Musician and songwriter
J. WES ULM
ACCIDENTAL POLYMATH + ADVENTURER
J. Wesley “Wes” Ulm is a trailblazing and award-winning musician, filmmaker, actor, TV quiz show champion, published novelist, physician, medical researcher and philosopher. He is the founder, songwriter, and lead singer of the musical outfit J. Wes Ulm and Kant’s Konundrum and the originator of the haunting, riveting Hypno-Intox found – a fusion of alternative, experimental and art rock, nu-metal, and often blues elements with narrative-rich lyrics and a rhythmic, exciting yet also thought-provoking vibe. His debut 4-song EP, Tales of a Wondering Soul, is due for release in the summer of 2018.
His diverse fields of interest and achievement are more a case of the swashbuckling “accidental polymath” than the Renaissance man with a plan, improvising as entrepreneurial opportunities arose or as he likes to put it, “If your world becomes a zoo, buckle up and ride the tiger.” He was a National Merit Scholar and valedictorian of his class at T. C. Williams High School before earning a B.S. degree, summa cum laude, in chemistry and biochemistry at Duke University. At 22, on the cusp of starting medical school, he achieved five consecutive nights on Jeopardy! and made the show’s Tournament of Champions. He went on to earn a dual MD/PhD degree from Harvard University and MIT under the auspices of the Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) supported by a Medical Sciences Training Program (MSTP) fellowship, and publishing diversely in gene therapy and pharmacology. In the process, Wes was awarded research prizes and international speaking engagements for work in developing new therapies for neurofibromatosis and cancer; his current research in bioinformatics focuses on improved therapeutic development and screening for inherited diseases.
Wes’s first major adventure in accidental polymathy and metaphorical tiger-riding came after contracting a devastating strain of pertussis on hospital duty which, on top of damage from a severe pneumonia (acquired during one of his Jeopardy! runs), left him with ongoing respiratory complications. From this trying period of regrouping and recovery emerged the novel Echoes of the Mystic Chords¸ a popular and imaginative work in the Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction genre. He has likewise written for Democracy Journal, Utne Reader, and the Vision at Harvard essay anthology, whose 2003 edition he also edited. Wes had played guitar intermittently since middle school, so picking up his favorite six-string again after his novel’s publication, he went forward with a plan to compose his own music for related trailer videos. From there, his early musical forays began to attract audiences and acclaim in Northridge, Irvine, Thousand Oaks, Pomona, LA and other So Cal locales where he was teaching at the time.
Teaming up with talented master guitarist Ryan Chen and skilled orchestrator Lennon Leppert, he officially began and registered the band Kant’s Konundrum, and as of summer 2018 has written nearly a dozen songs of which four have been fully mixed and mastered for the band’s debut EP, Tales of a Wandering Soul. His seminal productions and open-mics rapidly attracted a growing fan base, and with his additional background as an actor, Wes then branched out into producing and directing music videos based on those early popular tracks. With the help of a hard-working and talented creative team including editor T’nia Harris, illustrator Will Chen, cinematographer Nick Saldivar and a dedicated film crew, his first fully produced and edited video, for the song A Hustler’s Tale, became a top-rated and highly original short silent film. It’s already emerged as a multiple award-winner on the film festival circuit prior to its full public release, including a Gold Award from a major international film festival, special selections in two others, and finalist and semifinalist awards (with decision on ultimate placement still pending) in several additional events.
Wes is still highly active and committed to his medical career, with a long-term focus on pioneering approaches in bioinformatics to help simulate tissue-level pathophysiology and expedite the screening and cost-effective discovery of new therapies, both rationally-designed gene and protein therapies and traditional small molecule-based modalities. However, his “weekend warrior” career as a musician, novelist, actor and TV personality is just now taking off, and all fans coming on board will be able to join the journey at this exciting, fledgling early stage as the Hypno-Intox Musical Revolution hits the mainstream. If he could tack on a couple extra hours to the day, Wes says he’d climb with his guitar to the top of Angel Falls and sing an album of sweet songs to the world below. But he’s happy to share the four songs of his debut EP as a start, and he hopes all of you will enjoy the musical journey just the same.
Be sure to subscribe to the J. Wes Ulm and Kant’s Konundrum YouTube channel where new music teasers and full official music videos will first be posted, and check out his Soundcloud for early mixes of upcoming tracks and his IG, Twitter, FB and other social media (all @jwesulm ) for updates. Get ready for the Hypno-Intox Musical Revolution!