Based in Seoul, So!YoON! is a Korean singer-songwriter and a founding member of the indie rock trio Se So Neon. With her unique, androgynous voice and honest and witty lyrics So!YoON!’s music explores the tensions between self identity and society. Rejina talks to So!YoON! about her creative process, what it feels like to perform and how fashion can help create different characters on stage.
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Rejina: How have you found the transition from being the front woman of the indie rock band ‘Se So Neon’, to now being a solo artist? How is your work different from ‘Se So Neon’ and your work as So!YoON! What do you think are the pros and cons?
So!YoON!: Actually, I approached the transition as something that could be great fun, a new challenge. As a solo artist I can express myself in any way that feels natural to me, whereas the nature of a band is it has an identity all of its own.
Rejina: As a guitarist / singer, do you have a personal way of writing the lyrics and composing the songs?
So!YoON!: I don’t limit myself to a specific method when creating my music, but as a guitarist I often use my guitar to get into the flow of writing a melody and to see what inspires me. But of course this depends on the song, and sometimes the idea starts off through an idea in the lyrics, not the melody. I try not to restrict myself in my work and to be as authentic as I can be, so that our songs can naturally portray their own identity to the listener.
Rejina: How do you feel whenever you finish working on an album or song and release them to the world?
So!YoON!: Right before the release date, I am so distracted and preoccupied with the task of finishing the album I rarely have an opportunity to feel anything. Afterwards though, I definitely feel some sense of emptiness, having worked on it for so long and with such diligence, I do usually feel slightly burnt out. Before starting a new album or song I make sure to fully rest up, go travelling or do something that does not involve music, so I can completely empty my headspace.
Rejina: Do you connect on a personal level to So!YoON!'s music when it talks about anxiety or pressure? If so, how do you handle those emotions?
So!YoON!: My personal emotions are a great source of inspiration when I write, so yes there are some aspects that I connect with in a very personal way, although I don’t think that’s what makes any song unique. The inspiration might start off from my own personal emotions but in the end, they are topics that many people relate to. I often think of the music industry as a kind of buffet of emotions, something to suit everyone, whatever they might be feeling that day, there is always a song or piece of music they can identify with.
Rejina: How would you describe your on-stage persona? Is it different compared to your usual character as So!YoON!?
So!YoON!: I do feel different on stage compared to my regular self. On stage, I feel like I can express my freedom more openly.
So!YoON!: What I wear on stage is very different to what I usually wear day to day. In order to portray the different emotions within my music I work with a stylist and share with her as many of my ideas and thoughts as possible. I also try not to limit myself to one specific image, I like to be able to step into different characters through what I am wearing. Even my facial expressions and mood are influenced by what I am wearing on stage, so I try to get it right. In complete contrast, my day to day wardrobe is much more about comfort, and also acts as a kind of camouflage, as I prefer to blend in and not be noticed when I am out and about.
So!YoON!: Fashion is a wonderful form of expression and in that sense, I believe there is a lot of common ground between the two industries. There is sometimes a tendency to focus more on the commercial side of both businesses too, and true artists sometimes get lost within this, but ultimately I love fashion and find it a great source of inspiration. .
So!YoON!: I don’t know if I can call it advice as such, but I think it is very important to have courage when you start something new. I know it sounds so simple, but truly it is one of the most difficult things to do.
So!YoON!: I am working non stop at the moment, both as a solo artist and also part of my band Se So Neon. Right now though I am working on the press schedule for the recent release of my bands single “freedom’
So!YoON!: If I were not a musician, without doubt I would still have been in the creative industry in one form or another, but perhaps instead of focusing on just one medium I would experiment with a mixture of creative mediums.