jooj two: an experimental pop album that explores the nature of grief and loss

An interview with the artist Sook-Yin Lee

Sook-Yin Lee, an icon in the Canadian arts industry. Photo courtesy of Take Aim Media

By: Kaila Bhullar, Peak Associate

Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

New music alert! Toronto interdisciplinary artist Sook-Yin Lee, originally from North Vancouver, has an upcoming album,  jooj two, created by her and her “creative mischief maker,” Adam Litovitz. Approaching its release date of April 9, 2021, jooj two is a unique and captivating fusion of deep trance-eletronica with ambient, soft-pop elements. Lee and Litovitz’s work is a dynamic transition through an array of emotions pertaining to the nature of human connection and existence. The album explores the heavy impact of music in dealing with grief, as it was made throughout the pandemic and was completed by Lee following the unexpected passing of Litovitz. jooj two offers an escape into Lee’s emotion-driven, hypnotic, and thought-provoking world. The Peak sat down (virtually) with Lee to discuss the album, and how it stands as a permanent marker of Litovitz’s musical talents.

The Peak: Tell us a little bit about yourself and the album. 

Lee: I really began my journey as a teenager, loving art because it enabled me to communicate all kinds of things that I wasn’t able to verbally. Art and expression really helped to save me in so many ways. When I discovered music, it was a profoundly huge moment for me. I always loved singing as a kid, but when I actually found an extended family of musicians growing up in Vancouver, and put together a band, it was very exciting for me. And that brings us to what I’m most excited about: my newest project. It’s an album that my late partner, Adam Litovitz, and I began a couple years ago. When he passed, I knew I wanted to finish the album because it was something we were very excited about and proud of. There’s just so much work that he left behind, that it is such a passion of mine to share his work. He was a great writer, a great thinker, and also my partner in making music. And I’m so happy to be able to release this album that we made together.

P: How would you personally describe your sound and artistic style? 

Lee:  Well, that’s very hard to say.  I don’t think Adam and I necessarily approach music from a very mainstream place — our ears are probably much more left of centre than most people — but we really felt like this was a big pop album. There are elements of experimentalism, but they’re very toetapping, with very hooky and propulsive beats. So I really think of it as an experimental pop album.

P: In what ways do you hope that this album will continue to represent Adam? 

Lee:  Well it just does, you know? I mean, this is his mind, and his physicality, his fingers playing a piano and a guitar. This is his expression in spirit, embodied in this artifact that is music. He has such a purity of vision, beautiful vision, very innocent and simple, open vision in his art. So I think as a body of work,  people can listen to this particular album and hear those elements mixed with my spirit as well. It’s infused in the notes, infused in the artwork, infused in the songs.

P: What do you think is important for listeners to know about the album? 

Lee:  We’ve all been through this paradigm-shifting experience of the global pandemic and lockdown. I certainly haven’t experienced anything like this in my life. Losing Adam happened before the pandemic, and that was like my own personal 9/11. It was very devastating. And when the pandemic happened, in many ways I thought, “Well, this is difficult. But it’s a cakewalk in comparison to losing Adam.” But I realized that while locked down, everyone was experiencing a loss: the loss of the world that we know, the loss of lives, the loss of loved ones. So we collectively move and live with loss. Though this is a very personal album in many ways, it’s also very specific and universal. And I hope to convey whatever that is: the beauty and adversity of life, the heartbreak, and how we are able to just hug all of that messy stuff. And hopefully, you know, just continue to be, as best as we can.