We caught up with Jonny Ong, who is gearing up to release his new song, ‘Isolation’. We talk psychedelia, Singapore and the most unusual album you will hear in the charts right now…
Hi Jonny! You are gearing up to release your new single ‘Isolation’! What is the message you would like your listeners to take away from this song?
Isolation comes from a heartbreak position. A long term relationship that had disintegrated. I tried to use the time to draw on the pain and mixed emotions the break up caused me to feel. I guess the overall message would be to take stock and appreciate the hand life has dealt you as things can work out very differently should you go down a different path.
You hail all the way from Singapore – what elements, if any, of that culture can be found seeping into your music?
There are a few Singaporean musicians who played on the album, which was partly recorded at the famous Snakeweed Studios in Singapore. These include talented Indonesian Jazz pianist and composer Rachma Wati, Riduan Zalani who is widely regarded as Singapore’s foremost percussionist, producer / engineer Leonard Soosay who runs Snakeweed Studios, and Singaporean singer / songwriter Inch. The sounds and style they bring to the recording process influence the overall sonic experience.
You are heavily influenced by psychedelia in your sound – and neo-psychedelia is certainly having a moment right now. What are some of your essential psychedelia picks?
My Psychedelic sound influences are drawn from… The White Album, Rubbersoul, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles, Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix, Disraeli Gears by Cream, Definitely Maybe by Oasis, Forever Change by Love, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Kasabian and Lonerism by Tame Impala.
Your music notably makes use of a very unusual instrument – the handpan! What inspired you to start playing it? Did you teach yourself?
I saw a street musician playing one in Amsterdam, and was blown away by everything about it. From the way it looked like a spaceship, and the amazing sound it produced, to the fact it was completely acoustic. I knew from then on I had to find a way to use it in my recording process. So I started to search for one and taught myself how to play it.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with us, Jonny! Watch out for ‘Isolation’, coming soon!