Spotify Spotlight: Jonny Ong Makes Waves In The UK (And No, That's Not A Wok)
Let's not beat around the bush - or the pan, as it were.
This is Jonny Ong, and what he's got in his lap is something called a handpan, an instrument related to the steelpan or steel drum, which allegedly has its origins in Trinidad and Tobago.
"I saw a street musician playing one and knew I had to incorporate it into (my music). It had such a unique sound!" says Jonny, who is in his early 30s.
"I’m a multi-instrumentalist, so I try to play a little bit of everything I can. I'm always trying to add something different and unique to my music. So when the handpan came along it was the perfect match."
As with most artists, this musician got (even more) creative during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"During lockdown I was lucky to hit a bit of a creative streak, and I’m now in the process of recording a new EP," says Jonny, who studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guilford, Surrey, England.
"I came to the UK to get my degree and just never left after. London is a melting pot for all kinds of amazing music. The exposure to all of this music and art has definitely helped make me a better songwriter."
To date, he has released two singles in the UK, with plans to put out another three or four, and an album after. Got success not? You bet! This guy is putting Singapore on the world map: his singles have been playlisted at over 50 regional radio stations in the UK.
His latest single, "Fools" - a song about the uncertainty of love (hey, who hasn't been there?) - has garnered over 40,000 listens to date:
Mind-blowing fact about his upcoming album: Not only was it recorded at the institution that is Snakeweed Studios here in Singapore, it was also recorded at the legendary Studio 2 at Abbey Road - only, like, the world's most famous sound studio, whose hallways have been graced by legends like Kanye West, Kylie Minogue and The Beatles.
The latter he counts as one of his musical influences, naturally, alongside The Rolling Stones, Etta James, Miles Davis, Amy Winehouse and The Doors, among others.
As we wait for the album to be released, here's the music video of "Fools" (the handpan makes its appearance at 0:48, just sayin'):
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