essence of expression 01: jianbo

“I’m Jianbo. I’m a musician, rapper and filmmaker from southeast London, of Chinese/Vietnamese heritage.”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

Jianbo’s living room in Camberwell, London, is low-key and unassuming, featuring only subtle evidence of his musical nature: an electric drum kit hides folded in the corner; a pair of socks have been tossed casually on a record player.

Like the man himself, however, the room carries a sense of self assuredness, a sense of not trying to be anything
other than what it is.

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

“I’m just an emotional person, I feel like I experience emotions quite strongly. That probably helps me as a musician. People want simple emotions in art.”

Jianbo speaks thoughtfully, the bass in his voice adding a touch of extra gravitas to everything he says. 

When asked why he chose music, he answers simply: 

“Why did music choose me? We all use music for so many different things: Therapy, for one. I couldn’t help but make music at points in my life.”

Words are clearly his forte; whether it’s lyrics or chatting, he rarely leaves one spare.

“You get to a point when you realise that [making music] is really about collaboration, getting people to do things you can’t do, because that’s how you make better stuff. Inevitably, you have to work with people, to achieve the best results”. 

“Once you take that step into relinquishing control and letting people express themselves all around you, you’ll be a happier person.”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

To hammer this point home, he launches into a story about building a studio in the bedroom of his Uni house.

“The way that actually got built was, Jack Radford, my friend, took me to the wood recycling centre in his van, and he would come to my house everyday for three days straight and work on the studio, while I pottered around, hands in pockets looking at him, saying ‘Jack, do you want anything?’ He would say: ‘The only thing you can do for me is make me some vegetable fried rice.’ Essentially, to build a studio, I made three bowls of fried rice, and he did all the hard work.” 

Jianbo shrugs his shoulders, and his face breaks into a cheeky grin.

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

“You’ve got to work with people, haven’t you?”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo











While Jianbo values collaboration, it's evident that the heart and soul of his music is deeply rooted in his own personal expression.

“My music is me. My desires, the things I like, things I don’t like. If you listen to my lyrics, they’re all just about my life, you know? All elements of my character, history, background, feed into my music. It’s so easy to understand where I come from from the words I use.”

“Son of a refugee, I’m half Chinese, half Vietnamese. There was a time when I was younger, when I didn’t always pull from my cultural heritage, and the songs I used to make had less direction. They were less true to who I was, and because of that they just didn’t connect with audiences in the same sort of way.”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

“Younger Asian boys [come up to me] saying your music really helped me with my identity. In all honesty, this has helped me with my identity.”












“I feel stronger and clearer with who I am. I’ve been able to verbalise and document all the details of my own narrative.”

“Claiming that space for myself has definitely been fundamental in this whole process.”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

Jianbo approaches his music with earnestness, using it as a vehicle to delve into both his heritage and inner self. Yet, he emphasises that not every track needs to be profound or transformative.

“In the same way that not every painting a painter creates has got to be their piece de resistance, the piece that explains them fully, at times I’m better at being vulnerable than others. Some of my songs are just stupid, they’re just silly, they’re just fun… Which is all part of life too, right?”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo











Jianbo’s ability to stay grounded and self aware is impressive. Not prone to flights of fancy or ego, the way he speaks, be it through conversation or through his creative output, feels like an honest reflection of how he sees the world, and how he sees himself.

Jianbo demonstrates a rare balance between staying true to himself and embracing the journey without getting swept away by it.












“I’m grateful we can all do this together. I’m here with my friends doing what I love. That’s all you really can want from life, right?”

Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series - Jianbo

Author, Euan Harness

Jianbo

“I’m Jianbo. I’m a musician, rapper and filmmaker from southeast London, of Chinese/Vietnamese heritage.”

R1-06105-007A.jpg__PID:4cd92715-9b97-4076-9c1b-7e1b869fd380
Rhubarb Store - Essence of Expression Series-1.jpg__PID:8538936e-abe7-4570-8343-2c363f7f6a63

Jianbo’s living room in Camberwell is low-key and unassuming, featuring only subtle evidence of his musical nature: An electric drum kit hides folded in the corner; a record player sits under a pair of socks.

R1-06102-004A.jpg__PID:30c1a78b-37e3-45d4-b24b-08834b08553e
R1-06102-005A.jpg__PID:a78b37e3-d5d4-424b-8883-4b08553ea0cc

Like the man himself, however, the room carries a sense of self assuredness, a sense of not trying to be anything other than what it is.

R1-06102-008A_0001.jpg__PID:523182eb-c19e-42a2-b54e-b9af5ee5066b

“I’m just an emotional person, I feel like I experience emotions quite strongly. That probably helps me as a musician. People want simple emotions in art.”

Jianbo speaks thoughtfully, the bass in his voice adding a touch of extra gravitas to everything he says.

When asked why he chose music, he answers simply:

“Why did music choose me? We all use music for so many different things: Therapy, for one. I couldn’t help but make music at points in my life.”

R1-06102-010A.jpg__PID:5abce20b-99cf-4bdf-af82-cc3a89507564

Words are clearly his forte; whether it’s lyrics or chatting, he rarely leaves one spare. 

“You get to a point when you realise that [making music] is really about collaboration, getting people to do things you can’t do, because that’s how you make better stuff. Inevitably, you have to work with people, to achieve the best results.”

“Once you take that step into relinquishing control and letting people express themselves all around you, you’ll be a happier person.”

R1-06105-017A.jpg__PID:426d4b69-7d0d-4558-9158-2690a6072ee1

To hammer this point home, he launches into a story about building a studio in the bedroom of his Uni house.

“The way that actually got built was, Jack Radford, my friend, took me to the wood recycling centre in his van, and he would come to my house everyday for three days straight and work on the studio, while I pottered around, hands in pockets looking at him, saying ‘Jack, do you want anything?’ He would say: ‘The only thing you can do for me is make me some vegetable fried rice.’ Essentially, to build a studio, I made three bowls of fried rice, and he did all the hard work.” 

Jianbo shrugs his shoulders, and his face breaks into a cheeky grin.

R1-06105-023A.jpg__PID:fc2ad045-6390-4ecf-8ca4-9fac37c28d96

“You’ve got to work with people, haven’t you?”

R1-06105-015A.jpg__PID:589fc70b-82d8-4942-ac10-73b9c80e3de3

While Jianbo values collaboration, it's evident that the heart and soul of his music is deeply rooted in his own personal expression.

“My music is me. My desires, the things I like, things I don’t like. If you listen to my lyrics, they’re all just about my life, you know? All elements of my character, history, background, feed into my music. It’s so easy to understand where I come from from the words I use.”

R1-06105-031A.jpg__PID:0a370d3a-68c5-49e1-91e5-045a0657b125

“Son of a refugee, I’m half Chinese half Vietnamese. There was a time when I was younger, when I didn’t always pull from my cultural heritage, and the songs I used to make had less direction, they were less true to who I was, and because of that they just didn’t connect with audiences in the same sort of way.”

R1-06105-035A.jpg__PID:0d3a68c5-e9e1-41e5-845a-0657b125a0b0

“Younger Asian boys [come up to me] saying your music really helped me with my identity. In all honesty, this has helped me with my identity.”

“I feel stronger and clearer with who I am. I’ve been able to verbalise and document all the details of my own narrative.”

“Claiming that space for myself has definitely been fundamental in this whole process.”

R1-06105-026A.jpg__PID:d1d38240-e31e-4f9b-b406-6bc6ac443b58

Jianbo approaches his music with earnestness, using it as a vehicle to delve into both his heritage and inner self. Yet, he emphasises that not every track needs to be profound or transformative.

“In the same way that not every painting a painter creates has got to be their piece de resistance, the piece that explains them fully… At times I’m better at being vulnerable than others… Some of my songs are just stupid, they’re just silly, they’re just fun… which is all part of life too, right?”

R1-06105-022A.jpg__PID:4aaef13a-0e5b-41e2-bf9b-debac5e66f01

Jianbo’s ability to stay grounded and self aware is impressive. Not prone to flights of fancy or ego, the way he speaks, be it through conversation or through his creative output, feels like an honest reflection of how he sees the world, and how he sees himself.

Jianbo demonstrates a rare balance between staying true to himself and embracing the journey without getting swept away by it.

R1-06105-019A.jpg__PID:e06f6a07-593c-4d26-bbbb-ce6c322b177c
R1-06105-016A.jpg__PID:bbce6c32-2b17-4cd1-ae6e-83ec87ab2e20

“I’m grateful we can all do this together. I’m here with my friends doing what I love. That’s all you really can want from life, right?”

Author, Euan Harness