Kino Lee is a film composer, pianist and violinist from Taiwan who moved to New York City to pursue music. She has been performing her instruments for more than 20 years and now is focusing on composing for visual media.
Hi Kino, please tell us how you ended up in New York City as a musician!
KL: I am from Taipei, Taiwan. I came to the state 4 years ago for studying film scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In Taiwan, our film scoring education is still not really complete so that I had to come to the state. Also, Berklee College of Music has many resources for all the student to learn and explore different musical majors. The experience of learning in Berklee was definitely really important and necessary for me.
I moved to NY after I graduated from Berklee in May 2017 because NY is just a great city for arts, so many things going on all the time and people are open-minded, the life here is so unique that I wouldn’t’ be able to have them if I am anywhere else. So far I enjoyed my time living here very much.
What would you say is the biggest challenge of being a musician abroad?
KL: Make a living by only doing music is definitely the biggest challenge, everybody needs to find their own balance between working on their own music and working for others for a living.
Besides that, as an international musician, the process of applying for a new visa from time to time is also challenging and stressful. We had to keep tracking and proving everything we have done so that we could make us valuable enough to stay in the state, I am in the process of applying for my new visa now and it made me really depressed because the purpose of doing music was never to prove myself to anybody, but I think that is how it works.
What are the biggest joys of being a musician for you? In other words, why music?
KL: Being able to deliver and accept emotions through music is the biggest joy for me, It’s another level of enjoying life, I guess the same thing would apply for all kinds of arts, but music is what I do since I was 2 so I have the most connection with it.
When times get rough and when everyday life starts to bog you down, what do you do to keep going?
KL: I read books, watch movies, find new albums to listen to or go to museums and shows. I always try to find inspirations and refresh myself when I am down, usually, those things would calm me and helped me to see the life through a different vision. Once I am in that mindset, I usually overcome the negative feelings.
Tell us one your proudest moments as a musician so far.
KL: That would definitely be my first composition concert in Taiwan, before that nobody really thought I could compose because I was a classical pianist since I was little. Started composing changed my life and the first time being able to share my emotions through my compositions was a big, wonderful moment for me.
What’s one stereotype about musicians that you’d like everyone to know is not true?
KL: I would say generally people think musicians should be able to play all kinds of music or multiple instruments, but actually every artist has their own focus and taste, people should respect that.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering a career in music?
KL: Having musical hobbies is fun, but being a professional musician could be stressful. The most important thing of being a musician is to love what you are doing or always having something to work on for yourself. Be honest, kind and open-minded. I believe that music will make you a better person.
What is your next step in terms of music?
KL: Compose more, cooperate with different people and keep learning so that I could be more complete as a musician and a human being.
Thank you, Kino, for taking the time out to share your journey with us! If you would like to check out some of Kino’s work, you can visit her at Kino Lee Music.