[Exclusive Interview] Juju B. Goode on 'Mr. Lee,' Music for NETFLIX'S "XO, Kitty," and More

Ciera Reeves

Juju B. Goode started his musical journey as a bedroom artist, captivating listeners with his debut EP, Future Boy (2020). This lo-fi K-R&B nostalgic exploration has resonated with audiences worldwide, earning millions of streams and gaining recognition through various Spotify editorials.

Building on this success, Juju B. Goode continued to release a second EP, Garden (2021), and collaborate with notable artists, incorporating his eclectic range of influences into a captivating tapestry of melodies, rhythms, and introspective lyrics. After being featured on various noteworthy artists' tracks and singing the official soundtrack for Netflix Original series “XO, Kitty”, Juju B. Goode is now venturing beyond his established sound. 

The highly anticipated debut studio album, artfully infuses his work with diverse musical genres, drawing inspiration from rock, disco, electronic, and hip-hop, all while allowing his Korean roots to shine through. With his boundless creativity and dedication to his craft, Juju B. Goode is poised to leave an indelible mark on the industry, inspiring and cultivating his fandom around the globe. In June he released the single 'Ending Fairy' with a whimsical interpretation of the concept.

In the 'Ending Fairy' music video "The Mysterious Care of Mr. Lee'" is teased. The name "Mr. Lee" serves as a homophone, symbolizing the enigmatic nature of understanding oneself or others, blurring the lines between an individual and a collective reflection. The song's journey began with a demo crafted during a trip to Korea, later refined in Brooklyn, and finally, it received a touch of pop brilliance in California, where Juju worked alongside Pablo and producer Sake by the Water.

The result was a more polished and infectious sound, a departure from Juju B. Goode's previous lo-fi bedroom pop style. "Mr. Lee" takes listeners on a musical-like adventure, commencing with a captivating, orchestral, grand synth intro, and concluding with an infectious UKG breakdown and sing-together outro, encapsulating the rush and mystery of life in a bustling city. As the song began resonating with his friends, Juju B. Goode discovered that "Mr. Lee" was, in a sense, a letter to himself, a reflection of his life before taking the leap to pursue music full-time. Having left his marketing job and followed his lifelong dream of becoming a musician right before the pandemic struck, Juju B. Goode's personal journey intertwined beautifully with the song's profound lyrics. 

Listen to 'Mr. Lee'


Congratulations on your new single, "Mr. Lee"! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the song?

"Mr. Lee" is my take on K-Pop, blending various genres, from disco, funk, and electronic. It’s very cheerful and adventurous sonically, a musical journey from one place to another. I knew I wanted to create more upbeat, dancefloor music with a faster BPM compared to my previous work—something people can groove to and play loud, whether on a highway or at a mall. 

"Mr. Lee" is a catchy title. Could you share some insights into the meaning behind the song's lyrics and how they relate to the overall theme of your upcoming album?

"Mr. Lee" was composed early last year, following the release of my garden EP. I sought to depart from love songs, aiming to delve into a story more focused on chasing dreams and ordinary urban life. The song revolves around an everyday individual, perhaps someone in their 20s or 30s with a 9-to-5 job, navigating personal uncertainties. Originally named "Dr. Strange," the title evolved into "Mr. Lee," which I adore because it mirrors the common Korean surname while also sounding like “Mystery”, concealing his identity.

Can you share some details about your creative process when it comes to songwriting and producing?

While I handle the songwriting, for my upcoming project, I collaborated with my friends Pablo and Sherman (aka Sake by the Water) to enhance my production. Most of "Mr. Lee" was recorded in Pablo’s garage-converted studio, Electric Dog Music, in LA. The Beatles' documentary "Get Back" served as inspiration, fostering the idea of a song camp and the fluid exchange of ideas in a single location. We primarily worked from my demos that I finished in NY and experimented a lot with forms and sound design on top of that. "Mr. Lee," specifically, took a while to finish, undergoing several changes along the way. The final output is more minimal and intimate, what I see as a good balance of raw and polished.

Do you write lyrics in Korean first or English?

I primarily write in Korean, although certain tracks on the album will be in English. The choice revolves around melody flow and the concept or story I’m trying to tell.

You did the soundtrack song for the popular Netflix show "XO Kitty." How did it feel to have your music featured on the show?

Before the show's launch, I couldn’t really make sense of it. I wasn’t sure to what extent my music would be shared and how much impact this could create. But you know, collaborating with Netflix is a big accomplishment that many artists would be proud of. I was totally blown away by the number of new listeners since the show's launch, and it’s been super exciting.

What do you do to overcome creative blockages or challenges when working on your music?

You don’t know when inspiration will come to you, and sometimes you just cannot force yourself to get things done. That's when I try to step away and focus on the bigger picture—listening to other music and simply enjoying my day to refresh my ears and mind. I recently had a conversation with Chaz from Toro y Moi that deeply resonated with me: "Patience is the key." Then, it might just come back to you when you're taking a shower or on a subway ride. That's when you dive back in and strive to make the best out of it.

You have done many types of music already but is there a genre that you want to try?

For my upcoming album, I tried to channel all the music I grew up playing and listening to from classic rock, reggae, city pop, and more. But there are still so many styles I want to explore more and get into. I’ve always wanted to do something like Chet Baker and Jazz standard inspired album. One day, hopefully.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists who are looking to make their mark in the music industry, based on your own experiences and growth as an artist?

Don’t be afraid to put your ideas out front. Whatever you come up with is unique to you, so consistently work on that and develop into your sound and style. Good luck!

Your fans are eagerly anticipating the release of "Smile! You're on Camera." What messages or emotions do you hope they will take away from the album as a whole?

With this album, I wanted to capture the bustling life and diverse, eclectic energy from all kinds of people living in a metropolitan city like NYC and Seoul. It's a salad bowl of everything I grew up listening to—a very colorful version of Juju you might not have experienced before. Check out Ending Fairy, my first single off the album I released earlier this summer. It's a roller coaster ride, so get ready for it :)

Do you have anything to say to your fans who support your music?

It’s still quite surreal for me to know that there are fans out there listening to my music. It’s like having a pen pal that you’ve never met but feel for and write to. I’m hoping to do more shows this year, so maybe I’ll meet some of you soon.


Meanwhile, Juju B. Goode's album "Smile, You're on Camera" will release on October 13, 2023.

Listen to Juju B. Goode on Spotify

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