So!YoON! (a.k.a Soyoon or 황소윤) is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Seoul, Korea. Armed with her own unique voice and energetic live performance, and as a front person of SE SO NEON, So!YoON! has turned SE SO NEON into one of the most popular bands among independent music scene of Seoul. Her ability to always be innovative in the studio and stage make So!YoON! a master of the craft.
Barefoot Sound: First of all, thank you for agreeing to be a part of this interview. Could you give a quick introduction of yourself?
So!YoON!: Yes, definitely. My name is Hwang Soyoon, and I have been part of a band called SE SO NEON. Recently, I have kick-started a solo project under the moniker of ‘So!YoON!’.
Barefoot Sound: You have been known for having unique individuality as an artist in the Korean indie music scene. What motivated you to start your career as a musician?
So!YoON!: I started learning music by discovering various instruments from piano to guitar. However, I remember I always enjoyed listening to music. Especially when I started to take guitar more seriously, I gravitated towards singing and songwriting more. Which has naturally led me to record and rearrange the songs I wrote.
Being a professional in any field is considered based on how much revenue you can generate. It was similar to that. It was all thanks to those who came to our gigs and followed up on our latest projects and releases, abled music to be our career.
Barefoot Sound: What are some of your proudest moments being a musician or a producer?
So!YoON!: There are way too many to mention just a few. As fans only get to listen to the final version, I would like to say the process of completing a song from an initial sketch. There are countless adjustments and arrangements, which could be challenging yet incredibly fulfilling.
I think the Footprint02 speakers allowed me to understand and emotionally feel the overall flow as I listen to the mixdown. After so many years, I always come back to Barefoot Sound to monitor the overall balance and details of the mixdown.
Barefoot Sound: What are the notable differences or pros and cons of working on a solo or a band project?
So!YoON!: It was never intentional, but SE SO NEON always tends to lean towards a traditional band format. Instruments like acoustic drums, bass, and guitar are the foundations of our sound and every song is written together as a team. And we are often driven by the energy of being able to perform on the stage alongside our bandmates. However, the solo project leads me to experiment with what’s not doable in a traditional band format. Its main purpose is to experiment with a variety of distinctive styles.
Barefoot Sound: What are some of your sources for musical inspiration?
So!YoON!: Would listening to a lot of music be considered to be a source of inspiration, strictly speaking? Answers to questions about inspirations and musical influences can be very vague and unexplainable. Put simply, discovering new music or listening to my favorite songs are probably my main inspiration.
Barefoot Sound: In your opinion, what are some of the trends in music production?
So!YoON!: Umm… I think the latest trend is to create content. Unfortunately, in recent years, content based on music creates a better platform to introduce music to the audience. So I think it is trendy to write a song and also to come up with accompanying ideas to present a fuller package to the audience. Also, it is essential to work fast enough to showcase these contents speedily to the audience.
Barefoot Sound: Could you share the process of completing an album or the aforementioned contents?
So!YoON!: In a certain way, I believe it’s not the most conventional process. My works are often created in various different mediums. For example, I often not only write the song but also come up with visual representations. So once I have a rough idea or a plan, I need to consider how those ideas can be executed. I often try to create as sensibly and intuitively as possible, followed by being as rational and objective as possible to think of ways to execute different ideas. Simply put, the process includes remaining as irrational and emotional as possible during the creative process and releasing the results with an objective perspective toward the songs and contents.
Barefoot Sound: What are the factors that remain peculiar during the process creating those contents?
So!YoON!: Recently, it has been mixing. I am not a musical connoisseur, but I remain exposed to varieties of music. As I give a closer listen to the songs I enjoy, it is important to contain the energy but to be able to comfortably listen to it on repeat, a certain amount of quality is essential. Or better yet, rather than essential, meticulousness during the mixing stage… It’s because I believe music heavily relies on sensibility, and I think mixing is a necessary adjustment to maintain its sensibility while increasing its overall quality. So I prefer to constantly work on it until I am satisfied with what I am hearing.
Barefoot Sound: What are your expectations for studio monitors?
So!YoON!: Ironically enough, I mainly use my monitors for recording. As we often run recording sessions at the studio, it is most important to have a pleasant sound during the session. I mainly work with acoustic instruments, so I need to hear how they blend and how the sound provokes emotion. All these factors play an essential role in creating the right mood and atmosphere during the session. I mainly used studio monitors for mixing before, but nowadays I have started to use headphones and earphones more frequently. Studio monitors are essential in creating the right atmosphere for musicians to record and have the best outcome.
Barefoot Sound: How did you get to know about Barefoot Sound?
So!YoON!: I have been aware of the brand Barefoot for a long while. I started to visit studios in high school, and grew accustomed to a familiar design and exterior, which turned out to be Barefoot. There was always a pair of Barefoot at high-end studios and umm.. to put it into words, I could listen to them with complete trust. “Oh yeah, those are Barefoot’ speakers”… There were never in need of complaints or feedback towards a type of speaker or brand like Barefoot.
Barefoot Sound: I am aware you are using Footprint02 currently. How does it differ from the previous model you owned?
So!YoON!: First of all, to put it simply, it can be widely used. It’s versatility… From fulfilling Hi-Fi perspective, and to be able to express dynamics or, on the other hand, it can also be very helpful when you need to listen to something subtle.
I think Barefoots allowed me to understand and emotionally feel the overall flow as I listen to the mixdown. After so many years, I always come back to Barefoot speakers to monitor the overall balance and details of the mixdown.
Barefoot Sound: What could be the varying factors of your success with both of your band or solo projects?
So!YoON!: It is not to completely disregard the current trends in music, but it is important to create the best work we can to develop those ideas further. Hence, it is extremely humbling, and I remain grateful for the love I receive from fans.
Barefoot Sound: Could you share any of your plans for 2023?
So!YoON!: I’m not the type of musician to write fast, and I don’t think I can produce speedily. However, things I wish to express will come up as I live my everyday life, so I am currently working on my album. So I think I have been concentrating on finishing it to release it within this year.
Barefoot Sound: What does the term, ‘Master of Crafts’ mean to you?
So!YoON!: Back in the day, there were specific terms to describe something definite like a Master, a legend, or a classic. I used to believe these terms are unrelated to temporality. For example, there was a time when I used to think that classics could be made regardless of the time and age like Twenty-Seven Club, but now… I would say I value experience that can help to mature a musician. Simply put… to age well? One of the ways to be a true master at something is to age well as a creative or a musician and an artist.
Barefoot Sound: Again, thank you for being part of this interview. Is there anything else you wish to say to the audience?
So!YoON!: I was thrilled to meet Mr. Barefoot in person during my tour last year and I was deeply grateful because not only he was aware of my music but he attended our show. I think it was meaningful that I was able to experience Barefoot Speakers and also to be part of this interview. This will be a great motivation to continue working on music moving forward.
– So!YoON!, Singer, Songwriter & Guitarist
A very special thank you to Jinnie Kim, Junghwa Lee and to the rest of the Gearlounge crew for making this all possible.