[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] Discovering the Intimate Artistry of HUNJIYA – Part 1

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Get to know the intricate layers of Hunjiya’s artistry, where each song unfolds as a personal journey shared intimately in this exclusive interview.

Born from a blend of Seoul’s rich cultural tapestry and nurtured in the quiet landscapes of upstate New York, HUNJIYA, also known as Alice Kim, crafts music that feels as intimate as a shared secret among close friends. Her artistry, marked by modern production and layered vocals, invites listeners into a world of confessional lyrics and introspective melodies that resonate with authenticity and emotional depth. 

HUNJIYA’s journey into music began in high school, sparked by the vibrant DIY community and Asian American representation on platforms like YouTube. Starting with a humble $20 ukulele, she ventured into songwriting and production, gaining recognition through programs like YoungArts and honing her craft at the University of Miami. Her debut EP, ‘Lineage,’ released in 2017, was a personal tribute to her grandparents, weaving voice notes in Korean amidst stripped-down arrangements that celebrated their enduring love story. 

Following the success of ‘Lineage,’ HUNJIYA continued to evolve artistically, exploring themes of self-identity and self-care in her full-length album, ‘Look After August,’ and pushing boundaries with the electronic-pop soundscape of ‘Fold,’ a collaborative EP released under the alias indigoworld. Her most recent album, ‘KHAMAI,’ released in 2022, marks a significant chapter in her career, showcasing a refined vocal style and matured sound. 

Having performed at prestigious events like Art Basel and Okeechobee Music Festival and gaining acclaim from publications such as British Vogue and Them., HUNJIYA’s influence in the indie music scene continues to grow. Now based in Korea, she embarks on a new phase in her musical journey, poised to captivate audiences with her distinctive blend of vulnerability and musical prowess.

Join us as we uncover firsthand insights into HUNJIYA’s latest musical endeavors, the inspirations that drive her emotive sound, and the inner workings of her creative process in the first part of an exclusive two-part interview.

Hellokpop: Hello HUNJIYA. Please introduce yourself to our readers and what initially sparked your passion for a career in music.

HUNJIYA: Hello Hellokpop readers! My name is HUNJIYA, and I’m a singer-songwriter/producer. My overthinking tendencies and love for guitar sparked my passion for music.

HKP: Your new single was just released on June 20th. Can you tell us more about the song and what listeners can expect from it?

HUNJIYA: The song is called Echo! It is the first chapter of my three-song EP about finding contentment. The song is about taking on too much of others’ pains and ultimately affecting your own mental health. “Echo” is designed to make you feel like you’ve experienced a wide range of emotions tirelessly.

HKP: Your previous single, “tourguide,” is incredibly creative, especially when combined with the music video. Could you share more about it What came first in the creation process – the inspiration, the lyrics, or the melody?

HUNJIYA: Thank you! I made the song a year ago but left it in the dust until I worked with my friend and producer, Daniel Loumpouridis. I wrote the song after going on several bad dates in Seoul, where men barely asked anything about me but more so asked about Korea as though I knew everything about this country, though I’ve only lived here for a few years. I brought a demo to Daniel, and he put his magic to work.

HKP: As an independent artist, you have full creative control over your music. How does this freedom influence the direction and sound of your songs?

HUNJIYA: Returning to being an independent artist has allowed me the freedom to create and make what I want in my own time, work with whomever I want, and choose how to present myself to the world. It enables me to stay true to my artistic vision and branch out into other genres and careers!

HKP: You’ve been vocal about the challenges of being an independent artist. Can you share more about your journey and how you’ve navigated the hurdles of the music industry as a singer, songwriter, and producer?

HUNJIYA: Navigating the music industry independently has been challenging but rewarding. I have to wear a lot of hats now and make sure I’m meticulously meeting all my deadlines. It’s a continuous learning process involving self-promotion, managing finances, and building a network, but it also allows for greater personal and artistic growth.

HKP: With each new release, how do you challenge yourself to push the boundaries of your music and continue growing as an artist? Are there recurring themes or messages that you find yourself drawn to?

HUNJIYA: I am constantly seeking new inspirations and techniques to evolve my music and my artistry. I try to challenge myself these days by writing different genres and working with different people. I’ve been exploring a lot of electronic music these days (stay tuned for the winter *wink wink*) Recurring themes in my work often include self-discovery, cultural identity, and emotional expression.

HKP: How do you balance your roles as a singer, songwriter, and producer? Do you have a favorite aspect of the creative process?

HUNJIYA: It comes naturally to me to be these three because that’s how I first started making songs. When I first made music, I was recording everything on Garageband, and I loved the art of producing. However, balancing these roles does involve time management cause I can get stuck in a loop. I don’t think I have a favorite! They’re all equally important and fun to me 🙂

HKP: Your music often blends different genres and influences. Can you tell us about your musical inspirations and how they shape your sound?

HUNJIYA: My sound is influenced by a diverse range of artists and genres, including indie, jazz, pop, electronic, folk, K-pop, and R&B. Listening to a variety of artists keeps my ears fresh for new inspirations! But I always see myself going to my favorite artists for inspiration, such as Lianne La Havas, Bon Iver, Joni Mitchell, SZA, and Frank Ocean.

HKP: What do you hope listeners feel or experience when they listen to your music?

HUNJIYA: I hope my listeners feel like they have someone there for them. As a chronic overthinker who gets lonely quite easily, I use my writing to communicate all my chaotic emotions—whether that be something dark or something silly. I write a lot of somber songs, but I don’t want to make people sad; I want the songs to evoke introspection. 

HKP: Social media plays a significant role in the music industry today, but it’s no secret that it can be overwhelming or even frustrating at times. How do you navigate your relationship with social media as an artist?

HUNJIYA: If I could, I would love to never use social media… As much as I’ve met some amazing friends through there, I hate that we’re all glued to our phones and how artists can only really grow through social media these days. For me, I treat posting like it’s a part of the job. I mute posts that I don’t think I need to see on my feed, and I make sure the algorithm knows I need to see lots of cute animals and good memes.

HKP: How do you unwind and recharge when you’re not immersed in music or creative endeavors?

HUNJIYA: I love lying down and petting my cats, being in nature, and doing crafty things such as crocheting, bead-making, etc. Lastly, if I really need to let some steam off, I love going out and dancing with my friends.

HKP: What’s one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were just starting out as an artist?

HUNJIYA: Girl, stop being embarrassed by everything!!! Be cringe!!! I wish I wouldn’t let my need to be “perfect” get in the way of sharing my music. I also wish I had practiced the piano more… 

HKP: As a Korean-American artist, do you draw inspiration from your cultural background, and if so, how does it influence your music?

HUNJIYA: My Korean-American upbringing influenced my music, not from a musical standpoint but more from a starting point. The language barrier I had with my family growing up fueled my desire to communicate through music. As a bicultural person who barely spoke Korean until her adult life and barely had any Asians surrounding her growing up, I expressed my internalized thoughts and emotions in my songs. Nowadays, living in Korea, I’m more influenced by Korean music than ever. I’m really grateful to have lived here and gotten to be immersed in the music scene. 

HKP: Lastly, what’s next for HUNJIYA? Any upcoming projects or goals you can share with us?

HUNJIYA: I have many music videos coming, an EP coming out in August, and possibly more music in the fall/winter. I just want to make good music, be in good company, and spread good energy!

Stay tuned for part two of our exclusive interview later this summer!

Connect with HUNJIYA on X, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Listen to her discography on Spotify and Apple Music.

*Special thanks to HUNJIYA for this exclusive interview.

Image and Video Credits: HUNJIYA