Hailing from the stark and unyielding deserts of the southwestern United States, Arizona-based techno artist, Juheun, has emerged from the dust as one of the most exciting talents to break onto the American techno circuit over the past few years. Following slew of impressive career releases on Octopus and Set About over the past few years, the iconic American-Korean techno producer's latest release saw him make his long awaited debut on Simina Grigoriu’s Kuukou Records, with the remarkable Instant Communication EP.
Landing on the esteemed German imprint for his first full-length EP of 2022, the exquisite three-part package represents an incredible showcase in dark, driving techno from the in-form producer and comes complete with two diverse remixes from I AM BAM and Melody’s Enemy. We caught up with him to find out more!
Hey Juheun, thanks so much for speaking to me today. Can you start by telling us a little about your musical experience and background? Where did you grow up and how did you get into music?
It’s my pleasure, thank you for having me!
I guess music started at an early age for me. Though it wasn’t obvious when I was younger as my passions were more driven towards drawing and painting, and later on turned into an obsession with film and directing. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.. yes home of Breaking Bad. Lol. There wasn’t much to do growing up, so lots of time was spent listening to music or getting in trouble. I was always driven in the background by music. Some of my fondest memories growing up were taking long road trips and my father and mother always sang out loud while blasting the stereo. When we weren’t road tripping, they would have people over to the house late at night to do karaoke. My father always prided himself over his HiFi stereo system. I remember going through his record collection and seeing names like Prince, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones etc. I was exposed to some of the greats early on before I even knew how legendary they were.
I was also enrolled in classical piano lessons before my teens, even though I wanted to play violin instead. Thinking back now I’m glad we went with the keys but kinda wish now I went with learning Jazz piano or something a bit more modern, but beggars can’t be choosers since my parents were fronting the bill lol.
Growing up in my teens I was exposed to a lot of Hip Hop, RnB, Alternative Rock, basically the shit that was on MTV at the time that was influencing all of America during the 90s. There was little to no dance music scene in Albuquerque at the time. It wasn’t until the internet where I started hearing these extended live recordings of DJs playing from around the world from random downloads on Napster and Limewire and attending my first underground rave that the dance music bug bit me and took control.
Now to the present, where are you currently based and what have you been up to recently?
I’ve been calling Phoenix Arizona home for the past 20 years now. Aside from the usual releases and gigs, most recently ever since the pandemic and all the extra time spent closer to home, been focused on helping to build up the local techno scene a bit more and organizing and hosting parties under the brand ‘Circuit’. After the lockdowns and the pandemic, we’ve been using this opportunity to kinda reset the scene a bit and cultivate a stronger community by bringing together both old and new followers.
How is your sound evolving? What artists do you enjoy mixing and listening to right now?
It really depends on the occasion, but it’s usually bouncing back and forth between more of the driving side of stuff to more hypnotic and raw if the occasion calls for it. Here in the states things are still a bit more on the commercial side of techno when it comes to the clubs and venues, but you will find the deeper stuff at the more underground warehouse and after hour parties.
At the moment I’ve been playing tracks from Drunken Kong, Modeā, Michelle Sparks, SUDO, Konrad (IT), Elias R, Ignacio Arfeli, Greg Notill, Enzo Monza, Andres Campo, Ada Byron, Tomas Otero, Decoder, Jay York to name a few.
What can you tell us about your last release on Kuukou?
Instant Communication was a record that kinda just materialized over night. Originally the track didn’t have the vocal sample at the drop and was actually purely an instrumental. Honestly I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to vocals in my music, but sometimes you just can’t help it, like in my other track ‘GO’.
I had been banging on the track for a few weeks, and thought it was pretty much done. It still didn’t have a name and was an ID at the time. I was sitting on the couch and watching TV and a commercial came on to promote some old 70s TV series called ‘Drag Net’ and I heard one of the actors say “Push a few buttons and instant communication”. When I heard it I jumped up and instantly knew I had to snag it for the track. It couldn’t have worked better.
To round out the EP, I had my homies Melody’s Enemy and I AM BAM jump on the remix duties with two killer takes showcasing their sounds along side the original. Melody’s Enemy remix comes in with this nasty acid synth throughout and a dope vocal buildup in the breakdown that makes your head spin. I AM BAM known for his raw and heavy drums delivers his take on the remix and does not disappoint with a dance floor monster perfect for any peak time set.
Do you think your sound has changed a lot in recent years?
Yes and no… I think my sound is always evolving, but when it comes to my DJing and production, I always try and keep my sounds generally more on the techno side of things. Over the years I constantly try and evolve with the times and try and offer something new while keeping this ethos in mind. I think as an artist it’s important not to get stuck in a loop doing the exact same thing yet still try and keep things familiar but fresh.
Do you feel more comfortable playing with more underground, experimental sounds now than you did when you started out?
I’ve always been interested and intrigued with more experimental and underground side of stuff, but I try not to go too deep as I know how deep I can get sucked down that rabbit hole with that stuff. I’m a very big tech guy, so once I get attached to something, I go real deep and have to know everything about it. I spend countless hours doing research and reading reviews etc. It gets a bit obsessive at times lol. I’ve always been a DJ first and producer second, so its important for me not to get too lost in the sounds and to find a good balance between both…even though it seems these days it’s more about the studio and time spent making music. I have friends who used to be amazing DJs, but decided to tread down the modular side of things and I haven’t heard from them since. I think they are locked up in a basement somewhere in the midwest surrounded by racks and racks of modular gear at this point lol.
We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity in your opinion?
If anything I think it has opened the doors up to taking things to the next level which will only push people to become even more creative by forcing them to step outside of their comfort zone. I’ve been around since the vinyl days and as much as it pains me to say, taking things digital especially when it comes to Techno has only pushed the envelope even further with technology which in my mind is a good thing. I think for me that’s a big part of what draws me to Techno and continues to push me. Some of the purists might disagree, but look at all the latest tech that’s now being offered in both the DJ game and studio. Yes it’s allowing more accessibility to it, but its also forcing everyone to evolve.
Looking forwards, can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
The past few years I’ve been focused on writing stuff and releasing more on the driving side of things, but as of recently I’ve been in the studio working on some more stripped back hypnotic sounds while still keeping a heavy drive to them. Really excited to see where these turn up and what everyone thinks when they finally get the chance to hear them.
I’ve also been revamping my live setup and planning to start performing more with that soon. It’s been completely over-hauled with the latest releases and a few surprises. This time I’m experimenting with a bit more analog gear along with my digital ableton live set performing all my own music. It’s been a few years now since I last toured with it and I’m really itching to get back to it and take a little break from the DJ sets.
Anything else you’d like to add before we finish?
Just want to thank you again for having me and giving me a chance to share some updates with your readers. Look forward to seeing everyone at the next party!