If we go back to the very beginning, how did you discover your interest for music and how come you ended up playing guitar?
I lived my childhood in the ‘90s enjoying listening to Michael Jackson, Savage Garden, ‘90s K-Pop and also lots of anime music. I guess the melodic nature of this kind of music has significantly formed my style. I used to learn violin and I found myself really enjoying to play melodic pieces like Bach and Vivaldi – only easy songs though. Back in the day, I went to a school camp, I met a few boys who were playing a guitar riff from Nirvana’s “Smell’s Like Teen’s Spirit.” I felt the sound unlocked something in me. Coming back home, I started playing the guitar.
Starting out, which guitarists would you say helped shape the guitar player you became?
As a guitar kid, I was been a fan boy of Joe Satriani, Nuno Bettencourt, Eric Johnson, John Petrucci and a number of other guitar virtuosos.
And now, which guitarists do you think stand out today (in any genre)?
Too many outstanding musicians are out there today. Jack Thammarat, Marco Sfogli, Per Nilsson and Aaron Marshall would be the names I’d like to list today.
Your cover of “Canon Rock” literally became a viral sensation, mentioned on CNN, 20/20, in The New York Times – just to name a few channels – and broke your name to a world-wide audience. Walk us through the entire story, please!
In 2005, I was positively triggered by watching JerryC’s Canon Rock video – “I wanna play this song!” In October 2005, waking up in the afternoon, I filmed my cover, wearing a cap to disguise my bed hair. I uploaded it on a Korean music site but it was spread wildly on the internet. In December 2005, a YouTube account called “guitar90” uploaded the video on YouTube titled “guitar.” I still am not able identify who the uploader is. I don’t think this guy ‘stole’ my video. Back in the early web video age, it was just natural for everyone to share any video anywhere with no copyright guidelines. In 2006, the “guitar” video became the second-most-watched video on YouTube. A journalist of The New York Times was about to write about YouTube and some of the popular videos in 2006. Luckily, I got connected to her and I once was reported on a NYT article titled as “Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last.” Since then, I got in touch with many media outlets and great musicians like Joe Satriani who is my hero. I would say my debut was powered by the viral video and The New York Times.
Since then you have really gained an impressive following and grown as an artist, especially in the guitar and online community. What has this journey been like and where do you see your career heading moving forward?
The video changed my life indeed, in a positive way I guess. I feel grateful that I could experience such a unique event in my life. However, I never expected such huge attention at all before I uploaded my video. I was studying computer science and just doing music as one of my hobbies. And one day I suddenly became a person who is known by many people. The sudden life shift was sometimes burdening to me since I wasn’t ready for it. After the Canon hype was gone, I decided to build my musical fundamentals. I went to a music school, wrote songs and built up video skills. For the last 10+ years, I kept developing myself and ended up being a full-time musician today. I feel very grateful for that. I love playing guitar and writing guitar-centric music. Living in this social media age is fun. I really enjoy making videos and social media posts. The new types of media like Metaverse and NFT look very interesting too. I’m kinda learning those concept nowadays for the sake of future potential.
What does your personal writing spot or home studio look like in terms of gear?
I have an humble-sized but cozy studio near my home. I’m not running super massive gear around me, but here’s my modest gear list: Victory VX Kraken Amp, Suhr Reactive Load I.R., Fractal AxeFx2, RME Babyface Pro FS, Mackie MR5 Monitor Speakers, CTM CT-500 Custom in-ear monitors, Apple MacBook Pro…and size-wise, the biggest gear of mine would be the video light diffuser, and the smallest would be my picks.
Do you still practice your instrument on a regular basis? What does your routine look like?
I still love practicing guitar. I practice as long as I can in a day – sometimes only 1 minute, sometimes all day long! I often start practice with improvisation on the backingtracks on Youtube. I have no practice routine but I write a practice checklist. I write down things I should improve or correct. Time to time, I review the checklist before I play and I get refreshed by the ritual, and it also helps me visualizes my goals.
Finally, which Toontrack products do you use and how do they help you in your creative process?
I’ve been using EZdrummer and the Made of Metal EZX. No doubt EZdrummer is a super intuitive tool when it comes to songwriting. I particularly love the room sound of the Made of Metal EZX. Although the Made of Metal EZX is known for a ‘metal’ drum library, I was surprised by its versatility. It often serves non-metal music style really well. The drum sound from some of my releases was entirely Made of Metal EZX. Recently, I started my Superior Drummer 3 journey. Thanks to the unprocessed raw samples given, post process is so much fun and the potential is unlimited. Furthermore, the multiple room mic configuration made the tone deep and multidimensional. Kudos to George Massenburg, Galaxy Studios and Toontrack! I feel so grateful that the drums on my tracks went up another level thanks to you guys.