Interview with Jacqueline Kong
The Asian American Bridge Incubator of Deserving Asian American Talents
WHAT IS THE MAIN FACTOR/ELEMENT THAT DRIVES YOUR SOUL'S CURIOSITY TO EXPLORE AND DISCOVER THE MANY DIVERSE MUSICAL PASSIONS THAT EXISTS WITH WONDER?
It's the challenge
of growing up in this day of age where one can experience the great level of creatively and music that is accessible throughout the world that provides countless directions to pursue. There is a great deal of incredible music out there to experience. Musicians are just melting things together and it feels good to do that. It challenges me. Everyone in String Cheese Incident has a different view of music. It is our thing to explore as many different kinds of music as possible.
Didn't play a lot of music till high school
YOUR ECLECTIC MUSICAL JOURNEY (AND THE BAND) SEEMS TO BE INFLUENCED BY MUSIC FROM MANY SOURCES. WHO INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST AND WHY?
influenced me a lot because he opened up the mandolin to a lot of other music. Brazilian music is based in mandolin.
1. Did living in Indonesia, Korea, England, Germany, New York, Alaska and Colorado start your insatiable thirst and interest in the many diversities in the music that you've incorporated within String Cheese Incident? If so, how?
As a kid, I never listened to a lot of music. As the result of not being brought up in the United States, it wasn't part of my environment. Now I listen to a lot of music such as jazz, Grateful Dead, Santana, etc. and a great number of other artists.
2. You mentioned in a previous interview that playing stringed instruments (as opposed to the piano) are an important part of youths in Korea (your birthplace) and Japan. Did this play a strong role in your choice of instruments? Are there many Korean/Japanese mandolin players?
Went from violin to mandolin/guitar because the "violin" background made it easier.
Started playing violin in England.
Only started playing a lot when he started living in the U.S.
3. Are you well known in Korea and/or Asia? Will and/or have String Cheese Incident perform in Asia? If not, would you want to play there?
Neither String Cheese Incident, nor myself, are presently known in Asia. SCI, though, might visit Japan during the 2002 tour.
4. You mentioned that many classical violin/string players have a fear of not being able to move into other areas, so what do you think about artists such as YoYo Ma, Vanessa Mae, Mark O'Conner (fiddle player), Ahn Trio, etc. ventures into other musical genres?
He doesn't have the "restrictions" of a classical instrument. There is an openness to play whatever you want to play.
It's a natural progression. It is a natural option to explore other music.
5. Could you elaborate on your lyrics on race and consciousness in the song you wrote entitled "Round the Wheel's Come As You Are?"
At that time, as a person of race, it's important that everybody realize that issues of race and equality issues are around. We're all human beings and there are many prejudices that exist. It's the challenge that we all face. It's our national heritage of diversity and people should set aside their petty differences.
SCI doesn't have any agenda of expressing views or need to preach
6. Did SCI really record the bluegrass version of "Gin and Juice" that keeps showing up on the Internet? I keep hearing it but can't tell if it's them. I believe that it is located at www.Imesh.com. Even though String Cheese Incident is listed as the artist, many fans dispute this fact.
The group hasn't played the song.
With SCI constantly improvising, they've might have played music similar to the song.
SCI are not perfectionists
7. How does it feel to be the youngest band member and what different perspectives does that bring to the band? (Kyle - keyboard player, is the next youngest)
Oldest is 40 (Billy), Travis is 36
There is a mutual respect within all the members. Once you've reach 30, there is a sense of maturity that can only be acquired only time.
SCI mostly just "learns" the music without charts.
8. You've played and/or a fan of people such as Bruce Hornsby, Little Feat, Bunny Wailer, Jean Luc-Ponty, Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, John Scofield, Femi Kuti (from Africa), Merl Saunders, Santana (in Texas), Stanley Jordan, David Grissman, Peter Rowan, Art Neville, Phil Lesh, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, and Warren Haynes and Bob Dylan - who would you like to play with that you haven't had the opportunity and/or would play with (in light that String Cheese Incident doesn't play with other groups during concerts)?
SCI likes/prefers to play with other people. Always play with other groups in "festival" settings.
He just wants to meet and play people.
He just looks to play with other people.
9. Despite your classical background, there hasn't been much of a classical influence in String Cheese Incident's music? You mentioned in a recent article that this is the next music genre to be incorporated within String Cheese Incident. How do you envision it that it will be included - Mozart Sonatas?
Some of the classical composers have a different ideas of going through the changes.
10. In your last c.d., it seems that you've added sounds/songs that sounded like Paul Simon's Graceland. Will there be an increasing amount of African and Salsa-type music (recorded and live) within String Cheese Incident?
They've done more Trinidad/Island styling and influences that are heard within the music.
11. In your new c.d., the flights of various musical fantasies (i.e. Birdland in bluegrass and rock on 1st c.d.) were not heard often, more of a song format, not as much variety and less of your mandolin playing - is this reflective of the new direction(s) of what the band will be playing live or just for c.d. to make a more cohesive record? It's similar to how Chicago (another jam band) changed when they started working with David Foster. Unfortunately, also like most jam bands, they're forced to sacrifice some of that diversity in the studio if they want to make a cohesive record.
Already started working for the next c.d.
The next c.d. might be an acoustic c.d.
12. Tell us about how your side projects fulfill your other musical adventures and the differences between Comotion and Theory of Everything? (see below for info)
Chance to play with his musical heroes and other players
13. How did you get involved with the "Nederland Acid Jazz" scene - an improvisational jam session with an ever-changing rotation of the finest young jazz and funk musicians from Colorado's Front Range and beyond?
Not known yet in Asia
14. Do you have any endorsements, since you're using a pair of K & M Analog Designs' Emerald 50's? (Emerald 50 / 50 watt head with reverb - vacuum tube2 channel amps) and a 5 string violin from Zeta? Do you work in instrument ideas at Zeta with people such as Rob Wasserman?
Has an endorsement
Doesn't play Zeta violins. Presently playing an acoustic violin.
15. What words, emotions and/or impressions would you want to leave with the people that saw you performed?
There is a lot of joy to be experienced in life. We're all trying to enjoy life, that's our major purpose and enjoyable for others and make us human.
JazzFest is not just a jazz festival. It's a music fan festival filled with great musicians.
Jacqueline Kong is an industry film director with four feature films to her credit. Her film, Night Patrol, achieved global box office success.
She is currently producing a documentary on the Chinese-American experience in California over the last 100 years.
She is responsible for setting AAMD's agenda and making business and creative decisions with her primary focus being the creative development of writers and developing avenues for their work.