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Meet Joy Ngiaw

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joy Ngiaw.

Joy, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Music has always been a huge part of my life. Our home was filled with music, my siblings and I all learnt classical piano at a young age. We loved to sing, we loved to dance (and throw mini-concerts for our parents). In high school, my after school activities was to accompany school choirs and orchestras, and outside the school, I was playing for the New Shanghai Orchestra.

Those were my first experiences playing with so many people, and I remember feeling so alive when I can feel the energy of everybody bringing the music to life, hearing each instrumental sections come together and create beautiful harmonies. I fell in love with the orchestra, and my favorite sound in the world is to hear the orchestra tuning.

My mom told me that ‘The Lion King’ was the first movie I have ever watched (and that I made her watch it with me repeatedly till she could sing every song in the film). As I grew up, I realize that I always remember the song and score of the childhood movie even if I haven’t seen it in a long time. It was a very nostalgic feeling when the next melodic phrase would naturally sound in my head as if the music is guiding me through the story like an old friend. Sooner or later, I started improvising on the piano, playing whatever I felt accompanied by what I was feeling at the moment. Those were the times where time stood still, and it was my emotional outlet.

Combining my love for music and passion for connecting with people, it has lead me to scoring for films. I hope that through music and storytelling, I could help bridge that connection and touch someone’s heart.

As much as I love the Lion King, your mother deserves a lot of credit for watching it over and over with you!  You’re lucky to have had such a supportive family, but putting that aside has the rest of your journey also been pretty smooth?
I feel that the beginning stages of your career as an artist are always the hardest. After I moved to LA, it took some time for me to find that first gig. But once you have the experience of working on your first film, and you do a good job at it, your network starts to grow. I like to think of it like a tree, once you plant the seed, it will start growing fuller and fuller.

Your collaborators will start to introduce you to other people, and if your work speaks for itself, more and more opportunities will come. So I do my very best to be as prepared as I can, to persistently work on my craft, so I will be ready for the next opportunity to come.

Being ready is definitely the best policy.  What else should we know about you and your work?
Growing up, I was always told I’m too emotional. It wasn’t till I started scoring for films where I’ve realized, being emotional is a wonderful thing. It’s my asset, it’s my color palette. It’s excites me when I could relate to the characters and what they are feeling at that moment.

Being born in Malaysia and brought up in China, I’m exposed to two different cultural experiences at a young age. The benefits of attending an international school was meeting people from all around the world. No matter what language you speak, a language that we all can share is music. It’s such a beautiful and soulful thing when everyone can share their unique voices and perspectives through music and storytelling. I used to be confused where home was, as I moved back and forth between Malaysia and China a lot.

However, I have come to learn that my experiences in both countries makes me. I realize what makes my music and storytelling vision unique is that I am able to relate to filmmakers who are always culturally diverse, who can speak multiple languages, who also feel that they are lost in the middle of two cultures.

In storytelling, we celebrate our differences. We celebrate everyone’s unique life story because that adds their own color and voice to their art. I am very proud that through film scoring, I am able to embrace my own identity, and working with so many like-minded individuals have guided me to this realization. Therefore, I am very grateful for all the filmmakers who have shared their stories with me, who trusted and appreciate my unique voice and art. That is why I love to do what I do. To feel a connection with another human being is one of the best feelings.

Any exciting new projects coming soon that you would like to share?
After graduating from Berklee College of Music, I moved to Los Angeles and have been working as a freelance composer ever since. I am super excited to share that my most recent projects was scoring for Disney animated short film, “Jing Hua” and Disney animated VR short “a kite’s tale”. It has always been a dream of mine to work with Walt Disney Animation Studios, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the films on DisneyPlus in Spring 2020!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love that this is a city of dreamers. It is a place where everyone who wants to pursue a career in their passion gather and express their creativity. I love meeting so many people and being inspired by their own unique stories.

As for what I like least about our city, is definitely the infamous LA traffic. But it’s not something that a good soundtrack or sing-a-long can’t fix.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Joanne Leung Photography, Mandy Li, Cory Allen Staats, Hilary Scott, Pamela Hrncir

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