Jon Yoon is a songwriter from Seattle, Washington who recently released his debut EP titled “Purple Roses, Coffee Beans, and All Things In Between”. His music can be streamed on this page (via Bandcamp) and he can be researched and contacted through Facebook. Below you will find an interview with Yoon himself. Enjoy!
Could you give us some insight into your musical background?
“It started in the second grade when I was living with my mom in California and was forced to take piano lessons. I wasn’t a prodigy, but I did enjoy it to a certain degree, even though it did rob some me of my Nintendo-time. After I moved back to Chicago the following year to live with my dad from that point on, I joined a church choir. The biggest turning point for me musically was being in the chorus in high school. The chorus was a place where I felt like I belonged and from having a great music teacher for all four years, I picked up music theory rather quickly and then started to play other instruments (most notably an Ibanez acoustic guitar that I inherited from my cousin when he stopped playing). However, I didn’t dive deeper into my love for music until a few years ago and found an instrument that matched my personality (the ukulele)! The uke is an underdog, but when used right can be an awesome thing to hear: I really gravitate towards the underdog.”
What inspired the writing and recording of your EP “Purple Roses, Coffee Beans, and All Things In Between”?
“After my marriage fell apart a few years ago, I was able to find myself through music again. I went through various relationships over a short (period of) time: some things were great, some not so great. Writing about certain moments felt very cathartic in trying to move on, and I love songs from artists that dig deep into themselves, telling a story from their past. I felt that it was time to share my story.”
If you could play or tour with any musician or artist of your choice, who would you choose? Who are your biggest musical influences in general?
“I would want to play with Luc and The Lovingtons, a local Seattle band with a lot of heart. I’m thankful to call them friends. My musical influences are all over the board: I love the sound & style of singer/songwriters like Jason Mraz and Matt Nathanson, but there’s something wonderful about guys like Bill Withers and Johnny Cash. (They have) that raw emotion from within that comes out in song, and that is what I gravitate towards the most, regardless of genre. This is why I’ve worked with Seattle Living Room Shows and the Melodic Caring Project in my free-time. The musicians that have performed for these two groups have been nothing short of authentic and are people that inspire me to do better with my own music.”
Could you walk us through the recording process for “Purple Roses, Coffee Beans, and All Things In Between”?
“This was the first time I had ever recorded anything in-studio before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. My friend and engineer Dan Yost of Just Records had a recording studio in the back of the music store he manages and we walked through the entire process. Being behind the mic and repeating the same song over and over was a vastly new experience compared to performing on stage or busking on a street corner. I also knew that I wanted a little more from the music than just a ukulele and vocals, but I didn’t want to go over the top; (we added) some simple bass lines and basic percussion to add some more depth without going crazy. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible and not have a monster amount of production behind it, hence the stripped-down sound. It’s not perfect by any means, but I wasn’t seeking perfection – just an honest sound that can be appreciated, showcasing truthful songs of my own experiences.”
What can you tell us about the Seattle music scene? What has been your experience with the scene, and what is your favorite aspect?
“Despite that whole “Seattle Deep Freeze” thing Seattle is known for (when it comes to strangers coming around) the Seattle music scene is very inviting. It seems like everyone knows everyone: bands play to packed houses, yet know practically everyone in the crowd or at least try to make an effort to know everyone. The community factor is just awesome and everyone is so supportive of each others’ successes. I’ve made some great friendships over the past few years because of this community.”
What does 2014 hold in store for Jon Yoon?
“Good question! To be honest, now that the album is done, I’m learning that music is more than just singing, songwriting, and recording. There’s a massive business side that I’m still learning and I have an even greater respect for full-time musicians that are busting their asses trying to (make) a living out of their passion. I’m starting to book a few gigs and plan a small tour, but it’s still a work in progress. For the album and my music itself, I tend to be a realist; I know that what I’ve put out may not be the next big thing or even close to it. I know I’ll have my share of critics, but regardless of whether someone likes my sound or doesn’t, I’m finally pursuing something that I’ve put on the back burner for years. Win, lose, or draw, I am proud of what I’ve done here. I’m following my passions and I wouldn’t change a thing about this adventure.”