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I had the pleasure of sitting down with Justin Kim, Chapman University Graduate, filmmaker, and the face behind Suave Punk, an up and coming alternative solo project. What immediately struck me was Justin’s dedication to music (he even came to our interview,  book in hand,  entitled “Our Band Could be Your Life”, which tells the story of bands like Minor Threat and the alternative movement, a large influence on the Suave Punk sound). Justin has always been a musician, playing the piano as a child and becoming self taught on guitar at 12 years old. However, it wasn't until Kim found electric guitar in college that he found a closer bond with music stating it was the “First instrument to feel like an extension of myself, [it created], Not just a sound, but a feeling”. It was in the freshman dorms of Chapman University in Orange, California that Justin began his solo career under the name Suave Punk, it was also during this year (late 2020, early 2021), that a Suave Punk single was put onto the Spotify playlist Fresh Finds. Through Spotify’s influence, Pack Records reached out to Kim, signing him, joining the label who assists the likes of Blood Cultures, aldn, and CARR. The single in question being a personal favorite of the Suave Punk discography - “Dreams of Losing Teeth”.

I got to ask Justin about how he came to write such a beautifully dark and euphoric song. The inspiration comes from a real nightmare Kim had in late 2020 that he says “seared into my memory”, not just visually but sensory “the feeling of the roots snapping is what stood out”. Which created a visual for Kim to base his first Suave Punk release, he says he often uses similar devices for writing saying, “I like to focus on images and vignettes rather than describing parts of my life”. It was after the release of “Dreams of Losing Teeth” that Suave Punk began to grow a following. Kim explained how many people began to reach out, sharing their similar dreams of vivid gore similar to Justin. From there, along with lead man of The Incredible Purple Toad and owner of the then unknown, local venue, Steve Wehner decided to put on a show. Using out-of-pocket money, the two musicians put on a show at a Warehouse, playing for the very first time to a live audience. Thus was born a new idea that the two are still growing to this day. The Warehouse OC is the “it” place to be at Chapman University. Along with help from local bands and Justin Kim, Wehner has some expansive ideas in the works for the venue.

Suave Punk has snowballed since Kim’s freshman year of college. He has just recently played his first out-of-state venue in New York, and has his first full length album in the works. Justin is an extremely talented and incredibly humble artist. His philosophy with producing music is, in his words “do it for the homies”, always making his music not for himself or his fans, but for those he cares about most.


Kade McKenna

Photojournalist - Denver

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