Curated by Zeppelin and Co and arranged by DITA Audio: 3 individuals go on their own parallel journeys to show us what it means to chase the Dream. This week, we spotlight Jung, a composer-performer that gives to his audiences through his exploratory lyrics and melodies, creating a back and forth dynamic between himself and his listeners, where he produces music and they create interpretations.
Jung Woo Cho is a 24 year-old aspiring artist, frontman of a newly formed band and a student in Musical Composition at Laselle, a man of many identities that has a ready answer when you ask him who he is: Composer, performer and educator. But above all, he is a curious soul: A characteristic that ties these seemingly disparate threads together.
When asked nature of his musical practice, Jung says, “I like to play around with sounds a lot, not just harmonies, but I’m also interested in Avant-garde music.”
“I think music is something that’s quite spiritual for me, so it doesn’t matter if I’m not getting recognition sometimes.”
Jung enjoys exploring the unconventional and the distinct “I like to play around with sounds a lot, not just tonal music. Anything to do with sound that may not catch people’s ears.”
During the course of the conversation, Jung raises Arnold Schoenberg’s Twelve-tone technique, as an example of how what we might consider “Avant-garde” is in no way a new trend—The Twelve-tone technique prevents the emphasis of any single note by sounding each note an equal amount of times. The resulting music is jarring and is fully intended to be so.
“Schoenberg was bored of harmonic music, Beethoven had done his Beethoven thing and Mozart had done his Mozart thing.” he explains in a snapshot of the era. “Twelve tone music breaks down the wall of tonality and sense of key”
Jung talks about how modern Avant-garde music often concerns itself with music and technology. ‘Noise Music’ is the way he describes it “I enjoy these things, there are still universal musical aspects that can be communicated through this medium and if this palette they choose to use for their music, I don’t have anything to say about that as well.”
On Dumbing Down Art
As much as he enjoys dabbling in the jarring and esoteric, Jung’s has his own, slightly differing stance on the music he plays for people “I try to instill a sense of beauty.” he says of his pieces.
Jung’s philosophy stems from the fact that his expertise in music is two-pronged. He got his start in both pop and classical music in his adolescence, during his A level days, where he studied classical music as a part of his A Level Music Syllabus while simultaneously running gigs where he played pop music.
“I was just doing it for the money,” he admits, “but I found myself enjoying it.”
These gigs and performances have shaped much of the way Jung thinks about music. “If you’re really doing suuuper Avant-garde music you can’t put food on the table.”
“That’s why I perform, to interact with people,” he says “my satisfaction comes from that, too”
Jung’s outside gigs require an arsenal different from the one he uses in his composition work he does at school. Most of the time, composing for commercial gigs require him to water down his musical languages to produce a more palatable, but no less excellent version of the music he loves.
While the process of making compromises in art might frustrate most artists, Jung takes a matter-of-fact approach to the task, even finding joy in it.
“I have a lot of fun finding the balance, I spend time finding the balance on how much i want people to understand this, how much I don’t want people to understand it musically, lyrically, structurally, so it’s kinda like playing a game for me. “
Ultimately, Jung likes to retain some sense of mystery in his music. He points out that the amount of nuance and context hidden behind the lyrics of modern music can be staggerin, with modern artists finding their own lyrical voices in various, creative ways, “there’s a lot of cultural things intertwined with the lyrics,” he says, linking this phenomenon with the amount of exploration curious listeners seem willing to engage in to ‘decode’ a piece of music.
“It’s also about trusting your listeners, that they are able to understand, they can even do their own interpretation of it!”
The nature of Jung’s music lies in his individuality. “To be honest I don’t think any of my friends gave me a lot of impact in terms of my music, they might have expanded my musical tastes. But… I feel like I’m almost... inflexible in terms of musical thinking, I’m quite set in stone.”
Jung’s musical history, a hybrid of classical music theory, mainstream and indie gigs puts him in a tricky position, one that makes it difficult for him to find role models or kindred spirits among his peers.
“I didn’t find anyone who’s exactly into the things I’m into, because... not a lot of composers are performers, not a lot of performers are educators.”
“I mean to be honest I feel like sometimes I’m not sure what to do so I just wing it.”
Jung’s Piano piece for Singaporean Audio Cafe Zeppelin and Co. titled “Zepp is Just Around the Corner”: Written based on Erik Satie's
Zeppelin and Co. seems to serve as a second home of sorts for Jung “I used to tell my friends, let’s go to Zepp! I like the place and it’s just around the corner” he says, talking about the origin of the track's title “Zepp has gave me my favourite studying spot around school."
wrote it according to the theme by Erik Satie, Gymnopedie, you’ve probably heard it before. It goes like “hums”, that was the theme, and I kinda expanded on it, put in a bit of jazz and put another B section, then it comes out again, so it’s an ABA form, a ternary form thing.
The local audio cafe has also served as an oasis of sorts for Jung, especially during recital periods where he listens to other composers for inspiration. “It all just becomes noise after a while”, he says, referring to his overexposure to music during these periods.
“But when you’re in Zepp you’re surrounded by all these headphones, I can’t help but listen.”
The Next Step
Jung recently formed the Puleun Band with 2 other friends, Henry Elias and Eldon Theodore, with the word Puleun meaning Blue in Korean. “In the future I hope to really collaborate with them, see what they’re good at.” He says of the band’s future direction, “We haven’t really explored together, it’s still a short time, we only had 2, 3 weeks before our first performance.” He says, talking about his gig at Zeppelin and Co.
“Actually I have no idea what’s next for me. since I formed the band, I’ll try to grow the band a bit more, post more covers and originals I’m hoping I’ll release at least a single at the end of the year with the band so stay tuned!”
See more of Jung and the Puleun Band here!
Puleun Band: Instagram.