“For Hopeless Romantics like Me:” Jomch’s Music Journey, Recent Growth, and Identity as an Artist

Photo by Vicente Villasenor

Alexis Crisostomo

Executive Content Editor

This past week, Associated Students (AS) Program Board kicked off their Noon Storke Show concert series with singer-songwriter Jomch. The Bottom Line (TBL) sat down with the Jomch to learn more about his music journey, how he’s grown as an artist this past summer, his appreciation for the communities that have influenced him, and much more to come.

Joshua Chan, or “Jomch,” is an Isla Vista-based independent artist and third-year pre-law student at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). Known for his clean fashion and over five thousand followers on Instagram, Jomch is on the rise within the UCSB music community as a familiar face on campus. Since officially debuting his music on streaming services last January, Jomch has performed at Kapatirang Pilipino’s (KP) Benefit Showcase, UCSB Sound Society’s Spring Concerts, Isla Vista (I.V.) Recreation & Park District’s Fall Music in the Park Series, I.V. Thriftopia and many more venues. 

But, before the stages, Jomch moved to I.V. last year with a guitar in hand and a recent breakup on the mind. 

Jomch sings his heart out at the first Noon Storke Concert of the year. Photo courtesy of Joshua Chan.

“Going through that while moving into college for the first time was super overwhelming,” Jomch told TBL. “You’re meeting so many new people, having so much fun…but then there’s also not only heartbreak from a past relationship but missing family, [and] letting go of a lot of things ”

Jomch explained that connecting to his emotions in a clear, transparent manner was a key part of his style as a musician. When writing a song, he starts with the instrumental, plays with melodies, and drafts lyrics using the defining question: what emotions are being evoked from this track, and what memories come to mind? He described songwriting in this manner as a form of journaling, working through the significant events and challenges of his life.

Jomch’s method of songwriting is not only meant to be a candid display of emotion, however, but also a personal invitation for others to empathize with his message and use it to help them, however that may be, in their own lives. 

“I think one of the things that I want to do is just be so transparent in the ways that I feel so that someone else who may be feeling something similar knows they’re not alone,” Jomch told TBL.

He describes this aspect of his brand as also part of his own passion for mental health advocacy, emphasizing the importance of finding a creative outlet to express yourself and your feelings. This was something, Jomch explained, that he was really able to dig deep in with the support of the music community in I.V. 

Before coming to UCSB, Jomch played guitar starting in eighth grade and began posting song covers online during his senior year in high school. Jomch described his relationship with music as more of a less serious hobby before moving to I.V., where he met student musicians like Kenneth Yang (“imKENNETHY”) and Sandhi Upreti (“thelonesomekicker”). He praised the I.V. music community for its vividness, support, and encouragement of his learning more about music. With their help, Jomch learned how to upload songs onto Spotify and other streaming platforms, work with a producer, help create album art, and more. 

Thelonesomekicker (left), imKENNETHY (middle), and Jomch smile after another successful performance. Photo courtesy of Joshua Chan.

He is very appreciative of this open and collaborative community and even remarked to TBL how he would love to be that kind of support for someone else in similar shoes. 

“Maybe there’s a first or second-year listening to [my music] and who would want to do something like this. I want to tell them like, ‘Yeah. You absolutely can in this environment,” Jomch remarked. “I’m 100 percent a resource for anyone who comes across and is interested…I’d really love to be a part of someone’s story because there are so many people who are a part of my story.”

Jomch took a step further in his music career this past summer when he learned how to completely produce and mix his own songs. Away from Santa Barbara and faced with the challenge of not having a producer on hand, Jomch felt inspired after watching a Ted Talk featuring Steve Lacey, who described his journey of using the tools available to him on his phone and doing the “bare maximum.” Since then, Jomch has completely produced, mixed, and mastered two songs: “Say it First” and “Letters to My Future Love.”

During this time, Jomch also reflected on both the identity of his artistic brand and of his personal character.

Jomch told TBL, “I think part of me, being myself, is understanding where I came from.”

He talked about being born in Manila, Philippines, traveling to the U.S., and living in Chicago before going to high school in the Bay Area. From singing karaoke growing up and loving Filipino love ballads to learning more about Asian American history in college and getting more involved with KP, Jomch aims to explore this part of his identity even further with his art. Jomch described a recent photo shoot he took on Pardall Road, with the Filipino star edited at the top. 

“Even that is just like bringing [together] two places I call home,” Jomch told TBL. Emphasizing authenticity, he explained, “The product isn’t the music, the product is the artist — like what does the artist have to bring? The music shows you the artist but, ultimately, who is this person?”

Jomch describes some of his dreams as being able to collaborate with more Filipino and Filipino-American artists, sing in Tagalog, and more. 

Jomch is looking forward to two songs currently in the works that he plans to release. Jomch is also excited about and grateful for his upcoming performances that will both build connections with the community and perfect his performance skills. But, above all, he is very appreciative of the support he has gotten from both fellow musicians and listeners. 

Jomch told TBL, “I just want to show that I’m not taking any of this for granted. I’m very grateful for everything that’s happening [and to] anyone who’s listened to my music, anyone who’s following my story.”