“Eden is a producer who creates songs by himself. Twenty-two years old and from Dublin, Ireland, he really likes photography, the sky, and not telling people what he’s working on. He has been trying to make an album since 2015, and finally completed it in 2017. I guess I talk in the third person too…”
Known personally as Jonathon Ng, Eden originally built a large buzz online with his debut EP, ‘End Credits’ in 2015. Another EP followed in 2016, ‘I Think You Think Too Much For Me, which grasped equal attention on the circuit. The young artist had no idea how big it was going to get. Striking a rare balance between ingenuity and intuition, the sound lends itself to a guitar-heavy take on emotive, electronic pop. On ‘Vertigo’, he latest album release, he takes an even more instinct-driven approach to his music. A process he perceives as a form of exploration.
The name ‘Eden’ comes from a desire to be in control; “I am a bit of a control freak”, he admitted. “Especially when it comes to creating music. I used to play in bands with friends when I was in school, but I wanted to start a new one”. The reason? So that he could, kind of, tell people what to do. “More like a musical director”, he continued. Named originally as ‘The Eden Project’, he describes how the word eden is poignant in the sense that it would be a place where he could really try to create the way he wanted to; “A musical eden for me I guess”, he said. “Luckily enough, just after that, I discovered I could make music by myself on a computer. I never looked back. 2015 saw the transition to Eden and that’s about it. A complicated, boring, kind of corny story”.
But, no matter what we have or haven’t done, our greatest days can never be behind us. At least, that’s the advice Eden has kept closest to his heart.
I asked if growing up in Dublin had any significant impact on creativity. The answer was, definitely. “Although maybe not for the reasons that people might expect”, he said. “There was no music scene or community that I was part of when I started out. I didn’t really know anyone who was trying to do things like I was, so I really had to set out by myself. I think I had a lot of freedom to really explore what I like. Uninhibited by people around me as a result”. He continued to tell me how making music is like a compulsion for him; “I just think about it all the time and spend as much time on it as I possibly can”.
Although the compulsion is there, he has said in the past that he never feels like he is actually creating anything. Why? “I guess I feel that way because it feels like these songs already exist, and I am just finding them. Like and explorer or an archaeologist. To me, it’s like these songs are in me, fully formed. I just need to figure them out”. ‘Gold’ was our introduction to Eden, and it was the second release from his new album, ‘Vertigo’, with ‘Start//End’ being the first; “It was really important for me that that one came first”, he continued. “To me, it really encapsulates the general direction that the album had taken. ‘Gold’ was then released as a counterpoint to ‘Start//End’s’ weirdness. I really wanted to try and balance people’s expectations for the album.
‘Vertigo’ is an album driven by instinct and exploration. In 2015, Eden created the song, ‘Falling In Reverse’; “This song felt so special. It meant so much to me that I knew immediately that I had to save if for the the album”. He had been thinking about creating his debut for some time now. “Little by little, I started to piece together ideas that gave me that same feeling. In 2016, I made ‘Start//End’. This was a really important moment for me as everything just started to fall in place. I finally found the way to connect all these ideas and fragments I had”. The songs range from ideas Eden played on guitar since he was a teenage, to literal voice notes. Even full productions that were made in two days. “It was a long journey up to summer 2017 when I submitted the final version”, he said.
The album is not a coming-of-age story. But it caused one. “By that”, he said, “I meant that before the ‘Start//End’ moment I talked about, I always liked the idea of having a large overarching or grand storyline to the album. I guess it came down to my love of films. However, the way things happened for me both musically and personally, ‘Vertigo’ ended up not being the story. But it soundtracked it. There were certain things that I learned while making it. And certain things that making it caused me to learn. But through it all, writing ‘Vertigo’ helped me untangle and come to terms with everything that happened. The good and bad. Because of it, I feel like I have really grown up a lot”.
It’s easy then to say that the album was indeed a learning curve for this young artist. But did he learn anything about himself? “Little things being beautiful is something I had learned in the end credits era”, he said almost poetically. “But little things being important is something I have only started to recently understand. Big events or moments can be hollow. Small ones can feel monstrous. I have learned that balance is the goal. Nothing is ever really as amazing or as disastrous as it seems. I’ve also learnt the difference between having fun and being happy. And that success can be measured in so many ways. It’s down to you to prioritise them. I could feel sad in a sports car, but if I create an album without compromise for me, then whatever happens is good with me”.
The biggest challenge he faced with ‘Vertigo’, was time. “I spent months tinkering”, he said. “I had a window to work in 2016 where I wanted to try and get a head start on the album and I couldn’t make any music. I could not get over writer’s block. No matter how much I tried or wanted to. Then when I actually got down to making the album, I had shows to play and various other time constraints. I stressed to make sure that I didn’t let it get to me, and that I could still wrap things up. But in the end, all it took was time. No amount of cramming work on a mix or last minute recording would finish the album. And I learned that eventually. Some songs would go unchanged for weeks or months, and then suddenly feel finished. In between shows in the summer, I made the finishing touches and submitted the final versions. And honestly, I would not change any of it”.
I asked Eden, despite still being so young himself, what he’d say to others looking to embark on a similar career path. And he replied simply, “Just jump into it”. Get started and don’t stop. “I am only young at this point in my career because I started even younger”, he said. “No matter what career path really, it just takes time. You can’t walk into being a CEO, or a doctor. Not even a professional musician. Work hard, work smart. But most importantly, keep working. Of course there are exceptions to everything however so be aware of your situation”. Eden is the product of a spark that began in the bedroom of a childhood home, and the weird thing is, a lot of this new album was made in that bedroom. “It feels nice to know that somehow, this music that I would make every day for the rest of my life, even if no one was listening, has found its way into the world. Didn’t matter that I made it in my bedroom, or even that I was the one who made it. The music was shared by friends and strangers, and that’s pretty amazing”.