The mitosis of science and music in YOONCELL

Minutes before her set, Jeong Yun-jung picks up her guitar and slings it to her body. She takes tiny steps to reach the middle of the platform, nervous to face her spectators for the day.

On the stage, she is YOONCELL.

She strums her guitar and her sound will immediately remind you of spring. Her voice is calmly captivating, drawing you into the sweet string of chords that accompany it. The Korean artist's latest single “Hot Noodles” really isn’t just a love song for ramen, it is a cowardly confession.

YOONCELL looks like any other rookie musician trying to communicate through her compositions. One that is still studying the stage, learning how to project her voice and make her presence felt.

Except she wears a white coat on weekdays.

She specializes in pathology. As a doctor and educator, she spends a lot of time observing cells under a microscope, trying to find causes of various diseases and identifying cells that aren’t naturally part of a structure.

And her fascination in microbiology obviously does not end there. YOONCELL says she handles her music like a cell, continuing the process of identification—one of existence, memory and emotion.

It’s no surprise either that she chose the cell to represent her as a musician—it perfectly symbolizes both sides of her as a medical doctor and solo artist.

As the smallest unit of life, the cell itself has its own functional structure. It is an independent unit, yet is an integral part of everything in nature. “I am a solo musician who writes and creates my own music. Like a cell, I am an individual as well as a universe. I want to express my own universe in various ways,” she says.

The singer-songwriter, who is among the first artists signed by Universal Music’s first Korean label On The Record, says she often interprets casual events as unexpected melodies and she makes time to compose come the weekend.

Among her original songs, YOONCELL says “Missing You” represents more of the music she would like to be writing. 

“It has a unique chord progression and I also played violin in it. I think this song has a different vibe that allows the expression of who I am and my music,” she shares.

It has never been a decision between practicing medicine or making music. Studying medicine actually pushed her to create art.

She has always been a fan of British pop, and its influence is quite evident in her songs now. She purchased her first guitar after entering university and tried to learn the instrument while she hit her medical books.

But music’s calling didn’t stop even in the limited time she allowed herself to strum and sing. When her medical internship ended in 2008, she flew to London and stayed there for a year.

“I had a very hard time as an intern. It helped me decide to go to England and spend a year studying guitar. There, I performed in clubs and I learned mixing techniques and started recording them,” she says.

It’s been almost a decade since the artist came home to pursue both medicine and music. Now, YOONCELL is simply doing what she’s always wanted—and as things naturally grow by producing more cells, a musician grows by producing more songs.

Interview courtesy of MCA Music Philippines for Inquirer Super.
YOONCELL's first mini album "X1" is digitally available on Spotify.

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