Q&A with Juhi

Juhi is may be young, but she's already appeared on The Voice, released her debut EP, Stress Case, and filmed her first music video. Still, perhaps what is most striking about Juhi is her dedication to artistic integrity. When she sat down to talk to GoGoMix, the words "real" and "raw" kept popping up as the ideals she aspires to. Following the lead of her heroes in Nirvana, Juhi dreams of making it big without compromising her left-of-center style for mass appeal. Judging from her video for "Welcome to Catatonia," she's off to a great start. A wickedly bizarre callback to experimental music videos of the 90s, "Welcome to Catatonia" is a brave, strange film that Juhi admits she knows not everyone is necessarily going to like, but it is honest, and for Juhi, that's the important thing. We're absolutely thrilled to premiere the video for "Welcome to Catatonia," which you can check out below, along with our Q&A with Juhi where we discuss the ideals of Nirvana, the Kardashians encroaching on her look, and the things she likes that make up her Lifestyle DNA!

GGM: The video for “Welcome to Catatonia” is super cool. I understand you filmed it all yourself?

Juhi: Yeah, I recorded it, edited it, and cut it all up!

GGM: There are a couple things that I find really striking about it. The first is that it seems like it’s not really about you so much as it is about your friends. Was that intentional? What was your concept for the video?

Juhi: I’m really camera-shy when it comes to being on video. I don’t necessarily like being on video, so that was part of it, but a lot of it also had to with the fact that there wasn’t really a need for me to be in it. I wanted the video itself to be fun but weird, like it didn’t make any sense. I didn’t want the video itself to have a coherent storyline. I wanted it to just be randomness, because I feel like the song itself is kind of weird. The lyrics are not something someone would pick up on immediately. It can have so many different meanings, so I didn’t want the video to have a specific meaning. I wanted it to be something people could interpret on their own. Me not being in it as much mainly has to do with the fact I don’t like being on video, but I also wanted to encapsulate the fun-loving vibe that I see every day, and if I were on video, it wouldn’t be what I see.

GGM: The other thing I noticed is that the film techniques for the video are really cool, really experimental, a lot of choppy editing and film going backwards, that sort of thing. What were the videos or movies that inspired the style of “Welcome to Catatonia”?

Juhi: Anyone who knows me knows I really, really like 90s music, and if you’ve ever seen the video to “Loser” by Beck, it’s so weird, and then there’s—I think it’s “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys, or it could be something else, but their videos are also really weird. They’re really chopped up and crazy. You’re like, “I don’t know if I want to keep watching this, or what to do with it!” I kind of wanted my video to be something like that. I’m not necessarily comparing my video to those because I’m sure they were done by people who actually knew how to make videos, but I don’t know. I wanted my video to be really, really raw. I didn’t want a video team. I could’ve had that, but I thought it would’ve been really cool. Not a lot of people do it where it’s so home video—it’s not even home video, it’s really just someone walking around with a camera. I know that’s not necessarily gonna be something everyone’s gonna like. In this day and age a lot of people are looking for videos to be aesthetically pleasing, and I understand my video’s not necessarily that, but I just wanted it to be real.

GGM: It totally comes across! So you’ve made no secret about your love for Nirvana, so I’m gonna ask you to make a tough choice: what’s your favorite Nirvana album?

Juhi: Oh, that’s not okay! It has to be… that’s a hard question! I want to say In Utero, but they’re all so different! I think I will go with In Utero. That’s a hard question, though, because I also really liked Incesticide, and Nevermind has a lot of good stuff, and Bleach is just so dirty and raw!

GGM: Okay, how about this: what about Nirvana influences you as an artist?

Juhi: I was just talking to someone about this yesterday! I guess it’s the fact that their music wasn’t targeted to be mainstream, at least at first. I’ve read up a lot. From what I’ve inferred, they knew their music wasn’t something they could target to the mass but would have a following. It wasn’t necessarily about being mainstream. Success was something they probably would’ve wanted, but they knew they could find it within a following and not within the masses. That’s an important thing a lot of people don’t try for. A lot of people want overall success, and that’s a great thing to have, but I think you have to start with a core following, and I think that’s what they wanted, and that’s what they got. I feel they kept their music uniquely them. They didn’t stray away from it just because that wasn’t popular.

GGM: What did you think of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where they had all these great female vocalists come in and do their songs?

Juhi: I thought that was actually really cool. I feel like such a dork whenever I talk about Nirvana because I’ve literally read up on everything I possibly could. I used to be super, insanely obsessed with them! I mean I still love them, but I have this little Kurt Cobain’s journals book, and my room is covered in posters. As far as I know, having all girls do the show was really cool. I’m pretty sure Kurt Cobain was a feminist. I thought that every one of the girls brought in their own style.

GGM: That was definitely cool. Lorde’s “All Apologies” was really impressive.

Juhi: I really liked Joan Jett’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” That’s not really my favorite song, but it was really cool.

GGM: Your guitar is beautiful. What is it?

Juhi: Thank you! It’s a Fender Jag-stang. I love it so much!

GGM: So, one of the things GoGoMix likes to do is find out about the things you use and like in your everyday life. So I’ll start off broad: Juhi, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Juhi: That’s a hard question because music is a lot of what I do in my spare time! I enjoy writing poetry, which I guess goes hand in hand with music!

GGM: What are some of your favorite poets?

Juhi: I really like Thoreau, which is kind of cheesy because that’s all transcendentalism. In junior year, we literally went through a whole transcendentalist phase and I got really into that. Our teacher was a total hippie, and she was always about “Don’t follow the man! Live free, learn on your own!” and that was really frustrating for me because I was hearing about how people don’t need school to learn and I was like “Why am I learning this in school, then?”

GGM: What are some of your favorite movies?

Juhi: Anything Seth Rogen is in is a favorite movie.

GGM: Did you see Neighbors?

Juhi: That’s an interesting movie. I think he’s consistently funny. People are always like “oh, he’s so typecast. He’s always the stoner.” But I think he’s awesome, so whatever. Favorite movie of all time? I think The Sixth Sense because it was the only movie I was legitimately scared in. I love horror movies, but nothing seems to scare me that much because a lot of horror movies aren’t realistic whatsoever. Not that The Sixth Sense is particularly realistic, but the sci-fi element managed to still be scary, and that’s a hard task. And also, The Incredibles, because it was the first movie I saw in theaters. I love superhero movies.

GGM: The green hair is a really distinctive look for you—

Juhi: Not anymore! So many people color their hair so it’s not a big deal anymore.

GGM: What kind of dye do you use?

Juhi: I use Ion. Fun fact: I came back from a tech conference yesterday morning, and there were literally so many girls with the same hair as me. And I think one of the Kardashians has it! The exact same hair as mine! And she already kind of looks like me with the tannish skin, brown hair, black eyes thing. She flipped it out for one of the award shows too, just like I had it on The Voice, and I was like “Are you kidding me?! I’m trying to make this my look, and you just went off and took it!” But whatever, it’s just hair. We don’t have the same musical abilities or personality, so it’s not that big of a deal (laughs). I got so many Twitter people telling me “She stole your look!” I’d rather it be that than the other way around! I’ve had this look for a while now!

GGM: What is something you hope your music inspires in people?

Juhi: I hope my music inspires people to enjoy life? (laughs) I don’t want my music to necessarily be deep or profound. I feel like my music has meanings to it, but I feel like music doesn’t need a certain meaning for people to feel something. I want my music to make people feel—hopefully not terrible!—something like “man this is awesome, and I can vibe to it.”

GGM: Do you find yourself writing more for yourself or do you tend to write for your audience?

Juhi: I don’t want to sound selfish and say I write for myself, but it’s kind of what I do. I feel like what I’m writing is not too far off from what people actually feel, but I don’t write with the mindset like “I want to uplift someone.” Well, maybe sometimes I write for people like that. But usually I write whatever I’m feeling, and if that translates, that’s great!

GGM: In the future, what are your music plans?

Juhi: I’m writing more stuff at the moment. The last EP has more of an electronic sound. The guy I worked with, Adam Smith, that’s the sort of music he does. His work with the group Cadets is really cool. Obviously, with the music I’m into, I gravitate towards a guitar sound. Recently, I really got in the Gorillaz, and that inspired me to continue doing this more electronic sound with Adam. In the next five years, either that music is gonna come back, or reggae is gonna come back. Next time, though, I’d like to do a more alternative sound, but who knows, I might stick with electronic.

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