Korean hip hop music matters to Singapore
23 May 2012, Singapore – Korean artistes Tiger JK, Yoon Mirae, M.I.B, Bizzy, Rhythmking, J’Kyun, DJ Clazzi and BTOB were in Singapore for Music Matters Live 2012. KAvenyou was present at the media roundtable interview with the artistes, where we got to learn more about these artistes as they shared their thoughts on Singapore and their music.
Rhythmking is an urban soul band made up of Bumkey, Rhythmking, Park Soonchul, Lee Heechul and Hwan Lee. The band’s lead singer Bumkey, is famous for collaborations with artistes like Epik High, Dynamic Duo, Dok2 and Supreme Team.
Q: Since it’s the first time for most of you to perform in Singapore, what is your first impression of Singapore and what do you feel about the local fans?
Rhythmking: This is our first time here, and we love the sea and the weather here. It’s like California but its a little more humid here. I want to get some chilli crabs.
Q: Are you a little anxious for your performance tomorrow?
Rhythmking: Yeah, of course but we’re very excited. My band members and I are very excited about the performance tomorrow.
Q: Do you have any big surprise prepared? What kind of music, what kind of songs are you going to sing?
Rhythmking: Well actually, we made 5 songs just for Music Matters, its all brand new songs that you’ve never heard before anywhere, and so it’s exclusive.
Q: As an artiste, are there any individuals or groups that you look up to as a role model?
Rhythmking: Yeah, like Musiq Soulchild and Daft Punk.
J’Kyun is a rapper whose nickname in Korea is the hip hop prince, and is also known for his Hot MC track featuring Block B’s Zico, as well as making a parody of Big Bang’s Fantastic Baby dedicated to SNSD’s Sunny.
Q: Are you excited with this being your first time in Singapore?
J’Kyun: Yeah and it’s hot.
Q: What have you prepared for us tomorrow?
J’Kyun: I have prepared 5 songs. I am going to show you my skills tomorrow with my 5 songs and I guess this is a diverse taste for everyone. And actually in Korea, I am known as the hip hop prince (힙합왕자)
DJ Clazzi is an electronica musician, better known as a member from his experimental band Clazziquai Project. He has also collaborated with many K-Pop singers, such as 2AM’s Seulong and Sunny Hill just to name a couple.
Q: Are you here alone?
Clazzi: I am here alone, but I will perform with other members as well as other artistes.
Q: What type of performance are you putting up for us tomorrow?
Clazzi: I have a DJ show prepared for all of you, so I think the music will be more electronic and not solely on hip hop, so you can look forward to that tomorrow. I will be performing with other artistes, like Yi Sung Yol, Jinsil and MYK.
Q: Since you are a DJ, are you planning to visit any clubs in Singapore?
Clazzi: I am not a clubber, so I don’t go to clubs but I actually work there. So instead I am going to chill with my friends in the hotel room.
Q: What is your music style like?
Clazzi: I don’t have a main genre, so it is hard for me to explain the genre of my music. I am going to try new styles and hopefully it is more fun for fans to listen to.
Q: As a deejay, do you dig music styles like those of Far East Movement?
Clazzi: I want to go deeper in electronic as well, but on the other side I also want to try some soft music for the listeners, so I am trying new things and preparing for my next project as well. I enjoy music from Far East Movement and I’m also very proud as an Asian to have people like Far East Movement being very successful in America and around the world.
Q: Coming from one of the most unique label with a large group of talented and creative artistes, who in the label would you consider as a competitor and why?
Clazzi: Yi Sung Yol, he’s not really my rival but someone whom I look up to and is very inspiring for me.
BTOB, who just made their debut in Korea recently, with members consisting of Eunkwang, Minhyuk, Changsub, Hyunsik, Peniel, Ilhoon and Sungjae, are here in Singapore for their first ever overseas performance.
Q: It is your first time in Singapore too right? How was it?
BTOB: We are very impressed and yesterday we had fans at the airport, so we were very surprised. We also spent some time swimming and visiting boat cruise, and we also had some chilli crab, so we had a fun day yesterday.
Q: What other names have you all thought of before coming up with the name BTOB?
BTOB: BTOB stands for Born To Beat. We also played with the word ‘beat’ as it can mean the beat of the music and also beating, meaning that they’re being very competitive and going up. Asian Team/Kings, Sonics and Arirang were considered as their group name before.
Q: For tomorrow, what style of music will you all perform?
BTOB: There are different songs prepared for all of the fans tomorrow, from fast ones to slow ones.
BTOB introduced themselves in English, Chinese and Japanese at the press conference as well, showcasing their multi-linguistic side.
Q: BTOB just released a track called “Insane”, but the Korean title for it is actually “Secret”. What is the reason for the difference, and what are the reasons that make BTOB go crazy?
BTOB: Basically the lyrics are about a girl who he (BTOB) is in love with, starts making up secrets, and there is a line that says “you make me go insane”, which they use it as the title for the song abroad. Music and Singapore makes us go crazy!
Q: Other than the seniors at the parent company, are there any artistes you like to work with?
BTOB: We worked with other seniors of the agency like Beast, 4Minute and G.NA on a track called Fly So High, so we are very thankful. We like hip hop and R&B, so we would like to collaborate with those artistes seated in front of us (Tiger JK, Yoon Mirae, J’Kyun, Bizzy, M.I.B, DJ Clazzi).
Tiger JK and Yoon Mirae
The godfather of Korean hip hop music, Tiger JK and his wife, Yoon Mirae (Tasha) are also here in Singapore finally to perform for their fans.
Q: It’s your first time here in Singapore as well. What will you be doing for your performance tomorrow?
Tiger JK: I’m very happy and very honoured to be here, and I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders. It’s my first concert here in Singapore, and I hope to leave with great souvenirs from the whole team present here today.
Q: It’s been 3 years since your last album, and Yoon Mirae will be making her debut in the US. So when are you going to join her breaking into the US market and what are your plans right now?
Tiger JK: I think Tasha (Yoon Mirae) is the one who really deserves this thing as she is very talented as she can sing, can rap, she’s unique and she’s one of a kind.
Q: How supportive is he (Tiger JK) of you?
Yoon Mirae: He is actually very, very, very supportive of me. I think he figures that at least if one of us starts well, it will enter his pockets too, so he is very supportive of me.
Q: What did you eat? Chill crab?
Tiger JK: All my followers told me not to say that. They told me to add lah and lor and those kinds of things, so anyway, I haven’t ate chilli crab yet lah!
Q: You mentioned that Yoon Mirae is stepping into America with Far East Movement, so how does she feel about it and about you not joining her?
Yoon Mirae (mic passed from Tiger JK): Technically, I guess you could say it’s a debut, but I got real lucky we met at California and it was for MNET music awards show. We met at an afterparty and things just kind of kicked off. They asked if I don’t mind working on their remix so I guess this is technically a debut but it’s not really like a solo album or a single, but it will be on their remix album and we’re still working out on the details, but I’m really excited and honoured and humbled by it, hopefully some good work will come out of it. (JK Tiger joked that they are working on the song Live Your Life that also featured Justin Bieber).
Q: Are they (Far East Movement) going to be featured on your album as well?
Yoon Mirae: Yes, we haven’t recorded it yet but I have already recorded my part. They will either be featured in one of my songs or JK’s song. (JK: I’m going to record Live My Life featuring Justin Bieber!)
Q: Having grown up in the US, what is the main difference between US and Korea’s hip hop scenes? And did you manage to combine both cultures to create your style?
Tiger JK: Everyone there (in US) was freestyle, and celebrity sighting was easy (like Wu-Tang Clan). We had to battle and get out there and in a moment, they wanted to outcast. Hip hop was very alive and we took it more seriously. Back in Korea I was rebellious and I was trying to express myself truthfully and telling stories that originality is very important in hip hop or you’ll get no respect, and I was a little angry. Then I knew that I just can’t be rah-rah and this and that as nobody will be willing to open up to you, so I combined both cultures and kind of became a spokesman in a way.
Q: I think you really paved the way for many hip hop artistes in Korea, you’re one of the very first successful hip hop artistes having both cultures. Who are you inspired by today in terms of artistes outside of Korea and maybe from Korea as well?
Tiger JK: Nowadays this craze is really big and I think US hip hop is more mainstream than Korean hip hop. J’Kyun, Bizzy and people from my label are pretty quiet but they’re just great. Dynamic Duo, also are a few to name. I’m definitely inspired by Bob Marley ever since my college days. (starts ramble about how inspiring he is)
Q: So you completed a rather successful collaborative project with The Creators Project last year, so how does that pre-empt your appearance at Music Matters as well as the events that specially designated hip hop showcases?
Yoon Mirae: The Creators Project actually had a lot to do with JK who put all of that together. I felt really honoured and blessed to have the opportunity to work with him. To be honest, I didn’t really know that much about them until JK gave me the opportunity to work with them, but I found out that they are responsible for giving a lot of artistes a lot of airplay or promotion to not just the country they are at but around the world, without expecting anything in return because they just love music. So I felt really honoured to be a part of something so big, especially with music, I think that is universal, whether you speak English or Korean or Japanese, it’s what people feel about it, and that’s the same kind of mindset I came with for tomorrow’s show. I really don’t know that much about Music Matters, but I hope that you guys support it and feel it and know that there are different types of genre. K-pop is a big sensation right now but it’s not just a certain type of music, like we have electronic, we have hip hop, we have rock, we have everything, so I hope this will be an opportunity to showcase that and let people know that we have really, really good artistes in Korea.
Bizzy, a solo rap artist also from the same company as Yoon Mirae, Tiger JK and M.I.B, lived many years in New Zealand before returning to Korea to work on his first album. He has performed with Tiger JK since 2004.
Regarding the upcoming collaboration between Tiger JK, Yoon Mirae and Bizzy, JK quipped, “Look out, Will.I.Am!” The track will be released in June worldwide.
It’s also Bizzy’s first time in Singapore, and he will be having interaction with the crowd as well. Bizzy, also from Jungle Entertainment, has learnt a lot from his seniors. Yoon Mirae added on that he is a humble emcee who does not know how to promote himself well. Bizzy’s upcoming single titled, Angel, is going to be released soon and it will most likely feature Yoon Mirae and Tiger JK.
For M.I.B (Most Incredible Busters), a hip hop idol group consisting of 5zic, Cream, Kangnam and SIMS, whose notable point is producing and writing their own music, it is also their first time in Singapore and they are happy to be here, and they agreed that Singapore is a little more clean than Korea.
Q: So having given a headstart being in Jungle Entertainment with Tiger JK and Tasha as your mentors, so how is your relationship like with them and what is one thing you have learnt from them that has influenced you the most in your life and your lyrics?
M.I.B: We are very honoured to be able to work with legendary artistes like Tasha and JK, but we’re also a little pressured at times, but they’re also very open-minded, so they don’t give us orders.
Q: How did you all come out with the name and having debuted last year, what things make you all stand out from the other bands in Korea?
M.I.B: We’re focusing more on the lyrics and messages in the songs rather than the dance moves, so we are not going to appeal to you by jumping around and dancing on stage so much. (Tasha: They write their own lyrics; Tiger JK: I think their name is plain stupid!)
The press conference then came to an end amidst all the laughters from the artistes with a mass phototaking session. We would like to thank Branded.Asia, Fulford PR, KOCCA, Jungle Entertainment, Cube Entertainment, Fluxus Music, Room 24 Entertainment and Romantic Factory for the opportunity to attend this interview session. Stay tuned to our next article for the coverage of Music Matters Live 2012 concert!
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