By Madina Toure
A young man from Fresh Meadows who is embarking on a musical career influenced by a variety of genres says religion is what has inspired his path.
Gabriel Trejo, 20, an aspiring singer, rapper, songwriter and producer known by his stage named “Juni,” is working on his first EP, which will consist of seven songs. The first single, “Final Flight,” came out in September 2015 and the other single, “Hold on to Me,” came out in March. He will release a music video for one of his singles in May and another video in June.
He has performed at shows mostly at bars around Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. His next performance is at Left Field bar at 87 Ludlow St. in Manhattan May 5.
His genre is pop, hip-hop and jazz. He produces his music in his studio in his bedroom at his home on Parsons Boulevard and 158th Street, with samples and music plugins—audio tools used to manipulate sounds— incorporating the piano, the guitar and the drums.
His songs touch on the dichotomy of the relationship between a man and a woman and God and mankind but are not “church-y or religious.”
“I like to shed light on the problems of our society, especially America,” Trejo said. “I like to write about things that hit the soul, emotional things people can relate to.”
Since September 2015, he has been modeling for Human Element Square, a Brooklyn-based clothing designer and has modeled for Fashion Hub Wheels. He also edits videos of fashion shows and models for YMfashion Magazine.
He was also featured in the “Legendary Fashion Week” show
Trejo was born in Fresh Meadows to a mother of Croatian and Mexican descent and a Colombian father. He moved to Florida with his mother at the age of 4. While he was in Florida, his mother explored different religions that he practiced as well, including Scientology and Hare Krishna, a branch of Hinduism.
Between the ages of 12 and 14, he went through rock and hip-hop phases, listening to artists such as pianist and singer-songwriter Billy Joel, Norwegian rock band A-ha, late rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur and hip-hop trios A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets.
When he moved back to New York City at the age of 14, he found his way to Christianity, taking an interest in Christian music.
He attended Urban Academy HS in Midtown Manhattan. In 2013, he attended Queensborough Community College for a year but decided to take time off and plans to return.
When he visited his mother and two half-sisters in Florida in March 2014, he considered moving there permanently but his heart stayed with New York.
“Something inside me just knew that that was not what I needed to do, that God sent me to New York for a purpose,” he said. “Then something just told me, ‘Call your dad and get him to buy you a ticket to come back here.’”
In April 2014, a friend introduced him to the Dominion City Church in Fresh Meadows where he met the church’s pastor, Nigerian native God’s Gift Achiuwa and others at the church.
He went right back to work on his music, which shifted toward pop, citing singer and rapper Pharrell Williams as an influence.
His father, David Trejo, used to be a famous breakdancer under the moniker “Kid Swift.” He danced for a crew called Finesse Express and was also part of Bone Breakers, a Colombian hip-hop and breakdancing group.
Although his father, an experienced music engineer, helps him with getting his music to sound professional, he did not influence his decision to go into music.
“I pursued music because I knew inside that this is something that I was called to do for society,” he said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour