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At only 25, Sunny Choi is already a world-renowned pianist. The Korean-Canadian artist has become one of the most popular YouTube phenomena with more than 30 million views. Her breath-taking interpretations of chart-topping hits and classics not only showcase her impeccable talents but also bring a certain touch of refreshing gracefulness into the music industry.
No genre is off-limits; Sunny Choi has covered songs that range from urban hip-hop to mainstream pop tunes. It takes a passionate musician to keep striving for showbiz-related aspirations, especially in this day and age when the music industry as we’ve known it is en route to an unfamiliar destination.
Without further ado, find out why Sunny Choi is definitely one of a kind!
Toonari Post (TP): Let’s go back to the very beginning. When and how did you fall in love with music?
Sunny Choi (SC): Music was always a big part of my life since I was very young. My father regularly played music from the 60’s on his guitar and my mother enjoyed listening to classical music and soundtracks from classic movies. Aside from the music exposure from home, I was also very much active as a pianist within my community. As I got older, I was able to connect deeper and really fall in love with music as I went through more life experiences.
TP: When did you decide you wanted to do this professionally and how did your family react?
SC: When I was getting close to completing my degree in university, I started thinking seriously about what I wanted to do as a career. Although I wasn’t sure exactly what it was that I wanted to do, I knew that I wasn’t finished with my musical journey.
My parents were initially concerned with my decision because I didn’t study music in university and they weren’t sure if I had enough knowledge in the music industry to make it as my career. They now are supportive of my choice and are discovering new sentiments about my music.
TP: They say the music industry is vicious and cruel. How do you keep yourself grounded and sane?
SC: I try not to focus on negativity and keep as many positive people as I can around me. I regularly read motivational articles that inspire me to continue to work hard.
TP: Your YouTube channel is incredibly popular. How do you choose the songs you cover?
SC: The songs were chosen by reviewing the Billboard chart on a regular basis and learning top-charting songs to add my own interpretation. It was a great way to practice and expand my musical creativity and also to find my own musical style. Working with many songs from different genres also helped with expanding my musical taste.
TP: Can you walk us through the process of creating the original arrangement and then making the video?
SC: The entire process of creating an original piano arrangement of a popular song takes 10-15 hours for each song.
First, I learn the song by listening and understanding the lyrics. Working out the basic notes takes less than an hour, but creating and polishing an original arrangement can take up to 5 hours. When the arrangement is polished, then recording takes another 2 hours or so. Editing the audio and video and uploading the HD video to YouTube takes roughly 5 hours. My team is a great help in the process.
TP: International superstars like Nicki Minaj and Enrique Iglesias have raved about your talents. How does that make you feel? Who would be your dream run-in?
SC: It felt good knowing that the artists appreciated my arrangement of their original songs and hearing from them really pushes me to continue to work hard. Beyoncé has been my role model for quite some time for her level of work ethic and the energy she carries during her performances.
TP: With more than 30 million views on YouTube, almost 90,000 followers on Facebook… When did you realize your fan base was starting to grow?
SC: It feels great knowing that people from all over the world enjoy listening to my music. I always try to return fan mail personally, however when I could no longer respond to each post, message or email, that’s when I knew my fan base was really starting to grow. It’s very exciting to see new fans everyday and I hope they enjoy my original music I’m currently developing.
TP: What advice would you give someone who’s trying to follow in your footsteps?
SC: Follow your passion, work incredibly hard, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. It starts with believing in yourself.
TP: You do more than 150 shows a year. What is it about playing in front of a live audience that you enjoy?
SC: Playing live events is the best way for me to show and deliver my emotion through my music in its most pure and raw form. It brings me so much happiness knowing that my music is able to touch people emotionally.
TP: What can we all expect from you in 2012?
SC: More videos, international tour dates and new album are some of the few things that are happening in 2012. My fans will be able to find out more about who I am as an artist as well as my life experiences, and what I really care about through music. It’ll be a busy year and a very exciting year!