Photo courtesy of Jonathan Im Music / Facebook

Off the Record: Jonathan Im

As I’ve played more and more, it’s in those self-reflective lyrics that I find a larger meaning and importance in music. If used in the right way, music has the power to change a life and invoke such a raw reaction—I really believe that because that’s what it’s done for me.”

As a transfer junior, Jonathan Im, MCAS ‘17, left his pre-med studies behind at UCLA in favor of studying communications and pursuing a singer-songwriter career at Boston College. Previously performing at small venues across Los Angeles, Jonathan Im brings his smooth California vibes to the East coast for the first time this year.

Growing up as a pastor’s son, Im practiced his musical talent when leading praise and rejoicing in hymns with his youth group band. The young artist never sang beyond the Church hall, however, and dabbled in piano, trumpet, clarinet, and saxophone lessons throughout his childhood instead. Five years ago, a fateful day spent learning to play the Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” via YouTube tutorials led Im to his current passion. For the duration of high school, Im subsequently found himself strumming the guitar and warming up his vocal chords in private practice.

“Around that time, I realized how much music was affecting me and helping me get through the tough questions I had for myself,” Im reflects on his musical journey. “Playing music and singing meaningful lyrics became my therapy and my intimate form of self-reflection.”

Hearing his confident, rich, slightly raspy voice perform now, it seems impossible that Jonathan Im started performing formally only three years ago. His solo work steadily increased during his time at UCLA, playing small gigs along Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. Im jokes that he has been “a closet musician for the longest time,” but has recently found footing with the Music Guild at BC.

Im’s setlist usually includes contemporary covers, but recent appearances at BC’s Singer-Songwriter Competition, BC’s Best, and BC’s Break the Bubble have pushed him to produce more original content. At this year’s Arts Festival, Im premiered two songs written just for the event, an experience that tapped his creative and introspective nature.

“There’s something about taking your own life, your own experiences and creating something out of nothing,” Im says. “Singing other people’s songs cannot capture that.”

With a particular taste for folk and folk-rock songs, Im explores all genres and expands his horizons daily while pushing deeper into the songwriting world. Jonathan Im’s musical passion is evident in his soulful lyrics and pure sound, and the BC music scene eagerly awaits where the rising artist will head next.

As Jonathan puts it himself, “It’s only just the beginning.”


Michelle LaConte