homezone on What “Homage” Means to Him
homezone opens up about the meaning in his new music, how his worldview shaped the “dot” music video, and overall how his latest project came together.
For those who have never heard your music, how would you describe it to them? How would you finish the sentence “homezone is ___” or “homezone’s music is ___”?
I guess it’s a little cliche [considering] my name, but I think my music is home itself. You feel tons of emotions when you are at home, and you are very true to your own self in it. From joy to loneliness, I try my best to put all these emotions in my music.
Why did you choose the stage name “homezone,” and did you consider any other stage names first?
I actually wanted to go by my own name, Hongjong, and I did for quite a while. But then the internet would auto-translate it to “Hongkong.” I thought I could fix it by being known to lots of people, but I had to give up my ego and face the fact that I couldn’t easily defeat such a big place, haha!
Did you always want to write your own songs, or did songwriting just naturally become part of your process?
As a very introverted person, I have always had a time expressing myself. I would often say things that I didn’t mean, or would just shut myself [off from the] people around me. Whenever I felt like I was whirled in my own emotions, I would write them down just to let them out, like a diary. It kind of became one of my hobbies, and for no reason, I started putting melodies on them. That’s how I started writing songs, and I guess it all became part of [my process] naturally.
Please describe the themes of your new album, hom’ea’ge, and why you chose that album title.
The word “homage” that I know has two meanings. One [is] a respect or a dedication to something, and the other [is] an artistic way of recreating [something] from certain references. I [get] my inspiration from very simple surroundings seen in daily life. They might go unnoticed and will always be in the same places, but if you try just a little, things [can] look different, and the way you perceive your life might change for the better. That’s how I came up with the album title. Our lives will be beautiful only if we decide to look at them that way, and so I pay respect to them. And for the [apostrophes], I just had to do it [because] my name has “home” in it. Just a little wordplay that I enjoy.
How are the songs on hom’ea’ge different from your previous releases?
I can’t think of a better way to put it, but I guess they somewhat “ripened.” It’s been almost four years since I wrote my first song, including unreleased [ones]. Time has brought lots of changes to me and my music, so I guess [my music] grew up a little.
Please share some information about each of the songs on hom’ea’ge.
Trust me, this interview might go forever just for this one question! I have lots to [say], but if I could talk about just [one thing]: “97.9°F” has an interesting story. The song title is literally a normal human body temperature, and I put it that way [because] I felt like I could just melt from the heat of the person I love. I recently filmed a live clip [performing it] with my best friend, and it turned out really nicely.
The “dot” music video is so intense! Where did you come up with the idea for it?
The song came to me during one of my hardest times. Whatever I wrote, it all sounded like rubbish back then, and so I felt like “no matter how hard I try, I [will] be forgotten if no one listens to my voice.” This sentence literally became [the] lyrics in the first verse, and the rest just flew out of me like water. Each and every one of us faces challenges everyday, but if we try to look at ours from a distant point of view, we are just as small as tiny dots. That’s why we have to love one another. I believe it’s the only way to remind ourselves that we are special, and that way we form a huge circle together.
If you had to pick one more song from the album to make a music video for, which would you choose, and why?
I really want to make a music video for “Meteorite.” Not only for the vibe, [but] the title [has] something that we don’t see in our lives - if we do, then that’s sadly the end of us. It’s [going to] be fun to use lots of cool CGI effects to make a [music video] for the song!
Is the hom’ea’ge tracklist order chosen for a specific reason? Should the album be listened to from start to finish instead of with the songs in a random order?
I did [choose] the order for my own reason, but honestly, it really depends on you. Each song has its own story to tell, and the album has a bigger one for [each listener], so I guess the order doesn’t really matter. BUT, I recommend you listen to the intro and “dot” in order.
Do you follow any specific process when writing songs?
This is the most difficult [question] to answer. Whenever I feel like it, I jump out of my bed, run to the studio, and get to work, no matter how long it takes. But one thing I [can] tell you is that I think I’m always highly caffeinated when I come up with a good [song]. Guys, you shouldn’t drink more than two cups of coffee, [because] that’s what I do…
Lastly, do you have a message for your fans or anything else you want to say about your music?
It’s almost the end of 2022. I hope my music has been there to comfort you in all your ups and downs. 2022 has been a great year for me. My music has [reached] many of you, and thanks to you, I’m answering questions [in] this wonderful interview right now. Thank you so much. Stay safe and healthy always! XOXO.
Answers have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Photos courtesy of Garden on Mars.