After a hiatus of two years, home-grown DJ-producer MMXJ is ready to take on the world anew. His latest single, “Love We’ll Find”, was released in end July under his name Jun.
“As MMXJ, I produced music for a lot of people and to make them happy,” explains the 32-year-old, whose real name is Kuok Meng Jun. MMXJ represents his initials and that of his older brothers Meng Xiong and Meng Wei — the grandsons of Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok — as they love music and performed regularly at family gatherings from a young age.
“But my current music is very personal,” he continues. “I felt it apt to release it under my own name since I’m writing it as a form of catharsis, to let go of the hardships and challenges I went through.”
Kuok wrote “Love We’ll Find,” with its gently escalating flow and easy-listening vibe, to share with others a sense of hope. His work — which he describes as a “softer and more balladic version of electronic music” — conveys a great deal of emotion and reflects his gentle earnestness.
However, he remains as shy as when he first started out. “I had to brace myself for this Zoom interview!” he confides with a laugh. But he adds that it was through music that he found self-confidence.
In 2009, when he was just 21, Kuok decided to put himself out there by joining Singapore Idol. But he pulled out of the finals after learning that the winner had to sign a two-year contract, as he was in the middle of his communications and digital media studies at Stanford University then. After graduation, he worked first in an advertising firm, and then at his family’s real estate business, but he would stay up into the wee hours to make music.
He quit his day job in 2015 to become a DJ-producer, with tips he picked up from YouTube and fellow DJ-producer Myrne. He also set up his own record label and talent agency Oceana Label in order to “have rights to my music and to keep going in the direction I’d like to go”. That direction, he points out, is to make music that uplifts the spirit.
After his debut single, “Kings”, topped Spotify Singapore’s Viral 50 Chart in 2015, MMXJ started spinning at music festivals such as ZoukOut Boracay and also signed with Warner Music. But the meteoric rise took its toll, so after putting out the single “Memories” in 2018, he took some time off.
As “Love We’ll Find” proves, Kuok has clearly made the most of this time away from the spotlight. His latest single is available on Spotify, while the five-track EP “All You Need” is slated for release later this year.
This story first appeared in the September 2020 issue of A Magazine.