At merely 22 years of age, Juñor had just come off a 50-day national show tour around Australia, which he describes as the ‘longest Australian hip hop tour in history.’
At merely 22 years of age, Juñor is a vocalist, producer, DJ and sound engineer.
And at merely 22 years of age, Juñor has matured into a self-defining, rare talent.
Overwhelmingly encapsulated within the free and open-minded way of thinking, Juñor is very much about ‘peace and love and equality between people.’
His experiences as a child have profoundly impacted his way of thinking and the style of music he represents. Coming from a mix of European and Sri Lankan descent, Juñor went to what he describes as ‘the whitest primary school in the state.’ As young children, he and his brother Matthew Craig, who is also his manager, would come to school only to land in between aggressive fights or be the victim of ruthless name-calling. The bullying often wreaked havoc. ‘It was regular enough to have an impact on us as kids… even just being olive-skinned meant I got sort of treated like that darker-skinned culture,’ he said.
Despite this, Juñor and his brother began to see a bigger picture, a future that entailed high hopes and big dreams. They gravitated to what he describes as ‘that hip hop and black culture.’
‘Instead of punching something up, I’ll write an angry song. Instead of expressing heaps of emotion to people around me… music is my way of expression.’ At 18, Juñor decided to ‘take it a bit more seriously,’ and from simply writing a few lyrics in between days, he began to ‘lay down some actual tracks.’
His first performance on a live stage was at a local charity event at the Ding Dong Lounge, located in the heart of Melbourne. The audience was tight-knit and enough to foster a sense of modesty. ‘A lot of people, when they come into rap because of the competitive nature of it… they think they’re the hottest thing around, and after your first gig, you kind of realize that I got some stuff to learn,’ he said.
‘Over the past three years of performing, there’s a universal difference between where I was then and what I’m doing now.’
Juñor’s recent 50-day national show tour, DJing with rapper Ivan Ooze as support and with the headliner Seth Sentry, is, as he mentions, his proudest performance to date. ‘We’ve got to work together as a family and I’ve got to do this to achieve happiness.’
Though without his father’s endless determination to succeed and be content, Juñor would not be the man he is today.
Juñor’s father desired to set sail on the ocean of the unknown, but for a long time was lost in a desert of intense thirst. His initial job, although financially stable, had removed any feeling of fulfillment he once had.
Arriving home one day to announce his decision to finally end his job and start his own business, his father went out on a limb and took a risk.
‘We won’t have as good finances for a while, but it’s something we’ve got to do. We’ve got to work together as a family, and I’ve got to do this to achieve happiness,’ Jûnor recalled his father saying.
Juñor, only a small child then, began to truly understand the importance of happiness and attaining happiness despite the circumstances. ‘It has really set the mold for me to go; you know it’s hard, the chances are low of it happening, but if you work hard enough, you can make whatever happen, happen.’
His father’s need to conquer the frustration with life as it was and not be a victim of comfort and stability reaffirmed Juñor’s mindset as being a dream chaser. Through this, Jûnor is, in Matthew’s words, one of the ‘most passionate and hungry people I ever met’ and his ability to ‘create his own lane’ distinctly sets him apart from other artists and rappers.
Juñor‘s own time to himself, behind closed doors, is as he describes ‘sacred to me.’ ‘I could lock myself away in a studio with headphones on and burn some incense and mix people’s tracks in a dark room.’
‘I enjoy meeting people, I enjoy seeing smiles on their faces… (though) I’m not always comfortable around talking to heaps of people… it’s not pure happiness.’
The adoration for his father and appreciation for the experiences that inevitably led him on a path of ‘chilled, psychedelic hip hop’ has largely impacted the message he hopes to convey through his music — for individuals ‘to not be boxed into a square, to treat others equally, and to be really free-minded and look beyond the norm.’
Among his many influences, Juñor dreams of a collaboration with rapper Kid Cudi. ‘Everything he’s ever touched is like absolute gold.’
With a diverse sound, Kid Cudi has largely molded much of Juñor’s artistry and style of music. His music has taught Juñor the valuable lesson to ‘stuff all these preconceptions of what rappers should be doing or what rap should sound like’ and to inevitably ‘make music that sounds nice and beautiful to me.’
To celebrate the launch and success of Juñor‘s EP Florescent Connections, REAL Music will be hosting a Warehouse Party on October 1, where hip-hop meets psychedelic trance. See details here. In keeping with the theme of Florescent Connections, the first shirt out of the REAL collaboration fashion line launch in October is to be designed through the use of psychedelic art. Juñor is also set to release another mix tape and announce an upcoming tour before the end of this year. In the words of Matthew Craig, when it comes to Juñor, simply ‘expect the unexpected.’
By Christiane Barro
Christiane Barro is currently a journalism student at Monash University also majoring in International Relations. She is a passionate writer and has freelanced for Mojo News and The Dot Point. Twitter @BarroChristiane.