MFBTY: “With all that’s happening around the world at the moment, I just want to provide happiness and enjoyment.”
Editors: In Uijeongbu lives a couple and their close friend who form MFBTY, whom just recently released an album, Wondaland. Their intro begins like this: “We wish not only for every person in this world, but all bees, butterflies, insects to be happy. For all to blossom like flowers, be beautiful, healthy, be in harmony with each other and live well.”
They are people who are about living with LOVE & PEACE. They are Tiger JK, YoonMiRae, and Bizzy—lonely, hurting, in pain, holding on to what is left of their father, releasing music even though times are tough. As family and colleagues, they have made a synergetic bond and are recording their growth through music.
I understand you faced some hard times prior to setting up your company (Feel Ghood Music), has everything settled down?
TigerJK: We wanted to get off on the right foot. Our son is 8 years old now, but I also haven’t aged mentally further than 8 years old. No, truthfully my son’s mental age is a lot older than mine. (Laughter) Since I am laughing and playing with my son a lot, it has made me a brighter person and people can really see that when they meet me.
So, about your song “Hello Happy….”
Tiger JK: Happy was our wish (to become happy). I’ve mentioned it before that I am a story teller and that we write lies based on truths, but when we recorded our solos, they sounded sad and dark as our heart and soul was put in to them. However, when we recorded together, the end result was silly, fun, and wacky. At first, we only planned for a single, and then we kept making more songs, and then an intro, and slowly we came up with 16 songs for a full album.
Was that because there were a lot of stories to be told?
Tiger JK: As well as having stories to be told, we spent our time only in Uijeongbu which made us feel isolated. But when artist like Jeon InKwon and Yoo Hee Yeol came to Uijeongbu, whom we knew as more of friendly faces rather than musicians, a lot of interesting things happened. Whenever someone came over and visited us, we were able to create music there and then, and it was a phenomenal experience. I have OCD and have a tendency to structure the album from start to finish, but this time around, it was really fun working on this album.
It seems you have broken some conventions.
Tiger JK: As well as Jordan and other artist that we worked with, we learnt important lessons from everybody. Jeon InKwon’s “Love and Peace” is a different version compared to the one listed on our album. The previous version had a lot of components and was more upbeat. Jeon InKwon said, “The chorus, adlib, rap, take it all out and leave the song bare and lonely, pure like a child. I like it the way it is. You have to trust me.” So I followed, and now the CD is rare item. (Laughter)
And while YooHeeYeol was reviewing the codes and laying out the instrumentals, he advised that “Just because it’s flashy, it doesn’t mean it’s good, let’s try it this way.” When we heard the new version, we said “wow!” Truth is, we did not study music professionally. But when he praised the lines Mi Rae made just by tapping on the piano keys using two fingers, it really made us happy. RapMonster’s energy was genuine and plentiful. He would say, “These days, this is trendy. From here, let’s take this out and the song will sound good.”
Son Seung Yun would quietly ask, “So can I do it like this?” While she was recording, it was like an explosion came out of her.
There are tracks that are soulful and have that feel good vibe to them. but there are other tracks, especially “Bang Diggy Bang Bang” and “Bucku Bucku” that are more upbeat and catchy. How were they created?
Tiger JK: In our opinion,Wondaland is a pop album. To us, Hip Hop is a way of life. It’s not all about shouting “yo yo yo!” but it’s about the philosophy and the culture that’s embedded within us, and this album is not hip-hop. To be honest, I don’t know what hip-hop is these days. That’s not taking shots at what’s hot right now, because we used to be like that when we were younger. We decided to make positive music that makes everyone feel good amongst all these diss, beef and battles that happen constantly. Coming back to the question, “Bucku Bucku” and “Bang Diggy Bang Bang” is pop, but the way it was made was more like a jazz improvisation: impromptu. With “Bucku Bucku,” when people heard it for the first time, they thought we were crazy because it literally just said “bucku bucku” at the start. “Bang Diggy Bang Bang” had 3-4 more choruses and hooks, but we took them out and left the fun bits in it, all thanks to MiRae.
How’s everyone’s schedule (both personal and professional) working as a trio?
YoonMiRae: I wasn’t able to stay in the studio as long as the others. When we are making music, we have too much fun and lose track of time. Before we know it, it’s 5am. So then I catch up on any sleep that I can, then wake Jordan up, and get him ready for school. And when he comes home, I have to check his homework too so it can get very overwhelming at times. I’m also not as young as I once was (laughter). So I listened to the music, and wrote what I felt like at the time, recorded my parts, and went home.
With Jordan going to school, and working with different people, you must’ve felt your circle widening up. How did that feel?
YoonMiRae: To be honest, it was difficult at times. Apart from friends that I know from school, I don’t have many friends from the entertainment industry. I still don’t know what to do when I meet new people. So when Jeon In Kwon and Yoo Hee Yeol Sunbaenim visited us, I arrived at the studio later on purpose. I felt a bit awkward and didn’t know what to say to them and how to request and ask for things. So I thought about all of that thoroughly at home, then arrived at the studio. Turns out, I thought about it way too much. By conversing with them, laughing and discussing music and being comfortable enough to talk about everyday things, I realized I just thought too much about all of this.
Tiger JK: MiRae constantly thinks about Jordan. She records until the sun comes up, goes home, and prepares breakfast so that Jordan can wake up and go to school on time. Her motherhood is so strong, it’s difficult to explain. I guess all mothers can relate to her. MiRae is our son’s mom as well as a girl with an innocent heart. With the past that we had, she faced some criticism when she graced some of the fashion magazines with the photo shoots she did. To others, it seems like MiRae is saying that she is the best MC. So in my eyes, it felt like she is battling an image that is not her at all.
You haven’t appeared on MNET Unpretty Rapstar, but your name keeps getting mentioned.
YoonMiRae: Yes, but I don’t think the contestants even expected my name to pop up as much as it did.
JK: Mirae supports all female rappers and singers.
Because she is the most prominent female MC in Korea, I guess they expected her to have some kind of a role for them.
Yoon Mi Rae: When I rap, I do say things like “I’m the best,” but I really don’t think that is the case. If I really thought I was the best, I would be doing this as a hobby and not producing music as a job. I still have so much to learn and still in the process of learning, so I did not feel like I was in such a position to teach others how to rap verse.
This album feels like the three of you are communicating with your rapping and singing. Did your definition of rap change?
Bizzy: There is a separate project that I’m doing with JK. It’s got 40 bars each, but in this album, we made the tracks the main characters, not us. We learned to control our output and let our raps be marinade to our tracks.
Tiger JK: As well as controlling the amount of rap, we toned it down when we had a guest rapper. Previously, we thought to ourselves ‘I’m going to make my 16 bars outshine everyone else!’ (laughter), but now we learned to give, share, and control ourselves. When I mispronounce something or skipped a beat, I would usually record the track again. However, this time around we thought about the emotional content and how it fits around the track. MiRae told me to let it flow naturally and I did.
Did you ever feel like you were steering away from the current trend or what’s hot on the music scene?
Tiger JK: To be honest, we know that it will sell well if we do a track with a generic “money making” structure, with some ballad lines and a bit of rap. But due to my stubbornness, we did the mix down on our whole album four times, blowing our budget. Luckily, May is concert season so we can get some gigs (laughter). Back to the point, I believe there is a necessity for variety and we plan to continue what we are doing. When we came on the scene as Drunken Tiger, we’ve heard negative feedback from everyone for a year straight saying that we won’t be able to make it. Those hard times though made us stronger, and we’ve obtained peace of mind.
What do you want to release to the world now?
Tiger JK: I would love to be a barista/bookshop ahjussi. Previously, I only spoke about my hard times. Even though they are all true, I don’t want people to think of me as a disgruntled man, I want them to go, ‘Oh wow, that’s JK!’ Before my father passed away, there were some medical malpractices that I had witnessed, which made me disappointed. However, with all the bad things that are happening around the world, I wanted to provide people happiness.
YoonMiRae: At first, I made music because I loved it and most of all, I did it for me. However, later it was unclear whether I was doing it for the record label or whether I was doing it for the money. I am just thankful for all the fans that trust me and have followed me over the years. These days, I really like watching fan reactions videos to our music after I take Jordan to school. I want to continue making music to make my fans happy.
Bizzy: When we were shooting the music video for our previous album, “The Cure,” one of the staff members came to me and said, ‘I went through some really hard times and this song helped me a lot. Thank you.’ At that time, I didn’t sleep for days, but hearing that made me even more determined. JK hyung always provides me with good lessons, but when he speaks to me about music, I hold on to every word. I want to listen to JK and MiRae’s voice longterm, and I want to continue making good music because when times got tough and I wanted to give up. it was music that helped me get back up.
Tiger JK: I just want everybody to know Bizzy, so that when this handsome kind Bizzy gets more popular, I can just sit back and laugh
So nowadays I hear you have a lot of international fans, Bizzy.
Bizzy: I’m also shocked. I asked playfully ‘let’s get married,” and I get serious offers still!
Tiger JK: Kpop has it’s underground fandom, not like a normal fandom like EXO. Twitter is where MFBTY first came about. On the other hand, marriage is something different and serious. When Bizzy leaves Uijeongbu, there is nothing that I can do. (laughter)
See the original and more photos in the Ize Ebook
Translated by JSK