High Sunn (left) with his guitarist, Freddy (right)

At the age of 14, most kids pass the time by hanging out with friends, watching TV, or egging houses. At age 14, SF artist High Sunn debuted his first single : “In The Brain / Loser.”

“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.

After communicating with over 25 different labels, he eventually signed with the Sweden-based label Punk Slime. There, Justin released his Hopeless Romantic EP. Missed Connections was also released on the label.

Even still, Justin’s dishing out music on his SoundCloud. The new project he’s working on under the pseudonym “Soi Boi,” a nod to his Asian heritage. The new Soi Boi tunes are more trap-oriented than his previous work. “I was listening to a lot of Lil Peep and Korean rap, so that’s kind of what influenced the Soi Boi songs.”

Justin wants his fans to know how he’s feeling at that very moment, which is why he enjoys these quick little releases. “The most difficult part about putting out music through a label is you have to wait a while for them to prepare for the release,” Justin says.

Regardless, he’s happy with where he’s at in life. “The album is called Missed Connections because during middle school I was super-shy and didn’t really talk to as many people as I could have, so I’m trying to reflect on that,” Justin explains. “Also, there’s this tab on Craigslist called ‘missed connections’ where people go to find someone that they wish they could have vibed with in the past. Reading those posts just take me back, like I can really relate to those people.”