Unlike most K-pop bands of today, DPR works in an alternative manner that goes against the grain of the Korean music industry. DPR stands for ‘Dream Perfect Regime‘ and it presents itself as an independent, multi-genre music and video group that produces and directs its own content. The man who fronts the group is rapper, DPR Live. Known for his slick rhymes and catchy hooks, DPR Live is a natural performer who has garnered legions of fans across the globe. On top of that, the group has other members who are part of the creative process: DPR Rem, DPR +Ian and DPR Cream. Their latest album, ‘Her’ peaked at the number 8 spot in the US Billboard charts, which is not small feat for any artist, let alone a Korean hip hop one.
As an independent label, DPR has the freedom to express themselves and portray their music in a manner that they think best represents them. Having started out as a Visual Production group first, before their foray in music, visuals are a huge part of the DPR DNA. It is evident in their music videos, which are filled with poignant imagery that help create a complete sensorial experience for their fans. This is their recipe for success and the key to their music transcending any language barrier. Hence, they have garnered a massive international fanbase, evident in the enthusiastic response to their CTYL 2018 world tour.
BAZAAR managed to catch up with the rapper as well as Executive Producer, DPR Rem, for a quick, exclusive chat before Live hit the stage at the Singapore leg of the sellout tour. They talk about their roots, musical inspiration, fashion and more:
- Why did you pick LIVE as your alias in the team and how did it come about?
Live: There was a point of time when I looked at my life and my friends’ lives and one day it just hit me: Everybody dies for sure but who actually gets to live? I felt like I had to live with purpose and have a meaningful life; and to one day spread that type of message to my fans. Live your life the way you want as long as it is with good intention and purpose. Then, when I brought these guys in, they said, “Live is good, but why don’t we flip that an call it Live”. So we came up with the title, “Coming to you Live”, such as the weather broadcast and it all clicked.
DPR Live has attained much success internationally. Why do you think your songs have resonated with so many people outside the Korean speaking community?
Live: I think there are many different reasons, but one of the reasons is that we intentionally, at least with our hooks, made it relatable to everybody. I didn’t want any type of language barrier. So I made sure that our hooks are in English. Another reason is that we draw from many different music influences. We make sure we mesh and infuse that in our songs.
Rem: Also, over time, the Korean wave that has been happening has been huge. You see the impact that Korean content has over the world now and it’s not like we created that. It’s decades of other groups paving the way. We’re just a supplement of that and we’re doing it our way.
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How important is the visual aspect of your music to you and why?
Rem: It’s part of our DNA. DPR first came about in a visual aspect; it’s a huge part of what we do now. Even when he (Live) is making music, we’re always thinking about what we can do with the visuals. If sound has a language barrier, visuals is a totally different experience altogether. So visuals is our biggest founding sublet besides music and that is what sets us apart from other collectives.
Live: We don’t like to just watch or just listen to the music; we want the full experience. Because of that, we know what kind of experiences are captivating to us, so we just deliver that to the world.
What are your thoughts on the current state of hip hop in Korea and the rest of the world?
Rem: The Korean hip-hop scene has grown a lot; it wasn’t how it is now 10, 20 years ago. Koreans, I think, are way more accepting and it’s like a new trend for them too. I come from New York, arguably one of the most hip-hip places to be born. Seeing that and coming to Korea, watching this movement grow from an infant level to what it is now. It’s interesting and reassuring at the same time.
Live: Yeah, we’re in a good spot right now. Everything’s flourishing.
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Who are the artists that you reference and look up to?
Live: We have a lot of them. But the last one, off the top of my head, is Queen. We watched Bohemian Rhapsody and after that, I made sure to listen to all their albums in heavy rotation. It’s just amazing the details that go into their music. Watching the movie was also very inspiring, especially for us, because we’re there right now. We can really relate to them.
Rem: I’m a huge Drake fan. For me, I appreciate Drake for his business sense. The whole packaging of OVO? Like that stuff is legendary to me.
Let’s talk fashion for a second. What are the labels that you love to wear when you want to get your swag on?
Live: I’ve never really been into fashion. But I’ve been treating it the way I treat my music – as an art. I didn’t want to be serious about it because there is a lot of judgement in fashion. So I just wanted it to be fun and I take it with that attitude. However, I’m starting to learn about how brands come about. For instance, our DPR hats is where I first learnt about branding. Whenever I wear this, I feel good. And that’s the power of branding, I think.
Rem: I think for us, more than just being really fashionable, it’s about what suits us. I think that’s what fashion should be. Don’t think about all the hype.
Live: It should just be an extension of who you are, basically.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Producer: Hanan Haddad
Videographer: Nicole Quek