High Sunn (left) with his guitarist, Freddy (right)
“I wanted to sound like Ty Segall!” he says of his debut track. Through the distortion, it was clear that High Sunn had a lot of potential and time on his hands. Now, after four years of online releases, he’s dropped his first studio album, Missed Connections.
High Sunn (real name Justin Cheromiah) is still trying to find that perfect balance between school and music. He is a senior in high school with plans of going to a university and majoring in computer programming, but he’d much rather be holding a pick than a pencil.
The craft of making music has always been a part of Justin’s life. “My dad wanted to do music when he was a kid, so he’s always been encouraging me to get into it,” he says. Justin eagerly followed his dad’s wishes and started taking guitar lessons when he was just 7. Instantly, the guitar became his first love. Heavy metal was the first genre that really caught his ear. “I was just a really big metalhead back then.”
Online song tutorials were Justin’s homework when he wasn’t practicing with an instructor. He became obsessed with perfecting different types of chords and riffs. Justin’s instructor took notice of his growing skills, and suggested he begin practicing on his own. Right away Justin turned his room into a makeshift studio and jammed out every second he could. Proud of his son’s continued dedication to music, his dad bought him a Tascam 8-track recorder. Justin was now able to record his jam sessions, and an artist was born.
“I don’t even know where my stage name came from, I just wanted something that sounded indie,” he says. “I also wanted the word ‘sun’ with two ns to be in it. My friend who was like, a stoner, suggested that I put high in my name, so I stuck with it. From then on, I called myself High Sunn.”
“In middle school I had a lot of anger that I felt needed to be written down,” he says. “From that, everything just started rolling. I was really just trying to be something. I wanted to fit in, so I thought to myself, ‘Let me make my songs hella lo-fi and loud!’ and that’s what I did.”
“Don’t forget screechy,” adds Freddy, one of Justin’s guitar collaborators.
Now that Justin had some confidence in his image, he began contacting other musicians to join his recording sessions. He met Freddy through a mutual friend. The two bonded over video games before they started playing guitar together.
“We were playing the game Civilization and just hit it off instantly,” recalls Freddy. “I mean, if we could vibe through video games, we could vibe musically too.”
Justin, along with his bandmates, posted their recordings consistently on Bandcamp, SoundCloud — even 4Chan, which has had a music board since the mid-2000s. While posting on Bandcamp, Justin would reach out to small labels with his demos. He was looking for the audience he knew was out there. “I became known as the kid who releases a lot of shit,” he says.