1 Apr 2020
The singer shares his passion for both the art and business sides of the music industry, as well as his special love for a sexy car.
Photography credit: Anton Lim. Videography credits: Shafeeq and Yan
Despite having only just reached the ripe young age of 30, Jon Chua has already ticked off what many might consider an entire bucket list of all-time fantasy life goals. Pop star with a stack of hits, check; celebrity cover girl wife (Amanda Chaang), check; successful business owner, check; sleek new Audi A5 Sportback on the driveway, check.
A member of popular Singapore band The Sam Willows as well as a solo artist, Jon is also the founder and creative director of Zendyll Records and managing director of Zendyll Productions. We caught up with Jon during a busy day at work and play to hear the secret of his success.
MYAUDIWORLD: How would you describe your approach to life?
JC: What drives me is the unsettling feeling I get when I’m not pushing boundaries or doing my best. I have this unhealthy sense of guilt whenever I do something and I feel like I could’ve done better. Hence, I push myself to maximise my efficiency in order not to feel that way.
My approach to life has changed quite a bit over the years. Starting the new decade, 2020 Jon is very different from 2010 Jon! I feel that back then, I always felt the need to prove a point, to prove that I’m worthy, to prove that I’m not useless. Now I just want to help people. I find joy in helping others achieve their dreams, just like how so many people helped me achieve mine over the last decade. But at the same time, there’s still a lot I’d like to do with my life, so I’m never going to stop pushing.
MYAUDIWORLD: You’re adding to your accomplishments as a performer with success as the boss of your own record label and commercial production house. Has that been a struggle to achieve in Singapore?
JC: The music industry is very undeveloped in Singapore. It doesn’t help that music is generally perceived as a hobby by parents here, with the pressure to become “professionals”. When I became a musician and started learning more from performing overseas, I realised something was lacking in Singapore. We had big studios here but they can be intimidating to young artists starting out. I saw an opportunity to do things better – so I set about building a recording business that felt more like a second home for musicians. We can have a rapper in one studio, an up-and-coming indie band in the next – it creates a collaborative vibe, a safe zone with no judgement. It works well and now my business covers everything from studio to stage. Ultimately I hope Singapore becomes less reliant on US companies having to come over here to bring success – I’d like to think with Zendyll I’m helping Singapore’s music industry to evolve.
MYAUDIWORLD: You’re combining a career as a performer with growing success on the business side of the music industry. Has that always been an ambition?
JC: A friend once told me, “When you’re an artist, you wake up in the morning, and do artist things”. Most people only see the glitz and glamour of being an artist, but only a select few see the grind and hustle. For me, producing and setting up Zendyll Records was part of doing “artist things”.
I will always see myself as a music artist, and in order to constantly improve, I felt the need to understand every aspect of my career. A great CEO is someone that knows how their entire company operations work, and a great artist is someone that knows how their entire career is being formed by the people who work for their project. I see my career going in multiple places, and my ultimate goal is to be remembered as a legend.
MYAUDIWORLD: You recently purchased a new Audi A5 Sportback – what inspired you?
JC: It’s a sexy car, not that I think of myself as a sex icon or anything, but there’s something very sexy about it. This is actually my third Audi – I’ve previously owned two A4 models. I like how the A5 makes me feel when I drive – it’s lighter and more comfortable than other continental cars I’ve tried. I love the virtual cockpit too, even though I’m not a super tech geek! My friends call it the Tony Stark car, and as someone who grew up immersed in the Marvel Universe that makes an impression.
MYAUDIWORLD: Like the automotive world, music is constantly evolving, with digital streaming services changing the way we consume it and social platforms like TikTok creating overnight stars online. How do you see the future of the industry?
JC: I don’t really have an exact answer to this. But what I can say is that the past, present and future of music and entertainment has always been – and always will be – a combination of luck, timing, talent and work ethic. The people who survive this industry are those who are able to adapt to change.