For the uninitiated, DPR is Dream Perfect Regime, a collective bringing together artists in music, film, production and beyond.
Their premiere artist is DPR LIVE, aka Hong Da Bin. Born in South Korea but spending most of his younger years in Guam, the 25-year-old rapper and singer has been releasing hit after hit since his 2017 EP Coming To You Live dropped.
We spoke with DPR LIVE and DPR production director DPRREM while they were in Sydney for another sold-out show, talking about successes, the difficulties of working together and what the future holds for DPR.
DPR LIVE, your first release uploaded to YouTube was in 2015 and so much has happened since then. Looking at your trajectory, how much do you think your sound has actually changed in that time?
DPR LIVE: That’s hard to measure, but definitely with each song and video – for all of our projects – we always have the goal in mind to grow and give better quality. Because we had that goal in mind, with every project I can definitely see progression in quality. I think it’s never perfected because there’s always room for improvement and we as a team strive for that, so with that in mind… definitely more professional. More quality.
DPR is this amazing concept of so many people coming together with different talents to create together. If you were going to explain DPR to somebody who has no idea what it is, how would you explain it to them?
DPR LIVE: Well we’re a bunch of kids with dreams. We want to achieve our dreams through our passion collectively. Our output is audio and visual and that comes together, but behind all of that it’s a lot of our colours mesh[ing] together, a lot of passion. And our values are very family-oriented, so definitely a lot of feeling and bond goes into it. That’s what we do.
And it’s an independent thing, you guys have had to work really hard to get to this point now as well. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from that period of time?
DPR LIVE: Teamwork is everything, definitely teamwork
DPRREM: Because it’s independent
DPR LIVE: Who do you lean on? You can’t rely on anyone, just a brother.
DPRREM: We also have a lot of roles, we don’t just do one thing. It’s a lot of roles being distributed amongst each other depending on the project, and that’s definitely the biggest asset to us because everybody steps up to the plate. Whereas other companies or other places say ‘this is my position’ - we can’t do that with each other. If there’s an empty role not being done and nobody steps up to the plate then the whole project just stops, so for us too that’s been a big lesson, especially for not even just LIVE but for me and Christian (Yu, DPR film director). We’ve been working on collectively putting in more effort - despite what we do - for the betterment of the whole team.
And I guess that’s better too because you don’t stagnate personally as well.
DPRREM: Yeah I mean it’s challenging, like sometimes Christian is doing all of the work, and then - not just as somebody in the same work field, but as a brother - you see that and it challenges you to push in or put in more on your end. So I think it’s a healthy relationship even in the workflow of how things go to kind of compete almost, but it’s moreso for the collective goal.
So even if I compete or if I contribute more, it’s still benefiting the team overall, which is the same goal. It’s like friendly competition but more friendly, because we’re competing for the same thing. Just getting the job done is the main work.
LIVE, when you’re writing a song or making music, are you thinking about the whole vision Like how is this going to look visually, how are we going to make it work live?
DPR LIVE: It stems from different aspects but musically I always just think of it as: ‘what do I want to give to the listener, what kind of sound or feeling?’, and I start there. And I write bits and pieces and share that idea with the members and we all get inspired by that. Sometimes our ideas mesh and mash, sometimes it comes from here, sometimes it comes from there, and off that inspiration we build.
That’s the very early stage of a project with only a few recorded vocals and we’re already thinking visuals, already we’re thinking ‘how are we going to package this?’ and ‘how are we going to present this to the fans?’. And I guess because of that more quality comes out and the overall quality is better.
Do you have a preferred way of writing music?
DPR LIVE: I try to experiment because I feel like one way of writing becomes very boring and it can become very limiting, at least for me, so I try to switch it up so that sometimes I have people over and it’ll be loud and they’ll be doing things on the side and that gives me a different vibe. But sometimes I would want to write in complete silence with no music, just looking out at something and getting inspiration there.
It can be just on a subway, so sometimes I just choose to ride the subway - it’s how I used to get around in the military days before we ‘made it’ (uses quotation marks, laughs) - I love riding the subway because it brings that nostalgia and it just gives me different feelings. I used to write like that a lot, just earphones on. I would quietly rap it and there’s something very perfect about it, because you don’t hear yourself, so you sound so amazing, so you don’t doubt yourself. But there’s many different types of ways that I write.
You’ve worked with some of the best producers and artists. Are there artists you want to work with, people you want to talk to about collaborating with for your next projects?
DPR LIVE: I don’t have any exact people but I think it’s just with anybody who’s willing to build on quality and I wish it’s genuine. Sometimes it gets hard because people are busy, or it is an industry at the end of the day and we have to sell music. With DPR, we really want to keep it passionate and genuine, and as long as there’s that type of chemistry, that type of collaborative effort, I’m always open for any type of artist.
The CTYL tour has been massive, with sold out shows globally. What’s been the most surprising thing for you on this tour so far?
DPR LIVE: Well first of all we’re (DPR crew) all together and that’s crazy, because we put a lot into it. Just the fact that through this we can travel together, we’re bonded more often now, we eat together, we’re literally on the plane, in the hotel together. Just the fact that we could see the fans and see how it came about, there’s something really... it’s an array of emotions. It’s hard to explain but it’s very fulfilling, just being able to see the fans and be able to see how we bond together. It’s just a crazy feeling. At each show, that never changes.
So 2019, what’s going to happen, what’s in the works?
DPR LIVE: Well we do want to finish the tour strong with the Seoul concert, which is the start of 2019, January. And after that we just do what we’re best at, get together, audio visual, we’re excited and we don’t even know, actually! We are always working, definitely.
DPRREM: We get this question a lot, and the reason why we’re slow is because we put that much more attention to detail. With any perfectionist or any kind of person who’s really concentrated in their work it just gets hard, because there’s so many avenues you have to think about, especially when you’re making this something out of nothing.
And I think for us, I would say almost everyone in our team is a perfectionist in their own way, whether it’s a sound-related thing, whether it be vocals or melodies or the visuals, everyone in their own way is searching for perfection in whatever they do. It takes a while, you know what I mean? Time is the only enemy in that aspect... but when everyone is ready to say they’ve put their all in is when we drop something.
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