All posts by cherylswindell17

MFBTY’s Fight to the Top: Their Struggles with Grief, Money, Getting Gigs + Plans to Continue Rising

MFBTY let loose at Greenplugged Festival, May 24th

“My style is a bit rough but since this is a festival with kids, I’ll tone it down a little. I won’t even say, ‘Let’s smash them.’ I’ll say, ‘Let’s bounce!’”

Tiger JK, Yoon Mi Rae, and Bizzy rocked the finale stage of 2015 Green Plugged, which was held on May 24, 2015 at 9pm.
The trio, (who are known as MFBTY) turned the grassy fields into a club as soon as their set started. Tiger JK jumped off the stage to meet the fans face to face, splashing water from his bottle and shouting like a rock star. The reporter met the drenched Tiger JK backstage right after their set.

We Lost Everything

Tiger JK is slowly climbing up from the bottom. In February 2014, his father passed away after a long fight with cancer. TigerJK said he lost absolutely everything at that time. As Drunken Tiger, (who topped the Korean music charts on several occasions) he made enough money for him to say, “I just want to do my kind of music now”. These days however, “If I don’t work today, I can’t guarantee I can put food on my family’s table, it’s that tough right now.”

For him, being on the bottom is somewhat familiar. Back in 2000, right after his debut, he was arrested for allegedly taking prohibited substances (all charges were later dropped). Back in 2006, he was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, and cannot properly function if he does not take his medication four times daily.

MFBTY, started back in 2011 on Twitter when they playfully stated, “My Fans are Better Than Yours.” This joke spread through the Twitter world through their international fans.
“This started out as a joke and back in 2013, we released a single called, ‘Sweet Dreams’. It was a massive hit overseas, to the point we were invited to Cannes MIDEM festival. We thought, “Alright, that was cool”, and were preparing to do our individual music. Then our fans continuously sent us well wishing messages about my father. It just built up from there.”

Like a roller coaster, there are ups and downs in life. After Tiger JK’s father passed away, MFBTY released an album to thank their fans entitled Wondaland. This album charted No. 8 in the 1st week of April on the Billboard World Album Charts. MFBTY was even invited to perform at the annual Dream Concert in May this year. With this overwhelming international response to their music, the tracks on the ‘Wondaland’ album charted on Korean music charts as well.

We Are Not doing Hip Hop

“People around us are asking us to change our group name to something like ‘Yoon Mi Rae & MFBTY or Drunken Tiger & MFBTY. But our name started with our fans so how dare we change it? Anyway, we went on air after a 3 year hiatus with everything saying that, “it’s the Hip Hop era in Korea right now” but they just wanted us to dance and rap, leaving out all the DJing, Drums, or VJ. Witnessing that, we are just doing our thing on stages. Hard as it may be.” As Tiger JK stated, MFBTY is doing the majority of their appearances on stages purely based on word-of-mouth from other festival attendees and organizers.

At the Green Plugged Festival, Tiger JK thanked the crowd, (even though most of them may not know them) pointing to the fact that the majority of the crowd were females in their 20’s. However, even the hardcore fans who followed Tiger JK from the Drunken Tiger days would’ve been a bit perplexed with the set. Their stage set started with Hip Hop, then a rendition of “I Heard Some Rumor” by Jang Gi Ha and The Faces, Bob Marley’s- “Jamming”, and a dash of Trot in there as well. It was vaguely reminiscent of an impromptu Jazz performance with quick transition of styles. The tracks in, ‘Wondaland’ vary greatly in their flavour, notably “Hello Happy” with Yoo Hee Yeol, “Love and Peace” with Jeon In Kwon, and “Bucku Bucku” with EE, Dino J and BTS leader, (Rap Monster).

“Hip Hop can go across all different sounds. If Electronic is the thing, then Hip Hop can reside in it for a while, then when Rock becomes more popular, we can go there too.” Tiger JK insisted that MFBTY is not a Hip Hop group, rather an Underground K Pop group. “We all know that we are not at our prime, but there are some interesting things happening around us. When we rock gigs, we go crazy and when we were invited to the Dream Concert, we attended as their oldest performers. We are truly blessed!”

Donning the necklace given to him by his father, (he wears it every time he goes on stage) Tiger JK is getting ready to rise up once again.

Translated by JSK

Edited by Cheryl Swindell

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[Interview] MFBTY sets out to reinvent K-pop with ‘Wondaland’

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The Korea Times interviewed MFBTY, here’s a snippet of what they had to say:

KT: “Wondaland” is diverse. I feel like I heard a bit of everything, from reggae to EDM to rock legend Jeon In-kwon’s voice — what would you call the core of this album?

Tiger JK: Soulful pop.

Yoonmirae: I just call it a very “Feel Ghood” eclectic album!

Read more here: The Korea Times

[Interview] Korean Indie with MFBTY

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The record hits several different genres throughout its nearly hour-long runtime. What inspired you to explore different territory for WondaLand, and what was the process like in bringing different musical worlds together?

Yoon Mi Rae: We just went wherever the music took us. We didn’t stay away from particular sounds or chords in fear of sounding like this or that. Whatever felt good we ran with.

Tiger JK: Being introduced to new languages, artists, and stories from all over the world. This all came from dreams we had.

Read more here: Korean Indie Interviews MFBTY

[Interview] FarEastVibes Interviews MFBTY!

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There’s no doubt about the amount of passion for music you guys have not just as MFBTY but also within your solo careers, but music is also a job. With idol groups representing mainstream Korean music and becoming increasingly popular internationally, does MFBTY feel pressured to alter their music in order to chart well?

Tiger JK: Sometimes, but when we get in the studio we all get lost in our music. Since we do basically everything – produce, write, mix, and all that – we don’t have time to feel pressure. It’s a very, very arduous process, but recording is the most fun part. And bumping our songs as loud as we can and just going through our own playlists to decide what makes the cut on the album is exciting. We’re thinking about getting a producer where we could be led for once and just do our own parts to see what comes out.

Yoon Mirae: Not at all. I know people probably won’t believe me when I say this, but it’s true. I really really don’t pay attention to charts. I just want to make music that I can be proud of and that makes me happy. Of course I would like the album to do well, but I don’t believe that I – or we – should make songs for that reason. Hopefully if we put out good music, the rest will fall into place.

Read more here: FarEastVibes Interviews MFBTY

[Interview] Falling into “Wondaland” with Korean Hip Hop Group MFBTY

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Asia Pacific Arts interviews MFBTY:

At first look, people might simply describe MFBTY as a hip-hop group, but your album is packed with 17 tracks and you explore various genres from not only hip-hop, but electronica, R&B and even reggae. What genres were you most excited to challenge and how was the process of creating a song in that style?

Tiger JK: I love reggae music. It’s always been a root of inspiration for me. If you listen to my old Drunken Tiger records, you will find a lot of reggae influences or me paying homage. Drunken Tiger’s single “Liquor Shot” was dance hall. And Tasha’s “Wonder Woman” single was reggae influenced. Whether it be EDM or rock music, we’re inspired by anything that has soul.

Yoonmirae: Well our DJ/producer/consultant/Feel Ghood Music family friend DJ Smells is really into and good with the EDM side of things, so he was there to help us with fusing our styles together. As JK said, he’s always been a huge reggae fanatic and knows a lot about it, so when JK and Kim Ban Jang from Windy City get together in the studio, it’s pretty much a wrap! When making this album, we just basically showed up at the studio and recorded our jam sessions. We didn’t confine ourselves to one genre or what we thought the people thought we should do. We just wanted to do whatever felt good, made us happy, and hoped for the best.

Read more here: Asia Pacific Arts Interviews MFBTY

[INTERVIEW] MFBTY Talks ‘Peace, Love, and Pillow Fights’, Potential English Release, and More with moonROK

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Your last album, “The Cure”, had an emotionally heavy focus drawn from real life tragedies, but “Wondaland” seems to establish that you’ve moved on, especially with the first track, “Hello Happy.” Can you tell us about the transition from your last album to this one?

Tiger JK: Most of my songs are drawn from real life. Particularly “The Cure” was my mantra, it was our prayer for people who are suffering. As far as moving on, I don’t think I will ever be able to. I’m moving forward though because time doesn’t wait for me. “Hello Happy” was just the right theme for us. We wanted to focus on something positive and fun. It was like breaking the ice on a first date after a very long awkward silence on a rainy day by a car driving in a puddle and splashing water on us, now we’re laughing and hugging. It all sounds very Korean drama-esque!

Yoonmirae: We just wanted to do music that made us “Feel Ghood.” I guess you can say it was a self-fulfilling therapeutic decision.

Read more here: moonROK Interviews MFBTY