Written by: Ashley Onzuka, HNL Flow writer
Photos by: Brittany Reis and Jenny Paleracio for HNL Flow
Video: Kahealani Uehara with assistance from Vina Cristobal
Singer and musician Jasson Empleo sat down and talked to us about his passion and the music that built him to where he is now and who he has become.
Jasson started singing at a young age when his family would gather around the good ole karaoke machine. His family members, who already saw his musical talent, always asked him to sing. As a child, Jasson found it to be a chore rather than a passion. Not until his teen years did he learn the positive outcomes of expressing himself through music.
Ashley Onzuka: What has music taught you?
Jasson Empleo: People are the same. No matter where you’re from, no matter what kind of background you come from. Our hearts are the same. We’re all looking for stuff and we’re all missing stuff. I find that you can connect to people through music in ways you can’t through talking.
After realizing his love for music, Jasson started finding enjoyment in rapping and freestyling. Overtime, just like any great artist, he began exploring other musical aspects with Ed Sheeran being one of his biggest influences. “I don’t want to just be a singer or a rapper anymore. I want to make music like this crazy guy on the internet,” said Jasson while watching a video of Ed Sheeran playing the guitar and using a pedal to repeat sounds. Music then became a passion, rather than just something to do.
One of Jasson’s favorite songs to perform is a mashup of Zedd’s Clarity ft. Foxes and Passenger’s Let Her Go, which was inspired by Andrew Garcia, another artist who influenced his music (and, of course, we asked for a sample of that).
AO: What do you think your purpose of a musician is?
JE: I know my primary purpose is as a worship leader, God has blessed me with the gift of music to give back to a community of people that can use what God gave me in a way to strengthen their walk or to even start their walk with the Lord. So I feel that’s definitely my calling, whereas far as music is concerned, He gives me the grace to use it in other places too.
AO: When you play or sing, how do you feel? Is there a certain vibe?
JE: It’s really vast, the different feelings that come from it. It depends on what kind of music I’m playing or where I’m playing it or who I’m playing it for. It can go from real solemn, like during worship or playing at a funeral, to real exciting and celebratory like playing at a birthday party or playing on the street, one of my favorite things to do. Just setting up an environment where people feel comfortable to approach you and talk to you. That’s the cooling thing to me, I get real excited to do that kind of music.
Street performers often perform for tips and any spare change you may have at the time, but not Jasson.
“[Street performing] is definitely something I love to do. Even the nights where I don’t make money, as long as there’s someone enjoying what I’m doing, then it’s worth it…I love meeting people,” said Jasson.
Jasson isn’t sure where music will take him, whether it remains a hobby or becomes a career, but he feels that God has a plan in store for him and he will gladly take the journey to wherever it may lead.
Jasson’s word of advice to anyone with a dream: “Chase after something you love because not everyone else is going to love what you love, but as long as you love it, it’s going to be worth it.”
***Jasson doesn’t have a set schedule, but you can find him performing on the Waikiki strip on Monday, Friday, and Saturday nights.