Since Meng Jun Kuok first broke into the scene in 2008 as a contestant for Singapore Idol and proceeded to sign on to Warner, many things have evolved including an introspection into his creative journey. From participating in punk-rock band competitions as a rebellious teenager, playing at one of the region’s largest electronic music festivals, ZoukOut, and performing at Bang Bang alongside Amba Shepard, Meng Jun has come a long way in his career in music. He has made plenty of sacrifices along the way too, including forsaking his communications and digital media studies degree obtained at Stanford University and not caving into the pressures of working for the real estate empire his grandfather Robert Kuok founded.
In releasing his new EP “dreamstate”, Meng Jun has transitioned from using his former stage name MMXJ to his real name, JUN, to reflect his personal journey in relation to digging deeper into his sense of self. This positive celebration of his spirit is reflected in the uplifting tunes of his new EP, “dreamstate” that features atmospheric chord progressions, lush soundscapes and serene, picturesque backdrops – perfect for unwinding during the last stretch of the circuit breaker. Currently obsessed with Ableton during the COVID-19 crisis, he is now rethinking future strategies to create a more sustainable music career as there will be an increased adoption of live-streaming services going forward.
Popspoken: Share with us how you fell in love with music, how that love has evolved and what keeps your passion going, especially through rough times like these?
JUN: I fell in love with music at an early age from listening to records that my family would play. These include The Beatles, Celine Dion, Kenny G, New Radicals and Ronan Keating. During 2012 , I went to Coachella and watched a few electronic artists perform; I was amazed with their level of music production and spent the next few years honing in on my music production ability. It’s a constant learning process but what has culminated so far over the last few years of experiences is this album ‘GDVBS’ (good vibes). During times like these, I stay inspired by nature, listening to good music, and spending time with family.
Popspoken: Share with us how “GDVBS” came about. How would you describe what it means to have “good vibes”?
JUN: The album came about as I felt that I wanted to create music that would empower people and make them feel good. To me, having good vibes is about having the best intentions for others and the world. It’s about emitting a vibration/frequency that is positive and healing for those around you and the lives you can touch. It’s a state of mind and a way of being I wish for all humanity.
Popspoken: How did you meet Mae and Andy? What are your respective styles like and how do you resolve creative differences, if any?
JUN: I met Mae whilst we took part in Singapore Idol 2008. She’s an amazing talent , and even more importantly , an amazing human being. I met Andy online through a platform called Vocalizr; it’s a great place to connect with vocalists and producers. Mae and Andy are incredibly versatile artists and the three of us are alike in that we don’t stick to one genre; we make music from the heart and whatever sounds good to our ears. Working with them has been so effortless and I love the process of collaborating with singers, songwriters, and producers.
Popspoken: You spent some time in LA, where the images were shot. Tell us more about your time there and some places that inspired you, be it museums, art galleries etc during your time there.
JUN: One morning that was particularly inspiring was hiking up to Griffith Observatory with friends. The hike was easy going and the view from up there was stunning. I believe that’s where a portion of ‘La La Land’ was shot. I’ve always been fascinated with space and the galaxies out there, so checking out the findings in the museum was pretty cool too.
Popspoken: Tell us how you transitioned from MMXJ to JUN?
JUN: The transition came about as I felt this new material I’m releasing is deeply personal to my journey and life experiences. So it felt fitting that I released it under my real name Meng Jun.
Popspoken: What are some of the challenges that you face on a daily basis in pursuing music as a career and what are your sources of inspiration?
JUN: The main challenge I face while pursuing this creative endeavour is staying true to making what I feel is genuine and authentic. There’s a lot of noise out there and it’s easy to get caught up in what’s ‘popular’. My advice would be to stay true to you – those who like your music will eventually find you. I’m inspired by life and the experiences that I have.
Take a listen to his full EP which drops today.