April 9, 2019 Artist to Watch: Yiseul LeMieux

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Yiseul LeMieux

Blending Music & Musicians to Curate Unique Experiences.

Yiseul Kim is an ambitious musician and composer who runs LeMieux Studios here in Baton Rouge. A collaborative effort which blends visual arts, classical music, modern music, and experience to make all of it more accessible to audiences. Kim has done several outreach performances with children’s classrooms, LSU School of Art, & outreach programming for the homeless. She sat down with us to talk more about her background and what drives her in this week’s Artist to Watch.

When did you take first interest in music?

When I first started playing piano I was three years old, and I was not really interested in music, but I started because I was very envious of my other pre-k classmates who were all in the same piano class, and kept talking about their green and red books, and how far along they were in the books. I was more interested in the competition, and this is what actually caused me to start piano lessons. It only lasted for about a year before I had to change schools and was no longer able to take lessons. I did not really start taking music lessons again until I was 16, and again, I’m not sure that it was really the music that interested me, but maybe it was more about choosing to do something that I did not have to study for in the way most other academic subjects required. Where I grew up, studying was a way of life, and it pretty much took most of the focus of everyone around me. I guess I just decided to have a career in music, and I chose piano as my instrument and then chose to be a composer. It did not start from interest. Sorry.

Who were your early influences?

All the people who did not agree with me or whoever gave me unreasonable or negative comments have had huge influence on me. I used those comments as an obstacle to overcome. I still remember several teachers telling me that piano is not your instrument, and that I would never be musician.

When did you transition to composition?

I guess it was about two years ago after I graduated in piano performance. I wrote some pieces before, but I did not consider myself a composer until recently. I realized that there are some limits that would not allow me to achieve everything that I imagined through playing only one instrument.

What is your favorite instrument (or combination) to compose for?

I do not have a favorite instrument or combination. I would say any combination that people think is weird would probably be my favorite!

Why do you feel collaboration is so important in your pieces?

First, I cannot play all the instruments that I compose for, so I need performers that play different instruments, and I also need there feedback to understand how their instruments work best and what is possible. Also, I hope people get more chances to listen to my pieces, and ultimately if performers feel like they are part of the pieces then they will probably want to play them more, and then there are more chances my compositions can spread out. However, when a performer plays my composition, I want the performer to be connected with the listeners using their own interpretation not because I, the composer, wrote this way. I cannot control each performer and their performances, but I believe I need to give them a chance to collaborate with the piece with their own style/interpretation. I really want the performance and performer’s talent, artistic ability, musicianship to shine through my composition.

What are some upcoming events/projects you have?

This Friday, April 12th, at 4-6 pm, on the LSU campus, we are going to have our 4th “Fish Bar Over 21” performance during Gradwalk, put on by the LSU School of Art. “School of Fish”, which is an educational program, is one of our ongoing projects that will hopefully be popping up more often throughout Louisiana soon. I also have a plan for a picnic-themed event which will hopefully be premiered in a couple of months.

What is a dream project of yours?

Everything that I have done so far has been a dream project. My dreams keep getting bigger, and hopefully I will keep accomplishing them. We have a lot of great supporters that have made it possible to have all of the events so far, and hopefully I can give back something to everyone who has supported me. My dream is to make as many dream performances come true whether they are my dreams or dreams of those around me that continue to give lots of support!

How can people follow your work?

You can visit my website www.yiseullemieux.com and also, events and performances will be updated on LeMieux studios Facebook page, Instagram (@lemieuxstudios), and www.lemieuxstudios.com.