Interview by Mica Kendall, cover photo by Emmanuel Burton
If you combined the coming of age Studio Ghibli film, “Whisper of the Heart,” and meshed it with references to bubble tea, and added some lyrics and guitar instrumentals, it would equate to a High Sunn song. High Sunn is an up and coming, Bay Area band that started off as a solo project founded by 17-year old Justin Cheromiah, but then became fully completed after adding his friends Joe (drums), Fredy (lead guitar), and Ari (bass) into the mix. I got to discuss with Cheromiah over email about his latest EP Release, Hopeless Romantic, and his musical process that has resulted in him attaining over 13,100 monthly Spotify listeners.
Mica Kendall: How was the name High Sunn born?
Justin Cheromiah: It's kind of funny I guess. It was back in seventh grade when I wanted to start a music project. I came up with some cheesy ass "indie" names like "Forever Dreams" or "Pastel,” basic am I right? All I wanted in my name at the time was "high". So, my friend and I during lunch were coming up with more names. He was like "Hmmmmmmm. How about High Sunn?" I was like "sick." So yeah, that's how it was born.
M:What is the origin behind your own record label "Blind Love Tapes" & what influenced you to create your own personal platform for dream/bedroom pop & lo fi bands?
JC:When I wanted to get my friends' band on tape, I decided to start up a mini tape label. After releasing that first cassette, I thought that it would be cool to release some other artists that I really enjoyed. Luckily, I got ahold of both Jinsang and coldhart. When I released both of their tapes, I was surprised at how much orders came through. I was really happy that so many people supported those projects by buying a tape from a small no named label. LOL. Well Blind Love Tapes is just for fun of course. But, I might start it up again when I don't have other things to do. I want to focus on releasing more smaller bedroom pop artists.
M:How did you meet your friends (Joe, Dylan, Ari, and Fredy) who now help you with High Sunn?
JC: Instagram. haha. Well, I met them through my ex live guitarist. Joe has always been drumming for my live band since the beginning. I met Fredy through Joe, then Ari through Fredy. As for Dylan, I met him through my facebook friend, Jordan Shankle. He recommended him for producing a studio album. He has worked on the recent ep and the upcoming project.
M: What's the music scene like in San Francisco and how does the Bay Area influence you as an artist?
JC: It's getting better. Recently, there has been a lot of new artists, like Slug or Toner, who are really great. If you asked me a year ago, I would have said it was a little dead. Though, our scene is not as big as L.A.'s scene, I can say that our's is tighter. Since it's such a small community, a lot of bands help each other out. The Bay Area has actually impacted my music immensely. Certain areas in the Bay have played a huge role in composing lyrics. More specifically, the boba shops around here have definitely added to a song's story.
M: In total you have over 30 releases in full albums, eps, and singles, what is your personal recording process like when it comes to your vocals/guitar/synthesizers & what gives you creative inspiration?
JC: High Sunn Recording Process 10:
- Load up ableton on my PC
- Run a cable into my app to the audio interface.
- Start playing around with a guitar riff and go from there.
- Layer the guitars
- Add vocals
- Send the vocals and guitars to my boi, Tristin from SD! Luv u dog
- He adds drums and synth, then sends it back to me <3
Well, anime and my iPhone notes gives me some creative inspiration. I would usually take like 5-10 minutes to reflect on a certain experience I had and structure the song around that. I try to match the sound to my past experience.
M: What inspired you guys to film your latest music video "Ramen waitress" in Chinatown?
JC: OH YEAH! Well, last music video I did was shot in Japantown. I didn't want that same setting again. We were wandering around Downtown SF and just took some random shots. We didn't mean to shoot around Chinatown, but just did it since we were there.
M:Whats your favorite track to perform live off your latest EP Hopeless Romantic ?
JC:Holding Hands. Fast, simple, fun, and catchy. I love that song.
M:What are your future goals & aspirations for High Sunn in the future after you finish high school?
JC:Maybe make a few more releases. I don't know really. I have been focusing on school a lot lately. I'm going to be majoring in computer programming, so that will be time consuming. Hopefully, I will get to tour outside of California. Maybe Japan? I don't have that many plans besides an album release.
Lastly, I had to ask Cheromiah the essential questions in association to his Studio Ghibli, boba tea, anime loving personality.
M:What's your go to bubble tea drink?
JC:Jasmine Milk Tea 30% sweetness 30% ice <3
M:If you could live in an anime, which anime would you pick?
JC:Prob 田中くんはいつもけだるげ (Tanaka-kun is Always Listless) because the school in the anime seems pretty chill. ORRRRRRR 小林さんちのメイドラゴン (Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid) cause Tooru is bae.
M:Out of all the Studio Ghibli movies, which is the greatest of all time to you?
JC: Ocean Waves <3 so aesthetic and teenage lovey dovey.