Interviews — July 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Guitar Prodigy Sungha Jung on Youtube, Touring, and Collaborating with his Idols


Whether or not he likes to be called a ‘prodigy’, 17-year-old Korean fingerstyle guitarist Sungha Jung is very much the definition of the word: extraordinary.

Sungha learned the instrument at a very young age, his dad acting as his first teacher. Through his perseverance and interest in the craft, he exceeded his mentor’s skills and decided to showcase his talent on Youtube. In 2008, he uploaded a video of himself playing the theme song for “The Pirates of the Caribbean” and it went viral. He was only thirteen at the time. People were then thinking, who is this talented boy? How can someone so young be this good? When and where did he learn to play this well?

Fast forward to 2013: Sungha is now a household name in his native South Korea and continues to be a great inspiration for aspiring and certified musicians alike. Throughout those years, he recorded four albums: Perfect Blue (2010), Irony (2011), The Duets (2012) and Paint it Acoustic (2013). To promote his music, he’s traveled quite extensively around Asia, US, Europe and has recently done a round of shows in Southeast Asia specifically in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

“Flights are the most difficult part,” Sungha shares about his touring experience and how it’s shaping up to be. “But I enjoy meeting different audience in different countries. It’s great playing for them, as well as meeting new people.”

While this isn’t the first time for Sungha to perform in some parts of Southeast Asia, there are still a couple of pleasant surprises that he found along the way, “I loved the way the audience responded in Cebu (PH)! I get more encouraged with loud responses, and it was great to see that they were there having a good time in my concert. I would love to go back anytime.”

Sungha Jung performing in Manila last month. © Resorts World Manila

Now that he has recaptured Southeast Asia while promoting his latest album, Paint it Acoustic, Sungha is back in Seoul to perform for his fans before he heads out again for his China Tour (TW/HK/CN) in September. With such a busy schedule it’s a wonder how he ever maintains contact with his fans.

“I’m getting a stronger fan base through Twitter and Facebook too, it’s great to have a few online spots where my fans can gather together,” Sungha says. “Sometimes my Youtube fans ask for online guitar lessons. I just don’t have time now but possibly in the future.”

Tours, albums, and Youtube videos aside – that surely sounds something good to look forward to for every Sungha Jung fan. All this success dates back to him posting that cover on Youtube, which made him into a full-time musician. What else should he be thanking the video-sharing site for? “I was able to meet many of my guitar heroes too, which led to many opportunities to play with them.”

Case in point: Earlier this May, Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz flew to South Korea for a concert and invited Sungha Jung to play with him on stage. During his visit, he introduced Sungha as his “hero“. Not only was Sungha able to impress international acts, he’s also acknowledged by some of his fellow Korean artists like 2NE1, who collaborated with him last year for an acoustic version of the track “Lonely“. 

So who else is in his collaboration wish list?

“It would be nice to meet Bruno Mars someday,” Sungha reveals. “And there’s this Korean singer named Roy Kim. He’s the winner of one of Korea’s famous audition programs (Superstar K4). I’d really love to collaborate with him too.”

With so many years ahead of Sungha Jung, we can only expect amazing things and mind-blowing collaborations from this remarkable musician.



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