As usual, Sungha Jung was back in town for the annual Sentosa Ukelele Festival. He graced the stage with many other famous guitar players, and managed to hold his own.
We were lucky to sit down with this young guitarist to find out more about the inspirations behind his new album that was just released and read on to find some advice that he gives to beginner players.
Your new album was just released yesterday. Can you tell us more about it? Like the inspirations behind it.
Sungha: Yes my new album. It has twelve songs and they are all my original songs. Actually you can see the title of the songs then you can imagine how I wrote the songs. For example, “Riding A Bicycle”, the number two track – I made it after I rode a bike with my friends. And like “Backpacking”, I was imagining travelling and going backpacking with my friends. So you can actually find some of the inspiration for my songs in the song titles.
What’s your favourite song from the new album?
Sungha: There are 6 solo songs and 5 duet songs and 1 song with the piano. I’ll pick one song for each. For the solo song, I’ll say “Harmonize” and the second one is duet song, “Backpacker” and the third one is “Rainy Day”. You can find out from my album!
You’ll be back in Singapore at the end of this month for your solo concert to promote this album. What can we expect from the concert?
Sungha: Yes. I actually covered “Home”, a song that Singaporeans will know. I think I’m going to play Singapore songs and I will play a lot of cover songs and a few of my original songs from my new album that came out yesterday.
You’ll be performing with a guitalele for tonight’s Sentosa Ukulele Festival. Why did you pick the guitalele in particular?
Sungha: Actually I am going to play the ukulele first, but I will play a few songs with it. After that I have collaboration, three songs, with other artists and I think the guitalele is more comfortable in those kind of collaborations so I picked the guitalele for those songs.
Have you been playing the ukulele for a long time?
Sungha: I don’t remember very well, but I started when I was like 12 or 13.
You have collaborated with many famous musicians and singers, so what is it like to be on stage with them and who left the biggest impression on you?
Sungha: I’ll say Jason Mraz. He performed in Korea and he actually mentioned my full name, at his concert before he came to Seoul in Busan. He mentioned my name when he sang his encore song, “I’m Yours”. After that concert he came back to Korea again for the Seoul concert and he invited me as a guest to collaborate on a couple of songs together. So I think that was one of my best moments I’ve experienced in my life.
You have been to quite a number of countries before. Is there a country that you haven’t been to yet that you wish to perform in?
Sungha: Uh… I’ve actually been to most of the countries but there’s still one country that I haven’t been to yet and its Canada. It’s close to America but I haven’t been there yet. I will go there very soon.
Since you’ve performed for so many different audiences around the world, so what is it like performing for a Singaporean crowd (since you have been here quite a few times before)?
Sungha: Actually I come here every year and I really love Singaporean fans. I like that kind of feeling of crowds screaming or clapping out loud, and I’m impressed (by them) every time, every moment that I have shows, and that’s why I come here every year.
Do you have any other plans for the future after the promotions for this album?
Sungha: I am actually in school now, that is related to the Berklee Music School. So once I finish that school, I have a one year break time for a world tour in like America or Europe and after that I will go to America to further my studies at the Berklee Music School, so that’s my plans for the future.
A lot of people have been inspired by you to play the guitar and the ukulele, so can you give some advice to those wishing to pick up fingerstyle guitar?
Sungha: There is something that I always say, that people who start guitar for the first time – they give up in like two weeks or one month, it’s very painful for their fingers and they give up so fast. And I want to say “Please Don’t Give Up” and practice at least like 30 minutes per day then you’ll get more and more better at the skills. And please copy a lot of songs, like I did, and then you’ll be a good guitarist.
Despite being globally recognized, Sungha was humble and answered every question to the best of his ability. His command of English has definitely improved over the past few years, and he turned from a shy tiny boy behind the guitar into this tall and lanky guy that charmed the hell out of us. We definitely hope that Sungha will start singing in addition to his guitar playing because he has shown some vocal talent. Watch him sing in this rare cover of John Mayer’s hit “Why Georgia” (pardon the sound quality as the venue was really noisy!):
Sungha: I really like John Mayer’s songs, and I found this song when I had vocal lessons and actually my teacher taught me this song and I really loved the song. I enjoy singing this song and the melody.
Have a listen to a shoutout by Sungha for his fans, especially his Singapore fans!
If you didn’t get to catch Sungha this time round, don’t fear because he will be returning at the end of this month for his solo concert promoting his 5th album, with a special treat in celebration of Singapore’s 50 years. Get your tickets now to catch him live!
For more information about Sungha Jung Live in Singapore 2015, do check out our event article: http://kavenyou.com/sprout-entertainment-proudly-presents-sungha-jung-singapore-50th-anniversary-concert/