Get to know the Seoul-born, Hong Kong-raised, singer-songwriter – just Min. The multi-genre artist who independently releases his music, aims to join the new global wave of Asian artists with his warming vocals and versatile sound selection.
Attending college in America, just Min is heavily inspired by an intriguing blend of modern R&B, alternate R&B, and indie pop. Artists such as Frank Ocean, Lauv, and Clairo serve as major influences on his vocals and artistry as a whole.
Starting his music journey on GarageBand in his dorm room, just Min has always had huge aspirations to take his craft and sound to the next level. The artist uses his talents to shed light on his complex upbringing and his experience with being the third child. just Min seeks to offer comfort to those who have experienced similar and hopes to validate their stories too.
just Min’s latest alt-pop single about Seoul, despite being ethnically Korean, tells the story of only being able to experience Korea through his annual visits to “Seoul in the Summer”. Speaking on the project himself, he states “Having just started making my own music in the fall of 2022, Seoul in the Summer is my debut single; I’m incredibly proud of this song and it quite literally hits close to home for me. I’m a Korean artist who was raised in Hong Kong and lived there for 13 years; I’ve always felt out of touch with my Korean heritage and made this song to feel more Korean in my own way.”
just Min’s sound is utterly refreshing, healing those that listen and shining a light on topics not usually given a platform. His stellar vocals and impeccable knack for storytelling is undeniably golden. We had the honour of chatting to the rising star, and got to know about his early days, new music and future plans.
Stream “Seoul in the Summer”…
Read the exclusive interview…
What genres or artists did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to two album CDs and church music in my mum’s dark blue Toyota. Between Maroon 5’s Overexposed and Adele’s 21, my little brother and I used to rotate between both albums because they were the only CDs we had and before you knew it, we knew all the lyrics to every song. As I grew into my teenage years, I started to branch out into R&B, Indie pop, Rap, and Hip-Hop on my own; I started to really appreciate the true artistry behind the music. I particularly fell in love with the lyricism of rap and hip-hop artists, as well as the sensuality of R&B; the way that the music depicted and visualised emotions, people, stories, and experiences. I knew that one day I wanted to try doing the same somehow, whether through my own music or some other creative output.
When did you start writing music yourself?
I started writing music myself in the fall of 2022 and it’s been a short yet long journey; I went from not being able to write a verse to finishing full song demos in 2-3 hours. I’m super proud of how far I’ve come, particularly when it comes to experimenting with my sound and not being afraid to try something different; but I still have a long way to go. It’s become obvious to me that songwriting is a skillset that can only improve with practice and persistence, so recently I’ve been trying my best to incorporate daily songwriting or creative journaling in my life.
How would you describe your sound?
I would first describe my sound as versatile; every time I work on a new song or idea, I always make sure to push myself out of my comfort zone, whether it’s completely switching the genre or using different instruments or keys. My vocals work well in both light upbeat songs, as well as dark introspective songs. I make music with the mindset that if I was a fan, I’d like my own stuff; I also write and arrange all my songs so I’d like to think my sound is very true to me. I’d also love to start co-writing with others in the future, whether that be for my own projects or for someone else.
Congratulations on your debut single, “Seoul in the Summer”! When did you start working on this track?
Even though “Seoul in the Summer” was released in late July, I actually came up with the initial chorus and song melody between February and March. I finished 80% of the song in the first few days but I was super stuck on writing the second verse for about 3-4 months; I had been writing some pretty depressing songs at this time so I found it difficult to write an upbeat summer song. I ended up working on other song demos/ideas for a while but finally figured out a second verse for “Seoul in the Summer” that I was happy with in May. Some songs just click and are finished in a day or two, while others take more time than you could ever imagine.
What was the inspiration behind it?
When I was initially writing “Seoul in the Summer”, I couldn’t figure out a good melody and hook to the tempo of the song for a few long weeks. Instead of moving onto another song idea/demo, I decided to push through and stick with it, and while top lining in my apartment late Feb/early March, I ended up coming up with the chorus and then built 80% of the song around it in a few days. I distinctly remember thinking about visiting Seoul this summer while top lining; in many ways, the song idea presented itself to me and just needed a bit of persistence and effort on my end! At this point, I had written songs only about my own emotions and I honestly wanted to make something that my family would also enjoy and relate to.
You so beautifully said that the track has helped you get in touch with your Korean heritage. Can you explain that a little further?
Being someone who is ethnically Korean but was raised in Hong Kong, I’ve always felt confused about my background. Growing up, all my friends from Hong Kong would call me a “fake Korean”, while all my Korean friends would say I’m from Hong Kong. It’s the classic “Third Culture Kid” story; feeling at home everywhere but simultaneously feels that nowhere is their true home. I also went to high school in rural Massachusetts and currently go to university in New York City; sometimes I’m so focused on getting things done and figuring out who I want to be in the future that I forget to just appreciate what I already have and who I already am. This song was my way of affirming to myself that I decide how Korean I am and no one else has a say.
How does this single introduce you as an artist to the world — or how did you decide to release it first?
To say my background is complex is probably an understatement. That being said, I always knew that if I ended up making music or expressing myself creatively, there would have to be some work or projects specifically about my own background and upbringing. Deciding to release “Seoul in the Summer’’ first was a difficult decision; it was partly logistical because “Seoul in the Summer” is a summer song, and in all honesty, I was not open to the idea of waiting until next summer to release it. It’s a song that speaks to who I am, as an artist and as a person; I always try to release songs that I’m genuinely proud of, no matter what people say or think of it.
Can we expect more music in the near future?
Yes! So much more! I can at least confirm that my next few songs will sound very different to “Seoul in the Summer”, both in terms of genre and style. Expect songs that are not as upbeat and deeper from an emotional perspective. I will have something new announced at latest some time early next month (September 2023). I’ve made almost 100+ song demos in the last year; with that in mind, I’ve definitely been taking a long time to release my music. I just knew that before I released my first single, I at least wanted to have another couple of songs almost complete and that’s the stage I feel I am currently at. I’m aiming to have at least 5 songs released before the new year! I’m also delving into creating some alternate R&B tracks at the moment, and hopefully there will be some collaborations in the near future too!
What three songs are your favourites right now?
My three favourite songs at the moment are “Trojan Horse” by Central Cee and Dave, “SUNSET BOULEVARD” by HOHYUN, and “Le cannibale” by Juniore. Special shoutouts to HOHYUN, who’s an incredible Asian American artist, and also to Dave; his music has gotten me through the good and bad times over the last few years and he’s been a massive inspiration to me, as a person and as a creative.
Long term goals?
I just want to be consistent with my craft and consistently push myself out of my comfort zone. Even though it feels like it’s been an eternity, I know that my 1 year of music creation experience makes me a baby when it comes to songwriting or vocal experience. That being said, I know that I still have a lot of space to improve and making my own music has quickly become something I truly love and enjoy. I don’t want to rely on moments of spontaneous inspiration and instead, I’d rather be creating constantly. For example, having scheduled blocks of time just for creativity and songwriting in my schedule as opposed to creating spontaneously once a month. That’s my mindset at least.
In terms of getting out of my comfort zone, I don’t just mean that in terms of my actual sound and music; I want to be putting myself out there more as a music artist, meeting new people, and slowly getting my foot more and more into the music industry. As a university student pursuing music on the side, I feel imposter syndrome 24/7, but I constantly remind myself that everyone starts somewhere. I just need to keep moving forward; I’m just getting started.