Every time EDEN releases a new song, I drop everything to listen to it. I can remember where I was the first time I heard every song: in the turpentine-scented art room at my high school, at a friend’s house, out in the great wide world, watching the sunset-soaked sky. I think it would be fair to say I’m obsessed with EDEN’s music — and I’m certainly not the only one.
The Irish singer-songwriter has over 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify, 243,000 followers on SoundCloud and 79 million video views on YouTube. Those stats may seem middling compared to the looming superstars that dominate the American music industry, but it’s astonishing that EDEN was able to grow from a nobody in 2013, when he released his first song, to, at the very least, a somebody in 2020.
EDEN’s real name is Jonathon Ng, and he has been composing music since the age of seven or eight. He was classically trained on the violin from a young age, and would often play with orchestras or small bands he started with friends. The rigid structure of orchestras and constraints of making music with others, however, inspired him to begin experimenting with electronic music on his own.
In an interview with Baeble Music, he said: “I was fed up with how I was writing music with other people, and talking about, you know, ‘You don’t need the rest of the orchestra or the band to make songs,’ ‘You can do it all yourself with a laptop,’ and I don’t mean to say anything bad about it, but I’m just a megalomaniac when it comes to writing music.”
In this early electronic incarnation, Ng released his music under the name The Eden Project. The music was, as he put it, “very, very EDM,” a style that can be seen in his first album, “Kairos.” Whatever else might be said about this album, it was very clear that Ng was having fun with his musical experimentation. He sings on some of the tracks — “Kairos,” “Statues” and “Chasing Ghosts” — but the focus is clearly on the wide, sprawling drops and dramatic electronic riffs.
Even though it was released independently, the album soon began to attract the attention of EDM fans, who are a very dedicated niche community. Ng’s songs were soon promoted on YouTube channels like Koala Kontrol and SuicideSheeep, which are dedicated to posting music from indie artists.
Ng didn’t stick with EDM for long, however. In his next few EPs, “Entrance,” “Bipolar Paradise” and “Final Call,” his small following heard him slipping more and more into pop while retaining a few distinct elements of his original electronic sound. One of his most popular tracks from these EPs, “Circles,” starts simply with just a gentle guitar and Ng’s voice, and though the song reaches a dramatic electronic climax in the chorus, the song mostly remains firmly in the indie pop category, with only a small taste of electronica — certainly a far cry from Ng’s EDM roots.
This dramatic transition was completed when Ng changed his alias to EDEN in 2015 and released his EP “i think you think too much of me.” Ng, now EDEN, still maintained a dedicated fanbase.
The devotion of Ng’s fans is nothing new. From his earliest EDM days, EDEN has been able to create music that touches souls and breaks hearts. Perhaps it’s his gut-wrenching voice, the way he slurs together words and croons as if his world has just come to an end; perhaps it’s the hopelessly wandering construction of his songs, from soft and gentle up to majestic and soaring, then back down again. It could also be that Ng is one of us: a young person just trying to make his way in life, singing songs in his bedroom about love and loss and the beauty of the world.
The release “i think you think too much of me” was a great EP, but it’s possible that EDEN will never be able to top the artistry and wonder he managed to imbue in “Vertigo.”
“Vertigo” was released in winter of 2018. It’s difficult to describe the album in terms of musical genres or comparable songs. In “Vertigo,” EDEN created a perfect marriage between rock, electronic and pop. He balances elation and sorrow, writing poetic lines: “Exhale, we could never be what’s in our heads / Elevation doesn’t matter now, it’s straight ahead / sending shivers down my spine, life pirouettes.”
Listening to “Vertigo” feels like a sigh, a melancholy action perhaps, but imbued with a deep sense of relieved tension, of the acceptance of both the majesty and tyranny of life. This is why EDEN will continue to grow — because his music covers the full span of life, from the deepest depths to the highest heights.
Since “Vertigo,” EDEN has released several more tracks, but none as touching. I still listen faithfully because I am, like the vast majority of his fans, incredibly invested, and even his more mediocre tracks resonate. You and I, and his millions of Spotify listeners, can look forward to the release of his next album, “No Future,” in mid-February, for which he will also be doing a world tour this spring. But in the meantime, I will be listening to “Vertigo.” Perhaps you will join me.