Singer-songwriter Jonathan Chong’s resume gives no hint of his artistic side. Trained up to PhD level in robot management, and currently working as a mechanical engineer, Chong, 29, launched his debut album, State Of My Mind on 19 September with a showcase at Bar None, St James Power Station.
The cosy gathering of around 50 fit comfortably into the chic venue. Most were close friends who turned up to show their support for the singer. Chong rose to the occasion and belted out seven songs from his album (which features 10 of his original compositions).
Chong’s music, birthed from a time when he went through a period of depression while pursuing his PhD, offers a refreshing blend of pop, rock, jazz and soul. The song that started it all was ‘Tell Me Why’, written when he was in a period of questioning life and its meaning.
City News spoke to Chong during a set break. The singer revealed that he writes songs almost anywhere. He could be in a jungle, on a cliff, or in his own bedroom. This is testament to the fact that his experiences in life are more varied than most. Born in laidback Kuching in East Malaysia, Chong has lived in cities like Boston, Moscow and Tokyo, and is currently based in Singapore.
Chong’s wife and manager, Belinda, 30, called the album a dream come true. She said that working on Chong’s music together united them in reaching for a common goal and as a result, strengthened the bond between them.
During the showcase, Chong sang ‘The Brightest Star’ — a term he uses to describe his wife. This song “is not a love song, but could be a love song”.
|PHOTOS: Jason Lee and Xavier Tan|
A close friend of the couple, Joan Ho, 31, a polytechnic lecturer, described Chong’s music as very refreshing and inspirational. She said, “Music is really about the meaning behind the music.”
State of My Mind was produced by Joshua Wan, a renowned producer who has worked with Tanya Chua and Stefanie Sun. It took three years of persistence on Chong’s part to engage Wan.
When quizzed about future plans for his music, Chong said he is open to anything. One thing’s for sure though: he has the full support of his loved ones. As our interview drew to a close, Chong received news that his parents had just flown in from Kuching to show their emphatic support for their son’s first steps into the world of music and entertainment.