After listening to Hunjiya‘s Lineage, I was amazed that the EP came from a 20 year old. The perspective and production of the EP is impressive. Hunjiya’s voice as an artist is only beginning and I thought it would be good if she introduced herself because she’s definitely someone to watch as she grows.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hello there Korean Indie readers! My name is Hunjiya, I’m 20 years old and trying to figure out life by doing music.
How did you get into music?
I never recognized my love for music until I discovered how to be creative with it. I was pushed into classical piano lessons, I played the clarinet in concert/marching band all throughout grade school, I even took classical singing lessons for a while. It all seemed very structured and tight to me. Then, after seeing a bunch of covers on YouTube, I ordered a cheap $20 ukulele from Amazon and started teaching myself. I fell in love with learning my favorite songs, and especially writing my own songs. I wanted more.
So, being the good little sister I was, I stole my brother’s guitar and taught myself through YouTube tutorials. I would tell my closest friends not to tell anyone about my music because I was embarrassed of what people would think of me. Then when I 15, I went to a music camp at Berklee and that’s when everything kind of solidified. It was my first time being surrounded by people who loved music and I KNEW that I wanted to stay in that type of creative environment.
Lineage was written, performed, and produced solo, was there a reason for that?
Other than me being stubborn and picky, I really wanted to create this EP by myself so it could be more meaningful to my grandparents. They’re already proud of me, and I’m lucky they’re so supportive of my career choices, but I wanted to show them. Up until now, they’ve never heard me sing, play, or do anything music related. They only knew I chose music as a career. So, as my debut to them, I wanted to create something that could show them what I do, and help me get to know their lives better.
What sparked the decision to go to Seoul? How did being able to speak more naturally help when spending time with your relatives?
So originally, it was just for a family vacation because we don’t get to go very often (every 4-6 years or so). Then I got a music internship there (which I ended up quitting because I didn’t want to spend my time in Korea at a desk all day) and stayed in Seoul one month longer than the rest of my family.
Although I’ve known the Korean language my entire life, I’ve always just passed by with elementary level conversations. Growing up in a very white-populated area as a kid, I ignored my culture because I didn’t want to stand out. So every time my family would take trips to Korea, I would just ask my parents to translate, or I would say nothing at all.
Now, I’m really glad I forced myself to learn more of my native language because I never connected with my relatives better than I had before. My whole life, I really only knew most of my relatives on an acquaintance level. This time I could actually talk to them, get to know them.
Where did the idea of writing the EP from the perspectives of your grandparents come from?
Before this, I really only wrote songs about myself and my life. Very rarely did I write about someone else’s story. So doing this EP was a new and exciting experience. However, I did want to make this EP for them. I wanted to translate the way they told me their unique, heartwarming stories through my music so others could hear it too.
As a musician who grew up in the US, what were your impressions of music when visiting Seoul? Did you attend any live shows?
I’ve listened to a fair amount of Korean music throughout my life, so I loved it! There’s so many different music scenes in Korea, just like there is in America. If I had to compare, I would say there’s definitely more boy bands and girl groups with lots of coordinated dancing.
I didn’t see as many live shows as I wanted to, but I saw some local busking acts and one of my favorite artists, Hyukoh at this Fifa U-20 World Cup show. I also saw Dumbfoundead who brought Jay Park and Jessi as special guests at some club, which was pretty cool.
Is there any message you’re trying to give through your music?
I’m just trying to share stories through my creative outlet and hope that people can feel or relate when hearing my music. I find it so amazing how through the arts, the creator can help and even unite a variety of audiences, no matter what religion, language, etc. I want my music to be able to do that.
With this specific EP, I was debating on making it public, but after hearing my grandparents’ stories, I wanted people to listen to these wholesome love stories. Dating culture seems to focus a lot on technology these days. It’s eye opening and pretty refreshing to hear how dating used to work before we were all attached to screens.
Do you have any Korean musicians that you listen to regularly?
Ooohhhh yes! I love IU, Hyukoh (as mentioned), Primary, Zion T., DEAN, Casker, Eddy Kim, Beenzino, Red Velvet, 10cm, and honestly this list could go on. I like anything that makes me want to dance or cry.
As a young musician, what are your goals with your music? Do you see this as a career?
My main goal is to do music for as long as I possibly can. I’m still fairly new to this so I have a lot to learn and a hell of a lot to experience. I’ve already dedicated the last couple of years of my life trying to achieve these goals, so I guess it’s a career in the making.
Anything to say to readers?
안녕하세요! Thanks for reading Korean Indie! If you’ve ever been in love (or haven’t, that’s okay too!), listen to my new EP, Lineage, available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud. After you listen, let’s be friends through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook! 🙂