Jason Tom Hawaii

AMIN Interview

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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Jason Tom Weblog

Honolulu native Jason Tom, Hawaiʻi's Human Beatbox, is an American professional beatboxer who is today reaching 2.2 million unique individuals and households throughout our world. He is seen and heard on TEDx TalksHi Session Musicians, Millennial Magazine, Beatbox Battle TelevisionKapiʻo News, Fame Magazine, Honolulu Star Advertiser, KFVE, OC16, Olelo, National Public Radio, 93.9 The Beat, Hawaii News Now.

He is also a three-time HawaiiSlam First Thursdays top 12 performance poet, Best Solo Performer Hawaii Scene Choice Award recipient, inspirational speaker, voice actor, host,  mathematician, moonwalker, Word of Life men's life group leader, church volunteer, Chinese and Phi Theta Kappa scholar, former soccer and judo athlete, author and publisher for the Jason Tom Music, Hip Hop And Faith Life Blog, and is featured on the Na Hoku Hanohano Award/Hawaii Grammy Award RnB/Hip-Hop nominated album "Nobody Owns Me."

Blog Community

Thank you Jason for investing your time in helping me get to where I am today. I believe now that I can be an "A" student if I work hard, persevere and remain faithful to my studies. You have taught me well.

Congratulations. Your creativity and talent are an inspiration. Keep on bringing the beats!!

I LOVE what Christ has done with your life, Jason! I'm so thankful for his faithfulness. I pray he continues to speak through your powerful testimony of deliverance.
Happy 10 years old,!!

Hey man happy 10th year anniversary. You are an amazing person and bring cheerfulness to everyone around you, including me. :D glad to have met you, amazing beatboxer, performer, person, always. thanks

Hey man happy 10th year anniversary. You are an amazing person and bring cheerfulness to everyone around you, including me. :D glad to have met you, amazing beatboxer, performer, person, always. thanks

Congratulations! Happy anniversary!

Hey Jason! I remember watching you back when you came to perform at my middle school (Central Middle School) you were so awesome! You got some of my classmates so inspired at what you do and it’s just amazing how much they improved and you’ve improved also. Happy 10th year Anniversary, Much love.

I wish I was their to join you celebrate w you you ten etc but I still dig your music beat box one day I'll see you get your auto graphs listen to your music once again thumb up you can come back I'll encourage you all the fans love you sincerely me

Congratulations on 10 years and your continued growth and sharing of your blessings with everyone!

For you are the salt and the light of this Earth. Keep up raising the bar. Congratulations on 10 years of inspiration and celebration of life, love and joy.

Mic check much respect
To the man who is found
From the penthouse to hugging the ground
Stepping over bodies in Chinatown
For his beatbox the sacredness surrounds
Top Rank vocal percussion bounce
Disciplined disisciple of the cypher
Keeping rappers calm
For 10 years plus its Jason Tom

Congratulations Jason! Sending love from Japan:)

Happy 10th year Anniversary, Jason! Continue to make an impact on the community through your your talent of Beatboxing and your words that encourage us to go after our dreams. Thank you for all that you do, God bless.

-Justin Gouveia

Good job in leading the men at your life group. What an awesome time of fellowship and getting into the word.
I liked the video of you at the radio station. Looks like you had a great time there.

Thank you for sharing and happy 10 year anniversary on

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Life Group Leader + Mathematician + Pro Beatboxer = JASON TOM of JASONTOM.COM coaches the multitudes on the Good News, mathematics + beatbox.

Were you at #FridayNightFlow? These young ladies were there when I opened for Pastor Jedidiah Thurner at Inspire Church Waikele. Who remembers Friday Night Flow? #WeAreMililani #WeHeartJesus #Inspire #mililani #waikele #inspireyouth
These incredible ladies do Life together one Life Group at a time. Happy Birthday Dolly. An awesome @WordofLifeMililani ladies Life Group did this Happy Birthday beatbox song and we celebrated @dollymkreis together.

VC: @_sh_alo_m

#laterepost #lifegroup #ladies #latepost #wearemililani #wordoflifemililani #birthdaysong #birthday #happybirthday #beatbox #humanbeatbox #beatboxing #mililani #wedolifetogether #dolifetogether #weheartjesus #g12vision #g12 #g12hawaii #vision
Let's do math. Have math needs? We do mathematics together at our Math Life Group. Math example, our Math Life Group demonstrated the Distributive Property by distributing our #WordofLife Easter Production: Your Kingdom Come flyer within our Math Life Group and were sent to distribute them to our community. I am your math tutor that can coach you the student and tutor you the strategy to excel in mathematics. Let's develop and build a foundation in mathematics. As your math coach and math tutor I will endeavor to push us to be at our best, push you to be at your best to bring out and reinforce your math confidence, potential, our math potential, with the spirit of excellence. You can do it. We can do it. When there's a math team, there's math conquest.

#weheartmath #mathematics #mathlifegroup #lifegroup #g12vision #g12hawaii #g12 #wordoflife #tutor #mathcoach #coach #mathtutor #jasontomacademy #academy #jasontom #jasontomblog
I beatboxed for them in their teens years ago at their Alma mater on the Music With A Message Tour reaching 10,000 to 20,000 high school and middle school students annually.
We Master Mathematics together building our 12 one Math Life Group at a time. From our 12 to our 144 to our 1728 and beyond. Come forth and join us. We multiply. We add. We subtract distractions with great focus so that we have undivided time to find the square root and cube root of all problems. Want to be confident in rational numbers, integers, percentages, decimals, functions, equations, inequalities, graphing, and all that good stuff? I got you. We are solution finders. The answer is 12. Find us.

#WordofLife #lifegroup #math #g12hawaii #g12vision #g12 #mathlifegroup #lifegroupleader #weheartmath #mathematics
We do life together at a church you can call home. These are a group of Mighty Men of Conquest. They are rising up and are going through Post Encounter with a finishing spirit and the spirit of excellence.
I enrolled in MATH 103: College Algebra more than 13 years ago. I scored a 110% and a 99% on these EXAMS . When I took these exams I challenged myself to not use a calculator. I outscored our entire MATH 103 class. I outscored our A students and calculator users. Mathematics is one of the subjects in the world that prove we are more than capable to be perfect and can score perfect and more than perfect through our diligence, work ethic, self-discipline, and effort. We are meant to be, as math students, more proficient without a calculator than with the use of one. Our brain is capable of processing math more proficiently and efficiently without a calculator. At this time I was also a Supplemental Instruction leader in mathematics and I facilitated sessions for MATH 24 college students and I tutored mathematics on campus. I also took all of the MATH 24 EXAMS and I scored 100% on all of them without a calculator for fun as a SI Leader. I did this to challenge myself how well I understood and comprehended algebra. I wanted to understand it inside and out.

How did I accomplish these scores? Not a secret, I put in the leg work and effort. I was not always a high scoring math student until I replaced bad habits with strong study habits. I went above and beyond for these scores. Did I cheat for these scores? Nope. I did not procrastinate and I used time management skills. I did not settle for anything less than an A and I aimed at scoring perfect by aiming at the highest, not aiming low by taking action that will get me there. For MATH, I took notes, I studied math 103 daily, I studied it even on non-class days, I did all of my homework assignments, I read each chapter, formed study groups, and I showed all of my work step by step without the use of a calculator even though our homework assignments were not graded. I did all homework problems and extra homework problems regardless in preparation for our graded quizzes. I scored perfect on our quizzes consistently that prepared me for our EXAMS. I also did the homework problems that did not have solutions on the back, the even problems.
Men of Conquest. When there's a team, There's conquest. #MenofConquest #MensBreakfast #conquest #team #men


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Blog Comments

Thank you Jason for investing your time in helping me get to where I am today. I believe now that I can be an "A" student if I work hard, persevere and remain faithful to my studies. You have taught me well.

Congratulations. Your creativity and talent are an inspiration. Keep on bringing the beats!!

I LOVE what Christ has done with your life, Jason! I'm so thankful for his faithfulness. I pray he continues to speak through your powerful testimony of deliverance.
Happy 10 years old,!!

Hey man happy 10th year anniversary. You are an amazing person and bring cheerfulness to everyone around you, including me. :D glad to have met you, amazing beatboxer, performer, person, always. thanks

Hey man happy 10th year anniversary. You are an amazing person and bring cheerfulness to everyone around you, including me. :D glad to have met you, amazing beatboxer, performer, person, always. thanks