JUNKEN ROM IS A RATHER UNUSUAL NAME. WHERE DID IT ORIGINATE FROM?
In the early 90s, while in University I started writing a series of short stories with a mystery/supernatural theme. Junken Rom is the name of the fictional supernatural detective in some of these adventures. For those who have some knowledge of this genre, Rom was inspired by the likes of Jules De Grandin, Morris Klaw, John Silence, Sydney Taine, Carnacki, and of course Sherlock Holmes.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I was born in Hong Kong and came to Toronto during the early 80's for junior high school. Eventually I graduated from the University of Toronto with a specialist degree in History (1994). A short time later, I went back to the University of Toronto and obtained a second degree on Education from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education and became a teacher. During the 90's, I have worked in a variety of jobs. This included being a security officer in a large amusement park; Martial Arts instructor in different Community Centres and Institutions; bouncer at a couple of night clubs, and even as a Re/Max Real Estate agent specializing in New Homes and Commercial Properties. Since 1999, I have been teaching English at a high school in the Greater Toronto Area (not quitting my day time job yet!).
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN AMBIENT MUSIC?
During my teens I started listening to a lot of New Age/Electronic/Ambient music namely through Tangerine Dream, Kitaro, Vangelis and a few others. My main musical interest at the time was actually Heavy Metal/Hard Rock and some Classical. In fact I was the lead singer of a number of rock bands during my University days. I still on occasion get up on stage for some live performances with a few professional musician friends.
It was during the mid to late 90s that I started to pay particular attention to certain artists who have contributed to the electronic/fusion/world music scene. Chris Spheeris, Hennie Bekker, Nicholas Gunn, Ron Korb, Keiko Matsui are just some of the instrumentalists who I really enjoyed. Many of them come from Jazz and Latin/World music backgrounds. Wendy Carlos and her masterful renditions of Bach opened up the possibilities of what I really liked about this music in the first place. Dan Gibson and his countless recordings of ambient music fused with the real sounds of nature taught me a lot about atmosphere and the inspirational sounds of our own planet. Later on, I started to listen to Brian Eno and no doubt, his music has taught me much about this wonderful style.
WHEN DID YOU START CREATING THESE MUSICAL PIECES?
I started composing ambient music in early 2017.
WHAT DAWS (DIGITAL WORKSTATIONS) DO YOU USE?
I use Fl Studio, Mixcraft, and Cockos Reaper.
LIST SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE SOFTWARE (PLUGINS ETC) THAT YOU LIKE?
Harmor, and Harmless from FL Studio and anything from Spectrasonics!
LIST SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE HARDWARE (SYNTHESIZERS ETC)?
Currently I use mostly plugins for synths and compose using midi controllers from M-Audio and Nektar. For headphones I use AKG K701s.
DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR STYLE IN AMBIENT MUSIC? HOW DO YOU APPROACH YOUR MUSIC?
Creating ambient is often hard for me to describe because it can sometimes be quite spontaneous in nature. I am not really a proficient keyboard player, so don’t ask me to play Mozart! I know the basics of keys and chords. By studying a fair amount of musical theory, I am able to practise in a variety of ways with the music, mainly through software improvisation. I will have an idea that springs to mind, perhaps a few chords, and then decide to try it out with different sounds and textures. To me, the layering part is quite tricky because you don’t want to overwhelm each of the sounds. Building the atmosphere to support a musical pattern can be complex. I often think about a particular mood that fits the track and then build various pads or drones that will compliment without canceling each other out. Using various filters and playing around with oscillations have helped tremendously. Most of the time the process is on a trial and error basis. This is the fun part because you are always experimenting and out of this, sometimes special things happen. I often find that as I am creating the music, I am also mixing at the same time mainly through critical listening.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT AMBIENT MUSIC SCENE?
I really love the exciting possibilities that this music offers. There are so many sub-genres and variations that it is pretty much impossible to exhaust the creative process. Artists like Steve Hauschildt , Aphex Twin, and William Basinsi have really inspired me along with numerous groundbreaking musicians from an earlier time like Klaus Schulze and Ryuichi Sakamoto. I also find guitar in the ambient field very enjoyable to listen to especially from an acoustic environment; one such artist is Michelle Qureshi who has a unique style that fits perfectly with this type of music.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS IN THIS FIELD?
Steve Roach, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Jonn Serrie, Kitaro and Joe Hisaishi (I love all of his works from his association with Hayao Miyazaki).
ARE THERE OTHER TYPES OF MUSIC YOU ARE INTERESTED IN?
Any kind of Classical Music and of course classic rock and metal.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE ARTISTS OUTSIDE OF AMBIENT MUSIC?
Absolutely! I love Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, and any of those marvelous singers back in the day. In the world of Classic Rock and Metal, I love Queen, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Dio , Collective Soul and countless others.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER HOBBIES AND INTERESTS?
I love Karate and Martial Arts. I have been a recreational Karate instructor since 1988. Bruce Lee of course is my biggest idol! I have a Black Belt in Ashihara Karate and am registered with Japan's official New International Karate Organisation (NIKO). In the early 2000's I was also the founder and President of the Martin Logan Owners Group which showcases and supports the owners of the brand's high end electrostatic speakers. I am still a high end audio enthusiast and have many contacts in the industry; this helps me being a little more attentive to detail when it comes to my own recordings. For the past decade, I have also been involved in the Anime (Japanese Animation) industry and every year I attend a number of conventions (Comic-Con, Anime North, Fan Expo) as a dealer (selling Anime-related merchandise).
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?
I would love to continue creating my music and putting out more albums on the various platforms (Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify etc) available. I would also love to occasionally perform live although I am much more comfortable being a studio artist. A collaboration with fellow artists in creating new tracks and albums would be something I hope to do in the near future. Most of all, I would love to see more people buy my music!
CAN I USE SOME OF YOUR MUSIC FOR MY OWN CREATIVE OR COMMERCIAL PROJECTS?
Sure, if you can contact me and let me know what are your intentions and how you would like to use my music including which piece etc. Generally, some form of acknowledgement is necessary.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOUR MUSICAL EFFORTS?
Buy my music of course! You can buy some tracks individually and also albums. Often the best way is through subscription because for a very small fee (only $10 a year) you can download all of my music and even receive a 10% discount on my merch. The best way is to download via this site, my official one, because all proceeds go straight to supporting all of my musical endeavors and helps me create more ambient sounds for your enjoyment.
SPEAKING OF MERCH (PRODUCTS), WHAT DO YOU OFFER?
I offer quality t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, plaques and posters. These products will be available very soon in the next few months, so stay tuned!
HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU?
You can contact me via the contact pages of this site. Just leave a message or a friendly comment. Would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach me on social media at my Twitter and Instagram accounts (links provided on the main page of this site). Thanks again!