Saturday, April 17, 2010

rhythm.connection presents A MOMENT WITH YouTube MUSICIANS - TJ MIC

Cowabunga! Let's skip with the pleasantries today and dive right into our next interview, with NYC-based singer-songwriter TJ Mic!

TJ Mic (born TJ Kim on April 15) is a Korean-American singer-songwriter/actor/dancer based in NYC. Having moved around from South Korea as a kid to Canada, then to the US, and then having spent time in China during college, this well-rounded young musician aspires to be many things but says that he wants to remain as original yet inspiring as possible. An alumni of both Brown and Berklee, TJ is no stranger to having to juggle both music and school. He has even met the likes of musicians both independant and major - AJ Rafael and JY Park (JYP) for starters. Enter TJ!

How long have you been doing music for? Are you doing it professionally or independently?
I played the violin as a kid growing up in Korea but after I moved to Canada at the age of 13, I stopped studying music all together. It wasn’t until I went to China to study abroad in college that I began to appreciate and feel passionate about music all over again. After watching Wang Leehom’s concert in Shanghai, I decided to attend Berklee to get formal training in music. So I guess I have been studying music for just over 2 years now. (I’m behind most people, but I’m making up for the time that I lost ☺ )

What style of music do you generally play?
Generally, I like playing Asian pop ballads or old pops from the 80-90’s as well as Christian music.

How did you first get involved in music?
I studied the Violin when I was little but at the time, I did not appreciate music as much. In high school and university, I started singing with the musical groups as well as Higher Keys co-ed a capella group. And I loved it!

What made you decide to starting YouTubing your musical talent?
Honestly at first, I wanted to get noticed by the entertainment companies but then I slowly began to realize that I wanted to use this space not only to motivate myself to improve but to share my music with the world. If I can bring a positive impact on one person’s life through my music, I would be happy.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
I have lived in many major cities around the world, my influences include but not limited to:
Korea : Kim DongRyul, SES, JYP
Japan: Koji Tamaki, Nobuo Uematsu (FF music), Joe Hisaishi (ghibli), M-flo
China/Taiwan: Jay Chou, Wang Leehom
UK & US: Beatles, The Carpenters
Others: Kings of Convenience
I respect and get inspired by all the singer/songwriters.

How does it feel to be getting all this support from people for doing what you do?
At first, my brother and dad did not understand my decision to pursue music after I got my Biology degree from Brown but now they fully support my decision. I am truly blessed to have such supportive friends and family. God has been so wonderful to me.

Is there ANY musician that you would like to do a collaboration with in the future?
Too many to list but from youtube, I would be lucky if I get to write a song together with David Choi!

During one of our earlier chats, you mentioned that you had done an internship last semester with JYP in NYC. How was that experience, and what was one memorable thing from that experience?
I actually wrote 7 bi-weekly journals detailing my experience at JYP. Basically, I worked as the executive assistant for a semester. This being my first real work experience, at first I had a hard time adjusting to the office life but in the end, I have learned many invaluable life lessons. During the internship, I missed playing music so much so that I went to audition for the same company that I was interning at. I did not make it but I felt proud of myself for confronting my fear of auditioning again and singing the whole song in a capella. The highlight of the internship was, meeting my childhood idol JYP and having a very short but enlightening conversation with him. That’s when I decided to become a creator and touch peoples lives with my music the same way JYP’s music touched mine.

What has been your most popular cover on YouTube? Your most popular original song on YouTube?
Cover of Jay Chou’s ‘An Jing’ (Silence) it’s the only cover where I play the piano and sing at the same time.

I imagine you have a lot of music tastes; what do you normally play on your iPod and/or when you’re at home?
I like listening to all kinds of music from ethnic/folks songs from all around the world to video game/anime music, from Billboard Hot 100 to Christian music. Sometimes I deliberately leave my ipod at home so that I can ‘hear’ the sound of NY and listen to NYC subway music!

Where’s the one place where you can go and get your creative flow going in order to write/create music?
Usually at home with my two cats by my side. Once in a while, I like walking around the city and the central park in the early morning and be inspired by everything I see, smell and hear.

Who is your closest musician friend, and how did you two meet?
Po Lin and Andrew Yeh. We met at Berklee and became best musical buddies, they are like my brothers to me. Last year, we formed Acoustic Trio called “Jin Lin Yeh” (our three last names combined meaning ‘a leaf from Golden Forest) covering Asian Pop Songs and performing around Boston.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not playing music?
I recently enrolled in French Culinary Institute as a part-time student! I practice/write music in the daytime and cook in the nighttime ☺ My other hobbies include outdoor camping, traveling, watching indie films, communicating with animals, reading science magazines and learning languages.

What do you hope to accomplish while being involved in music?
My short-term goal is to improve my instrumental, sequencing skills as well as my singing in the next 9 months. I plan to write and record a few original songs for my demo. My long-term goal is - in America, Asian music is merely one genre that lumps together everything oriental sounding. J-pop, K-pop, and C-pop have their genre names based not on their styles but rather by their geographic and linguistic divisions. I aspire to become an artist/producer who can change that and create a sound that’s uniquely Asian. With this new sound, my goal is to reach out and bring hopes to those people who have lost their dreams, and by doing so, hopefully along the way- I will be able to have a positive impact on someone’s life and bring one more smile into this world. I also plan to open up my own restaurant where I can invite my close musician friends to perform with me on stage.

Do you have any final words for the readers?
Dream big and follow the drumbeats of your heart. Most importantly, enjoy life! and be happy with who you are and what you do.
It's fun to do the impossibles
(Walt Disney)
Thank you for reading (my new website is about to open soon, please come and check it out ->

Thank you to TJ for this interview, and thank YOU so much for reading, till next time!


TJ Mic

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