Park Joonkyu, known by his stage name Q the trumpet, dropped his new single album, Every complicated night, on August 28. The record, which boasts three collaborations, dropped with an accompanying visualizer. Ahead of the album release, EnVi spoke with the musician over email to discuss his inspirations, collaborations with other artists, and what it felt like to be a finalist for the Vans 2021 Musicians Wanted Competition.

Q and the Trumpet

Q the trumpet, also referred to simply as “Q,” has played the trumpet for over a decade. He has played consistently since he was young, beginning when he joined his middle school’s wind orchestra. In college, after finding that his original choice of major didn’t suit him, Q began to study jazz and trumpet. 

His stage name, a clear hint about what instrument he specializes in, was given to him serendipitously by a friend. He was introduced as “Q the trumpet” at a show, a play on words on his given name, Joonkyu, the second syllable of which sounds like the English letter ‘Q.’ Now, however, he sees “Q the trumpet” as representing not just him as an artist — it reflects his passion for the music he channels. “It can be understood as Q, himself, is the trumpet,” he shared.

Q got his start in making his own music because he wanted a way to share his story with an audience. “I wanted to do it in a way that isn’t just talking,” he said. He turned to music as a storytelling medium but wasn’t satisfied until he began playing his own work. “I found myself very happy when I delivered my story through my music to the audience.”

Vans Musicians Most Wanted

In 2021, Q participated in the Vans Musicians Wanted competition — and became a finalist, representing the Asia Pacific. The Musicians Wanted competition allows relatively small and up-and-coming musicians the opportunity to broadcast their talents and is open to more than just singers; anyone, from rappers to flutists, is invited to participate, as indicated on the Vans website. The final prize? For the 2021 competition, it was the opportunity to perform with English singer YUNGBLUD. In January 2022, Q the trumpet did exactly that.

Despite his incredible accomplishment, Q remains humble and focused on his work. “I don’t think that I’m someone with great talent,” he said in his message to EnVi. “However, I am so glad that my own music has been recognized for real. I feel like I found justification to be proud of my music and be sure of playing my music.”

Every Complicated Night

When describing his motivation to produce music, Q consistently brought up storytelling. However, he tries not to rely solely on words — much of his solo work is purely instrumental. His goal, he shared, is to deliver emotion even without lyrics. “There is music that makes you sad, happy, smile, and dance, without lyrics. That is what I want to do.” Through his masterful use of instruments, Q conveys emotions in his music that reflect his personal feelings and experiences. It is his way of sharing his story and connecting with his audience.

Q’s new album, Every complicated night, contains three new tracks. With this album, Q continued exploring his music ability — this time, with moving lyrics. “The beat is light, but the lyrics try to give a profound feeling,” he told EnVi. “I wanted to show various emotions that I felt, such as anxiety, sadness, joy, and peace, through music.”

The collaborations on the album — Joon’s Second Life, Hannah Jang, Lim Chae-sun, Kim Mi Jeong, and Olltii — bring a unique perspective to Q’s work. In joining with other musicians, he was able to explore a variety of genres while expanding his repertoire. “Their influence brings me energy, motivation, and inspiration,” the artist said. And though Q has his own sound, he does not let that stop him from working with others and adapting to their style. “I don’t really divide the genres. If the artist’s view over the world is attractive, I want to respect and share it,” he said about cross-genre collaborations. “I think the biggest reason is that I don’t think the genre represents the artist. I wish to work with various artists no matter what genre they play or what musical instrument they play.” 

On His Own Journey

Though he admires the work of many other artists, Q’s inspiration for his music comes from within. “I think it’s important to be able to produce music of feeling and emotions at various moments,” he said, staying true to his image. By sharing his own stories and recruiting other talented artists, Q takes his audience on a journey through diverse emotional experiences. 

And Q’s journey as a musician is just getting started. Two musicians he looks up to and would love to collaborate with one day include the jazz-pop artist Jamie Cullum — “his music simply makes me happy,” he said — and the experimental jazz artist Jacob Collier. As the world’s interest in South Korean musicians continues to grow, thanks to the Hallyu Wave, there’s no telling what Q the trumpet will accomplish next.

Q the trumpet’s new album, Every complicated night, is available for streaming on Spotify here.

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