Episode Description

Our guest today is well renowned reggae artist Jah Tung. Jah Tung and Aamon discuss the impacts and pressures of digital-globalisation that create a demanding social media presence for musicians and creatives. They also discuss spirituality and self-expression in music, and staying true to yourself in the music industry. 

Jah Tung’s latest self-produced album Digital Degeneration is a “commentary on a society moving towards an unnatural, dystopian future, …covering creation with dem- synthetic imitation.” The title-track features an accompanying animation which explores this concept. 

This episode is produced by Egyptian-Australian Aamon Sayed. Aamon has worked within the Social Work sector since 2012. His work experience adds sensitivity to interviews to create them in a culturally safe setting. As a podcast producer, Aamon explores the human condition, and how to make the world a more positive place through his series AddLOVE. 

For insightful conversation follow @aamon_basha and subscribe to the AddLove podcast here: 

Transcript

This transcript is automatically generated and may contain errors.

Aamon Sayed: My name is Aamon Sayed, and welcome to another episode of Stories of Community Resilience by 3ZZZ. On this episode of the show, I’ll be speaking with Jah Tung about his experience of resilience and in particular the impact of global digitalization. Before I
start, I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and recognize that as we capture stories here today, the indigenous
people have been storytelling on this land for thousands of years. It always was and always will be Aboriginal land. Welcome, Jah
Tung.
Jah Tung: Bless man. Thank you for having me.
Aamon Sayed: Of course. Thank you for coming down. As a musician of many years, uh, and an artist in general, for your, for you and in your experience, how does the online space affect not only the craft, but the wholesome message that you’re trying to get
across to your audience?
Jah Tung: I mean, directly the whole it’s impacted the whole music industry over the years with streaming and the lack of income from streams, you know, and the difficulty in making an income from it that way as opposed to back in the day with physical sales as well as the oversaturation. So it’s like a double edged sword, because anything that’s useful and helpful, also has this double edge that can be can be negative, right. Depending how it’s used. It’s made it easier for artists to be independent and create all their own music at home and not have to pay for studio time and things which is amazing. But at the same time, because of that ease of access, um, it’s created this oversaturation. Anybody who can afford some basic home equipment, can record and do their thing and put their music online. So then there’s oversaturation. How do you separate yourself? How do you make yourself stand out from that? Right. I struggle with that all the time. At the same time, it’s like this whole thing, like the demand of having a big following, a big online presence and a big following before you can get booked for certain shows and festivals and tours, you got to have that online presence. So it’s added a lot of work, to the artist workload because now they have to do all this extra promotion and unless they naturally have an inclination where their, you know, their stuff already stands out or they already kind of I guess it’s a generational thing as well the younger generation is probably a lot better at that than me.
Aamon Sayed: How do you like what are some of the, um, you spoke a little bit about like obviously it being beneficial in some way. How does an artist stand out to combat the oversaturation of artists in a specific genre?
Jah Tung: That’s a good question. I guess if I could answer that, I would be. I would be at the top. I don’t know [laughter].
Aamon Sayed: What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned in that journey?
[00:05:29] Jah Tung
I don’t know. I think I’m still learning, obviously. Yeah, it’s just something that you have to do, you know? It’s not really something I
enjoy, you know, I don’t. I don’t enjoy, um. The whole promotion of stuff and like being on social media and all that stuff. But it’s just a
necessary evil, like in this age, you know? It’s something that. You can’t really promote a product unless you’re on those platforms.
Aamon Sayed:
I found a lot of crossover between with, um. Like people who are doing good work in, in the community field, um, like especially like
social workers and therapists who are doing absolutely good work and artists. I see a common thread between those two things. The fact that they’re amazing and what they do, but there is like this skill set that needs to be created in terms of marketing and branding and kind of like, like getting the word out there and figuring out like, how do I do this? Like, how do I take this thing that I do in the
studio or, um, in the, in the therapist’s office even? How do I get the word out about that and how do I use?
Jah Tung: The other thing is these days is there’s so much thing about like access to your personal life as well. You know, like people, they always say like, oh, don’t just promote your music. Just like give them windows into your life. And it’s like, Well, I don’t really want to do that. Like, you know what I mean? Like, but that seems to be what all of these successful artists and stuff are doing to get to
that point. I don’t know. Um, so yeah, there’s certain lines that I draw that I’m just like, No, I’m not going to do that. Like, I haven’t even made a TikTok. I don’t use Twitter I made a Twitter account because somebody said, Oh, if you don’t make it now, then somebody can make it and then in ten years time, you got to buy it off them for thousands of dollars, you know? So I just made the domain
name and posted a couple of things, but I never use it. I’m kind of like adamant to not get a TikTok, even though everybody keeps telling me to get it and promote like put short reels of my songs and things. But it’s just like, man, Instagram and Facebook is enough, YouTube and all of these other SoundCloud and it’s too much, bro. Um, it takes too much energy.
Aamon Sayed: You’ve been doing music for quite a while. Tell us about the name Jah Tung. About the message that you tried to put in your music.
Jah Tung: Jah Tung is a Rasta, from the Rasta, culture and spirituality. So Jah is the most high and Tung because I’m a singer, so it’s like thmessage of the most high or the language of the most high, like tongue as in language. It’s kind of a reminder that, um, it’s not and it’s
not just a stage name. This is a spiritual name. So it’s like, it’s a reminder that what I say and what the message that I put across, should be consistent with those teachings and those principles. And it’s also like when I’m writing music, it’s kind of like tapping into. A message like. It’s like I heard an interview with Bob Dylan the other day saying that, um, there’s a certain kind of magic to writing, writing those kind of songs. If somebody asked me to write a song like that now – this is Bob Dylan and he’s quite old. He said, I couldn’t necessarily write it right because it was a certain magic. You can’t just force that thing. And
it’s true. When I’m writing a lot of the time, it’s like I’m finding the pieces to fit into place to make it make sense to what’s already there, you know, to make it match up with what’s already there kind of thing.
It’s like you’re filling in. Like a close passage or something, you know, because the message is already there. And if you’re tapping into it and you’re on the right frequency, you can kind of get it across. So, yeah, that’s. That’s what Jah Tung is to me as well. It’s a reminder of that. So it’s giving the glory to the most high. I guess in my music that’s what I try and reflect. It’s a message of oneness and balance and nature, the natural order. While I have my spirituality has like a foundation of Rastafari, I also see that truth in many other spiritual paths. So I’m not like a, um, dogmatic kind of Rasta. There’s a lot of different kind of Rastas, you know, I’m not like a dogmatic, biblical kind of intense. I’m more kind of mystic. I see that message and that truth in many, many paths …from Islam to Buddhism to true Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, like so many, you know, Sikhism – Because it’s all oneness. I think there’s different misinterpretations that cause that division. So, yeah, that’s what I try and put across in my music. But I think lately in the last few years it’s been a bit more personal and kind of my music has
matured, I guess, and I’ve been sort of talking about more personal matters. So I think this latest album that I’m doing, Digital Degeneration, which is on topic with what we’re talking about here, um. Is. Yeah, it obviously has those spiritual kind of messages, but it also has a bit more personal things and struggles that I’ve gone through or playful kind of messages about our faults and, and the other side of or, you know, not necessarily faults, but just being more honest and holistic about who I am as a
human. Like, yes, I’m spiritual, but there’s many sides to me, you know, we all have, um, you know, light and dark within us. We all have masculine and feminine. We all have this intricate balance, you know? Um, so I think, yeah, being more honest about that and trying to reflect that as well.
Aamon Sayed: One last question. Being in an industry that being the music industry that has copped, I guess, so much criticism through almost every, every generation and every age saying that it’s, you know, destructive and oversexualized and stuff. And obviously you’re having this very positive message. So, um, I guess I’d like to know maybe some of the obstacles you’ve come across with such a positive message in an industry that can be sometimes that way, right? Um, and what are some of, like, what are
some of the obstacles and how you found that you’ve overcome them?
Jah Tung: I guess my message isn’t not usually as popular as, you know, those other things we’re talking about. It’s a tricky one.
Aamon Sayed:
I mean, you can speak about them broadly or specifically to you.

Jah Tung:
I mean, I think also there’s certain ways where you can address those topics, those certain topics that like sexualization and and, you know, violence and whatever that sells. Right. There are clever ways where you can touch on those topics still. So it is part of your content, but you’re not necessarily endorsing it. I mean, and that’s what I but that’s also what I was saying about being
honest about. Myself as well. You know, like I said, I have a strong spiritual side, but I also have a sexual side as well. That’s human, you know what I mean? We’re all. Spiritual beings in a physical existence. And part of that physical existence is sex, right? So being honest about that side of myself as well, that’s what I mean. And talking about it in a playful way. But in a balanced way, you know,
where it’s not disrespectful, it’s not breeding disrespect towards women or anything like that, you know what I mean? Being honest about that side of all of us, you know? I guess that’s, that’s a way to kind of solve that problem And and doing it in balance, you know, like having the serious messages balanced with the playful songs.
Aamon Sayed:
Thank you very much. I appreciate your honesty and your openness. Um, can you tell us one more time the name of your album?
Jah Tung:
Yeah, it’s called Digital Degeneration. We also did an animation video for it which talks about this whole, um. The digitized, the global digitization and the lack of human connection, you know, and that’s kind of something that we all suffered from the last couple of
years through the pandemic and things.

Music [Digital Degeneration by Jah Tung Plays]:

Sometimes this world don’t seem real, more like a simulation
It’s not a stage show, but it’s always on screen
Everyone’s too scared to feel, they just want stimulation
To me it’s a nightmare, but to you it’s a dream

Jah Tung: …And I actually didn’t realize that was another challenge, you know, because I didn’t realize,
like I always knew as an artist and a musician, I, I sort of thrive on that connection and the exchange, the energy exchange of performing and things. But I didn’t realize how crucial it was to my mental health and my social and emotional well-being and all of these things, you know? And that’s something that I really struggled with. I’m sure many people did. Um, so that’s also something that I tried to sort of reflect in the album and in this music video and stuff. So yeah, go check it out. The album comes in a couple of weeks.
Aamon Sayed: Jah Tung -Appreciate your time.
Jah Tung: Bless, bro.

[End of Transcript]

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