An Interview with JUKO and grape milk

By Damilola Grey

Dami: What was y’all first introduction to music?

JUKO: My dad got me into The Beatles when I was pretty young. That kind of stuck with me. I discovered Daft Punk when I was six and that kind of introduced me to electronic music. I started producing when I was 12 because I was super into Dubstep and old Monstercat music.

grape milk: Okay yeah so my first and most prominent experience with music was back when my dad would play an album of Andy Hunter’s “Life” on CD. I think I was about 3-4 years old at the earliest. That album’s old as hell so it kind of makes sense. I listened to it so many times and I mean I REALLY ate it up. Still inspires me in parts of my creation to this day.

Dami: What inspired y’all to start making music?

JUKO: I started DJing for fun, and I got lazy and started mashing up songs on GarageBand to play them in my sets. I didn’t understand how to actually mix songs. Eventually I started adding my own loops. Then I started making my own loops. Eventually, I got good at that, and I didn’t actually realize I was making music until later on.

grape milk: My piano teacher actually. I was in piano lessons from age 11 to age 12. Around the middle of that time, he showed me GarageBand on the Mac and I was completely hooked. I then quit piano lessons not too long after learning about music production. It was all I wanted to do from that point on.

Dami: How would y’all describe your sound/style of producing?

JUKO: I think the best way to describe my music is that it’s basically pop with detuned synthesizers. Maybe a little 60s-rock influence mixed in. Nothing more, nothing less. Every time I record something with Eli, I always find myself saying “let’s make a really bad Katy Perry song with high pitched vocals”. It never ends up that way. Or maybe it does.

grape milk: I would describe my sound as a “hyperpop-indie blend”. I try to be very raw and abrasive with my sounds, yet I always keep my chords melancholic. I also produce some Dubstep sub-genres on the side, and I think that factors in to my sound in some ways. In terms of Gabe’s and my music (as a duo), we sound cinematic and pulsing, with inspired sounds from techno, bass house, analog saws, and classic sounding pads, mixed with that hyperpop undertone we’ve started to take on recently. Its manifested itself in a super weird alternative pop sound that I personally love.

Dami: With all the various genres in music, what made y’all pick this electronic/ pop sound?

JUKO: I feel like every electronic artist reaches a point where they don’t know whether to go more towards the “bass/ EDM” route or the “melodic/ pop” route. Nowadays, we try not to think about it and do both, but in my case I wanted to make music that reflected what I listened to the most. I’ve been wanting to break away from that electronic label for so long but it gets difficult when everybody knows you for making electronic music. I can’t speak for Eli, but I’m pretty sure he loves making anything and everything. Dude’s crazy. He just loves producing.

grape milk: I have nothing to add to that.

Dami: What’s y’all creative process like?

JUKO: I almost only exclusively listen to albums. Every now and then, I’d listen to something good and get a burst of inspiration. When I attempt to actually make something- I usually only get to finishing a good drum track and giving up. The only time I feel like I can successfully create a song is when I can picture the whole song in my head before making it. That goes for the structure, the atmosphere, and melodies. My best work comes from those moments where I’m inspired, but I’m not set out to mimic an album I just listened to. In terms of me and Eli, our process is a hit-or-miss. Sometimes our chemistry is just too good where we just have fun and make really bad music, then sometimes those jokes turn into real songs. It’s interesting because we never know what’ll end up finished or what’ll never see the light of day. Also, basic chord progressions are key. The most overused, catchy, and annoying chord progressions turn our songs into beautiful, pop garbage.

grape milk: My creative process is very “on the fly”, like a “don’t blink or you just might miss it” kind of thing. I am very drum oriented and spend a lot of time in making that groove unique and smacking. I really think drums stand out in my production a lot, though they’re usually the second thing for me to lay down in a project. I’ll always write chords when I’m starting something new. In terms of my workflow, I act so much on my impulses that I think it makes me an acquired taste for collaborations. Gabe is one of those people that has always been able to work with and that’s why I think we make an awesome duo. When we work together also, we won’t shy away from anything comedic. Quite a few of our collaborative works are sparked from an improvisational, witty place, and it flows from our fingertips so well. We work really fast I think.

Dami: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

JUKO: grape milk is definitely at the top of my list. I’m a fan first, then a friend. Dayglow, The 1975, Porter Robinson, and Madeon as well, but as of late Mac Miller has been influencing a lot of my work. I also listen to The Beatles way too much.

grape milk: My top inspirations are JUKO, Skrillex, Moody Good, dltzk, Alexander Panos, Ryan Leahan, and underscores.

Dami: How do y’all balance school and music?

JUKO: I don’t. It’s a problem. When I’m focused on school, I get so fucking upset to the point where I just can’t create anything. When I’m focused on music, I feel like I can’t think about anything other than whatever I’m working on. I have a real issue with balancing things like that. There are days where I stay up so late to work on a track, and I find myself missing my alarm or something like that. It gets frustrating after a while. My grades are terrible and I’m pretty ashamed of it but hey, the music’s fun.

grape milk: I recently finished school for the meantime, so I actually have a TON of free time to work on anything I want. When I used to be in school though, I would prioritize my art over my studies. I just felt I couldn’t really survive without making music, but that I could always cram my assignments last minute. I didn’t get very good grades lol.

Dami: What has been the most memorable thing y’all have experienced as artists?

JUKO: When people started to notice the little Easter eggs I drop in my own music. I reference so much of my work within my work- to the point where it starts to tell a story. That goes for most things I’ve released as a solo artist. It took so long for that to actually happen, for someone to comment “hey I get that!!! That was from this or that song”. But it did, and it makes me so happy.

grape milk: I have two answers. One was when I met Gabe for the first time. We created so much and bonded like I’ve never bonded before. It was a really cool experience. I could say the same thing that about the second time we hung out at the end of 2020. My other memorable moment was the online listening party for my second album release. The album was called “Seen before Heard”, and it’s my most destiny-shaping project ever. A lot of things came from that, and a lot of folks appreciated what it stood for.

Dami: What’s the most stressful thing y’all have experienced as artists or that you are still experiencing?

JUKO: Imposter syndrome. It sucks, and hearing Porter Robinson talk about it it hit me on a spiritual level. It’s something that I realized all artists experience at one point- and I never thought it’d happen to me until it did.

grape milk: Scheduling my releases! I swear it gets really frustrating to organize what music is gonna come next. I sometimes wish it were acceptable in the community to post songs day after day, but that’s just not realistic in the music business. Again, I love my impulses when I create.

Dami: Y’all just dropped a new single called “ILYx3”. Can you tell us more about it?

JUKO: ILYx3 was so much fun to make. I had that annoying “I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU” melody stuck in my head at work- and I recorded a voice memo. I didn’t listen back to it months later, and I told Eli about it and we just spent a night making it. We wanted to make a classic dance song resembling something we would’ve done with our old project “MALIBU”. It’s a song about contradicting yourself. Everything that’s said in the lyrics is immediately followed up with the opposite of what’s said. I wanted to make something that nobody could ever get out of their head, something that’s stitched to someone’s brain until the end of time- or until it drives them to insanity. But then again, it’s not that deep.

Dami: What’s next for y’all after ILYx3?

JUKO: We’re putting out an EP soon, with ILYx3 on it. It’s a weird one. I’m working on a solo EP that’s hopefully going to be out by the

grape milk: My next album! It’s got a lot of cool hyperpop inspired stuff and I really want to push it out at some point this spring 2022. I and Gabe are also working on our next EP to follow “FIELD TRIP”.

Dami: What are y’all hoping to achieve by the end of the year?

JUKO: I’ve been wanting to move down to Austin to pursue music for a long time. Maybe this’ll be my year, who knows?

grape milk: Honestly, I would like to see my SoundCloud page hit 10, 000 followers. It’s maybe a little optimistic, but aside from that, I don’t see the use in making any goals for labels I’d like to see myself on or anything like that. Really just the SoundCloud stat of 10k would be fun.

Listen to ILYx3 here now

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