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Sunny Choi: Interview with a contemporary piano artist

I recently had an interview with Sunny Choi, a piano artist with a popular YouTube channel. Sunny plays beautiful renditions of today's popular music.

Sunny plays beautiful renditions of today's popular music.
Sunny Choi (used with permission)

When did you start playing the piano. Please explain your background in music.

I started playing the piano at the age of 4. I grew up taking classical music lessons all my life, and entered competitions regularly and also received many awards. What drove me to continue taking lessons was my competitive personality, and this was the problem- I never got a sense of satisfaction from this type of winning within a fenced environment.

I knew that there was so much more for me to explore with music beyond learning from the book, that’s based on my own life experiences, emotions and feelings. I wanted to create music that I can relate with on a much more personal and deeper level. I am more than a musician; I am a storyteller through meaningful music that I create with my unique style.

Which musicians (classical or current) inspired you to pursue music as a career?

It wouldn’t be true to say that a particular musician inspired me to choose music as a career. I wanted to tell stories and I believe music is a way for me to deliver these stories that capture my thoughts and feelings at my best. I like listening to music from many different genres- the beautiful melody of Chopin and the soul-grabbing voice of Corinne Bailey Rae both inspire me in different ways.

Why and why did you start a YouTube channel? Did you want the exposure? Share music? What was the motivation?

Our world is constantly evolving with the Internet, and YouTube is a great method of sharing something visual and audible instantaneously with the whole world. The thought of uploading videos on YouTube first came into play when I noticed people posting “cover” videos.

I knew that I could interpret a lot of today’s popular music with my unique style of piano playing that would convey so much more than just another video that captures the melody of a song, because each song tells a story, so I created the term “Artistic Piano Interpretation” to refer to each of my popular music video that I uniquely create.

I've purposely selected songs that were popular or becoming popular straight from the Billboard chart, since the chart already tells me what songs are trending at the time, meaning people are searching for these songs online. Providing my rendition of these songs was a way to get more views and attract more subscribers on YouTube.

Are other members of your family into music?

Yes, I actually started taking piano lessons because my mom played the piano. My whole family plays different instruments.

What are some of your current projects? CDs? Are you doing tours?

I have an album titled Closer. It is a solo piano album that contains 9 original tracks that I've composed myself. Each track tells a story that's entirely based on my personal life journey, specifically feelings and emotions that I didn't have the courage to share or express with the people I love in my life, such as my family and friends.

These stories are not necessarily comfortable to talk about, but I believe are necessary in order for us to become truly closer to the ones we love. For example, track No.2 titled "Unspoken Love" expresses my sense of frustration for not being able to verbally express "I love you" to my father, although I am happy to say that I share those words with him on a regular basis now.

Where do you want to take your career? Do you want to compose original music? Compose for film or TV shows?

Just like my album Closer, I want to continue to create music that I can personally relate with, at least at this stage in my life. Whenever I have my album concert, I always share these stories prior to performing each piece, and audience can connect with my music so much more deeply this way. Because my music captures stories, I definitely would be interested in composing for films or TV shows.

Any other thoughts about your YouTube channel or piano career?

My YouTube channel serves as an amazingly powerful platform where I can share my music with the world in just a few clicks. It is my goal to tour the world with my album Closer, so that I can visit and actually meet the people that have been following my music on the Web.

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