Humans of Monash: Jensen

There’s a word sonder, and sonder if I’m not mistaken is the realization that everyone has their own story, their own struggles, their own everyday life. I feel like I’m always drawn to people. I always love just getting to know people and know their story, because everyone has a story worth telling and I feel like this was the opportunity for me to tell my story. Thank you for listening. 

All right so, I’m going to focus on, you know the emotions that I felt recently. And how that led to me releasing my newest song, called “okay.”. 

The song is a very simple, yet sharp reminder, that no matter what you are going through, we will be OK.  I got to writing this song because of the pandemic, and during those times, just like a lot of people I assume, I went through a pretty dark period of my life. I mean, I went through a dark period of time because obviously, you know there’s the normal, Oh my God, I can’t see my friends! you know, I’m away, I have to stay at home. Oh my God it sucks— but I actually ended up losing a lot of my friends—they didn’t die—but yeah, apparently you know there was a very complicated situation going on where some of them didn’t really like me anymore or something like that. 

So, they kinda teamed up together and decided to stop interacting and start talking to me at all right? And these were not just friends,— these were not, you know, people I just said hi and hello to— these were people I considered my brothers ‘cause, I knew these guys for six to seven years of my life, you know. I spent a large chunk of my life with these guys. So anyway, losing them wasn’t the easiest time, it took quite a toll on me. You know you lose your closest friends, and it’s like you lose your brothers. And because I lived in a small town overseas, it was really hard for me to make new friends and from that sudden loss, I realized very quickly that no one is gonna comfort you. 

No one’s gonna, you know, comfort you just because you don’t feel OK. Or just because you feel down—because it’s not their business. You know at the end of the day you are in charge of your own happiness. You’re in charge of your own mental health so, it’s a very, hard, and cold concrete slap to the face. But you know I understood, and at that moment I stopped complaining so much, I stopped sobbing so much, and thinking Oh my God why don’t I have friends? And it became more of a How can I effectively use this time? Because back then I would go with my friends, and I mean we lived in a pretty conservative country so there was no getting drunk and smoking and all that, but we still hung out. So now that they’re gone, how do I use this time more effectively? How do I use this time to benefit myself?

And at that point I already started making music. And ever since I was young, I had that curiosity, and now that I had quite literally all the time in the world, I’m like alright, why don’t I, instead of crying both metaphorically and literally—I mean I had some sad nights.  But you know, instead of crying and moaning. Why don’t I, take my energy, and take my time and put it into something that I truly love. And music is not going to leave you. One Spotify click, and you can listen to any song. You can listen to rap, country music, Justin Bieber, over and over again. To anything. So, I decided to focus and really dedicate my time to my music, and that was how we got here, and how this song was created.

‘Darling, you will be okay. And all the bad things they will all fade, will all fade. Why are you crying? It’s only Friday, only Friday. And I hope I can still see you someday, see you someday.’ 

– okay. By Jensen

When I tell people that I’m a musician the first thing they assume is, “Ah, you play piano. Very good.” Truth is, I am talentless, when it comes to instruments—but I am pretty damn good when it comes to music production. I make everything using my laptop, I just learn off of YouTube. And one thing a lot of people ask me as well is, “If you’re doing music, then why the hell are you in Monash doing business? Isn’t that kind of counterproductive?” 

And the thing is, a lot of it (making music), you can learn straight from the Internet for free, I’ve picked up all of this from YouTube. The whole aim for this song was to make it short and simple because, it’s a reminder, it’s a reminder for myself. It’s really just me talking to myself. So why should I bring in metaphors you know like, you are the sun of my life, the flowers to my seed—this type of crap, when it’s just like you will be okay. All these bad things will fade, they will go away eventually. Do not give up. I want to be able to still be here in the future and see myself happy and just shining bright, free from what caused me to write this song in the first place. 

But the thing with art is it’s never predictable. A lot of people think that, oh, you guys make music, you know just press a few buttons and then out comes from the factory this finished product. But a lot of it is honestly trial and error. This song in particular however— it was very spontaneous. I thought of the lyrics very quickly, and what I do for lyrics, is that I would just keep writing. I tried not to stop because then, you give yourself writer’s block. So why limit yourself when you can just allow yourself to be free and flowing with ideas? And then at the end of the day you can pick the good ones and discard the rest. 

And like I said, the whole purpose of the song was to be a reminder. So, every time I listen to it, it’s just a cycle of, Alright, you know we’ve been through this. We’ve been through the melancholy, the sadness, and all that stuff—we’ve been through it—that feeling of desperation, and the feeling of hopelessness, so why go through it again, when I know the right things I need to do. I don’t claim to be a mental health advocate, I’m just speaking from my story, my experience. What I found worked for me, was to learn to focus on myself. A lot of people say Oh, you got depression? Well, just BE happy. And it’s bullshit. 

So, one thing that I found works for me, was to focus on myself—all aspects of myself. I go to the gym, yesterday I swam—all that stuff’s been great for my physical health. For my mental health, I try not to put too much stress on myself, I try to treat myself. You don’t want to, just treat yourself, you also have to work. I focus on my ambition, what gives me hope, a bright future. 

The tragic part of being a musician is that you’ll find that musicians or artists often—I’m not trying to generalize—but what I found is that they usually have some sort of pain in their life where they went through some sort of dark times that allow them to talk about something right because, it’s like the whole rapper thing—if you’re not from ‘the hood’ not from ‘the ghetto’, a lot of people might feel your music is disingenuous—because these people express their art from a place of pain, and from a place of real experiences. I rap too but I don’t rap about getting hoes, getting lit, and all that crap. I rap about my life, learning how to be confident, dealing with haters, dealing with people who doubt me, so it’s always drawing from life experiences. 

I think I’m a very family-oriented person. I love my family. My brother and sister, Jermaine, and Jenelle, they mean everything to me. When I lost a lot of my closest friends, I realized very quickly that all I had was that—family. And they never, once disappointed, you know, they never once let me down and they were always there for me. I love them so much. They were with me, every step of the way. And when I would do performances, they were the ones who helped record it, they would always be there to support, rain or shine. One of the things I told them a lot, especially right before I left to come to Malaysia was, Be great. You guys are going to be great. 

Everyone’s got potential right? I don’t believe in people being stupid unless they voluntarily choose to be. I don’t believe in people being incapable. There are people out there with no limbs doing things we cannot even imagine. So, what’s your excuse? We have no excuse; we have to try something. 

I want to make my parents proud. I mean of course they’re proud of me and they let me know and I love them so much. But I want them to do that old people thing where they tell everybody about their grandkids. You know that their grandkids are doing this and that. I want them to be so proud of me that they go around telling their friends, “Well my son is doing this, my son is doing that.”

And those are the three most important things for me: To do my siblings right, to make my parents proud, and to succeed for myself. I know it sounds selfish, but if you don’t take care of yourself, then who will? Like I said earlier, no one is going to come save you, give you a pat on the back or a hug and tell you it’s going to be ok. Your friends do it because they care about you but at the end of the day it’s their choice to do that. They don’t have to, it’s not like there’s a gun man in your house making them do that. 

So yeah, three things: Do it for yourself. Do it for your siblings. Do it for your family. Because those are the people who stuck with me through thunderstorms, tsunami, earthquakes, you know when my ground was not stable and I had nobody, when I felt alone; they were that foundation that allowed me to build up myself, to be strong, and confident in myself.  I count my blessings because you know when you take away everything I have, at the end of the day I still have an incredibly supportive family, and I owe everything to that. 

And the thing is, I didn’t always feel this way, I’m the oldest brother, and I’ll admit it I wasn’t the best. When I was younger, I didn’t prioritize showing them how much I loved them, or I didn’t know how to show it. There have been moments back then where I would get really upset with them over the pettiest things and I deeply regret that, and I’ve apologized—and they’re so loving and accepting and forgiving, and sometimes it feels like I don’t deserve them if I’m being honest. 

And it was just us overseas, together, so we’ve always been caring and protective of each other, but I just didn’t overtly show that. It wasn’t until going through this pandemic when I realized that, when you go home, and you’re sitting all alone by yourself, that it’s your family that’s going to comfort you, be there for you. And that’s when I realized that I have to reciprocate— that I have to make sure they know I love them no matter what, because they’ve always loved me unconditionally. And during the pandemic, I got into quite a bit of trouble, and they were there, through thick and thin, they spoke up for me even though I know they were stressed out too. And we’ve moved past that together, and they’re my number one. 

Alright, let’s talk about something more positive now. Let’s leave all this dark stuff behind. One thing I’m very excited about is to start performing now that fingers crossed, COVID cases go down and we can start easing restrictions.  I’m in the music club already, and hopefully we can get to have actual face to face live performances because I have a lot of pent-up energy that I just want to, get on stage, and let out. I want to jump around. Get people going, and then of course hit everybody in the feels with the sad songs too. I’m very passionate and very excited, I cannot wait. 

And I know you know people always say stuff like, “Guys go hit that like and subscribe button, it means the world”, and all that, and I do all this for me. You have to do something for you because you want to. Because when you take away the fame, take away the girls who want your number, take away the power, the money, you still have to have that same passion. That’s how you know what you really love and how you know what your ambition or your future is. So of course, you know I love making music, even if my only fan is me. 

But again, without my family, my friends, without the beautiful fans supporting me, it makes it all incredibly grim. It’s like being at the gym by yourself. Cool. You get your space or whatever, but at the same time you don’t have anyone pushing you, you don’t have anyone encouraging you, and so with the fans, there’s just every nice comment out there pushing you to do more. Oh, and shout out to Sebastian, who’s this amazing kid from Europe that I met on Instagram, and from the first day I told him I made music he has been so incredibly supportive, even though we’ve never met physically, he’s supported every song or content I’ve made, he’s always there to comment, and show love. So, huge shout out to Sebastian. And I told him that, anything you want in the world, if you’re crazy enough to think that you can do it, you can do it. So, from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate and love all of my fans, all of my family and friends. 

I’ll leave you with this, no matter what you do of course—don’t do anything illegal. Make sure your passion is legal, right? But as long as your passion is, you know good for society as a whole. Do it and when you do it, make sure that you have heart that you face fear and conquer the challenges ahead. 

You can listen to Jensen’s newest single okay. on all streaming platforms.  

Featuring Jensen

Article by Shaura Naeem

Photos by Tshe

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