The Hongs

"From many, we are one." This is the motto of The Hongs, and if you're wondering how exactly a global music project thrives, you can find the answer in their trance-invoking tunes which will convince you that leaving your job, heading for a sandy beach, and dancing with a stranger are exactly the things that need to happen. Right. Now.

Making music since 2006 with band members living all over the world, these guys have locked down the art of collaboration and cross-cultural inspiration.

The group has gained a loving audience in the Miami area - you can hear the sunshine on their 2013 EP Delicate Tremors, which has the relaxing, escapist vibe you would expect of South Beach. It's music that makes you want to leave work, hop a plane, and dance with a stranger in a far-away land.

Jamaican, French, Mexican, Jewish, Costa Rican, Scottish, Cuban and Argentinean band members have all had a say in what makes The Hongs. Simply put: Don't waste your time trying to pigeonhole them. As we're sure to find out with the making of future albums, pretty much anything is possible with these visionaries. Their bass player Gordon Myers answered our burning questions.
Talk to us a bit about each member and how you all came to be The Hongs.
Long story short, The Hongs are a collection of musicians that I have had the pleasure of recording and performing with over the last five years in various cities around the world. Aaron Johnston and Rodolfo Zuniga are both world-renowned drummers. Didi Gutman and Ben Stivers on synths and keyboards. Jesse Murphy and I handle bass duties. Aaron Lebos, Eric Escanes, and Gabe Gordon keep the guitars on lock.

So, what exactly is the meaning behind the band's name?
Hongs are ancient Chinese independent business houses specializing in particular products. Our specialty is the collision of art and commerce.

With the dropping of your first EP, Delicate Tremors, in 2012, what musical inspiration fueled its particularly relaxed yet dancy sound?
Delicate Tremors is an experiment. It's the intersection of Classic Pop, Electronic Dance Music, Indie Rock, Disco and a few other flavors thrown in the mix.

What were some of the best and worst parts about recording?
The best part of recording is hearing the moment when all the musical elements of a song begin to melt together in the studio. The worst part of recording is the cost of getting it right. There's a myth these days that records can be made "in your room." As a producer within a human element, I still need my work to have a certain sonic quality that lives in a more traditional recording studio.

Taking this knowledge with you in the future, anything you would do differently next time around?
I'm currently finishing a recording studio that fits my needs. Taking time to let the elements of a song and/or project arrive on an organic schedule. Music ideas can't be forced.

The vibe of Delicate Tremors has an element of tropical escapism, and seems to be about an "experience of sound" as opposed to focusing on deep lyrical content. What would you say is the greatest focus of The Hongs?
Delicate Tremors is about "a feeling" and then different corruptions or exploitations of said feeling.

Emotions are always uniquely personal regardless of how universally understood they may be.

Speaking of lyrics, is there a song on the EP which really resonated with members of the band? Any personal stories that inspired the writing?
"All you do is Love, Stay in tune, don't stop to fuss" - Inspire Art.

What life experiences, cultural influences, and personality traits would you say really shine through based on all of your different backgrounds?

"From many, we are one" - Jamaican national motto.

Depending on the time of year, any group of us could be working on a Hongs tune anywhere in the world. That really affects what textures that are featured in the music. I am enjoying the artistic freedom that we have been allowed currently.

What was the first song The Hongs ever performed live? What feelings arose from that experience?
Some version of "Charades," which inspired me to continue writing in a particular style.

Any major bloopers that have ever occurred during a live gig?
Always! Power cuts, electrocutions, strap failures, playing different songs at the same time, terrible jokes. You name it, it's probably happened.

Do any of you have rituals to get amped up or relieve anxiety before a live performance?
Two vodka sodas and a quiet 20 minutes before stage time. Unfortunately I haven't perfected the quiet 20 minutes yet.

If you could yank any musical artist out of their current band and plop them into yours, even if just for one show, who would it be and why?
Esperanza Spalding. Her command of her gifts is stunning

Does the band have any touring (or relocating) plans in the future?
With members living all over the world, all of us touring together is difficult. Some version of the band will be in New York and LA in early 2014 and UK and Spain hopefully in the spring. Hongs HQ (our studio) is under construction in Miami, so the crew pops up locally from time to time.

~Heather Pugh
August 27, 2013.

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