Onstage alone, it’s just Jong SL and his RC 30 Looper helping him along the way, but he admits that he enjoys having a full five-piece band when he’s in front of an audience, “It’s way more rock,” says the South Korean born, Canadian raised singer. One may think with two distinct places having been home, there’d be a myriad of cultural aspects running through Jong’s veins.
As you’ll soon learn, it’s hard to leave one place and fully adopt another as home. No matter how many times one drives through a new neighborhood, finding an identity is a struggle. We talked about where he feels he fits in, his latest single, “Driving Away,” and what’s to come.
Kendra: Born in South Korea but raised in the states and Toronto, you’ve mentioned how you ultimately lost a part of your identity to the Western World. Looking back, what part of the South Korean culture do you feel you missed out on the most with the moves?
Jong SL: Honestly, I feel like I have no cultural identity. Even though I speak my native language, it’s not the same as living there. At this point, it almost feels like I’m a tourist there. I feel like I belong in Toronto because there are so many people like me here. Some of have two cultures, some of us have none!
Kendra: Do you feel like you would have found music, in the same manner, had you never moved?
Jong SL: I don’t think I would be doing music if I never moved and stayed in Korea. I would probably focus on studies hardcore and go into the workforce right after. They’re super, super competitive on their studies there. No time for music.
Kendra: Nevertheless, you did come into your own and found your voice. Let’s talk about “Driving Away.” Were you on the road when you penned this or daydreaming about it?
Jong SL: I came up with this idea a couple years back while walking home from the music building back to my dorm. When I saw the moon, I thought of people in my life that aren’t with me anymore. The moon reminds me of them.
Kendra: Do you feel “Driving Away” represents a new evolution in your sound compared to your Ice Cream EP?
Jong SL: “Driving Away” is a new direction of my music. I think I finally found my individual sound. My last EP Ice Cream was just me putting in random hip-hop sounds into acoustic jazz. My upcoming songs will be much more mature sonically.
Kendra: Will you be playing in the coming months?
Jong SL: Of course! I love playing music. I usually have two-four gigs per month in Toronto. I’ll expand as soon as I release more music.
Kendra: “Driving Away” is out now, but will we find it on a record soon?
Jong SL: I’m going to release singles for a couple months. I don’t think I’m ready for a record yet. In the future for sure! Possibly in late 2019.