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  • Claire S.

Upcoming Artists to Watch - Jiwon

Jiwon has been playing music since he was only five years old. He credits his classical music upbringing to his mom, who is from Seoul, South Korea. He notes, “it’s kind of a cultural mandate that kids learn a musical instrument as soon as they can walk.” His first instruments were the piano and cello. Jiwon’s dad has also had a big impact on his music, being from the north of England where the Smiths and a lot of 80’s post-punk bands were from. These influenced Jiwon’s style a lot as he began to deviate from his classical roots, which he felt didn’t leave enough room for improvisation, spirit, and catharsis. He picked up bass, guitar, and drums to supplement it.

Jiwon originally started putting music together in GarageBand, but only got serious about it this past year after encouragement from his friends. He met his friend Hank, who goes by the stage name Tree Farm, at Harvard and realized that music was “the one thing [he] could do that just made sense. It just felt like it was my purpose.” Jiwon and Tree Farm collaborate together on music and would describe their sound as either pop or electropop. Jiwon considers these people surrounding him as one of his greatest strengths as an artist, aside from his own singing and writing ability, of course.

Most of Jiwon’s songs are about being with someone or trying to get over them. He went through a breakup earlier this year that inspired a lot of his music. It was “the most important thing in [his] life at the time, so that’s what [he] wanted to convey.” What often drives his music and creativity are his lived experiences outside his studio.

Jiwon has learned that not taking himself seriously doesn’t need to mean he’s not being sincere or genuine about his music. When he first started, he tried to make every song very profound. Recently they’ve been funnier and more random, but he’s found that it still works for him despite the songs not necessarily being dramatic on their own.

Right now, Jiwon is focused on trying to make hits and music that a lot of people are attracted to. However, that doesn’t mean that he would make something that he has absolutely no emotional attachment to. “Could You?” is romantically based on his life and experiences that he’s had, but when he was writing the song, he was just thinking about what the catchiest thing he could come up with was. He doesn’t like to do too much explaining of his songs because he feels like if certain lyrics are supposed to resonate with someone, they will.

LCD Soundsystem was the band that made him want to start making music. Once he “started messing around with synth modulation and wavetable synth and drum machines,” they all changed the game for him. He was inspired by LCD Soundsystem’s skill, passion, and personality, despite their sound being different from his current one. Joji also sealed the deal for him in terms of pursuing a music career. He is half-Asian and half-white, too, and seeing someone he could identify with doing so well in the music industry made Jiwon abandon his excuses and hesitations about kickstarting his career.

The industry is still a dangerous place, and Jiwon is disheartened by the amount of scamming that goes on with young artists and producers. It can be very difficult to vet every single company that comes up asking for money. Lots of people can’t even afford music software, so losing their money to these scams is devastating. Jiwon said that the best method for upcoming artists to protect themselves from this is to search the name of the company with the word “scam” after. He also warned against any sort of direct transaction for statistics, which will only result in followers or streams from bots, which platforms like Spotify can recognize and won’t increase your fanbase anyway.

In terms of future projects, Jiwon and Tree Farm are going to produce some music together as a duo under the name Analog. Jiwon was adamant that he was the one who thought of the name and to not give Hank any credit for it. It came naturally for the two to create music together, as they “fit perfectly to the point that it was incredible.” They have two songs coming out soon, the first of which is scheduled for some time in September.