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AMIN Interview

April 13, 2010 at 04:39PM

A few weeks ago I did an interview with May Pang's Asian Media Internet News (AMIN) journalist Maimounah Masudi. I share my story along with my experiences with opening for Quest Crew, the Jabbawockeez, Michael Winslow, and my awe-inspiring experience at the International Secret Agents concerts in 2009. Click below image for the complete interview:



Hawaii is known as one of the most beautiful places on earth. I dream of going there one day to walk its beaches and experience the wonderful culture. Hawaii is more than surfing, bright floral shorts, spam musubi, hula dancing, and ukuleles. There is a music culture in Hawaii that is pioneered by hot and vibrant artists that for the most part don’t reach the ears of those on the mainland. I recently did an interview with one of Hawaii’s awesome music artists, human beatboxer Jason Tom. He has performed live with local artists such as Jake ShimabukuroKamuela KahoanoPimpbotKings of Spade, and more.





Mai: Jason, please tell us about where you’re from and where you grew up.

Jason: I’m from the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and I grew up in Honolulu’s Chinatown. My ancestors are from Zhongshan, China. I also lived in Northern California when I was two to three years old before moving back to Honolulu for K-12 schooling.

Mai: What made you want to become a human beat boxer?

Jason: All credit goes to God for his inspiration, image, and guidance.

Mai: Who is your musical influence?

Jason: The late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. At the age of four I vocally imitated Michael Jackson song “Bad.” I wanted to play the song “Bad” even though I didn’t have the record or single. I recorded myself on an audio cassette tape scatting the melody of the rhythm while simultaneously doing an inward k snare (to generate a pulse to the rhythm) with my tongue (my first beatbox technique) and I sang the chorus simultaneously at the same time. I’d hit playback as though to hear the actual record. That was back in 1987.

Mai: When did you start performing?

Jason: I’m a late bloom performer and I didn’t start performing the beatbox until my first semester back at Kapiolani Community College (KCC) in fall 2004. I was 21 going on 22 then.

Growing up in Honolulu I didn’t notice any local artist that beatboxed as his or her main thing, and so I didn’t know such a thing as beatboxing could be performed. Looking back in time in 1997 my high school classmate Jess Navarrete overheard me beatboxing in class and at that time I still didn’t know of the term “beatbox.” He thought I was a radio and due to his reaction it dawned on me for the first time that beatboxing is something unique.

Then in 2003 I saw an Asian American vocal percussionist by the name of Elaine Chao on television, and she performed the beatbox on an episode for the Showtime at the Apollo. She inspired me to entertain the thought of performing the beatbox. I then transitioned from judo to going back to college to beatboxing.

Mai: What kind of transitions did you go through?

Jason: By early 2004 I decided to quit judo after an automobile accident and go back to college to take care of unfinished business. Prior to that I dreaded school and I struggled all throughout my academic career from K-12 to my early college semesters. However, after my success with judo during my break I felt determined to overcome something I was weak in, and that meant reentering the academic arena. Then during my first semester back I also began to perform beatboxing at open mics while earning my first academic 4.0 grade point average. Each year I had a specific goal with beatboxing, and I would go back to the drawing board to map out a blueprint.
I also explored HawaiiSlam’s First Thursdays poetry slam scene and that was my first home as a beatboxer. Continuing to pursue my academic career while beatboxing on the side I graduated from KCC as a first generation college student by fall 2007 in Liberal Arts. It was quite exciting to realize that I’ve accomplished something I didn’t think I could finish.

Mai: What did you do after graduating from KCC?

Jason: During that final semester at KCC I co-enrolled in the MELE program as a Music Business major at Honolulu Community College (HCC) in partnership with Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business (CEMB). That is an academic program I had dreamed of enrolling in for a long time and that was the first semester that program was offered.
Then in late 2008 I re-accepted Jesus Christ into my life. That was when I knew I had a bigger purpose in life and had found true meaning for my existence. By that time I’ve also established a following among some from the American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf community. I want to thank Dana, Annie, Matthew, and more for their support!

Mai: Takes us through one of your typical days.

Jason: I live each day atypically. I love the behind-the-scenes process (prayer, bookings, press, communicate goals, practice, songwriting & composing, etc.) as well as performing. I teach beatboxing at workshops, reach out to communities, and visit schools. I also perform on the Music With A Message® tour with the non-profit organization American Lung Association of Hawaii. I want to thank my musician friend Shayla Kaai for referencing me, because the message is close to my heart.

I also want to thank Debbie Odo, the 808 BreakersJalee FuselierChris Gilbert, and more for their support as well!

Mai: What favorite artist of yours would you love to perform with?

Jason: I have a show coming up with Junior Kekuewa Jr., and I look forward to that. I’m also currently in talks to collaborate with some breakdancers. I enjoy performing with slack key guitaristMakana. If he were still alive, Michael JacksonMC Jin, without a doubt. Bobby McFerrin, because of his spontaneous improvisational vocal genius. Japan’s human beatbox AfraThe Far East Movement (FM) would be fun to jam with too. I also like Ne-Yo’s music. I’d love to perform with Ahn Trio. I’d love to jam with Michael Winslow. I’m open to collaboration.

Mai: What are your favorite activities to do when you’re not performing?

Jason: I love to read! I also love to hike and spend time with friends. I’d love to do more travel.

Mai: I hear that the people of Hawaii have a completely different culture there. Can you explain in detail what kind of culture it is and how it contrasts/compares to the mainland culture?

Jason: From my perspective I think the funkiest culture out there today is the online culture, because of the online dynamics that exist in the digital landscape. It’s a different animal to the dynamics of the offline world. I also think it’s a wonderful way to communicate across the globe with others, and thanks to the online world I was able to find resources on beatboxing. Speaking of the Hawaii culture in contrast to the mainland culture, there are differences, but there are more similarities than differences in my opinion. Mainlanders often say to me that Hawaii people are really nice, but then again there are mainlanders who are really nice as well.

Mai: How did you come about starting your human beat box workshops and what do they entail?

Jason: Since early 2009 I intended to take action about a lack of a Hawaii beatbox community, because throughout the other parts of the globe beatboxing is HUGE! It’s something I was passionate about since 2004, but I didn’t have the tools to go about it then. I knew from HawaiiSlam’s example that having a community of an art form is possible. I then allowed myself a minimum of five years to see where beatboxing could potentially go.

Then later 2009 I was invited by the Word of Life Christian Center to perform for an Emerge event at the Diverse Art Center. That was during the time I bumped into my then to be clothing sponsorFreelance Clothing Worldwide for a second time, and I met Niki Kealoha of Diverse Art Center. I took note of the classes offered there and it had hit me.

So the start of 2010 was when I began to facilitate human beatbox workshops formally at the Diverse Art Center. There were naysayers as well as supporters prior to the start of it. It entailed a vision, manpower, consistency, and follow through to make it happen. In the first two months I had about 21 unique beatbox class students, which was unheard of in Hawaii. I would say about four or less are regulars. It takes a lot of work to spark a real interest for it since it’s not as known of an art form in Hawaii. I continue to keep the faith.

Mai: How did you feel about opening up for America’s Best Dance Crew Season 3 winners Quest Crew?

Jason: It felt good since that show took place at the auditorium of my alma mater McKinley High School, and it’s awesome that people from that show still approach me about it. What’s rad is that they recognized that I did a beatbox rendition of Far East Movement hit Girls On The Dance Floor. I did that to tie it in with Quest Crew since they appeared in the FM Dance Like Michael Jackson music video produced by Wong Fu Productions. I had met members of FM and Wong Fu Productions last year at the International Secret Agents (ISA) concerts in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Later that same year I opened for the Jabbawockeez and Michael Winslow. Opening for Michael Winslow was my biggest show to date, because he is also highly regarded in the human beatbox community.

Mai: How was your experience at ISA?

Jason: Both ISA San Francisco 09 and ISA Los Angeles 09 were an amazing experience. One of the coolest parts was meeting MC Jin at ISA SF. ISA was a concert experience I’ve not experienced before. The fans in the mainland are very supportive of their favorite artists and acts. It’s awe-inspiring.

Mai: Who is your biggest influence in your life?

Jason: My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Mai: Rice or noodles?

Jason: Rice for the win.

Mai: What are your future plans?

Jason: Wherever God takes me I’ll flow. I’d love to write a book. Speaking of books I am currently in talks about booking an event for as far ahead as November 2010, but I have to continue to work hard since I know I still have obstacles as an artist. There are big opportunities coming, but it’s way early at the moment for me to say. Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen I’ll continue to work hard to follow my passion. Thank you Maimounah and AMIN-Asian Media Internet News for this interview.

Visit Jason at Jason Tom and on Facebook

Check out Jason performing live at the World of Life Talent Show
 

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Honolulu native Jason Tom, Hawaiʻi's Human Beatbox, is an American award-winning master beatboxer, TEDx presenter, speaker, voice actor, host, mathematician, moonwalker, and author of the Jason Tom Music, Hip Hop And Faith Life Blog that boasts 2.1 million views by 1.9 million unique visitors and adoring readers like you from around the world. Disclaimer: He is not a rapper. "Quality over quantity."

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God loves you too. His love for everyone of us is unconditional love. In math terms..it is limiteless.

Hello! Great dancer and beatboxer. Would be honored to cruise with this awesome guy.

Go Jason!!! Keep climbing that ladder and and make us all proud!!!

Congratulations!!!!!! Youpiiiii

Wow !! Congratulations !!! My friend from Hawaï !!! I hope to meet and work with you one day !! Peace and maximum respect !!

Congrats!

Congratulations Jason, you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are today and I hope you keep growing

Congratulations. Your very famous. Meet new people and let popularity grow.

Congrats Jason! Keep following your dreams & spreading those positive sounds & vibrations!

Wow! So awesome! Congratulations! This is God’s favor on your life. You are doing what God has called you to do. Continue to use the gifts & talents God has given you and may you give all honor & glory to Him. As God continues to anoint you with this amazing gift, He will increase your abilities, empower you and equip you for greater things. Enjoy this incredible journey He has for you. The best is yet to come!

Congratulations Jason!! You are a beautiful soul & very worthy of Oprah knocking on your door.
Your heart is unique in that one really doesn't have to have met you physically to feel your kindness & love. I have never physically met you, but I feel like I have.
Your love for people & God are truly felt. You are wonderful keep reaching for the stars.☝

Congrats Jason! You're truly blessed and God's best is yet to come. Alright!

Braddah Jason you are the man

Congrats Jason!! That's awesome!!

Hey Jason, congratulations on the views and feedback that your audience post on your blogs. God has blessed you with the talents and skills that you have to glorify Him.

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Jason Tom is an American award-winning beatboxer, speaker, voice actor, mathematician, and author of his Music, Hip Hop And Faith Life Blog.

Know the fruit of your labor is your labor of love. If you know that, no one can take that from you. When you recognize that, know your worth is eternally internal, not external. When we sow bountifully, we will reap bountifully and bear much fruit that is far bigger than ourselves, what is in our posessions. No earthly riches can fulfill what Father God can. When someone cannot see we are highly favored and the harvest coming our way, know that for him or her though seeing, do not see. Keep on moving and recognize we have more than enough. We need not another person's approval for the fruit of our labor that bears much fruit. Be glad and rejoice for this is the Day that the Lord has made called Today. Know that Father God approves of us, our work ethic and dedication. It is you who Father God is well pleased.
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The other night after a show I met an 82-year-old lady who is involved with helping communities and she invited me to join her for dinner. We reinforced things about one another. Some of the things she mentioned of me is that she said I have an \
The other night after a show I met an 82-year-old lady who is involved with helping communities and she invited me to join her for dinner. We reinforced things about one another. Some of the things she mentioned of me is that she said I have an \
Watch Jason Tom King of Pop Jam: Michael Jackson Medley on HI Sessions Acoustic Live! Filmed on location at Koolau Ballrooms in Kaneohe.
Watch Jason Tom play Tic Tac Toe on HI Sessions Acoustic Live! Filmed at Koolau Ballrooms in Kaneohe.
Watch Jason Tom's King of Pop Jam: Michael Jackson Medley on HI Sessions Acoustic Live!
Be bold! When a topic is controversial and you feel strongly about it, be unafraid to speak out in public even when in error. Most of us don't care about how politically correct a person can be over how authentic and real he or she is. It's how we learn from one another as long as we're appropriate to one another. Most of the time when we are in error we learn more. That does not mean to be intentionally in error like a troll would be, but it is good to give our best effort to speak out on tough and sensitive topics. No one cares if we are always right. Even a mathematically cannot always be right, but that mathematician will find a way to learn from his or her math errors. If you only spoke out when you are right, then you will not grow into tackling tougher topics. The moment you feel you need to stay silent on tough issues is the moment you've allowed yourself to be passive about an issue that does concern you. We have a voice for our generation. Be that voice. Use your voice. Be passionate and use your voice to advocate on the topics you want to be heard.

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