“Be authentic, be true to yourself and tell your truth,” said rising pop and R&B musical artist jomch. Behind the stage name jomch is third-year political science major Josh Chan, and he recently released his emotional R&B-inspired debut album, “for hopeless romantics like me,” on March 5. The debut of his songs from the album were performed at the Kapatirang Pilipino Benefit Showcase. Listening to the rhythmic, sentimental tunes of his album, one might think he has been releasing music for years — yet the rising artist started releasing music last summer.
Jomch grew up singing and is a self-taught guitarist and music producer. The Manila-born artist credits a lot of his musical inspiration to his Filipino culture. After moving to Chicago when he was four and to the Bay Area around 13, he has retained a connection to the strong Filipino community in all these places.
“After going to all these Filipino parties where everyone’s singing karaoke and R&B love songs, all this beautiful music inspired me to start singing.” He expresses his admiration to his loved ones at every turn, shouting them out for encouraging him to perform, whether it’s karaoke or a school-wide showcase.
He explained that representing his culture is an ongoing process that raises questions for him. After recently taking an Asian American studies upper-division course called “Filipino Americans,” he is working to unpack how to “do [his] diligence, learn about [his] culture, and represent proudly.” His love for his culture extends outside his music and childhood. Jomch is a social justice activist and holds aspirations to go into law.
“[I want to] do more work in the Asian American community and the Filipino American community and help people through education and artistry,” jomch said.
Right after his performance at the Kapatirang Pilipino Benefit Showcase, jomch gushed and smiled brightly in reflection when asked about the experience of performing.
“There’s no other feeling that compares to it … it’s still so bizarre to me that I had a song idea in my head months ago [and] now people are moving to it,” he said.
It was not always easy for jomch to get up on stage and share his songs. He calms his nerves down byut watching videos of his favorite artists performing and the occasional video on guided meditation on YouTube helps him stay calm.
“The idea that in pretty much every performance, there’s at least one person who’s seeing me for the first time is so exciting for me…Just get out there and start, because I think with every iteration, it gets better and better,” jomch reflected.
What is immediately apparent about jomch is his genuine and supportive nature. He hopes to inspire people to “express themselves creatively and just be themselves” because that’s been a “journey that [he’s] been going through.” Telling his truth as authentically as possible is very important to the singer.
“The audience is smart; people can tell when you’re being genuine and it’s really important to maintain that in art,” jomch said. Part of his journey of transparency is being open about the artistic process and his resources to his peers.
“As I’m starting to get more recognition in my work, it’s been so cool being able to help out some newer artists,” jomch said.
In his songwriting process, jomch values honesty.. The singer-songwriter explained that a lot of what inspires his music are his lived feelings and experiences. He described that his creative process starts with a baseline instrumental that evokes certain emotions, then the story behind why that feeling keeps coming up inspires the songwriting. “[I want to] stay true to what my experiences were, and how I was feeling in certain moments,” jomch said.
One of the challenges he faced as an artist was telling his own truth. He applied this to one of his favorite songs “say it first,” the second song he ever produced and debuting on his recent album, “for hopeless romantics like me.” The song is about the first time the artist said “I love you.”
“It’s one of those songs where every gig I’ve done people immediately start moving to it and resonating with it,” jomch said. He went on to explain that the track is just one of many personal stories told on the album, stating, “It’s just the feelings I’ve had in different stages of past relationships.”
He explained that the ignition to his musical passion is the people who express their appreciation toward his music for getting them through hard times. The main goal of this album and his music in general is for people to realize they are not alone.
jomch explained that while creating this album, he felt like he was the only one who experienced these feelings, and it’s easy for others to feel that way too.
“I want people to realize that they are not alone. When I was going through the feelings that inspired this album, I reflected that even though you know people say they’ve been through something similar, in the moment it’s so easy to feel like you’re the only one experiencing it. I want someone to listen to this album-especially if they’re going through something similar-to know someone else is feeling this and is resonating,” jomch stated.
Things are just beginning for this Isla Vista musician; on top of schoolwork and his music career, jomch also recently trained for the Los Angeles Marathon. Training helped push him to treat his music with the same kind of drive and ambition.
“[The] discipline and the focus that training for a marathon takes is contagious. It applied to other aspects of [my] life,” he said. With a marathon and a debut album behind him, jomch is more determined and passionate than ever, continuing to make new music and perform during spring quarter. Because, as the artist encouraged, “Just keep going because you never know what could happen.”
This appeared in the April 13th Daily Nexus printed edition.