Meet the Justin Timberlake or Usher of the Hmong: Joshua Khang a.k.a. Proto-J. Multitalented in more than just being another pretty-boy with an innate affinity of carrying a voice, he complements his vocals with being well-versed in strumming the backdrop melodies of some of his work with an acoustic guitar or eloquently orchestrating his pianist proficiency to each piece. Later, as I would call him “Too-Much-Talent-J,” he offers his ingenious knack in formulating a tandem of harmonious lyrics and melodies in each piece of his artworks, his songs—a force to be reckon with.
Young and talented, my first thought that steered me to my first question was, “how ‘bout American Idol?”
His response was, “I thought about it, but I don’t know (laughs).”
Undiscovered and only in the Hmong market, I could foresee this kid achieving greater heights if he decides to explore the mainstream market with his underground tapes and CDs—I’d say take a chance, distribute your tapes and CDs outside the Hmong realm (‘cause you ain’t gonna get anywhere marketing to just one race—diverse yourself buddy).
With the moniker “Proto-J” and his crusade for success he hopes to modernize the Hmong music industry in tailoring towards the Hmong English speaking community. And along with being an advocate in helping others he wants to pursue his other passion as a producer in aiding the future younger generation in the music industry.
So, if you’ve read up to here, I guess you’re interested; so, read on what he has to say on the rest of the interview.
Jerry: The name Proto-J, similar to the word protégé, which is defined as to finding one’s way with guidance from a master or a mentor; so who’s these individual(s) helping you through your career?
Proto-J: Music has always been my passion, and the one who started the name PROTO-J was my Brother N’ Law, Chris. Chris has always been an inspiration to me, in becoming an artist. He was in a Filipino/American singing group called “LEGACI”. One day, we were driving back home from their performance show and he knew I had talent. He was talking to me about becoming a music artist in Hmong music industry. Chris has been performing for good long time and he knew I got what it takes to do it. At first I was like “I don’t know” and then he was like “we should call you, Proto-J”. I was like “Oh shoot, that’s tight. So we just stuck with Proto-J from that day on.
Jerry: I’ve seen you on “You-Tube” for quite some times now and finally seen your MySpace page, you have the talent to excel outside the Hmong market, do you agree and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Proto-J: I do agree, I am very confident about being a musician and I would love to get into the American market, but it’s kind of hard for an Asian to get into that industry, as you can see. People have asked me about going into the American Music Industry, and in my words, I always say “What ever happens, Happens”. Because I know, there are a lot of talented and even better Asian singers out there, and out of every talented Asian out there, what’s the chance of me being the big time Asian artist in the American Music Industry? So I don’t really think about going into to that market yet. But as for right now, my music is within the Hmong industry.
In 5 Years, I see myself still doing music for the Hmong market. Not just music for me, but producing other Hmong Artists as well. My goal is to start a Hmong record label (ProtoDuctionz) Songwriting/Beats/Mixing. The first to sign under ProtoDuctionz, is new Hmong singing group call “Hmong Manican”. You can say I’m the Timberland to them. So my goal is to make ProtoDuctionz grow.
Jerry: Could you briefly describe your initial brush on finding your knack in life; this amazing voice of yours?
Proto-J: Well, I grew up listening to different artists/music, but most of all pop and R&B. Different artists, such as: Brian McKnight, Boyz 2 Men, All 4 One, Craig David, Nsync, and etc. as the list goes on. I was a little kid, coming home from school, having nothing to do. So I would just listen to their songs and just sing along with them. It became a hobby. When high school came around, I took choir, piano, and guitar classes. Didn’t learn too much but it helped me out a little. I’d say, most of the talent came from ear taught and inspired by those artists.
Jerry: So, who motivated you in this career path, into taking on this profession or has it always been a passion that you’ve had in the back of your mind since finding your voice?
Proto-J: Yeah, pretty much it was a passion after finding my voice and talent. But mostly, I just wanted to have fun with music and then it became serious as I kept on doing it.
Jerry: Looks like your multi-talented—playing your own instruments (guitar and piano)—do you write your own songs also, in addition what else do you do on your spare time that we don’t know of?
Proto-J: Yes, I do write my own songs. I had a little help but I wrote most of the song from the first Album, “This Is How It Goes”, and I wrote every track on the Second album, “The Second Time Around.” On my spare time, I usually hang out with my friends, or in the studio working on music projects.
Jerry: In this album, what was your inspiration in this collection?
Proto-J: Well, this 2nd Album, I wanted to aim for a more modern sound. Every day, I grow more and more, and just wanted to come out with a groovier sound. I feel that the first album was aiming more on “just vocals”. The 2nd Album is more based on Beats and Vocals. Most of the songs are based on how I feel on the beat I created. I create beat and then just free style to it. After getting melodies to it, I start writing lyrics to the way the melody goes, then adding harmonies and all those goodies.
Jerry: Who have you collaborated with in the past and who would you like to collaborate with in the future and why?
Proto-J: I collaborated with TouSaik from Delicious Venom. Only performances, but we’ll be recording a track with him in the near future. Plucky Xiong- we recorded a track together called “More Than Five”, for my upcoming album, and we’ll probably collaborate again. Forth Dimension- Recorded a track called “TXIJ HNUB NO MUS”, and we’ll collaborate in the near future. I would like to collaborate with anybody that has the passion for music. I do like to help the Hmong Music industry grow.
Jerry: Where could people listen or hear tidbits or snippets of your harmonious pieces?
Proto-J: Pretty much I only promote my music on www.myspace.com and www.youtube.com. So people usually hear it through those websites.
Jerry: If someone was interested in buying your album, where could that individual go to purchase this album?
Proto-J: The only place to purchase the Albums is through myspace, which is www.myspace.com/protojmusic or at the 2008/2009 Fresno New year. I like to purchase straight from the Artist.
Jerry: Is there significance to the naming of your name “Proto-J” or a meaning to it that you’d like to share our readers?
Proto-J: Proto-J is a stage name that my Brother N’ Law gave me.
Proto-[prefix] indicating the first or earliest or original and the letter “J” is short for Josh. So I hope I could be the first to start something big in the Hmong music industry.
Jerry: Rhythm and blues seems like it’s your forte, if I didn’t know better and had initially heard you on the radio station, my frist assumption would be he’s black, I bet you get this all the time?
Proto-J: Some times, but more “White Dude, Frankie J, Justin Timberlake, and Chris Brown.”
Jerry: How old are you now and how about showcasing in Minnesota in the future at the Myth Night Club in St. Paul, MN—I bet you’d be a hit?
Proto-J: I am 22 and yeah, showcasing in MN would be great!
Jerry: How about “American Idol”, have you thought about that?
Proto-J: I thought about it, but I don’t know (laughs).
Jerry: Lastly, anything you’d like to add/contribute, give advice, market, or shout-outs to anyone out there that may be passing through our page that you would like to say something to—go ahead anything or even thank you to your fans? Be as specific and make it as long as you’d like.
Proto-J: Yeah, I would like to thanks Hmoodle.com for giving me this opportunity to be on here. Thanks to all who has supported me and I just want to say to my Hmong brothers and sisters to keep following your dream. Because if you can dream it, you can do it! That’s what’s going to keep us strong. Thank you!
Thank you, Mr. Proto-J for taking your time in answering this questionnaire. We hope your journey to the red carpet may become a successful one; never doubt yourself as your talents will carry you through. (Again, very, very, very talented!)
Like many writings before this, if you’re an artist out there who would like to be a future feature on our site, please hit me up at [email protected] No vitriolic derision here my friends; all considerate endorsements to help you on your venture for “SUCCESS.” So, don’t be shy and hit me up anytime guys and gals, thanks