The Modern Musician
Being a musician in the modern world means much more than just mastering an instrument. This holds especially true for anyone hoping to become a professional musician.
It’s often a crowded market, and each musician carries with them their own taste, style, and artistic goals.
In other words, it takes real prowess, both musical and professional, to make a living with your instrument of choice.
Working as a composer, however, requires even more skill and expertise. Film and video game composers, for example, have to be able to create a consistent tone and mood without overshadowing the source material in the slightest.
More Than Meets the Eye
Violinist Bebe Kim has managed to do all this and more throughout the course of her storied career.
Originally from South Korea, Kim is a musician at heart, performing and writing her own music regularly, while still finding time to compose for short films and video games as well.
She is currently finishing up an EP which will feature both Gypsy jazz playing as well as contemporary violin pieces. Kim also recently contributed solo violin performances to the VR experience Buddy VR, which has won multiple awards.
Kim also served as 1st violin for Paul Dinletir, the founder of Audiomachine, a company that leads the way for trailer music.
We had the chance to interview Kim and pick her brain about her experiences in many different aspects of music and entertainment.
Kim shared her insights on becoming a musician in the modern world and working with creatives of all stripes.
• • •
Can you tell us more about your experience of working on Buddy VR? Did you have to adjust your methods given that the finished product would be a VR experience rather than a linear film?
Kim: When Steffen, the composer of the film, asked me to play for him, I did not know what VR was. I’d heard of it before but didn’t have any experience with it. At the studio, I got to watch some of the film and played along with a few scenes.
I don’t think there’s much difference working as a session musician for a VR film as opposed to a linear film. Both are certainly challenging and enjoyable at the same time.
How did you first decide to pursue the violin? Has it always been a favorite instrument of yours?
Kim: Actually, I would say my favorite instrument is the piano, but my mother gave me a violin when I was just four years old. She is also a violinist and music educator. The main reason why I started to fall in love with the violin is that violinists are often given beautiful melodies to play, and that lets them shine during a performance.
When composing your own music, what serve as your sources of inspiration?
Kim: I like to empty my mind before composing, so I usually visit the beach at night, just to breathe and listen to the sounds of the waves. My feeling and real experiences are the most important sources of inspiration for me. I try to feel the same vibe that I want the music to give to listeners. From there, a melody usually pops up in my head and I start to develop it in more detail.
What are some of the most significant lessons you’ve learned since entering the entertainment industry?
Kim: I’ve learned to be a businesswoman. Unfortunately, I can’t just play the violin and compose at home and be happy about my work anymore. I need to get out and promote myself and learn how the music business works. It’s important for me to find my audience and connect with them through my work.
So have you noticed any major cultural differences between South Korea and The US when it comes to music?
Kim: In the U.S., I feel like people enjoy various genres of music and they can learn a lot about the genres they love. On the other hand, Pop, Hip-Hop, and classical music are the most popular genres in Korea. My favorite style of music is Latin jazz and gypsy jazz, and there are very few bands who play those genres back in my home country. There are more options and opportunities for musicians and music-lovers in the U.S. in general.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary violinists? How have they directly informed or influenced your work?
Kim: One of my favorite contemporary violinists is Ray Chen, a Taiwanese-Australian violinist, who communicates actively with his fans. By sharing his violinist journey and tips, he motivates people to practice and encourages players at all levels.
Can you tell us about the experience of sharing your music with others for the first time? Was it exciting, nerve-wracking?
Kim: Sharing my compositions with others are always nerve-racking, especially to people who I am close with. I assume it is because I never felt confident about my compositions and not comfortable sharing my own stories with others. But now, sharing my music is one of my favorite experiences. People form connections with the music and it’s so rewarding to see.
• • •
Bebe Kim is a solo violinist.
You can find links to Kim and her work here: