Words by Jasmine Bourgeois
Photo by Felipe Pipi
Drummer SunMi Hong says that the most memorable moment in her career was “The first day I went to drum academy in Korea. I practiced nonstop for about four hours, feeling somewhat liberated. At the end of my day, my legs wouldn’t stop shaking.”
Hong is the type of drummer who has an innate flow in the way she plays. She’s been drumming for about a decade, but you’d think she’d been playing since she was old enough to hold a set of sticks.
After years of being enamored with the drummers at her church, she finally convinced her parents to let her take drum lessons at 17. She was a natural, and shortly thereafter immersed herself in music, studying under drum masters Martijn Vink, Marcel Serierse, Lucas Sebastiaan van Merwijk, Gerhard Jeltes, and Michael Carvin at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, one of Europe’s most renowned jazz schools.
Hong has a deeply felt softness to her playing. She’s one of the lucky few who seems to have an intuitive knack for rhythm and genuinely feels groove in her bones. She plays with a warmth that feels uniquely hers. She approaches her music in a somewhat meditative fashion, thinking of music as something bigger than any individual player, and something that takes sacrifice. She’s come a long way since her first nerve-wracking day at a drum academy. Now, Hong’s involved in a few different big projects, including the Daahoud Salim Quintet and a project with pianist Young Woo-Lee and bassist Brodie Jarvie—and trust us when we say that SunMi Hong will be a name you’ll see again.
Featured in the ‘Bands We Like’ section of Issue 33. Purchase a copy here.