And you are?

Sun-Mi Hong


Next Generation of Dutch Jazz

[01] youth...

I basically grew up in church. most of the time I was there. I used to like sports, art, music in general. My parents let me learn the piano at age 7. I was so shy that I didn’t like to play in front of people so I quit lessons after 5 years. The first time I opened my eyes to drums was in church. I was 12, I saw the drum set for the first time and I also heard the sound of drums for the first time in my life. Since then I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the drums, imitating drummers on the table with chopsticks. My parents wouldn’t let me play drums because they believed only a man could play the drums. They also thought that being a musician would mean earning little money. Eventually, I had been begging for 5 years when finally, at 17, I managed to convince my parents to allow me to play the drums, and so I went to the drum academy. I learned how to play single strokes and I played only that for 4 hours non-stop. I was so happy. On the way home from my first lesson, my legs and arms were shaking because I used my muscles too much!

[02] studies...

After 6 months, I decided to study drums seriously. I began taking drum lessons from a fantastic educator in Korea called Yong-Hoon Lim. He is still one of the most inspirational teachers I have ever had. I studied for one and half year and fortunately got accepted to the music university in Seoul. At that time, my dad told me; “if you can’t get in this year, you will quit drumming and study something else!”

Since then my daily routine was:

4:30-6h going to church and praying to get into uni. 7h-17h high school (basically sleeping in school..) 19h-4h practice

I finally got into one of the most famous conservatories in Seoul called ‘Howon University.’I studied Funk, Rock, R&B... anything groovy! At that time, I think I preferred to play the drums to listening to music, to be honest!

I checked out more drummers on YouTube with my colleagues. That’s when I heard Brian Blade with Joshua Redman. I immediately fell in love with how Brian played the drums. Flexibility, flowing, freedom and sound.

Back then there were not a lot of possibilities to study Jazz in Korea. Therefore, I decided to study abroad. I got accepted to Amsterdam Conservatory and studied from 2011 to 2018. 6 years of studying Jazz with one of the greatest drummers in Europe changed my life. Perceiving music has changed completely. I got immersed in so much culture and their way of thinking, their way of approaching music. Then also all the intense playing with friends from all over the world: this whole experience shaped who I am now.

[03] inspiringartists...

Brian Blade, Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams..

[04] inspiration in general...

• My life in general, being a foreigner for many years, confronting so many small difficulties and facing such a different culture. All of these things made me stronger, I really want to learn as much as I can.

• Who I play with. They give me so much energy and make me play with a different approach, especially my band. Every time I play with them, I am learning something new. I want to keep pushing my level to be able to enjoy playing with them ever more. They also inspire me to create music for their sound and colour.

[05] instrument...

In the beginning I started to play because of the instrument. The drums attracted me somehow. However, as time has passed, the instrument has become less and less important to me, more a discipline than anything else. What really touches me is the Music. Watching the Netherland’s very own Han Bennink playing swing on the literal floor of the Bimhuis taught me that the instrument is a small part of our musical potential.

[06] current projects...

Definitely the Sun-Mi Hong Quintet! We are very lucky to be joining the Young VIPS tour 2019. Besides that, with the Daahoud Salim Quintet (ES) I’m touring through Spain and the Netherlands very actively. There are also many other projects, such as, for example, the Teis Semey Group (DK), Brodie Jarvie Quintet (UK), Young-Woo Lee Quartet (KR).

[07] near future...

My Quintet will be touring in the Netherlands in Spring 2019. We are also planning a small tour in Spain and Italy, as well as Korea later in the year. Moreover, we’re planning on recording our second album in fall of this year.

[08] (artistic) dreams ...

To challenge myself to play all over the world. And to reach out to as many people as I can. I would really like to encourage people to simply play. I especially want to show female musicians, or aspiring musicians, the possibilities they have. Moreover, I would love to encourage people from Asia to open their minds to this world of music.

[09] your country...

It’s complicated. I had my ups and downs there. To be honest I often struggle to see my timethere in a good way. But Korea is a part of me, and those struggles shaped my personality and gave me the strength to push myself to the point I’m at now. That being said, I willnever stop craving Korean food... they know what they’re doing!

[10] tips...

12-15% salt in the brine when soaking the cabbage. Don’t be too careful with the gingerand garlic. Keep tasting as you go, and try to ferment the Kimchi at around 3-4 degrees Celsius... Also while it’s fermenting, don’t forget to practice your rudiments.

Visit Sun's website

Sun-Mi Hong gigs:

06/04 Young Vip Transition Festival, Utrecht

12/04 Young Vip Paradox, Tilburg

13/04 Young Vip Hot House, Leiden

04/05 Young Vip LantarenVenster (Jazz International), Rotterdam

05/05 Amersfoort Jazz @ Co Live! (NTR radio), Nick Vollebregt, Laren

08/05 Young Vip Brebl (Podium Jin presents), Nijmegen

09/05 Young Vip Corrosia, Almere

11/05 Young Vip Bimhuis, Amsterdam

25/05 Amersfoort Jazz / Sena Performers International Jazz Laureate festival, Observant, Amersfoort

{Thanks to Florentina Finder for additional text editing}

Sun-Mi Hong foto Coco Plooijer

foto Coco Plooijer