Listening to Audrey Nuna’s debut EP a liquid breakfast is a capricious experience of nonchalant vocals gliding over energy-laced beats. About two or three minutes long, each song sucks you in at the same rate as it spits you out. The 10-track EP can be consumed in less than half an hour, but it’s an unpredictable ride up through the slick walking-through-a-house-party rap of “Comic Sans” down to the sultry alone-in-your-room R&B of “Space.”
But for the 22-year-old, a dichotomic approach to creativity is a natural tendency. “Duality is a space I’ve grown up very comfortable in,” Nuna says, referencing her experience living in New Jersey as a first-generation Korean (Nuna, which is her stage name, comes from the Korean term of kinship to an older sister by a younger brother).
A singer since the age of seven, Nuna—like the majority of Gen Z’s rising artists—leveraged social media to share her music and, while in high school, garnered the attention of her current producer and manager. Since then, she has put out a stream of singles alongside a range of striking visuals—often born out of her own creative vision. The artist co-directed her music video for “Space,” which exudes an ethereal aesthetic as she sings languorously while dressed in elaborate designs.\
A liquid breakfast, released earlier this year, marked Nuna’s biggest project to date and was written while quarantining in her New Jersey apartment—with a few songs actually recorded in the sweltering heat of her closet. While the sonic influences of her music ranges from Whitney Houston to MF Doom, the lyrical content is specific to her life and, particularly, her youth. With the ubiquitous sense of lost youth during a pandemic lingering in the background, Nuna’s lyrics touch on the artist’s growing pains.
“Growing up to me is like parts of yourself dying, honestly,” she says. “I think that being young is just being the closest to God. You don’t worry about anything, you’re happy for no reason, you’re fascinated by everything. That’s the purest form of human. My goal in life is to try and stay as close to that as I can. I think as you grow and as you go through the world, it’s impossible to fully retain it.”
Whether it’s in the way the light hits her bed in the morning or in the simple act of going for a walk, Nuna is purposeful in preserving a sense of wonder for the world. Something that carries through in how she approaches her music. “I think it’s just life,” she says of what inspires her creatively. “Life itself is fucking insane. We’re just these meatballs on this rock hurtling through space.”
Photography by Khufu Najee.