, is just as important. The past year has made me realize that this job is not a one man job, which is why I am so much more interested in working with others. The music making process remains the same, in the sense that I still come up with everything and produce it, but that doesn’t mean I refuse help from a second ear, or get someone to sprinkle in some ideas here and there to make the song even better than if I were to do it myself. No one really succeeds by doing everything alone…hahaha

Was there any difference in writing and creative process between “My Dream” and “ Fall (Out Of Love)”?

The fundamental creative process remains the same, but I believe and appreciate collaboration way more than from the era of F(OOL). You can see that it was co-produced by two of my good friends Doug and Sumant. They were there with me in the home-studio constantly giving ideas and laying down ideas sonically for how the song should sound to create a unique vibe and I definitely value that a lot more now.

When listening to your songs there’s a sense of vulnerability in them especially with the topics you write about, how do you go about doing that without hiding that part of you away?

To me, music that is good is music that is honest. A listener can tell when you are digging deep in your soul to craft out something sincere. I try to just put my heart on a plate and write about whatever I am feeling at the moment. The less I think about what others might think of the song, the more vulnerable I am when writing.

You’ve dabbled a lot in different genres, is there any genre you’d love to experiment in that you haven’t yet?

I love all kinds of genres but it would definitely be blues!

What was it like being selected as a 2023 Spotify Radar Sea Artist?

It was an experience of a lifetime and I think it changed my life! The program gave me so much insight to what it takes to be an artist and what the job entailed. Through RADAR I got to meet so many inspiring individuals and had so many people work on pushing my music out, which helped me gain many new listeners who I treasure so much now!

Now that we’ve started a brand new year, what can your fans look forward to?

New year, new era, new project!

Keep up with hongjoin!


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