JUNIEL, the pure and enthusiastic “promised star” of the popular song world
posted at DC Inside on 5th September 2012
While there are many idol girl groups, a female solo singer, JUNIEL has steadily gained popularity with her debut song ‘illa illa’, gathering music fans’ intentions.
JUNIEL is a very newcomer, who debuted in the early June of this year and has had activity just for two months or so. She has girlish long waved hair, and while she sitting and holding a guitar, she sings with a rich voice that expresses how faint the first love is. As soon as JUNIEL became an icon of ‘first love’ like this way, some people criticized that she was like the debut period of IU and called her as ‘the second IU’ or ‘IU’s copy’.
If you try listening to JUNIEL’s music just a little more carefully, however, you will definitely know that she is a singer-songwriter who has a different sense from IU. Moreover, starting studying songwriting at the third year of middle school, she has written more than 20 songs by herself so far. Her debut album consists of 5 songs, and 3 of them are her self compositions, showing that she is a talented rookie.
Furthermore, JUNIEL was admitted her talent in Japan before the Korean debut. When she was a trainee, she went to Japan for study and steadily strengthened her ability through small live stages. In 2010, she won the first prize at ‘Nijiiro Supernova’ which is called a Japanese version of ‘Super Star K’. Also, she has released two (indies) mini albums and 2 major (single) albums in Japan.
JUNIEL is a rookie with both singing skills and talents. Let’s get caught up in her charm.
Name: JUNIEL (real name Choi JunHee)
Birthdate: 3rd September 1993
Debut: Mini album [My First June] in 2012
Career: The first prize at Nijiiro Supernova in 2010
– Hello, we are DC Inside.
Hello, I’m JUNIEL.
– Do you know DC?
Yes, I do.
– How did you know DC?
At first, I got to know DC when I heard of news of incidents and accidents in the show business there. These days I sometimes searched on portal site by my name, and there were some texts about me at DC, too.
– You’re right. These days requests for Juniel gallery at DC have steadily increased.
Really? The other day when I was on air as a guest at radio “Super Junior’s Kiss the Radio (hereinafter, Sukira)”, a fan told that he made efforts at creating “Juniel gallery”. That was it. Thank you to people who make efforts at creating “Juniel gallery”.
– When Juniel gallery is made later, you will post an authorization message, right?
Yes, I will. I hope my gallery will be created soon (laugh).
– Recently, it is said that even after the promotion for “illa illa” ended, it has still gathered popularity with upward momentum on digital charts. What do you think is the reason of the popularity? (DC user 헝헝이;ᄉ;)
In regard to the fact that it’s still on the rise on digital charts, it seemed to be a good chance that it became an inserted theme song of Choi Yun – Im Meari couple in SBS drama “A Gentleman’s Dignity”. The drama was quite popular, right? So, even after the drama ending, it seems like there is a resonance and the drama fans still love my song.
– Did you expect that your debut song “illa illa” would gather many attentions like this? (DC user “청소년의 품격”)
I didn’t expect that it would be loved like this, either. I’m really pleased.
– When do you realize that you became famous?
It seems that the song “illa illa” became famous, not me. Now, people remember me as a singer who sings “illa illa”, rather than JUNIEL. In fact, I walk about the streets without wearing a hat, but few people remember me. (laugh). So, I haven’t felt that I became popular or famous yet.
– But aren’t there some online reactions? As you tried searching by your name, was there any memorable comment?
Just after the debut, I have seen a comment like this, “I tried listening to JUNIEL’s album, and found she has a different kind of voice with every song and each song has a different atmosphere and its own character.” I felt very good and satisfied.
– In the debut album “My First June”, three songs out of five are your self compositions. It impressed us that you write songs at a young age. What usually inspire you to write songs?
In fact, I still have to study songwriting more. As for inspirations, I don’t think of a certain thing. Everything of daily life can be an inspiration. When I see something and feel something good, I feel like to write song about it.
– When did you start songwriting?
When I entered my current company (at third year of junior high / middle school), I started learning theory of harmonics. At the company, I was persuaded and told that “In order to do music from now, basically you should learn at least theory of harmonics, you know.” In this way, I started learning theory of harmonics. Although I couldn’t learn it deeply actually, as I knew chords, I was able to compose songs. With trying many things, I have come here until now.
– If you score your composition skill, how do you score it?
In fact, I’m not sure whether my composition is good or bad. Just like speaking is hard to score, composition seems to be hard to score because it is also an expression of my story. That’s because every listener can feel in a different way. Some people may find my song good, and others may not. I consider it subjective.
– Which do you like better, composition or writing lyrics?
They are exactly the same in that they tell my story, while they just expressing in a different way. So, I like both.
– Hit songs aside, personally, what song do you have an attachment to?
In fact, every song is like my son, so there is no unimportant song and no song I don’t have an attachment to. But if I try to choose a meaningful one, it’s a song called “Everlasting Sunset.” I put my true feeling on parting into this song, so I like it. Also, I hear fans saying they like this song a lot.
– CNBLUE’s Jung YongHwa-ssi from the same company participated in this album as a producer. How was it?
Not just to be nice, Jung YongHwa-oppa was really nice and took care of me well. YongHwa-oppa and I entered the company on the same day as trainees, but I was 2 hours earlier. (laugh) Spending time together as trainees, we have told that it would be great if we work together someday. Like this, we came to work together on my first album this time. Somehow, it felt quite strange and great. As he did producing this time, I really understood that he musically grew up very much.
– We heard that the playing number of song “Babo (Fool)”‘s MV featuring Jung YongHwa-ssi exceeded 400 thousands in a day.
Everything must be thanks to YongHwa-oppa. In fact, it was not a featuring song but a duet song. Though the song is nice, but YongHwa-oppa showed off his nice body in the MV. That seems to have took a great role in increasing the playing number. (laugh)
– As a trainee who entered the company 2 hours earlier, didn’t you feel frustrated with seeing CNBLUE debuted and succeeded prior to you?
I didn’t feel frustrated. CNBLUE-sunbaenim is just like my real big brothers. Seeing oppa move up step by step and make out, I had a feeling like “just as I expected, he is my oppa/brother.” I was satisfied and felt good like their family. There was no frustration, rather I practiced hard with the thought that “I will be debuting someday”.
– Is there any reason why you released your Korean debut album at the age of 20?
That was not planned on purpose. After I practiced hard, now I’ve got a chance.
– I know you had activity in Japan as a singer-songwriter and studied there till last year, and you made the major debut in Korea. I’m wondering how you started your career in Japan prior to Korea.
After I entered the current company, I played instruments and sang songs as a trainee. Before I moved to Japan, there were few cases (in Korea) that people who sing with playing instruments appeared on TV. In Korea, I really loved indie music and listened to it, but at that time there were not as much Korean indie music as now. On the contrary, at that time in Japan, there were many people who sing with playing the guitar, and indie band culture was universally spread. So, I had a desire to study in Japan. Just then, the company invited me there, saying “why don’t you go and study in Japan?” Then, I answered “I will go.” with no doubts. I released two (indie) albums in Japan and did live at small clubs many times for a year. Like this, I gained experiences and gathered fans. Also, even after major debut, it was a common way in Japan to let oneself known by doing live at small clubs.
– We understand that you won a Japanese audition program. How come you participated in Japanese audition, not a Korean one?
I didn’t have an idea to participate an audition in Japan. I went to Japan thinking what I should learn a little more. My Japan company’s president said “There is this kind of audition, so let’s try joining”. Like this, I did unthinkingly.
– We heard that Japanese audition has a little different style from Korean one.
It was an audition hosted by a magazine publisher, so it didn’t broadcast on TV like Korean audition. It was like this style. If you get a call telling “you passed, so please come again”, you come to sing songs and go home, then if you get a call again, you come to sing again. It was in a tournament style.
– What was the reward for the victory? Did it help your Japanese activity after that?
It was to sign with company EMI JAPAN and to release albums. Photo on magazine and interview, too. Because it was hosted by a magazine publisher, it was not like in Korea, not broadcasting on TV.
– Do you have a desire to do small live concerts in Korea just like in Japan, by any chance?
Although I haven’t experienced yet, I do want to do really. I really liked to do small live concerts in Japan.
– You said you liked Korean indie music. Is there any favorite band or singer?
I really like Yozoh-sunbaenim. She was very popular then. And I really liked Peppertones’ music, and liked Toy’s music, too.
– These days indie music became highly popularized. But at that time, you liked music that was not very familiar to your age, we heard.
Yes. If I said I liked anyone’s music, my friends used to say “who is that?” So, I seldom talked about music with friends. I used to look for that kind of music by myself and used to listen a lot.
– If there is any trigger to start liking indie music?
Because I played instruments, I began to look for such music. If you see on internet, music is separated by genres. Because I was looking for ones to be played on guitar, I naturally got more interested in indie music.
– How many years did you spend in Japan?
I was there about for two years.
– Did you go to Japanese high school?
No, I entered Korean high school, took a leave of absence. In Japan, I went to language school. I’m actually 20 years old, but I just returned to school and now I’m in third year of high school.
– We heard that your parents didn’t oppose your dream, and they did help you become a singer.
Yes. My father originally had a dream of becoming a singer, so he hoped me to realize the dream instead. And, my mother has always told me to do what I want, so she didn’t oppose it. So, they always helped me do what I liked if possible. As I was going to be a singer, they supported me, telling me to work hard.
– In another interview, it seems like you said you lacked in dance. If you compare dance and composition, which is harder for you?
I really cannot dance. If only I could move my body as I liked, I want to dance, though. Anyway, it seems like dance is harder now. (laugh)
– Nowadays, even new ballad singers dance well as a personal performance in variety shows, you know. Not necessarily dance, but is there anything you are preparing for that?
No. I don’t learn dance for a personal performance or can’t do like that. While appearing on radio as a regular guest until now, I take care about live performance. So I haven’t got time enough to prepare other things.
– We seldom saw you on variety shows, is it a strategy?
Not really a strategy, but I’m still a newcomer and I’m not a person who acts funny. So, variety show is a little scary and difficult. Usually I talk very quietly, and I can’t tell a laughable story well.
– From now, there should be chances for you to appear on entertainment shows, and there should be time when you have to express an image set by it. How do you accept that? (DC user ‘차림토’)
I haven’t thought about it, but if I begin to do variety shows, rather than I make any image and show it, I want to let people see what I am. If I forced me to make any image, it would be more weird and I would get confused too. I cannot be a multi-player. (laugh) So, it seems to be a little difficult for me to make an image.
– There is an evaluation that you have as “appealing and rich vocal skill” as we cannot believe your young age. What do you think about your voice?
I like my voice. When I write songs, I have to hear my voice a lot. When I hear my voice, just I think “I like it”. (laugh)
– I’m not sure about singers, but actually some ordinary people feel one’s own voice is the most awkward. It seems you are not like that.
Do they? I think everyone’s voice is good, no one’s is bad, and it includes one’s individuality. So, shouldn’t you have confidence in your voice and love it?
– It seems like you have a mix voice style, how do you practice it? (DC user ‘세라토린’)
Not thinking how to use techniques or planing to do, I sing songs in the way I want to express it, just like when I write songs. “I want to sing this song in this kind of mood”, I have such desires.
– Is there your special method to care your throat usually?
I don’t like the air from air conditioner, so I take care not to receive the air. I drink water at short intervals. And if I would catch a cold, I sleep with my neck wrapped by a towel at night. With keeping my neck warm, I care my throat like this.
– Since when did you attract attentions from people with singing?
Since I was a kid, I was in contact with music under my father’s influence. I was said that I had good ear for music since I was three or four years old. But actually, I didn’t have what it takes to be a singer. It seems like I just liked to sing and I would often sing just with fun. As singing songs that I like, I have been singing until now and managed to come here. I don’t have natural talent, neither did I practice singing to death. I just liked singing and practiced with fun, I think.
– As a trainee, have you felt like to give up or gotten a doubt?
I heard something like homesick would happen after three months passed since going to Japan. But I didn’t felt homesick even after three months passed. With thinking “I’m not like that”, I was living more lightheartedly. After about nine months passed, one day when I was lying on bed along, I felt “What am I doing?”. It was a little hard. Suffering from the feeling, I called my mother up saying “It’s tough”, and she said she would come to see my doing live in Japan. In this way, she came to Japan and while she was staying for a week, we talked a lot together, then my troubles seems to have disappeared naturally.
– After releasing your debut album, whom did you give the album?
I gave it to my parents first. They really liked it. They were expecting and wondering when I debut in Korea while I was releasing albums in Japan. When I released this album and gave it to them, they told me I had done well.
– Don’t you feel burdened to have solo activity?
When I sit in a waiting room before going on the stage, other girl groups are playing together pleasantly. When I see them doing so, I think like that. But it doesn’t seem that life of solo activity suits me well, and I haven’t felt like to join a girl group. Also, until AOA debuted the other day, I was the only girl in our company’s trainees. So, I spent a pretty long time alone and I got used to being alone. That’s why I don’t feel lonely.
– When you get stressed about music, how do you release it?
It seems I haven’t gotten stressed about music. As a kid, and still now, to sing a song is a play for me.
– Then, sometimes you get stressed with daily life but music, don’t you?
I’m a rather positive person and I don’t seem to get stressed with daily life very much. But still, when I have a problem, I talk with my mother a lot.
– Do you have fun with going to karaoke?
No. I don’t like karaoke very much.
I have prepared to be a singer and have sung songs since I was a kid, you know. So, if I went to karaoke with friends, the atmosphere seemed to be like “let’s see how good”, not like “let’s play”. That burdened me a little, and I disliked it. So, I stopped going to karaoke.
– What is your favorite song that you like to sing?
These days I liked to sing Kim DongRyul-sunbaenim’s “Old Song”.
– Is there any genre you like?
Although I do ballads now, maybe because I had had a contact with indie bands’ music as a kid, I like rocks. Especially, I like hard rock. Actually I don’t listen to ballads very much, I rather like enthusing music like rock and listen a lot.
– Aren’t you going to release rock music next?
Though I like it, but probably the company dosen’t like it. (laugh)
– We hear there’s a guitar that you have a special attachment to. If you have an episode that you start loving the guitar, please tell us.
It’s “Bbanini,” the instrument that I bought for the first time. I did all the Japan activity together with this guitar. At this debut, I started to bring a new friend, but the guitar still seems to need time to get closer. I really feel Bbanini is like my old friend.
– Is there any other instrument that you can play?
I can’t play the piano very well, I can sing with striking a chord, though. I am going to learn a little more.
– After you decided to be a singer, was there a moment when you thought “It was a good decision to get this job”?
It seems to be what I always feel. I did feel so when I released my first album in Japan, and when I released this album in Korea. This is really my pleasure and fun.
– If you take your strong points?
My happy-go-lucky personality is both of my strong point and weak point. I’m always free of care. When I should feel nervous, I should feel so in moderation, though.
– Don’t you feel nervous on stage at all?
I don’t really feel nervous on stage. However, I have felt nervous the other day. I appeared on Yoo HeeYeol’s Sketchbook. I really wished to see Yoo HeeYeol-sunbaenim and I like him. Talking and singing a song in front of the person whom I like, I felt so nervous. It was just a series of nervousness. Also, when I visited BoA-sunbaenim’s waiting room shortly, I felt nervous too. I brought up my dream of becoming a singer while seeing her. My heart was about out of my chest by the fact that my idol stand in the same space, on the same stage as me.
– What did you talk with BoA-ssi?
At that time BoA-sunbaenim was pretty busy with preparation for stage. I was waiting in front of the waiting room, and I ran to her, gave my CD and greeted to her, then she went in haste with saying “Thank you”.
– We are sorry that your activity ended though BoA-ssi is in the midst of her activity now.
I’m so sorry about it really. I heard BoA-sunbaenim would appear in the week when I had the last broadcast. So, I saw her just once. I greeted to her and I watched her stage in the waiting room, so I was really thankful just because of that.
– Nowadays, singer’s period of activity seemed to be very short. What do you think about it?
It seems like so many singers appear and they lack stages to stand. They prepare hard, so they should have chances to stand on stage. That would be great because people could have contact with a lot of music.
– If you give the names of senior musicians whom you’d like to perform on stage together with someday?
I told this many times at other places, though. I’d definitely like to stand on the same stage as Peppertones.
– You have seen musicians by now, who has the biggest attractive aura?
When I saw Yoo HeeYeol-sunbaenim, he was great. And Lee SoRa-sunbaenim too, I saw her in reality and found she had a great aura. Seeing her singing “The Wind Is Blowing”, which was sung in “I am a Singer,” I wondered how I could sing like that. It really was great to see her in reality.
– Many people are caring about your ideal type of man. What do you think is the most important when you see a man?
My ideal type is a man who has nice voice. I like Lee SunKyoon-sunbaenim, and I like Cha SeungWon-sunbaenim, too. Also, Song JoongKi-sunbaenim is nice-looking, so he is not known that his voice is that good, but I found his voice so good. I like him, too.
– By any chance, have you ever visited the military and perform to entertain them? A user told that the last song he had heard before he joined the military was your song and it would be great if you came to perform. (DC user ‘카라빱’)
As long as they invite me, I will go. I’d be thankful that they liked my songs, and I’d like to visit and let them hear my singing.
– Are you active at SNS?
I do twitter. Though I try to write a sentence, but it seems like if I wrote useless things, it would be even worse. So, I just try reading text and see what is the current issue and the responses.
– By any chance, did you search and read bad replies?
Yes, I have. But I don’t really care about bad replies. Everyone was raised in a different environment and everyone has a different point of view. So do I. Thinking “it could be seen in that way, too”, I pass off.
– Because you started activity in Japan as a high school student, you might not have a lot of friends in Korea?
I have close friends whom I have been familiar to since elementary school, and I also have close high school friends whom I have a contact with. I still feel more comfortable with classmates than artists.
– What do you do when you try to overcome loneliness?
To live a busy life would help you overcome loneliness. This is not doing something, but I like to think by myself. When I think about this, that and the other by myself, I don’t really feel I’m alone. When I got bored, the time passed quickly while I was doing a search with computer.
– Aside from music, do you have a hobby or special skill?
I like climbing mountains. Though I haven’t been able to visit there often these days, but when I was a trainee, I would often go climbing when I was free.
– At the age of 20, there would be many things that you want to do. Beside from a singer, what do you want to do the most as an ordinal person?
I want to go traveling somewhere by myself. In fact, I thought I should get the driver’s license, drive a car and go traveling alone, but I don’t have the license yet. I don’t have time now, either. One day I would definitely like to go traveling alone either in Korea or abroad.
– Your birthday is 3rd September. Is there anything you want to receive as a birthday gift?
In my life, one month before birthday, I would tell a story like “on my birthday of next month…”, but I couldn’t tell it as the day nears. I feel sorry to be celebrated and to receive gifts only because I was born. So, it was often the case that my birthday passed quietly. There was not always something that I especially wanted as gifts. Because it’s fine that if something is needed, I buy it then.
– When will the next album come out? Please let us know the plan of your next activity.
I’m preparing for it by little and little, but I can’t tell you exactly when it will be. Also, though the official activity ended, but I’m going to keep singing if I have a chance to stand on a nice stage but broadcast.
– In a distant future, as what kind of singer do you want to be remembered?
After 10 or 20 years passed, it’d be great if my name was raised as a Korean best singer-songwriter. Not 10 or 20 years but after one or two hundred years passed, it’d be great if my name was written on a page of popular music history book.
– Lastly, please give a comment to fans.
I really appreciate that you loved me though I’m just a newcomer. I will do good music from now on, so I hope for your interests and love.
Nowadays, if you see new singers, being sexy seems to be a basic, and they tend to show off their charisma only to faze people around. Moreover, they scramble to appear on variety shows that is said “must course” for new singers, and they show their talent as overly as it looks like severe in order to make themselves known.
On the contrary, new singer-songwriter JUNIEL is hard to see on variety shows but music shows. If I asked her the reason, she frankly told that “I cannot be a multi-player” and “It’s a little hard for me to make a surface image”. From JUNIEL, we were able to feel pureness that reminds us of “first love” just like her song’s lyrics. Seeing her unveiling her music world quietly yet honestly, I came to feel like to hug her warmly and to smile like a big sister seeing her little sister. I try expecting that she become a singer-songwriter remembered among people for a long time, rather than that she simply become a singer shinning in popular music world.