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Insider Scoop: Behind the Scenes with Jun Lucas And The Creation of His First Full Length Album

Edited by Iceis Augustino

'Entries' album cover
Credit: Jun Lucas

South African artist Jun Lucas is releasing his first full-length album, Entries, on July 5th, 2024, and I got to sit down and speak with him about the process of making the album. As he has been meticulously working on his music, he has been sharing with his fanbase, the Unit, on Discord and sharing the process of how his songs are made. Instead of the live streams he's been doing nearly every week showcasing his music, he occasionally live streams to show the process of creating the music, from songwriting to recording to mastering the tracks. It is a rare treat that we get a sneak peek behind the curtain of how music is made. Here's a little taste of what we talked about with his behind-the-scenes knowledge.


While making an album has so many moving parts to it, what has been the easiest part overall?

Jun: The easiest is definitely just listening to it from a listener’s perspective, jamming to it, driving to it. Because I also have to listen critically [to] it and enjoy it as a listener. I have to be in the audience's shoes, and that is what I found easiest. [It] also [makes it so I'm] able to relate to my fans and listeners and listen from their POV.


When it came to letting others have control over certain aspects, what was the hardest to let go of?

Jun: I’m a very meticulous person about how my mixed sounds and my music [come] across, especially vocally and with vocal execution. Working with other people, (sound engineer, mixing, etc), That put me in a position to put my trust and my vision in other people, and that was difficult because I’ve been listening to these songs for so long and interpreted it in my own way and became attached to it. When a fresh set of ears listens to it and makes their own adjustments, it feels weird to me. Something [every creator] and [artist] go through, learning to detach yourself from certain things that you've heard over and over again and fell in love with over a long period of time. The lyrics on the album are very, very close to me. I wanted to get the best takes, the best vocals, and the best sounding mixes, but it wasn't realistic with the time frame and the resources I had. I had to sacrifice and let go of being a perfectionist and [allow] other people to play their part.


Where did you find your creativity pulling you the most?

Jun: I mean, honestly, I have no idea where it comes from. If I did, I would be harassing the source and asking for more creativity. Sometimes, it just happens. For me, I’m not able to consciously induce myself into a creative state. Sometimes, I just sit down and go, "Think of something, think of something, be creative." Sometimes, I do that, and nothing happens, [but sometimes] something great happens. For me, I haven't mastered the art of creative flow state on demand. Fortunately for me, it wasn't too much of a stress because of those creative moments just happening. [I] just have to keep creating and stretching the creative muscles.


Were there any parts of the process where you found yourself having blocks/struggling?

Jun: Yes, plenty of those as well. It was particularly during the songwriting process. When you get used to writing a certain style and regurgitating the same thing, it’s like [nothing's] new. Sometimes, that gets discouraging, and when I do find myself having blockages, I actually get in co-writing sessions with old classmates and bounce ideas off them. It is particularly useful as they [have] a different mind and would help inspire and dive into the process.


When it comes to the melody vs the backing music itself, is one part easier to write than the other?

Jun: [The] melody, for sure. That’s what I mainly studied [at] Berklee, and that’s what I trained myself to do. Come up with melodies and write them. Lyrics subsequently come next.


Do you tend to write the music or lyrics first?

Jun: [The] melody comes first, rhythm, then the lyrics, [and] then the music would come in. The melody tells the story and lets the rest do the rest of the work. I used to be so bad at songwriting, but I drew inspiration from one of my favorite songwriters, Ed Sheeran, and he said, “You got to let the dirty water run until the tap runs clear. You have to let the trash ideas out to get the clear ones out of the pipes.”


Is there one song in particular you feel the strongest emotional attachment to?

Jun: There are three or four of them. I like them all a lot, but there are at least four of them that I really like a lot. It would be between 'The Unit,’ ‘Fantasy,' and ‘Good Things Take Time.’ I love them for different reasons. One of them I envision singing to my fans. A lot of them have gone through this world with rough pasts and have trouble dealing with life and have trouble pursuing [it]. Somehow, they found a way to circle themselves out, [which] could be like one song away. I’ve had many instances from speaking with fans [at] meet and greets [about] the many times that music has saved their lives. I thought it was a cliche, but it actually happened. I was moved by what they felt. No one likes to feel alone or rejected in this world or that they’re not useful. This world is very good at convincing you that you're not worth anything or that you're a waste of space when it is the opposite. It's meaningful to have that hope that you are not alone or a waste of space. [I felt pretty strongly about] any of the songs that touched on that subject.


How many songs did not make it to the album?

Jun: Lots of unfinished ones, but two finished ones didn’t make it due to the fact that they just did not fit the narrative of the album. The album is meant to be [a] reflective journal. It didn't make sense to sing about something that didn’t fit the vibe of the album. [When] naming my album, Entries, I wanted to make sure that all of them were struggles or concerns or questions that I had in my head that I journaled about and wanted to put forth into the world of music.

How directly are you involved with the mixing and mastering? Is it something you really enjoy doing or enjoying more than you expected?

Jun: [I'm] directly involved. I was literally in a sixteen-hour-long mixing session before this happened. So, I take a very hands-on approach when it comes to this. The songs are like my children. They’re not gonna leave my sight. I don’t want you to do stuff to my songs without me seeing it. I would be with the mix engineer, guiding the sound, taking notes and sharing them, and making sure the vision was being fulfilled. I will never just hand something to others and just let them have their way with it, even choreographers. It helped me learn a lot and [made] me think like a sound engineer and a mixing engineer. I went to school for this, and I wanted to be in the shoes of one so I would know how to do it all.


When it came to sharing parts of it with The Unit, was it easy to decide what to share (to avoid too many spoilers while still giving good sneak peeks)?

Jun: I’ve always been a believer [in] transparency, and I think that having them walk on this creative journey doesn’t take anything on my part. I know how much they appreciate it, and they love seeing the process. I don't see what there is to hide about my music. At the end of the day, you still hear what I’m trying to say. I want you to take a deep dive [into] everything from how I wrote them as journal entries to the finished product. Music shouldn't just be a finished product. You should see it from the beginning. It’s a journey. It’s not an end product.


I know it has to be tiring at times, but what was the most energizing part of the process?

Jun: Definitely recording the vocals. Seeing the work progress and watching the song grow. Listening back to the track and visualizing people's reactions when you listen to it or sing on stage, or how someone can benefit.

How much sleep have you gotten during this process?

Jun: Not enough, hah! I’ve been horribly undisciplined and not getting much sleep. Normally, when it is not [writing] season, I get plenty of sleep. I had to flip my sleep schedule to fit the engineers' schedules. In order for me to catch some of the sessions, I had to be awake at wild hours. You have to sacrifice what you have to sacrifice.


What has been the least enjoyable part of it all?

Jun: I would say it was organizing, planning, logistics, and things like that. Making sure that things follow through and making sure sessions happen at the correct times. Staying organized has been the hardest part for me and having to count on other people. When things aren't in your control, you have to brace for stressful situations or certain events. You just have to troubleshoot and figure [out] a way around it.


Doing this independently, do you feel like there is anything you’ll do differently for the next album?

Jun: Be more organized, be more timely, organize and discipline my sessions. Once that sets in, it makes the process more seamless. I would rest more too.


What advice would you give to other emerging independent artists thinking about producing their first album or LP?

Jun: Don’t lie to yourself. Be true to who you are as an independent artist. Solidify your identity. Know who you are, and then you know the people you're making music for. It’s about what you can offer in this world and give to them, not what you can take from them and gain from them. Don’t think fans [are responsible] for getting you from one place to another. You want to focus on how you can enter the world by being the best version of you.


How has your family been during this?

Jun: They’ve been good. I’ve been keeping in contact with them. I didn’t want to spare that part during the recording process.


Do your parents have a favorite song?

Jun: No, they haven’t heard it yet. I actually don’t know if they'll like it or not. I [honestly] don't even think they listen to the music I make.


What is the first thing you want to do once this album is finished?

Jun: I really want to tour and perform the songs on the album. I just want to get on stage and dance and sing for people. But before all of that, I want to get a nice rest in, play some video games, [and] be normal for a bit. I just want to live a normal life for a bit.


What else can we expect from you this year?

Jun: There's going to be a new merch release, [and there are possibly] also going to be some live show dates. It’s not guaranteed yet, but that’s what I’ve got coming up.




 

Jun Lucas Instagram | Youtube | Website

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