SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Ong, Monica

Monica Ong
US based

artist biography


Interview: 10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?

I started doing audio stories during my graduate studies to complement the visual investigations about my family in my art.

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.

I grew up in a multi-lingual household, constantly in the presence of Chinese, English, Spanish and Filipino words, and seeing a collage of cultural aesthetics that became the fabric of my artistic foundation. My soundworks are an interweaving of these various cultural sounds that create a path to my family’s roots.

3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?

I work as a multi-media designer incorporating sound with visual design. So my practice is extremely multi-disciplinary. I always look at how sounds are visual and vice versa. I think about details in memory that are visceral, which can move my stories forward.

4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?

I start in one of two ways: Either with interviews that are done while travelling or by recording original writing. From this raw material, I then take the recordings and edit them digitally, layering other ambient sounds and translations.

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?

I either use a digital sound recorder or video cameras to capture sounds/images. The editing is all done with ProTools.

6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general
and you personally?

I write, edit and produce everything on my own. Because I was in graduate school, I definitely learned a lot from collaboration and from dialogue with other artists.

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

Since leaving school, I’ve been working and saving, building my own studio piece by piece. It’s still coming together but technology is getting more and more affordable these days.

8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?

I tell my stories as an individual but often my process involves collecting memories from interviewing others.

If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I love interviewing because that usually involves travelling or food. The best part is also the way I can learn to see from the other person’s eyes and to hear from their ears.

9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?

I admire the work of Janet Cardiff and Meredith Monk, the way they are able to create narrative in their sound works. Because they also work across disciplines, I hope to incorporate more physicality in my future audio works.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?

I’m planning more physical interfaces for my sound works. I just finished a writing residency where I wrote a new set of non-linear poems about culture and health. These will serve as a new foundation for new audio works that will incorporate more aspects of the medical experience and how people see illness with different cultural eyes.

Can works of yours experienced online besides on SoundLAB? Where?