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Sungha Jung: A Decade of Strings

by Kyra Tayer
Some concerts leave you enthralled and starry-eyed for the rest of the night. Then, there
are those that make you question your lifes existence and why you never bothered to
pick up and instrument before. Sungha Jungs concert falls into the latter.
To promote the release of his sixth album, Latalier, one of YouTubes most most-loved
guitar virtuosos, visited Singapore and performed at the Kallang Theatre on 27 May
2016. The concert began with an opening act by Lee Guo Liang, the winner of the
Sungha Jung Guitar Competition which just ended the day before. After him, the star of
the night finally made his appearance.
Its incredible how the presence of one instrument can change a persons demeanor
entirely. Sungha Jung emerged from backstage shyly, but once armed with his guitar, the
magic began.
The audience hushed as the young man in a plain white shirt assumed his place in a seat
front and center. The spotlight - hues of purple and pale yellow and cerulean blue illuminated the planes of his face; eyes downcast in a show of passion and dedication for
the song he was about to bless the theatre with. In that moment, nothing else existed. It
was only him and the music.
Even though he can speak English, he didnt really have to verbally communicate
because the audience could understand him just by his music. He played new songs from
Latalier, and one of UrbanWires favourites were Nocturne with its romantic melody
and the jazzy piece, In The Midnight. After the intermission, his guest Neil Chan came
and the twosome performed a duet composed by Sungha Jung himself (guess what - he
never actually learned song composition. Thats raw talent right there.)
Besides original composition, the South Korea guitarist also graced us with fantastic
covers like his rendition of Justin Biebers Love Yourself, and a sweeping ballad from
the K-Pop boyband BTS, titled Butterfly. Both covers earned a good dose of squealing
from excited fans in the audience. He also dedicated a local song for the audience: JJ
Lins Remember. The show concluded with Jung singing John Mayers St. Patricks
Day.
UrbanWire caught up with two young fans, the 14-year-olds Jennifer and Winnie at the
signing event after the concert. The two travelled all the way from Indonesia for 3 days to
attend Sungha Jungs guitar competition and concert.
Were going home tomorrow...weve only been here for three days for him [Sungha
Jung], Jennifer chirped. But it was worth it. I fell in love with him and his music all
over again.
10 Years of Guitar

2016 is not just another year for Sungha Jung. Besides the release of Latalier, it also
marks his decade-long career.
Time sure flies fast. The world has seen Sungha Jung grow from the 8-year-old boy
playing Pirates of The Caribbean, now with over 49 million views on YouTube since it
was first publicised 7 years ago, to being one of the most celebrated musical talents from
South Korea today. The 19-year-old has gained nearly 4 million subscribers on his
YouTube since he started uploading covers and original composition online. To celebrate
a decades worth of his journey, UrbanWire caught up with him in an exclusive
interview!
1. Its been 10 years since you've made your youtube debut. How has your growth
been throughout the years?
A: It's been a blast really. I became a full time recording artist with 7 studio albums at the
end of that 10 years, with 1.2 billion video views and near 4 million subscribers. I also
have global concert tours every year in many different countries. Through the sensation, I
was able to meet all my musical inspirations and heroes as well. Now I have become
friends with them, play together, and worktogether. YouTube waned a bit in general
compared to its beginning years, but my offline engagements are more active than ever
these days.
2. When you first debuted, youve mentioned a few times that you wanted to earn
the recognition of a guitarist compared to terms' like 'guitar prodigy' and 'August
Rush' of Korea. After a decade, would you say with confidence that you've
accomplished this?
A: Yes, I think so. I have now 7 full-length albums, touring around the world every year
for solo concerts and festivals. Those tags definitely helped my career to take off when I
was even younger, but now I think I definitely have more to present to my fans than
earlier years when I played covers mostly.
3. You will soon be releasing your sixth album LAtelier, with 9 brand new tunes and a
cover of 'Take Five' by Dave Brubeck and your albums have increasingly showcased
more and more of your original pieces, with your fifth album having tracks that are all
exclusively yours. What is the inspiration for the songs in this album?
A: I already had lots of ideas for new original songs when I planned to have this new CD
[L'Atelier]. And this short music course that I took last year n Seoul turned out to be very
helpful for my new compositions. I couldn't wait to have them released. With the last
release [Two Of Me], I had several original duet/trio tunes that I wanted to release before
a few years back, so they filled the tracklist without having to include any new original
arrangements.
4. Are you he currently in Berklee Music School? You've mentioned interest in
attending there.
A: No I am not. I planned to enroll after I finished this regular 1-year jazz course, but I
decided to keep building up my career and making more original music as I have been for
the last 7 years as a professional musician. School is something that I can take up again
anytime I want, I think. I will probably keep doing what I have been for a while, because
that is what I want now.

5. You're well known for your guitar skills but you also took vocal lessons - are you
planning to make singing a part of your repertoire?
A: I have been singing at my overseas shows for a while now. For about 2 years. Just one
song. Nothing serious, just kind of as a surprise present to my concert audience.
6. You play many instruments (acoustic, classical, 12 string, electric, ukulele,
guitarlele, harp ukulele, piano). Did you self-learn all of these instruments like you
did with our guitar? Which is your favourite instrument?
A: I took a few month of lessons for piano and drums, but that was all. I like the acoustic
guitar best as it's my main instrument. I got to play a lot of electric guitar last year in my
music course, and that was fun too.
7. What are your upcoming plans after the release of your 6th album? (Any
collaborations?)
A: L'Atelier release tours will follow, of course. Singapore was the first of them, then
Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, and many more.
Of his 13 YouTube awards, Sungha Jung was awarded six #1 titles. His success has
proven to fans and listeners alike how power music and passion can be in driving a
person towards his or her dreams. We hope that he continues to shine brighter and inspire
people from all over the world with his mesmerizing music.