Across the Board Art Culture Stories

JUNNY: “Sky’s the limit and I want to be remembered as a person that’s obsessed with music”.

As JUNNY is ready to kick off his Europe tour, the artist deliberates on his creative process, cultural upbringings, musical influences and goals ahead.

By Caitlin Chien and Victoria Ng

Photos taken by Caitlin Chien

Canadian-Korean artist JUNNY has developed a notable singer-songwriter career with his intricate storytelling, versatile vocals and an articulate understanding of different artists’ characteristics when it comes to producing for himself and others. We got to chat  with him over Zoom before his New York show that took place  earlier last week about being back on the road again, his creative process and future goals, as well as curating something special for his fans. 

What are you most excited about the tour?

Last year, I was able to go to London and Paris, but now I am able to go to all these countries that I’ve never been to. Obviously, I had a great time on the North American tour but Europe, it’s going to be a different vibe. The cultures are going to be much different as well, so I’m just very excited to go there and perform in front of my fans! I know I have a lot of fans in Europe as well so it’s an opportunity to thank them and show my love. 

How does it feel coming back to New York and what new aspects of performances would you like to show this time?

Last year, I was in Brooklyn so I got a little bit of the Brooklyn vibes and now I get to go to New York (City) and just feel the atmosphere there! I loved it last time, it was so great. Everyone there showed their Brooklyn side and I’m expecting that to happen again. I’m trying to give a better performance than last time and show my improvements and I’m bringing a couple new things to the set list for the people coming back and it’s gonna be great!

Touching upon songwriting a little bit: what does your creative process look like? Does the imagery or melody come first? Or, how does it work otherwise?

Depends on the song! Usually, I try to think of an image, things I want to talk about, the topic of a song. I think it’s something that everyone can do! When you think of an image or setting, you could put the background music to it. Anyone with a fun attitude, for example, may put a background music for themselves or when they hang out with friends. Maybe it’s just me, but it always seems easy for me to do something like this, and to put this into an actual profession just feels good! It’s really fun to do and it just comes naturally. 

For sure! There’s never really one way to do things in art, so it’s nice to hear you talk about it as well. Moving on to songwriting for other artists; we know that you produced for so many other artists like EXO, NCT, IU, and many others. Different artists or members within groups have varying tones and colors, strengths and developmental areas and recording, so how do you work with each of them? How does the post-recording process vary compared to when you produce for yourself?

Obviously, I’m not a 7-man boy band so when I’m writing for NCT, for example, it’s a totally different approach. I think of each member, their talents, what their vocal ranges are like, who’s the rapper, how much of the song has rap in it, how much of the song has vocals in it… I think about all of that and I also imagine them performing it on stage because they’re singing, right? So, it’s a totally different approach from when I’m working on songs for NCT and IU. She has an amazing range and she’s a female vocalist. My range and her range are very different so I would approach a song with a female vocal range in mind. It may sound a little weird when I sing it, but I imagine her singing it and I think it would come out great.

That’s the musicality part of it, but I also think of things visually. Artists like Kai, he has a very sexy image; he’s a dancer, he’s a performer, so when you’re writing the song, you think about how he’s going to present himself on-stage and the whole performance aspect of it. That’s what makes it more fun and that’s when I get to imagine myself as him… that was really weird to say, but I have to do that to write a good song. And when I’m writing a song for myself, I obviously want to feel comfortable singing it and I want to make a song that suits myself the most. It’s something that I’m still trying to figure out but I’m enjoying it. I enjoy writing for others and for myself as well, and there’s no barrier, you know? I want to try everything, that’s my personality. I don’t want to limit myself to a certain sound. I just want to try all sorts of things. 

Aside from collaborating with and writing songs for different artists, you’ve also ventured into other projects. For example, you were able to show a more interpersonal, interactive side by co-hosting Get Real by DIVE. Is there anything else you want to explore in the industry?

Wow, hosting a podcast show was already a big adventure for me. I’ve only known how to make music and sing and perform, so being on camera, talking about life, and being sensitive all the time is a new challenge. I’d love to do other things too if I can, but right now I want to focus on music and I feel like there is a long road ahead of me. There’s a place where I exactly want to go to and I want to work hard on that. If there are other things that can help me get to that, I am obviously down to do it. If there is an opportunity to connect with my fans more, I would also be down to do it. But there are things like acting, which I tried while filming my music videos, that help me realize that it’s something very delicate. I enjoy doing it for my music videos, but being in a TV series or a movie, there’s no way it’s happening right now haha. Like I said, music is priority right now and doing this tour is going to help me focus on that even more, which I am excited about.

Shifting gears a little bit and tracing back to your roots. At Generasian, we love to explore topics of identity and culture. In your previous interviews, you talked about how your time in Korea was a pivotal influence on your development as an artist. Building on that, how may or how have your intersectional identity and upbringing as a Korean-Canadian played a role in your music career?

Wow, it had a huge impact on me growing up. Canada is a very multicultural country so you don’t face a lot of racism or discrimination, but obviously you want to see your fellow Asian companions do well in a foreign country and I was just a part of that. During my time in high school growing up, you know, that’s when you’re easily influenced by all things in pop culture. I was very into any Asian artists that were rising up and at the time and Korea was booming with their R&B scene and hip-hop scene and its Soundcloud scene as well.That really motivated me to start working on music and putting my stuff out even though I just started out, but it gave me the courage to do that and follow that whole vibe and visually learn from that. Developing on that, I started going back to the songs that I listened to when I was a kid, the songs that I naturally listened to on the radio, like the Billboard Hits, because wherever you go, it’s going to play, right? So, going back to that, I realized the beauty of that and the talent and musicality that people have around the world. I started appreciating it more and it kind of grew into this mixture of my personal taste and what I grew up with and what I listen to now, eventually leading me to putting out music that I’m working on now.

Also, like YouTube. It was like 2007, I think I was in elementary school, but like 2007 to 2010, there was a huge movement with David Choi, Jeremy Passion, Jeff Bernat…there was that scene, you know?I grew up listening to those guys and I was just influenced by them as well. And then artists like Dean, Crush and Zion T and other R&B artists came out in Korea with a totally new vibe. It just kinda opened my eyes a bit and I realized, “Wow, damn, I want to go to Korea and make music” and that’s what happened. 

Looking ahead, what direction do you want to take your music in the future, music-wise, and maybe in terms of storytelling as well? 

I want to keep talking about myself. That’s my thing. With my songs, I want to talk about my life and what I am going through. I don’t want to stop that, but there are a lot of different ways to do so that I haven’t tried yet – through genres I haven’t experimented with, for example. I am sure there is a genre out there for me that I would feel most comfortable with and that’s what I am doing right now! There are a bunch of songs that break my comfort zone and I’ve been doing a little bit more rap here and there, and it’s so much fun! It’s a different way to describe my feelings and I hope you all are excited for that cause’ (spoiler alert!) it’s coming very very soon! And after this, what else do I want to try and what other projects do I want to do? Obviously, musically speaking here, there’s a bunch of stuff in my mind, but to keep it short, there’s no limits. I don’t want to set limits for myself and whatever I can do. I want to do everything! “Sky’s the limit” is always something I say to myself and it’s been going great so far!

What is one thing that you wish people could remember about you as an artist?

I just want them to know that this dude loves music. I mean, I’m sure it’s like that for everybody in this industry: it’s like you live and breathe it. It’s not something that you want to brag about. It’s something that’s very natural and it’s all you want to do. For some, it could be like a hobby but it’s like you’re doing a hobby for a living and you’re doing this as a career. If you think about that, it’s a huge blessing. I just want people to remember that I was just absolutely in love with music my whole life and I was enjoying every moment, every opportunity, being able to do this, performing, and going overseas. I enjoyed every part of it and every night before going to sleep, I think, “What can I do better? How can I make a better song? How can I make a hit? How can I make a smash hit?” I want everyone to love and enjoy it. I think that’s how I am. That’s still how I was even 3 or 4 years ago when I started this, so that’s how I want everyone to remember me: a dude obsessed with music.

Last but not least, we’d love to put together your song recommendations as a playlist for our readers and your fans. What are some of your all-time favorites?

Is it just my songs? Or any song?

Any song, including yours!!

(Spoiler alert 222) Let’s just say there are a bunch of my favorites that are going to come out, but these days, I am definitely obsessed with Harry Styles’ album. He just got a Grammy for it. Music for a Sushi Restaurant, the first track of the album, that sounds great. And you know there’s a wrap-up playlist for 2020 A-List Pop Music? I love listening to those songs because they take me back, even if it was just 2 or 3 years ago. It was Covid year, but everyone was going ham on their music and there were so many hits. We got Dua Lipa’s Break My Heart, (The Weeknd’s) Blinding Lights, Ariana Grande’s positions, those are huge songs right? Something about being stuck at home and not being able to go out made me feel more of a connection to these songs. I also had more opportunities to study these songs because I am obsessed with pop music. Obviously now with covid slowly dying down, we are able to go out more and as we get busier, it’s harder for us to absorb music the way we could just 2 years ago. I just had more connection with these huge releases, so put them on the list! They’re not even old, but they feel old. I wish people would appreciate the work that was put into each song that’s coming out and it just made me realize “How are these songs loved and then put away? Pushed back for more music?” As for other stuff, I’ve got to put on stuff that I wrote for NCT who just released an album. And the song Graduation, I heard it’s doing good! I do hope to release a cover of that some time!

But going back to what I was talking about, the society now, time is just FLYING BY. Maybe it’s just for me, but I feel everyone can kinda relate to that as well. Feeling that, I wanted to write a song about it, but I don’t want to complain. Life is good. Time is flying by, things are happening. I want to stay optimistic. That’s a little hint of what’s to come.

Huge thanks to Unbound Entertainment for facilitating this interview. 

Listen to JUNNY’s recommended playlist and his latest release EARLY now!

The JUNNY-fficial Playlist:

Music for a Sushi Restaurant (Harry Styles)

Break My Heart (Dua Lipa)

Blinding Lights (The Weeknd)

Positions (Ariana Grande)

Crash Landing (NCT 127)

Graduation (NCT Dream)

++ Generasian’s recommendation of JUNNY’s songs!

By My Side



AURA (feat. pH-1)(Prod. GXXD)


EARLY (feat. DUT2)

FAME (feat. JUNNY) – Prod. GroovyRoom

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