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Meet Julian Ho

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julian Ho.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Santa Clarita, a large suburb just outside of Los Angeles. I started taking drum lessons around the age of 10. I was incredibly fortunate to have parents who always supported my musical endeavors. Growing up, my house was like the United Nations. My dad is Chinese, my mom is Italian/Irish and my sister is Black. Each of us also had our own unique musical tastes. My mom loved jazz and r&b, my dad loved folk and rock, and my sister loved hiphop and neo-soul. Being the typical angsty teenager, I loved gangster rap and metal.

My house was always the rehearsal space for whatever band I was involved in at the time. Unfortunately for my parents, those bands only played metal. One of my first musical mentors was Kevin Cloud who played in the house band for the Byron Allen show and backed up artists like Bobby Womack and Al Jarreau. He introduced me to different styles of music and really pushed me to improve. In addition to lessons, Kevin ran a ‘school of rock’ type school out of his rehearsal studio “Hubbadaddy’s” in Santa Clarita. That was the first time I was able to play with musicians who played different genres of music and it really opened me up.

Overtime, my musical palate began to evolve and I became more interested in different kinds of music. I eventually attended Musicians Institute and received my Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance. During my time at MI, I met Devin Kelly, who became another valued mentor. Under the tutelage of Devin and other great teachers, my love of gangster rap coalesced into a deeper appreciation for funk, jazz, hiphop, soul and blues.

I’ve been lucky enough to teach and perform internationally with MI in China, Korea and Thailand several times.

I’ve also performed and/or recorded with artists Artur Menezes, Ann One, Ruby Ibarra, VJ Rosales, Illa J, Open Mike Eagle, The Brothers Stone, AGA, and Shirley Kwan to name a few.

Recently, I shared the Gibson Stage at Namm with Artur Menezes and I am working on a new soul/hiphop project with Ann One called “Nagunae.”

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Overcoming doubt and the fear of failure is a continuous journey for me. Being a musician and artist can be difficult because your validity is tested every time you create or play. However, trusting the process and tuning into my instincts has helped me find a clearer path. Quincy Jones put it best; “Your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being.”

Presently, just like many people around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be the toughest struggle yet. Performing live is a large piece of the pie for me and I am working to find new ways to survive. Live streams are great but they don’t replace the income or the energy of an in person show. In the meantime, I’m keeping busy with practicing new concepts and teaching online.

If you are interested in online lessons, contact me via email here: julianho21@gmail.com.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I’m a session drummer and instructor that specializes primarily in funk, soul, hiphop, and blues. One of the unique things about my career is that I tend to straddle different musical worlds. I have worked with a wide range of artists including International Blues Challenge winner Artur Menezes, Korean Grammy winner and soulstress Ann One, hiphop luminary Ruby Ibarra, Hong Kong singer AGA and country band Truxton Mile. Having the opportunity to work with a diverse list of artists is a point of pride for me. I appreciate the challenge of adapting to the nuances of different musical situations. However, my soul definitely lives in funk, soul, hiphop and blues.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment so far has been working with Asian artists and musicians such as: Ann One, Ruby Ibarra, Peppy Peng, Ian Santillano, Lasi Mac, Monz, Cody Dear, Kai Ma, and many more. Music can be a powerful tool for activism, whether it is writing about issues of injustice or increasing the visibility of underrepresented people through performing. My ultimate goal is to tell previously unheard stories through the lens of music. I’m proud to be a part of a community that is now telling our story.

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