12:45 am - 07/13/2012

[INTERVIEW] Songstress Juniel "Loving every minute of my hectic schedule"

Reporter : Lucia Hong, Lee Tae Ho
Editor : Monica Suk

Unlike her girly and shy image, FNC Entertainment's first solo songstress Juniel looked highly confident when she stepped into the studio for an exclusive interview with the magazine. It has been only a month since her debut showcase but without showing any signs of being nervous, she spoke candidly about her hobby of climbing mountains and loving every minute of her singing career despite the hectic schedule. Juniel's eyes glistened as she laughed while sharing her thoughts about the lessons she has learned as a rookie singer and getting an hour-long sleep every day. Below are excerpts from the interview held in Seoul on July 6, where she talked about her musical influences, her hobbies and what she expects in her future.

Q: How does it feel to have made your debut in Japan before making your official debut in Korea? And what do you think are the differences between the two music scenes?

Juniel: Music is music anywhere you go and I'm just content with everything that I have done so far. But if I have to pick the differences, how the live performances are held in Korea and Japan is different. In Korea, there is a limit to the kind of instruments that you can play on the stage while in Japan there really isn't. But, I have to stay that I love fulfilling my singing activities both in Korea and Japan.

Q: Have you always wanted to be a musician and at what age did you realize that you wanted to become one?

Juniel: Honestly, it was my father's dream to become a singer and I grew up watching him play the guitar. I also grew up listening to the songs of The Beatles and Eric Clapton, and I just love everything about their music. I was actually determined to become a singer when I saw a documentary about BoA when I was in third grade. That was when I knew that I wanted to challenge myself (to become a singer).

Q: It has been almost a month since you held the showcase and made your official debut in Korea, what have you felt in the past month and what have you learned from it?

Juniel: It feels like a month has passed in the blink of an eye. I was so busy that I couldn't get any sleep but it was a new experience. It's just fun going on various radio programs and TV shows even though it can be physically tiring sometimes. I remember that when I was really busy that I only got an hour of sleep and now I'm used to it. It was a new experience standing in front of the camera though I already have the experience in Japan. Oh, but being on the radio was new for me.

Q: Congratulations on becoming a regular guest on Super Junior's Ryeowook and Sungmin's 'KISS THE RADIO.'

Juniel: Thank you so much. I was really nervous at first but Ryeowook and Sungmin took great care of me. So far I have only recorded one episode and I wasn't sure about talking for about 30 minutes but I got up the courage and just went for it. They said that I did a good job.

Q: How did you feel about your first live performance in Korea and how do you get rid of stage fright?

Juniel: I had my first debut performance on Mnet's "M! CountDown" and I usually don't have stage fright but that was the first time I've ever used the in-ear monitor. I put both monitors in my ear but CNBLUE's Jung Yong-hwa taught me that I should use just one side. I don't like using only one, so my facial expression looked a bit stiff during our duet performance to "Babo" (in Romanized Korean). I think the viewers thought my expression was like that because I was a nervous rookie singer. I used both in-ear monitors when I sang "illa illa," which felt much more comfortable.

Q: What other instruments can you play besides the guitar and what is your reason in choosing the guitar as your main instrument?

Juniel: I can play the piano a bit but I just loved playing the guitar from the beginning. I loved hearing my dad play it when I was younger. There weren't any other artists that used instruments when I first joined the agency and they suggested that I should play the guitar as well.

Q: In one of the past interviews you did, you said that you are not that interested in dancing, acting, and other activities except for singing. This is a bit unusual for contemporary idol stars. Could you tell us why you think that way?

Juniel: I decided to become a singer because I love music. I also compose and write songs, and it's hard working on my music because of my busy schedule. I feel satisfied and happy with where I am now. And if I get a chance to pursue other activities in the entertainment business, I don't want to get the opportunity just by luck because I am a celebrity. I want to start out from the way bottom with a minor role, one that doesn't require much lines. (laugh)

Q: If you were to choose an idol group to join which group would it be and why?

Juniel: I would like to be in a band. I really love the music by the Peppertones [Korean indie band] and it would be great if they could sing while I play the guitar. I don't know about joining any idol group because I can't dance. (laugh) I have never gotten any dance or acting lessons and I learned how to play the guitar on my own before going to Japan.

Q: So, did you get calluses on your fingers because you've been playing the guitar for such a long time?

Juniel: I used to have calluses on my fingers and they turned black at one point but now you can hardly see them. (laugh)

Q: Besides Jung Yong-hwa, who would you like to sing a duet song with?

Juniel: These days, I feel that Younha is an awesome singer. She's so cool. But honestly, I want to do a duet song with everyone.

Q: Do you have any regrets about starting out in the music business at a young age?

Juniel: I was a trainee ever since I was in middle school. I went to class during the day and went through training sessions in the afternoon. I don't think I have gone to any of the field trips since eighth grade and I hardly had any time to play or hang out because I was always practicing (singing and playing the guitar). I think I forgot how to hang out. (laugh) I have a different way of enjoying my free time like going to coffee shops and just talking with my friends. I don't have any regrets but I am kind of sad that I don't have many memories of my school years and I didn't get to spend much time with my family. I think the reason why I don't have any regrets is because I see many people around me who haven't found their dream. Most of them just go to college and they tell themselves that they will figure it out what job to get or how they will make money. I'm glad that I've chosen this career because I'm doing what I like.

Q: You wrote most of the songs in the album and it seems like your hobbies include writing songs, do you have any other hobbies besides that?

Juniel: I love hiking and my mom has a huge influence on that. She really enjoys leisure sports and she even made a social hiking club at her work and they went on overnight hiking trips. I like to climb the mountain behind our house and I just started climbing more difficult and rough routes on mountains covered with rocks.

Q: Have you asked your fellow labelmates at FNC Entertainment -- FTIsland and CNBLUE -- to climb the mountain with you?

Juniel: I did! And the funny thing is that they all just avoided my suggestion.
Juniel's manager: Mountains are for viewing sceneries.
Juniel: I remember going to a mountain where rocks were just rolling on the side and people were swearing while climbing up the mountain which I thought was quite funny. (laugh) I would like to try rock climbing someday.

Q: You were a DJ in Japan, how did you become a DJ there and do you have any funny episodes while working there?

Juniel: I was chosen by some of the famous Japanese artists hosting a new TV show that features up-and-coming singer-songwriters. I go back and forth between Korea and Japan to DJ and it was a great honor in being chosen for the show. There aren't any special episodes but I had to stay up several nights to read and study the script because I had no experience like that before.

Q: Besides your music career, what are five things that you can’t live without?

Juniel: Oh wow. That's a hard question. Uhm... I have to say my family, my fans and... other artists who have had a huge influence on me. Wow, I can't think of anything else right now. Can we just make it three things instead of five? (laugh)

Q: When you are on the road to go to your scheduled activities, what do you do in your car and what are some things that you do to kill time?

Juniel: I sleep all the way in the car. (laugh) Since I don't have my own cell phone, I borrow my stylist's iPad to play games. I love playing games. (laugh)

Q: What do you do when you are stressed?

Juniel: I'm the kind of person that doesn't get stressed out much. People tell me that I'm a very positive and optimistic person. But when I do get stressed, I usually talk to my family or go on a hike. Usually, I write songs and express my feelings that way.

Q: If you had three words to describe your music career so far, what would it be?

Juniel: (thinks hard) Interesting, happy and hard-working.

Q: Many K-pop artists have expanded their careers into Japan and other countries, which country would you like to visit and why?

Juniel: If I get the offer, I would be willing to go anywhere. I want to travel all over the world but if I had to pick one country, it has to be London[, England]. I have heard many stories that it is a great place to visit and where band music began. It's just one of the countries I want to visit the most.

What do you think is next for Juniel?

Juniel: I'm not quite sure about that but I will be promoting "illa illa" a bit more. I guess in the future, I just want to be known as one of the greatest singer-songwriters in Korea. When someone asks, 'who is the greatest singer-songwriter in Korea?,' I want them to say that it's Juniel. I don't care how much time it takes. I want to be referred as one of the greatest singer-songwriters and be a part of the history of Korean music.

kstar10 1, 2
(note to mods: I did tidy up some of the grammar/spelling in this interview, but was careful not to change its content or meaning.)

FYT: Juniel covering Paul McCartney
amandaplan 13th-Jul-2012 07:09 am (UTC)
omg i love her cover and I really like Illa Illa.
geniebsmart 13th-Jul-2012 11:35 am (UTC)
Grrr I need to just sit down and listen to her album xD talented girl
deerlike 13th-Jul-2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
You won't regret it, I promise! :) Here's a brief live of one of her songs (it's a Korean remake of a song she originally wrote/performed in Japanese), "Mask".

tbh, I wish she was promoting this song instead of "illa illa" -- not that I dislike "illa illa", but it was a song written for her, rather than one she wrote herself. Just listening to "Mask" has me wanting to hear more of her original compositions. Most of them have been in Japanese, so I'm curious to hear any Korean original compositions she has.
lightframes 14th-Jul-2012 12:29 am (UTC)
I looove this song. It's my favorite from the Korean mini album.
deerlike 14th-Jul-2012 12:48 am (UTC)
Mine too! :) It's very Shiina Ringo-esque, I love that Juniel is influenced by her.
deerlike 13th-Jul-2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
Her Japanese discography is fab too, btw.

geniebsmart 13th-Jul-2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Thank you very much! :D

I like Mask A LOT! when she stopped singing, I was like "Nononono don't stop :0" haha
sakuracookie 13th-Jul-2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
MTE - She's precious.
izabera 13th-Jul-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
I find it awesome that her company didn't force her to be a typical idol who dances & acts etc...

I want her to have a duet with Younha.
lightframes 14th-Jul-2012 12:33 am (UTC)
BoA influenced a lot of younger singers and dancers.

I can't stop listening to Illa Illa and Mask. I really like her music.
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