Meet Jocelyn Wong Lixian or J O. She’s a singer/songwriter who is on the cusp of crafting a unique career incorporating many facets of the music industry.
J O brings a unique perspective as we cap off our Boston Breakthrough features. Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, J O’s journey as a songwriter and artist from Malaysia to one of the most elite music institutions in the world is certainly indicative of where he talents will take her.
J O currently is a senior at Berklee College of Music studying songwriting. Growing up in Malaysia, J O developed an appreciation for music early on from her parents who taught her about American classic rock and pop icons such as Michael Jackson. When J O was eleven, she heard about Berklee, and dreamed pursuing music there.
After years of developing her skills as a singer/songwriter, J O finally made it to Berklee, but it was definitely a huge change of scene for her. She explained that in Malaysia it was easier to get one’s foot in the door in the music scene due to an overall smaller pool of musicians. At Berklee, she initially felt like a small fish in a big pond.
“It was a huge culture shock, I felt really insecure,” J O said. “Everyone at Berklee is so good.”
However J O quickly found a group of supportive friends. If anything J O has taken away being at Berklee, it’s that everyone wants to see their peers succeed.
J O is a unique artist because, well, she does not technically want to be labeled as an artist. She said she’s first and foremost a songwriter. She loves writing and the creative process that that goes into crafting a message with music. She recently released a single, “Lie With Me,” that shows her versatility as a singer just as much as a lyricist.
“Lie With Me” is a melodic R&B/pop track with a catchy trap baseline. This is the kind of sound J O is going for right now, but she does not really identify with a particular genre.
“Right now I would love to label myself as a specific kind of artist but I can’t because I don’t know what I want to be yet,” J O said.
This goes back to her being a songwriter at the core. J O said that she loves to write songs that will complement not only her vocals and style but that of other artists across various genres.
J O explained that “Lie With Me” is not a preview of any upcoming album or EP anytime soon, but plans to release a series of singles over the next year as she prepares to enter the music industry after college. J O aspires to continue to make her own music but also work in music publishing and help other songwriters with marketing, royalties, and artist development.
Although J O is in a promising position to succeed in the music industry, it wasn’t always an easy journey, and she said she still experiences challenges. Being Malaysian, J O explained that her path into the into the American music industry was tough at times. She recounted her experience:
“I feel like we (international singers/songwriters) have to work extra hard to stand out a bit more just because we speak differently, look differently, and live differently.”
If anything, J O has used this as motivation to keep moving forward. She said she looks up to Malaysian recording artist Yuna for inspiration, who recently came out with a hit song called “Crush” featuring Usher.
Wrapping up, J O told me that she is on On the Verge of finding the next chapter. She has all the tools to succeed in the music industry, it is just a matter for her of where opportunities arise, and which platforms she can share her songs with the world.
J O represents why the American music industry continues to be a successful medium for artists from all over the world to share their stories and sounds. Even though it was difficult at times as a singer/songwriter coming to America, J O has continued to persevere to create music and lyrics that are original and fresh. Especially in this day and age, it’s crucial that the music industry in the U.S. continues to open its arms to artists from every corner of the globe, and give creators like J O the resources to tell share their stories through music and art.