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Singled Out: JUNE dARK's Phoenix


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JUNE dARK

Genre bending singer-songwriter JUNE dARK tells us the story behind her solo debut song, "Phoenix." Here is the story: "Sing like a swan, rise like a phoenix..." My solo debut song, "Phoenix," is an ode to a personal transformation.

Before I was JUNE dARK, I was born June Park (means "light" and "naive" respectively) in South Korea. I grew up as an ugly duckling -- a painfully shy, sensitive, and overthinking child who stuck out like a sore thumb. I couldn't figure out how to fit in for the life of me. It seemed like, in order to be accepted, I had to become someone else. But I was too terrible at it.

When I was 13, my mother asked if I wanted to get growth hormone injections in my knees. I was always the shortest kid in class, and she was disheartened that I was getting ridiculed for it. I pondered upon the idea for a few minutes, and then replied, "No mom, I would rather be who I am." I didn't know why I shed tears as I told her this. Maybe I knew deep down that I was being led to a painful yet beautiful path -- the lifelong journey of self-acceptance and compassion through creative living.

I left my home country when I was 17 and came to the States. I formed a progressive metal band, Clandestine, which sent me to my swan-phase. I had a blast playing with some of the best musicians in Los Angeles, signed with an indie label and toured nationally. I commanded the crowd with blood-curdling screams to let them know I had something to say. I was one of the few females active in a genre largely preferred by the male audience. I wanted to empower women by being a good example, but I confess I lacked the understanding of true femininity -- the part of me that I shunned away from because I had to stay strong against shame. After years with the metal band, I developed a strange curiosity about my vulnerability -- the part of me I've kept in the vault. That's when I started dabbling with a variety of music styles that didn't involve distorted guitars and writing songs about... love.

Soon after that, the band fell apart in 2012, and I was lost. So I thought it was a time to get a "real" job. I worked for a K-pop label as a project manager only to realize I was more miserable to work in the industry while having no time or sanity to produce my own material. I was becoming a shadow artist, obscured by someone else's limelight because they were more mainstream-worthy. Caught up in the idea of what's good enough, I struggled to write even one measure. It was the side effect of the job description - being required to judge artists based on their commercial viability.

I exited the industry, and my life got eerily quiet. I had no band, no job, no direction. Years of shame and trauma which had been coursing through my veins finally caught up with me, and I started seeking therapy. Over 3 years, I slowly regained confidence to create and rebuilt my identity as an artist. I cried a swan song, and the hurtful memories became a constellation in my mind. Then, the "Phoenix" was born and waited patiently until I was ready to release it to the world.

Sorry, June Park. I refused to be naive. I am JUNE dARK, following the light through the darkness to find my true self. Dear readers and listeners, are you following the light? Can I hold the torch for you when you're lost? Can you hold it for me when I fall? When we meet, let's toss our torches into a bonfire. It will grow big enough to warm up the distant hearts of people who forgot to love. That flame is our creativity.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more right here!

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