Wednesday, August 3, 2016

[FACES] The Hidden Gem That Is Josh Kua | Embracing A New Chapter In Music

Visual above via Instagram @joshkua

Beneath that familiar face which graces magazines and commercials like Nivea, Coca-cola and Honda, just to name a few, with his good looks, lies a young guy who loves music and watches TV series to de-stress and is actually quite a private person who rather prefers to keep it simple whenever he is not on stage performing, with his trusted violin. This Malaysian-born talented musician who spends most of his time growing up in Melbourne, Australia is one whom we were about to meet, that afternoon, thanks to the kind arrangement of our friend at M.A.C Cosmetics Malaysia. 

Visual above via 

Holds a double Bachelor Degrees in Law and Commerce from Monash University, Josh Kua arrived looking sharp in a crisp white shirt and jeans. His quiet demeanour was one that stood out upon our initial encounter. Taking pictures of him was a breeze naturally, though we could sense that Josh was professional enough to make sure that we could capture the best shots of him. Seated after the quick photo session, we started our conversation over drinks at the Pastis with this international violinist who had just successfully completed his very first concert in Malaysia called Relentless, not too long ago, before the interview. Our FACES personality for the day - JOSH KUA.

He started off his interview by voluntarily telling us that he was born in SJMC, Malaysia and started playing the piano when he was 4. Perhaps he must have gotten asked quite a fair bit if he were indeed a Malaysian or an Australian. According to him, he later picked up playing the piano as well when his younger sister started on the instrument. His mother was the one who pushed Josh forward in violin. He willingly admitted that he was an obsessed child, pushing himself academically and musically at a young age. He revealed that if he wanted to so something, he always wanted to do his best. That is why we believe he is where he is today.

Have you always known that you wanted to be a violinist?
It happened quite unexpectedly. I started modelling first when I was in my university in Melbourne. It was when I came back to Malaysia for a holiday that I realised I could actually do music as a profession, started playing as a solo artist. Before Malaysia, I have always been playing in smaller gigs like in my church, weddings, events or bar. My strength is improvising and playing with a band, live. I do enjoy performing, connecting with the audience. It is satisfying to know that your audience connect with your music and have their own experiences to relate to. Being in the entertainment industry is not necessarily something that I seek out. It is just a course in life that I chose. Not to sound lame or cheesy, I have this altruistic sort of vision for my life. There are a lot of things in the world that I want to change in life. Let's start from Malaysia. Lots of people are moving out, they are losing hope for the country. I feel strongly about things like justice, institutions and discrimination and others. I would like to make a positive impact and change. 

Visuals via Instagram @joshkua

Do you feel music is a very powerful art form that is able to influence people for a change?
There are two kinds of influences here that I see. One is the influence of music itself, getting the message across, impacting people with my music or the story within my music that people are able to relate to. The other influence is by my power, what I mean by that is me as an artist. I have been gradually building my followings and people do listen to what I have to say. Moving forward, there are a lot of things that can be accomplished, to impart my opinion, more than just being an artist.

What makes a great musician or violinist?
First of all, there need to be a certain level of skill. You need to be good at what you do. I am not saying you need to be virtuous in classical music or what not, but whatever style of music you choose, you need to own it. Having said that, there are many skilled violinists out there, perhaps even more skilled then me, in terms of technique, but with the violin, I can give so much more of my own sound and my own style, the articulation and all. I can do so much more with a violin then a piano. There are more variations as in how you use your bow, not just your fingers. I think that is why people say it is closest to having a voice. My voice, in that sense.

Visuals via LUMINNEJ's Instagram @luminnej

At this point, how do you define your style of music?
Experimental maybe. I don't really know how to categorise it. Definitely string, it is a bit orchestral but not entirely, as I have also included some electronic elements in the songs that I have created. I have been inspired by Deep House lately. In a way, I can say pop, but I guess with a touch of alternative. Yes, I would say alternative.

What inspires you whenever you compose your own music or compositions?
Sometimes it starts with a chord progression, or a riff or maybe a motif that I like which I come up with either on the piano or violin, other times it is from songs that I am moved by, I pick the elements that I think have created that feeling for me and sort of work it into my compositions, but in my own way. There is nothing new in music, I mean there is, in terms of melody or motifs, but if you thought of something, someone else would have definitely thought of it before.

Visual via Instagram @joshkua

In that sense, wouldn't it be quite hard to be original then?
Yes and no. I think you need to let go of it, and once you realise that the notion of being original doesn't mean it is totally different for someone else. Once you let go, it makes it easier. You won't go like, "oh how come this sounds like something else?" In reality, it doesn't work like that. Every piece is going to sound like another song. You will be able to find something in every song that sounds like something else, somewhere else in the world. That is why sometimes I find lyrics help. My music has no lyrics yet but especially for composing a melody line, if I put lyrics with it, it sort of takes me to where the whole line goes, how the rhythm should be and how the chord progression would sound nicer. There are many ways in how different people compose or come up with songs.

Who is Josh Kua? How do you define yourself as a musician?
Less is more definitely. So are you more of a musician or a performer, we asked? Without any hesitation, Josh answered. A musician. I enjoy composing and working on my music more than performing on stage, actually. Having said that, performing is still performing. I think every great performer is always thinking about the audience, that is why you are a performer. You may seem completely immerse in your music when you perform, it is just made to look effortless, that is all. Your whole life is a performance. It is like images on sale. You are selling this image or lifestyle, so that brands would support you. This is the reality of things but I try to keep things as real as possible. I think so far it is pretty me, so there is nothing like a hidden Josh.

Visual courtesy of Josh Kua's Management

How did the collaboration with M.A.C Cosmetics come about? 
I guess it just happened. At this point, M.A.C representative added her thoughts into why the brand chose to work with Josh. M.A.C celebrates creativity and individuality and the brand is a strong advocator for all sexes and all ages. We believe in his talent and therefore see a good fit. When asked which one is Josh favourite M.A.C products, this is what he had to say. I love the moisturiser from the Lightful C range. With stress and travel of late, my skin breaks out, so skincare is great to keep it at bay and with all these performances, photo shoots and appearances that I do, I need good makeup to look my most presentable.

Visual courtesy of Josh Kua's Management

Do you feel you have the whole package as a musician, or an artist to succeed?
Yes I do, or else, I won't be doing this now. I feel that I started a bit late already in my music career compared to other artists. I feel the the progression that I have made so far is pretty good and encouraging. I will need to push it to another level very soon.

What is beautiful to you?
Beauty has a lot to do with confidence. I find someone more beautiful when they are comfortable in their own skin. It is something that I came to struggle with myself. I was always the quiet, shy and skinny one growing up, and always had issues with the way I look. I guess it was a teenage issue, that phase in life when you try to find yourself. I did also struggle with social anxiety, I still do once in a while these days, if things get too overwhelming. I have grown to embrace how I look and who I am now. How you feel about yourself radiates a lot in terms of how you think about yourself, and in a way, it would make you more attractive if you have more confidence in who you really are, inside.

With Josh Kua, visual via LUMINNEJ's Instagram 

Well said, we feel. From our short time spent with Josh, we felt that he is one musician who has set his mark high, and would stop at nothing to achieve that goal. We have a good feeling that we would see more of Josh in the very near future, entertaining and inspiring us with his music and the work that he intends to do. Yes, we do feel the introvert side of him, but like he said, he has come to learn to be more extrovert since stepping into the entertainment arena. Thanks for your time with us and here's wishing you all the best in your future endeavours, Josh! You can keep up-to-date with Josh via his Instagram feed here or Facebook page here. Check out Josh's new original music via spotify here.

Once again, thanks M.A.C Malaysia for the lovely arrangement and time. Till our next FACES feature, have a lovely rest of the week *_^

With love,

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Thanks so much for dropping by and say hi. Love to hear your thoughts and will read them all! See you again *_^

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