Jen Kwok’s ‘Songs For One’ Visual EP Was Originally Performed as Gigs for One Person At a Time

Jen Kwok's 'Songs For One' Visual EP Was Originally Performed as Gigs for One Person At a Time

Musician and comedian Jen Kwok‘s Songs for One visual EP began as a live series where she performed progressive, intimate, interactive concerts for one person at a time.

Jen created the series in 2016 in the midst of the presidential elections and a string of violent attacks on queer people and people of colour (Pulse nightclub shooting, the shootings of Philando Castile & Alton Sterling, and far too many more).

Combining music, meditation and visual imagery, this series fostered real life human connection as an antidote to the disconnection and divisiveness created by the social and political climate at the time, as well as the effects of social media and the 24 hour news cycle. The series spread through word of mouth and Jen ultimately performed for over 100 people… one at a time.

The Songs for One Visual EP is a collection of favourites from the live Songs for One project. Jen’s frequent collaborator, Jody Shelton, built lush, electronic orchestras around the intimate melodies and lyrics of the original Songs for One songs. Jen collaborated with a team of woman animators to create beautiful, dream-like videos to accompany the fleshed-out Songs for One tracks.  

Songs for One Animated Music Videos

The Songs for One Visual EP calls to mind such artists as Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey, Bon Iver, David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti, Nils Frahm & Olafur Arnalds. The songs riff on variations of the themes of connection-to-self; connection to the wider world; and permission to go after your own dreams.

Artwork by Diana Ho

“Deep Down” is an expansive soundscape featuring a nature-based visual by Leese Katsnelson that transforms into an otherworldly animation.

“Desert to the Sea” was animated by Andrea Schmitz, starting off as a Twin Peaks-esque ballad that gradually swirls into an explosive dance track as we follow a young woman on a road trip that takes a mystical turn.

“That One Thing” is an empowering anthem with an epic chorus brought to life by the surreal animated illustrations of Celeste Lai.  

Songs For One Visual EP Track listing

1. Deep Down
2. Desert To The Sea
3. That One Thing  

Videos from the Songs For One Visual EP debuted at the Asian-American Film Thing at Caveat in NYC on September 28th 2019. At the end of each Songs for One live performance Jen created a short, improvised song for each participant – a sort of spontaneous musical blessing.

On October 10, 2019 Jen will create a virtual version of this with a 12-hour Songs for One-a-thon (#songsforoneathon #songsforkindness). From 10am to 10pm on 10/10/19, Instagram followers can request a song from Jen (@jenkwokjenkwok) based on a hope or wish they have for themselves, a loved one, their community or the world, and Jen will Direct Message back a short, improvised song. In exchange, “payment” for the songs will take the form of an act of kindness paid forward by the recipient in the real world. 

Jen Kwok. Photo: Heather Craig

About Jen Kwok

Jen Kwok is a Chinese-American writer/performer from Palmdale, CA, currently based in NYC. Armed with a velvety voice and razor-sharp wit, Jen combines music, comedy and improv to create a refreshing spin on daily life. Jen’s work has been featured by The New York TimesPBSComedyCentral, BuzzFeed, and Rolling Stone Magazine, Netflix’s Friends From College,MTV’sMiddle of the Night Show,ABC’s Quantico,HBO’sHigh MaintenanceShowtime’sNurse JackiePBS’ Asian America, and the film Eat, Pray, Love. She has also appeared in several viral web videos  – including her own music video, “Date an Asian”College Humor’s“Zordon Is a Racist” and “Subway Panhandler”

A versatile live performer, Jen was a national finalist in NBC’s Stand-Up for Diversity and has appeared at such venues as:The Kennedy Center, Joe’s Pub, Caveat, WNYC’s Greene Space, Highline Ballroom, Le Poisson Rouge, Ars Nova, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCBT), The People’s Improv Theatre (PIT),and more. 

An active member of the Asian-American performing community, Jen has hosted Kollaboration NY & DC, as well as curated and co-hosted the Asian-American Writer’s Workshop’s Mouth to Mouth series.  

Along with promoting the Songs for One Visual EP Jen is currently working on its follow-up at time of writing, another music EP titled How Am I Supposed To Sound which is schedule for release in 2020.

Instagram: @jenkwokjenkwok