I started Aloha Got Soul in 2010 when I heard DJ Muro’s Hawaiian Breaks mix. I recalled hearing “A Million Stars” a few years prior. Hearing it again in a mixtape filled with equally funky, jazzy songs immediately sparked a newfound curiosity. Right away I did a ton of online research to learn about the anonymous artists featured on his mixtape. The SoulStrut community was a huge help. The Hawaiian Breaks tracklist was the first-ever post on Aloha Got Soul.
Aloha Got Soul is a one-man operation.
Aloha Got Soul might look like its run by a team of vinyl-hungry Hawaiian music fanatics, but in truth it’s a one-man operation.
I’m very approachable.
Since I started blogging, I’ve met people of all ages from all over the world. Some people I’ve only met online, others I’ve had a chance to meet in-person. These are people who want to share their enthusiasm for Hawaiian artists. People who are curious why a twenty-something is interested in the music of their youth.
Whatever the case and whoever you are, feel free to contact me if you like Aloha Got Soul. (If you love what I’m doing, you can donate to help me out.)
I didn’t grow up with Hawaiian music.
My household was pretty devoid of Hawaiian music. My dad, who moved our family from Seattle to central Oahu when I was seven, knows very little about Hawaiian music. Growing up, I wasn’t interested in island music either. The CDs we played in the car were Duran Duran’s Rio and Green Day’s Dookie. Wait, we probably had cassettes, not CDs. We didn’t have any vinyl at home.
The first CD I bought with my own money was Operation Ivy. I jammed (and moshed) to it regularly. My first vinyl record was by indie rock band Noise Ratchet. I used to listen to a lot of punk and “emo” music back in my early high school days. But jazz caught my curiosity during sophomore year. Soon after that, my friend played me some jazzy tracks by a duo called Madvillain, thus introducing me to hip hop and the art of sampling.
My knowledge and pursuit of music dramatically shifted. This was about 2004, which was about the time I started digging for records. Another friend gave me his auntie’s entire vinyl collection and we started sampling, looping simple riffs to create catchy beats like “Honolulu Buku” or “Things That You See” (which is still one of my favorites).
I don’t listen to soul, funk or jazz exclusively.
The other day, someone told me “Hey, I know this kind of music isn’t really your style, but I think you’ll like it.” Funny, cause the music in reference was “Catching A Wave” by Steve Maii & Teresa Bright—a timeless acoustic song that I had uploaded just a week earlier.
In other words, just because I blog about funky, soulful Hawaiian music doesn’t mean that it’s the only kind of music I dig. I like all kinds of music, even Bollywood music—Shreya Ghoshal and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan are two Indian playback singers that are at the top of my list all-time favorite vocalists. I couldn’t survive without a huge serving of Brazilian music—I used to overload my computer with music from a blog called Loronix.
I’ll listen to any kind of music, as long as it’s got soul.
I’m originally from Seattle.
But I call Hawaii home, it’s where I grew up. I moved to Oahu in 1995 at seven years old. I started digging in 2004. Graduated high school in 2006 and moved to Oregon for college. Graduated in 2010 with a degree in journalism and got an internship as a photographer in Portland, which is also where I first started Aloha Got Soul.
I moved back to Hawaii in 2011 with a newfound passion for collecting Hawaiian vinyl. (I needed more sunshine, too).
In college I had a radio show.
Most people did a radio gig in college, right? Well, mine was a two-hour show on KWVA called RogB Radio. Every Sunday, I played a selection of used vinyl and new CDs—like Quantic & His Combo Bárbaro or the James Taylor Quartet. My biggest highlight was interviewing Aussie soulstress Kylie Auldist
I also recorded some rap songs.
In 2006 me and my brother, Kevin, teamed up to record an EP. We called ourselves the Bong Bros, it was pretty good, too! Hell, John Book liked it enough to play “Friday Evenings with the Bong Bros” in a mix. Listen here if you’re curious.
I manage 4 Instagram accounts.
Yup, four! There’s the one you should be following by now: @alohagotsoul. My personal account: @rogerbong. My cat’s point-of-view (not kidding!): @frannylife. And an all-about-Hawaii account I manage for my dayjob: @discoverhawaii.
Aloha Got Soul is a side project.
For now, at least.
Like I mentioned, I have a full-time dayjob that takes up a lot of my time. But with the upcoming FITTED collaboration, I’m hoping to launch Aloha Got Soul to the next level.
Still curious to learn more about me?
Tweet me @alohagotsoul or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!