Equipped with an awesome outlook on life and a stellar set of vocals is a busy young lady named Nina Sung. Executive assistant by day and aspiring musician by night- Nina is quite the multitasker. Read on to find out all about Nina and her music in this Weekly Feature:
Name: Nina M. Sung
Place of Residence: Oceanside
Current Jam: Rocketeer by Far East Movement
Favorite Food: Sushi
Mode of Self Expression: Music (acoustic guitar & vocals)
Ark: Nina, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Nina: I’m 23 years old, fresh out of college and in love with all things creative. I was lucky enough to have just landed my 1st serious gig as an executive production assistant with a TV and film production company, which is actually my day job. When I’m not busy with that, my ambition leads me to the world of music and songwriting–two of some of my biggest (but not only) passions of mine. (* I also model..but only sometimes)
A: What and/or where are some of the things that you draw inspiration from?
N: A lot of my inspiration, is really drawn from my own life. And ironically, it’s usually the real nasty and painful stuff that I use to channel into something great, something real. I use music to grow and change. And when you take a look at the people that do inspire me, it’s because they themselves were able to overcome something that was adverse in their life, and turn that negativity or unfortunate turn of events into something really great.
A: Who are a few musicians you have looked up to over the years?
N: If I see a musician and I listen to the lyrics and the melody and I see something that is really being poured from their heart and their gut–that, is something I totally look up to. I think a musician that comes to mind is Dallas Green. Not a lot of people know about him–which is a total shame, since he’s sheer genius. He was originally from a band called Alexisonfire but he kind of broke off and is doing his own side project called City and Colour. It’s seriously some of the most brilliant music I’ve ever heard and that’s what I aspire to do in my playing and writing everyday.
A: How long have you been singing and playing music for?
N: Not long. I mean honestly I just picked up the guitar last year, so I’d say since February 2010. When I picked up the guitar I just thought it was natural to sing with it so that’s what I’ve been doing.
A: Do you play any other instruments other than the guitar?
N: The piano, and I played violin for like 8 years.
A: Are there any other musicians in your family?
N: My brother played the clarinet for a bit, but that’s pretty much it.
A: Was there a specific defining moment in your life when you realized that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
N: I mean I’ve always liked music. I don’t know too many people that don’t like music and if they don’t. I don’t know if you have a soul then (haha). I’ve always liked all kinds of music growing up, and I grew up with Amy Grant who’s a country singer. But I think the specific defining moment was when I realized I might kind of do this for the rest of my life, was when I finished writing my 1st song ever. I did it all in 1 hour from start to finish and then I recorded it the next day. It was crazy but so rewarding when I was able to finally play it for people.
A: Although the lines are quickly blurring between different genres of music, what are the different genres of music you can play?
N: I guess just like pop, acoustic, alternative and R&B/hip hop sometimes.
A: How would you personally describe your style of music or genre?
N: Easy listening, or acoustic… I’m really bad with that, because the word genre scares me.
A: Do you write the lyrics to your own songs?
N: Yes. I have a lot of songs that I have written, but are yet to be recorded and haven’t been able to actually do anything with them. But I also try to do covers as well–those are fun.
A: Tell us about your most memorable, funny, awkward… (fill in the blank) encounter you’ve had over the years with your music.
N: It was when my mom 1st saw me play guitar for the 1st time. It was only because my mother was out of the country due to medical reasons and to make a long story short. She went to Korea and I couldn’t have as much contact with her as I would have wanted to. At that time we were also selling our house and there was a guitar laying around and nobody ever touched it or played it. My dad was going to throw it away but I decided to save it. At first I didn’t really know what to do with it, but I’d always seen other people play. Even though I didn’t really know where to start, one day I just picked it up and started to play and got the hang of it pretty quickly since I played violin for 8 years. My mother was still in Korea and I wanted to find a way to connect with her, so I would just upload my music to Youtube. She would see it and it would give us something to talk about when we would have those very rare, very short conversations over the phone. That’s how we connected again, and the way it all kind of started actually. When she came back and I played for her live, it was the most memorable experience with my music because as cliche as it sounds, it really was all for her and for her to get better.
A: Could you tell us about your favorite gig you’ve ever played?
N: I think last Friday (January 21st) was my favorite. I’m a really personable person, so my friends have always seen me on Youtube and known that I’m doing this gig and that gig. But they never really got to come since they are in San Diego and most of my gigs are up in LA. So my friend who is a DJ called me and wanted to throw a huge part in The Village at UCSD, and we did it. It was definitely my favorite gig since all my friends were there and watching me. It was so much fun!
A: What would you consider to be the most rewarding, and adversely, the most frustrating part of playing music?
N: The most rewarding part is when I’m able to create something new, like writing a song. It’s like creating your own piece of art, and it almost feels like a piece of you is broken off and shown to the world. Guitar and piano are definitely the best for that.
Frustrating… There’s actually nothing frustrating about it. I think music is the only thing that keeps me sane. I just get frustrated when I don’t get to play music. It’s more of like a huge stress reliever and an outlet.
A: Who has been your favorite person to collaborate and play with?
N: I don’t do too many collabs. But my favorite was with my friend Kris, who we call Pang. He’s the one I did that gig with last Friday and he’s a really cool guy.
A: How do you feel about the entire pop music industry today?
N: If Kesha can do it I think anyone can do it. Hahhaha just kidding! But no, I mean the pop music industry… One of my bosses was actually working in the industry before she switched over to TV and film. She says there’s absolutely no money in it for those who are talented, and it’s all about something outrageous and going for shock value. I’m not a huge fan of the pop music industry but I think there needs to be a really big change with it. And I think there will be.
A: Alright, now it’s time for the lightning round! If you could answer as quickly as possible, we’d appreciate it.
*Nina’s answers are in RED
- Acoustic or Electric? – Acoustic
- Small venue or stadium? – Stadium
- Solos or collaborations? – Collabs
- Originals or covers? – Originals
- Britney or Christina? – Really…Do I have to answer that?!
A: What are a few of the other hobbies you like to do in your free time?
N: I love to go running on the beach by my house. Love to kind of do this thing where I make collages as I go through magazines. So I’ll look through a magazine and if I find an image there really inspires me I’ll save it. In my apartment there is a loft with these vaulted ceilings and it’s really close to my bed. Right now there’s just one wall I’m filling up with images. Photos mainly. If there’s something that inspires me and it catches my eye, I figure I need to see it everyday and it will sort of drive me.
A: What else can we expect from you and your music in the future?
N: Well I’ve been really really blessed. I’m not even joking, I think I’m one of the luckiest people out there. So I don’t really worry too much about it. But I don’t want to say something because I’m a really superstitious person too. I want to always stay inspired, never forget where I’m from, and remember who I am. It keeps me grounded.
A: Thanks Nina. Any last words?
N: No not really haha. Oh I know- I was really kind of totally honored that Ark Collective contacted me. I think what you guys are doing is very admirable. I’ve been to areas where I’ve seen these kids where the parents don’t support them. Both mentally and physically as well, to go to school and move forward in their life. So I think this is a really cool thing you guys are doing and it’s something I’ve already talked to a few people about, so you guys got my support!
Check out this video of Nina in action!