Sam Ock is a passionate experimentalist, an instinctive musician, and a dauntless lyricist; he seamlessly blends thought with sound and makes music a natural extension of who he already is. His latest release, GREY, particularly explores the space where the darkness of life meets the purity of truth, where the blackest of thoughts come into contact with the brightness of hope. Through the album’s exploration of these two clashing forces, Sam brings comfort to souls who also wrestle within this tension, reminding his listeners to hold tightly to an unshakeable, greater hope.
Sam cannot recall a time when music was not a part of his life. “Music was like a family member. I had grown up with it, I knew it intimately, and sometimes I didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” he muses as he tries to pin down the start of his music career. “But I had to do it.” Sam recalls a childhood blanketed with high artistry, threaded with the fabric of his mother’s opera career. “My parents were always playing classical music at home; we never listened to any pop. I remember only having one video of some Korean pop music show, and I’d just play it again and again and again, and again.”
It was a mixture of feeling charged to cultivate his knack for music and compelled to express who he was and what he stood for which initiated his expedition into artistry. Sam’s own drive for music began to emerge after an accidentally successful audition for his high school musical. With melody, harmony, and rhythm interwoven in his genes, his unexpected role in the musical was the defining moment that triggered a persistent and unrelenting deluge of musical activity in high school: two jazz bands, wind ensemble as a clarinetist, marching band on the drumline, two acapella groups, and two choir groups, along with heavy involvment in other musicals which also included acting and dancing; it was quite obvious what might come next.
Sam extended his passion into college at the University of Maryland - Baltimore County (UMBC), where he obtained his Bachelor’s in Music Technology and developed his sound as an artist. Defined by a close intermingling of soulful pop, melodic hip hop, and latin and swing jazz, Sam’s style is creatively married with his uncompromising and introspective stream of consciousness. “I began to prioritize authenticity and excellence,” he says as he describes his growth as an artist. To Sam, excellence is the derivative of rooted passion and love. “When you love something, whether a craft or a person, you desire to know it and understand it at its deepest level.”
This philosophy is not isolated to a sphere reserved solely for his music; rather, it penetrates into Sam’s very being, manifesting itself throughout all aspects of his life. It is exactly this profound consistency that has continued to inspire and move people all over the world, with his album Stages hitting #1 on iTunes Japan’s Hip Hop Charts and his most recent release GREY reaching #2 on iTunes Japan’s Hip Hop charts. Sam has toured throughout both Japan and Korea, performing on stages such as Grand Mint Festival (Main Stage), one of the largest festivals in Korea. He sold out his first solo concert in Hongdae (Korea), and has been invited to major TV and media broadcasts like Yu Hee-Yeol's Sketchbook, 1theK, SBS Radio, and KBS Radio. He had his songs featured on a commercial of large cosmetic company La Neige as well as numerous Korean TV shows, and he was featured on Legendary Bae Chul-Soo's and Kim Chang-Wan's broadcasts.
Sam's musical landmarks include winning Grand Prize for Music & Art's 2010 Teen Garage Band Contest, winning Grand Prize for JCPenney & ISA's 2010 Breakout Performer Contest which allowed him to open up for the 2010 ISA Show in Los Angeles, winning Second Place for Honda's 2011 Sounds of Civic Contest, and becoming a Finalist for the Hip-Hop genre for the 2011 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. During this time, Sam was able to collaborate with Youtube musical artists such as Dumbfoundead (on "Different Galaxies") and Clara C (on "Little Light") which launched his music into both the Youtube and global sphere.
Sam desires to leave an imprint on the world, with lyrics that openly express the vulnerabilities of his soul and a musical aesthetic which warmly welcome listeners into a sober yet hopeful reality. Starting from Simple Steps that have now grown into momentous strides, Sam continues experimenting and passionately creating, pushing the boundaries of genre, sound, and content all to give glory to his Creator, and love to the people of this world.