An epic drummer, singer-songwriter and music producer, the Macao-raised, Hong Kong-based musician has been a mainstay in the local music scene. Heralded as “the drummer” in Hong Kong, Jun has toured around the world over the years with regional icons, including Jacky Cheung, Coco Lee, Eason Chan, Faye Wong, Sandy Lam, Khalil Fong and many more.
Jun is set to deliver a special intimate performance presented by Live Nation. We caught up with him to chat about his musical aspirations and recent life.
Hi, Jun! Thanks for taking the interview. Can you tell us more about yourself especially for those who are new to your music? E.g. where are you from, music background, where are you based?
I am a full time Drummer/Producer and a part time Singer-Songwriter. Depending on the time of the year, the role changes. I was born in Hong Kong and raised in Macau by a Filipino father and a mixed Portuguese/Chinese/Mexican mother. I have been a studio musician since I was 14, caught the writing bug at 18, and never stopped since. Growing up as a mixed child, my household spoke three different languages, sometimes all at the same time. I was raised in a very musical household in the late 70s: there was a lot of Funk, Rock, Folk and Pop music blasting non-stop on the radio; and not to mention “Fado,” the traditional Portuguese music playing on TV - that’s like the “Blues” from “Old Portugal” to me. All these influences really helped develop my keen sense for music and prepared me for studio life, where I can be at a POP session during the day, then cross genre and be completely opposite the same night, kinda like a music chameleon. I spend time between Hong Kong, Macau and Australia.
We hope you have been doing well lately! Tell us what’s your daily routine like now?
Since the quarantine, I have been writing so much: I finished two albums worth of music and a bunch of collabs - online obviously - and took time to learn how to edit videos for my YouTube channel, and bike riding every day. Well, we are slowly getting back to “normal” here in Hong Kong, and wearing masks for us is the new normal now. So, being able to get around town and run errands without being recognized is another mode of fun actually. You just have to make it work for you somehow.
Who inspired you to start a career in music? When did you become interested in drumming?
My uncle from Macau really inspired me to become a Drummer. When I was 7 or 8, he would take me to watch bands and concerts, often asking the performing drummer if I could “sit-in” and play with the band during soundcheck or rehearsals. He was - and still is - my biggest inspiration. Back in the 90s, Macau had a really small but very vibrant music scene. I am very proud to be a part of that scene.
What are your best advices for newbie drummers?
Well, the obvious would be: practice, learn your rudiments, sight read, etc. Going out on jam nights and sitting in with musicians really play a big role in a drummer’s career; doing that trains you to be sociable, because no one wants to work with someone who can’t have a good time. Also, being thrown in impromptu musical situations and making it out alive is an absolute plus for the other musicians watching, because that’s how most musicians get scouted: at jam sessions. Another very important aspect for me is to learn Pro Tools, Logic or any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): just because one can play drums does not mean he can get a great drum sound at a recording session. 60% of my work is in front of the computer. I know at least four to five different DAWS and it all comes in handy; when I first started learning Pro Tools, I just helped a friend score a movie for free, so I got to learn Pro Tools as well as how to write to visuals. Since I never went to school for music scoring, that’s probably the only way I know I can work and learn at the same time.
Also: “Never turn away a gig, all gigs can lead somewhere.“
And of note: “Never work with people that are not nice to others; at the end of the day, when the money and the fame goes away, you are only left with the memory of a project.”
Tell us more about your music – how would you describe your music to someone who's never seen you play before?
Well, my music is a little bit of everything, just like my background. But one thing is consistent, I try to hire the best musicians on tour when we play for other artists. In return, when I make my records, I try to emulate these great musicians and how they play because I already studied them on tour. I will end up playing most instruments, if not all. Even though I am a drummer, I really find the Acoustic Guitar my main source of inspiration. TOTO is one of those bands that are amazing studio musicians and are also bona fide ROCK-STARS. To me, that band is my aspiration.
What’s the favourite single you have release so far and why?
Favourite, but not necessarily the best song or performance: in 1999, a Cantonese song I wrote called “Here & Now.” I produced and played all the instruments on it. I was only 19 at the time. In a meeting early on, I had the audacity to tell a major label back then that I was going to be the one to produce the entire record, with ZERO experience and ZERO track record. Note to self: Please don’t ever read an article about Prince or Sting, and then think you can just go ahead and apply it to yourself. I’m glad to say that the song still holds up pretty well. It got really good airplay at the time and helped launch my career.
Which three albums have had the greatest influence on your life?
Sting – 10 Summoner’s Tales
Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
Led Zeppelin - How the West Was Won
If you could collaborate with three artists in your upcoming project, who would they be?
What's been looping on your playlist in 2020?
Khruangbin, Koffee, Sly Dunbar, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Liquid Liquid, Lettuce, Tame Impala, Easy Stars All-Stars, James Brown, Prince, Tower of Power, Huey Lewis and the News.
We are very excited about your virtual performance! What should audience expect? Any special message to people who will be watching the performance?
For my performance, I had to get a bit creative since we are still in isolation. I couldn’t get my favourite musicians together, so I decided to go back to basics. When I first had my four-track cassette recorder for my 15th birthday, I would only have enough tracks to record four parts, and that was the beauty of four tracks: Limitations. So, I decided to go back to how I started making music, just by playing the four essential ingredients: Drums, Bass, Guitars and Vocals. Everything was recorded in one take, live from top to end. Of course, since I was playing all the instruments into a computer, every song needed to be played four times for all four instruments, with no overdubs, no edits: The result is pretty raw.
My final words:
Music - playing music and listening to music - has always been like, a best friend to me. A friend that was always just there to keep me company through all the hard times as well as the great ones. A friend that won’t mind if I didn’t have time because I had chores or work; a friend that, every time we hang, I know I will just have the best time and have great memories. Always!
Catch Jun’s captivating performance on Live From Home:
Friday, June 5, 9pm local time
• Live Nation China - https://www.facebook.com/livenationchina
• Live Nation Hong Kong - https://www.livenation.hk/livefromhome
• Live Nation Taiwan - https://www.livenation.com.tw/livefromhome
• Live Nation Malaysia - https://www.livenation.my/livefromhome
• Live Nation Singapore - https://www.livenation.sg/livefromhome