Passion Behind The Art with Owen Chen



1. When did you fall in love with music(what age and the story of how it happened)?

Falling in love with it is a tough one. I began at age 5 though on the violin, with the support of my loving parents who I’m thankful for coercing me to “suffer” through those early years of monotonous and boring violin practice. I guess the process of falling in love with a passion comes much further on after the onset of starting it, as a passion such as music only gets truly enjoyable after the “building blocks” and foundational elements are in place. When the technicality and theory of music slowly becomes subconscious, and you focus more-so on the feelings and emotions instead, that’s when a passion for music really comes through in people. For me, I think it was around age 12 to 13, when I finally began feeling a sense of autonomy and very early sense of “mastery” in the music I was playing. Around 14, I picked up a guitar in a summer, completely inspired by the “Canon Rock” phase going around on Youtube back then, and was determined to put out a cover of the song by the end of that summer. I spent roughly 8 hours a day that summer trying to nail the tune, and it truly was an exhilarating feeling being able to do that and share it via Youtube. Since then, that’s where I began guitar and producing music for social media, eventually branching out to other instruments and most recently, very seriously into jazz.


2. When someone hears your music what do you want them to feel?
Beauty, nostalgia, sadness, happiness, “the tingles”, “the feels”, or just any emotion outside of their day-to-day life at all.

Maybe most importantly, inspiration I think, in the way I was drawn to the guitar by Funtwo and “Canon Rock”, back when I started. I love technology, and really believe there’s a huge potential in the field of educational technology. Music is really most enjoyable within a community of others, that’s how the origins of music essential started and the purpose of music. The tentative plan for me is to slowly move towards that realm, and hopefully make an impact in the way the next generation of musicians can learn, grow, and connect with each other in our virtual internet age. Still a long ways away however, as I’m still at the early stage in life where I want to truly invest into attaining greater mastery of my skills in music, technology, and character, before I’m ready to shift my focus over.


3. Who was that person(s) that believed in you the most?_dsc0018

My high school band director, Mrs. Gelb, and my college jazz program director, Ted Moore. It seems that in my life, I’d always have self-esteem issues, believing I am never good at what I do and letting that get to me. But those two mentors have seen me grow for each of my 4 years in high school, and college. Both genuinely cared in my growth and really believed in my potential. I think a mentor like that is crucial for anyone’s development, as a few honest good words can truly go a long way for an aspiring student.


4. What was the greatest struggle you had to overcome?

It may seem a taboo, or widely misunderstood topic, but depression had been a large part of my life for 3 years, as well as my closest
friends. I think the defining moment however, was the suicide of my close friend recently in my last year of college. I do believe however, that difficult phase had crystallized my core values in life, and I do have a tattoo on my shoulder now as a reminder of what I believe in.

I chose to double major in Computer Science, and Cognitive Science in college, because I wanted to pursue technology, but also wanted to figure out the answers of the human mind (disclaimer – still nowhere near close). Personally, I choose not to openly discuss of my own experiences, as subjective states and feelings is difficult to communicate properly, and misunderstandings are very easy. But a large influence in my mentality towards life now comes from a variety of books, “Man’s search for meaning”, “Meditations – Marcus Aurelius”, etc, and Stoic philosophy. The main idea being that embracing hardships in your life really produces the greatest fulfillments, growth, and personal peace in the end. My tattoo is a treble clef tree, with a semi colon intertwined within. The treble clef symbolizes passion, excitement, or life purpose. The tree is a symbol of constant life, growth, or the idea of always progressing your life around your passions. The semi-colon relates to Project Semicolon, which essentially means to me that hardships and obstacles are inevitable in life, but like an author of a sentence who uses a semi-colon, you can choose to continue and embrace the hardships instead, to develop your story further with it. To really pursue a passion means that difficulties will come, but understanding that they are essential to your own growth is the difference that makes the process more enjoyable in the end.


5. What advice would you give an up and coming musician?

Try not to care too much of chasing fame, recognition, or too much external rewards. It’s fun for a while, but a lifelong passion of music means that a better approach might be to just enjoy the process of trying to attain mastery on your instrument, rather than the “fame” that might come by being a musician. It took me quite a long time to start realizing that – my whole life pretty much – and I’m still trying to mature into that mindset. But I’ve realized that as I’ve been shifting my personal life goals towards that mindset, I’ve found a lot more peace in my day to day life, rather than constantly battling myself with negativity, unmet expectations, and feelings of inadequacy that really don’t need to be there. All this, of course, extremely easy for me to say, but extremely difficult to put into honest practice (at least for me).


Learn more about Owen


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