Q & A with Music Composer Yeakun Yoo

Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing South Korean actor and musician Yeakun Yoo. I found Yeakun on LinkedIn while searching for a Korean actress for my film project. Despite his busy schedule, Yeakun took the time to see if he could assist me or guide me in the right direction. Although our collaboration didn’t work out as planned, we continued supporting each other.

Q) Hey, Yeakun, can you tell us where you initially came from?

A) I am originally from South Korea.

Q) Do you remember when you first fell in love with music? Did it come from your parents, or was there a specific moment that captivated you?

A) My parents loved music, but they weren’t professional musicians. Since I was young, my mother often played classical music to cultivate my musical sense. That was the starting point for me to become a composer. When I listened to music as a child, I always felt an indescribable energy bubbling inside me, and I often dreamed of unleashing that energy someday. I gradually nurtured that dream by learning instruments, singing, and listening to music, and eventually became a professional composer.

Q) So, you never had any interest in singing or acting?

A) I love singing, but I don’t think I have an extraordinary talent for it. I love making music, and I will always make music until the end of my life.

Q) What did your family and friends think about your career choice?

A) Initially, my parents were hesitant about my pursuit of composing due to their concerns about the financial instability of a musician’s career. Therefore, I devoted significant effort to demonstrating my musical talent, ultimately earning their support for my chosen path as a musician.

Q) Could you recall a movie soundtrack you were immensely passionate about? If so, what made you so obsessed with it?

A) There are many beautiful and impressive film scores worldwide, but I am fond of Hans Zimmer’s theme for Gladiator. It may not be flashy, but with its simplicity and memorable few notes, Hans Zimmer created a wonderful melody that lingers in everyone’s memory. Ultimately, what I aspire to achieve as a film composer is to become someone who can create simple yet memorable melodies. While many film composers have composed memorable melodies, Hans Zimmer’s melodies and colors are uniquely unmatched by anyone else.

Q) When did you decide to attend college in the US, and what benefits did you see in such a decision?

A) Before coming to the United States, I worked as an assistant composer at a music production studio in South Korea for two years. During those two years, I had the opportunity to experience various types of music, including film scores, game music, and advertising jingles. However, I still harbored bigger dreams and desires to learn and work in a broader world. I set my sights on USC, the top film-music school in the United States, and worked hard to study there. Ultimately, I was admitted to USC, where I could learn many things. Many successful film composers are USC alumni, and after graduating from USC, I was able to benefit from a strong network and connections. I gained firsthand experience in the industry’s workings through USC’s Screen Scoring program. I have no regrets about my decision and am still proud.

Q) What cultural differences did you have to adapt to?

A) Asian culture is often characterized by humility and a reluctance to boast about oneself. However, sometimes Asians, due to their humility, may struggle to express and promote themselves effectively. Coming to the United States has been a valuable learning experience. Despite not necessarily having exceptional skills, I have observed many American friends who are confident in expressing themselves and actively promoting their abilities, seizing opportunities one by one. Witnessing such behavior has inspired me to emulate it, and as a result, I have become more confident in promoting myself actively than before

Q) When you first heard one of your compositions in a movie or video game, how did it make you feel?

A) When my music first appeared in a film or a game, I was most curious about what emotions other people would feel when they heard it, rather than myself. I hoped that others would experience the same emotions I felt while composing and creating the music. After working on various projects, there were times when people shared with me that they felt the same emotions upon listening to my music, which brought me an indescribable sense of joy and happiness. To this day, it brings me immense pleasure and fulfillment when others resonate with the emotions I poured into creating the music.

Q) How do you choose your projects, and have you turned any down?

A) Unless the budget significantly deviates from my rate or there are unreasonable demands, I have managed to take on almost every project that comes my way. I believe it’s crucial always to be grateful for each precious opportunity presented to me and maintain the mindset of a professional composer. Moving forward, I will continue to strive not to turn down any projects that come my way.

Q) How long does it usually take to compose a soundtrack?

A) If it doesn’t require particularly extensive music, I can complete one piece of music, typically 2-3 minutes in length, in a day when I can fully concentrate on composing. However, for main theme music or soundtracks that require significant differentiation from other pieces, I may spend anywhere from three days to a week contemplating and working on it.

Q) Can you tell me about your most significant accomplishment to date?

A) In that case, my greatest achievement would be marrying my beautiful wife, Jenny, and becoming the father of our two adorable children, Lael and Yoel.

Q) What would you consider the most challenging aspect of composing music?

A) As a composer, the ongoing challenge is always about how my current music can differentiate itself from what others are creating. Despite the thousands of years of music that have already been composed, the pressure to create something new and unheard of is a significant stressor for composers. I, too, constantly grapple with this aspect, always striving to listen to, study, and contemplate numerous pieces of music to innovate and differentiate myself as a composer.

Q) Has there ever been a time when a musician or director disagreed with you, and if so, how did you handle it?

A) Sometimes, there are disagreements between my opinions and the director’s. While I always strive for my music to be unique and have a distinctiveness from others, some directors may not always seek something new and fresh. In such cases, I try to respect the director’s opinion as much as possible. Without the director, the project would not have progressed, and my role is always to assist directors in performing their roles better. Therefore, I provide proactive advice but always respect their decisions.

Q) Do you also work on projects in Korea?

A) Yes, I work in Korea as well.

Q) Who has been your biggest supporter through everything?

A) My biggest supporter is my wife, Jenny.

Q) Have you worked on any famous projects?

A) My significant credits are Lies of P, Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo, and Lineage 2 Revolution.

Q) Where do you see yourself years from now with your career?

A) I want to become a composer who can achieve great honors like the Grammy or Emmy within the next five years, and I will make it happen.

Q) What project or projects are you working on at the moment?

A) I am currently working on developing several AAA games and Netflix movies, but unfortunately, I cannot disclose their titles.

Q) Do you have any advice for aspiring composers?

A) Never give up, and always be positive. Opportunities will come soon.

Q) Lastly, can you provide us with contact info and links to your work?

info@ykmusicproductions.com (email)

www.ykmusicproductions-en.com (website)

www.soundcloud.com/yeakunyoo (SoundCloud)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/yeakun-yoo-2b471b135/  (Linked-in)

https://www.facebook.com/yeakunyoo (Facebook)