R&B Rising Star JUNNY: "I never set a limit for myself"

As beloved R&B artist JUNNY makes his way around Europe, hot off the heels of the successful North American leg of his BLANC tour, he finds time to sit down with &ASIAN to chat all things music, artistry and collaboration.
All photos courtesy of Unbound Entertainment.
Now Reading:  
R&B Rising Star JUNNY: "I never set a limit for myself"

Hey Junny! It must be great touring in the US again: what has the response of friends and family been like to your return back to the continent?

[It] felt great to come back and hit the cities that I wasn’t able to last year; felt like a proper closing of the North American tour and although it would have been great to see my family and friends again in Vancouver, I had to come back to Korea right away to prepare for my Europe tour which I’m so excited for as well!

What is your writing process when working with other artists? Do you have a tried and true process when it comes to these collaborations, or does it change depending on the artist?

Can you give your fans insight into how these collaborations work?

It always depends on who it’s for. It can start from knowing who I’m writing for or sometimes I would just do my best to write a good song and eventually it’ll find an owner that fits! It’s all about how well I know the artist musically sometimes and I would match what they are looking for, which is usually the case.

You must have some great stories from all your hours in the studio. What is one of your fondest or most meaningful memories from your career so far?

I think accidentally coming up with things always gets me excited. Just from a simple convo or a random thought. It’s always random and it can happen anytime I’m working with the crew, and those special moments when we come up with something that we consider as fresh or unique, there’s definitely a feeling of satisfaction in the room.

How would you say your Canadian upbringing has influenced you as an artist and how have you felt these influences have complimented or enriched your role in the Korean music industry?

First off, being exposed to Western music and the subculture we have down there, and growing up from such a young age you figure out how to maintain and respect your heritage but at the same time be a citizen of the country you live in. [With] Canada being a very multicultural country, I feel like I was able to enjoy both sides of myself and continue to keep up with what was happening in Korea from an early age, and when I was able to fly over to start a career, it gave me a confidence boost that I was able to speak English and have that certain perk of growing up “overseas” which is considered to be a privilege here.

Your lyrics are a little like indie movies: they capture incredibly intimate and vulnerable moments in time in a manner that feels very open and raw. Even the most epic imagery you paint for the listener still feels like a private one-on-one exchange.

How do you craft such personal pictures via your lyrics? Is this something that comes to you naturally or is this something you've really had to work on over time?

I think from a young age I always liked visualizing things in my mind and I also enjoy art because of my older brother. I worked on the craft and I’m still trying to improve as a lyricist and writer, so everyday I think I’m just trying to see the beauty in everything, which helps me come up with new things to write about.

What is the one song out of your entire discography that you think sums up JUNNY the best?

"Thank You" is probably the song of my choice because it just describes how I feel towards my fans, and how I’m able to do this as a career it’s all surreal to me. So thank you for making this all possible.

It has almost been four years since you moved to South Korea to pursue your dream. It must feel amazing knowing that you have managed to succeed: was the path to become the JUNNY we know today how you expected?

What were the most surprising challenges you had to face on that path?

In life there are always challenges, I can’t say that the process of getting to this point was a smooth sail but I definitely learned so much and from any experience bad or good I feel like you become a better person as long as you learn something from it.

I obviously didn’t expect any of this to happen before I moved here and although it was a dream of mine to pursue music as a career, how much I’ve come so far I am beyond grateful and the more I grow the more I want to strive for a better version of myself, so I never set a limit for myself.

How do you think the pandemic affected the trajectory of your career? It was definitely a strange time for all of us, but considering that a majority of your time in Korea was amidst COVID, do you ever think that it actually helped your career?

Or is there anything you would want to change, if you could, on your journey?

I made my official debut just before the pandemic which effected certain things, but I was lucky enough to have such great fans who supported me throughout the years and now I’m able to tour around the world and have people enjoy my music and there’s nothing better than that.

There’s nothing I would change because I believe that everything happens for a reason and through all those experiences I am where I’m at now.

You've had classical training as well, both as a vocalist and as a trumpeter. How did that help shape you into the artist you are today?

I can’t say I’ve been classically trained as a trumpeter because that was in elementary school haha but learning about classical music and the different types of vocals and how to sing the “proper” way helped me in the long run, and to this day I think about the lessons I’ve had during vocal training.

It didn’t help me shape into an artist but it got me to appreciate that side of music and learn the importance of where music came from.

Some people might not know you hosted Get Real for Dive Studios alongside Ashley Choi and BTOB's Peniel for a time. How was that experience for you and what did you take away from it?

It’s always a fun time with them and to do a podcast is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love talking about random things and my thoughts on all things concerning life (lol). It’s also a way for me to get away from music for a bit and have my mind elsewhere.

I enjoy every bit of it and I’m definitely grateful for being a part of the show.

In early 2021, you did an episode of Get Real for Dive Studios that focused on holding on to your twenties. Blanc is a culmination of all of your experiences in your twenties; even though that episode aired a year and a half ago, how do you think you’ve grown since then and what do you hope to see for yourself in the future?

I feel like the sky is the limit and I just wanna enjoy every bit of it. I’ve become mature in life but in music I never wanna grow up.

I feel like there is still so much I have yet to show and it’s just exciting to see what the future holds!

The entertainment industry as a whole likes to pigeonhole artists, and yet you've managed to carve out a career as someone incredibly versatile, able to easily move between genres and concepts. How do you think you've managed to do this?

I think it had a lot to do with being a song writer and an artist; being exposed to many genres and just myself, being someone who loves and appreciates all kinds of music. Even to this day there are styles I want to explore and that’s why I’m so excited to let y’all hear what I’m preparing this year.

With such diverse musical influences that have shaped you, what is it about R&B, in particular, that attracts you as a genre, both as a listener but also an artist?

It’s the genre that I grew up listening to the most, and I’ve enjoyed the beauty of R&B vocals ever since I was young. When I decided to make music I naturally geared toward that style and to this day even though I’m attempting different genres, I always try to maintain that core R&B feel in my songs.

Given that R&B is a genre pioneered by many African-Americans, African-Canadians and other creators of Black heritage, how do you manage to keep in mind and respect the impact of these influences whilst also ensuring your sound is distinctly your own?

The artists that I look up to and that I’m influenced by are always at the back of my mind. While having a background of listening to classic Korean pop at an early age, the music I write naturally becomes organic and I feel like every songwriter or artist has that certain colour they naturally find within themselves

You work with a music group named ØFFSHORE who has some of the biggest producers and songwriters in industry.

How do you all work with one another and what are the dynamics between working with those members versus working with other larger artists?

It’s very casual, light and friendly. We never make it feel like it’s business and always just have a good time when we’re in the studio. To be honest, we don’t work with each other a lot because we are all individually busy with our own work, but when we do it’s always a lot of fun and I think that’s the beauty of ØFFSHORE. It’s like a bunch of good friends hanging out and giving positive vibes to each other.

How does crafting an album tracklist compare to crafting your tour setlist, and what’s your favourite moment in the concert?

Is there a special song or performance stage for you that you’d like to share?

An album takes a much longer time because of the amount of songs that are being taken out and put in. It always depends on the story of the album and the mood I’m going for.

When creating a setlist I usually know what I want to perform and what my fans want to hear. I love performing songs that my fans and I can interact
with like “Not About You” or a song that my fans can sing from top to bottom like “By My Side” or “Thank You”. It just gives me so much energy everytime I perform these songs on stage.

As both a prolific songwriter and a singer, how does being on stage compare to hearing songs you've written for superstars being played on the radio? Is one or the other more impactful to you?

I’m so grateful for being able to feel both sides and it’s truly a blessing to be in the position: but to pick one that’s more impactful is being on stage. It’s a dream I’ve had ever since the beginning and it always reminds me why I started music in the first place. Even though I enjoy the behind the scenes work, I feel like I enjoy being more of a performer and artist at the end of the day

Lastly, do you have any messages or thoughts for anyone who wishes to follow in your footsteps as a singer-songwriter?

I feel like you truly need to love music and be ready to sacrifice a lot as well especially in the beginning. Stay mentally positive and don’t be scared to reach out for help. I was lucky to have amazing people help me along the way and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am now.

If music is everything to you and there’s nothing else that can make you happy, go for it and give it your all.

Tickets for the European leg of JUNNY's BLANC tour can be found here. JUNNY can be found on Instagram, Twitter and all major streaming platforms.
Liked this? Please consider leaving us a tip here.