[bnt interview] Don Mills “I Want to Make Music that You Can’t Find Anywhere Else”
[by Woo Ji An] Hip-hop label Vismajor Company’s rapper and possessor of lyrics that stay in your head matched with a unique tone, Don Mills. Starting in Toronto’s underground with the thought of ‘I want to be a rapper even if I starve and die’, he has become an unparalleled character with his truthful and outspoken rap.
He has confidence that takes over the stage but off stage his charisma is still effective. He communicates with fans through various contents and has even showed his straightforward image on TV as well. He keeps his own color while presenting trendy music. In other words, he does not lose the essence of his music.
Even without painfully explaining, you could feel that Don Mills who spends his time happily has a sense of leisure. Now we will look into the time spent with him.
Q. Impressions on Filming the Pictorial
It is my first time and I’m not a model so I was worried about the limitations of my expressions before coming on set. There were several expressions that I couldn’t do but the photographer helped me a lot so it seems like there were photos that came out well.
Q. Rap Name ‘Don Mills’
At first my rap name was ‘Hwangma’. I wandered around without a company but after meeting the company I am in now, I decided to change my name with the mindset of being reborn. I was an overseas student in Toronto Canada for 10 years but the name of the neighborhood I lived in was called Don Mills. It is a place that is meaningful as it formed my identity and I chose the name in order to represent the area.
Q. In your 10 years as an overseas student was there a cause to wanting to become a rapper?
In my first year of middle school in 2001 before I went abroad I came to know the music called hip-hop. Though I didn’t know anything I thought that hip-hop as a whole seemed cool. I liked Drunken Tiger, Yang Dong Geun, and CB Mass which is now Dynamic Duo. And then I went to study abroad where all the African Americans in my neighborhood were extremely cool. Playing basketball, doing their hair in corn rows, their actions and speech, the outward things were all very charismatic.
Also during my study abroad days, domestic broadcast stations KBS and SBS would broadcast the African American channel BET’s sitcoms, movies, music, etc., all day long. Through the channel I watched a lot of hip-hop music videos and had a dream to become a rapper and tried to write lyrics for the first time but it was really difficult. Until college I kept my dream and wrote down all my worries about deciding my future. While listening to a lot of rap I started with the mindset, while living one life even if I starve to death I want to become a rapper and die (as a rapper).
Q. VMC (Vismajor Company) Rapper
When I came to Korea from Canada I wanted to join a company. It’s nice to be an independent rapper as well but I wanted the help of a company. I looked for the labels I liked such as Illionaire, Hi-Lite, Jungle Entertainment, Amoeba Culture and Vismajor and handed out my CD but I was rarely contacted.
Back then Vismajor wasn’t a company but a crew so I directly handed over my CD to VMC’s head, Sang Gu-hyeong. A hyeong I knew in Canada that is now a producer for Vismajor had already introduced me to Sang Gu-hyeong so he already knew about me. At first he said he didn’t like my rap style but he felt like I was needed as I fit the image that Vismajor was seeking. Thus I joined in 2013 and it has almost been 5 years.
Q. You seem like you are really close with label mate rapper Nucksal.
Nucksal-hyeong entered VMC the latest. I knew him originally but we weren’t close. At that time I was going to do a part-time and got a call from a play station room and it was the place where Nucksal-hyeong worked. In various ways that place is where we were able to get a lot of work done. Hyeong wrote the lyrics for ‘Organ’ there and the song turned out well. I also worked there and was contacted by Beenzino-hyeong to work together.
Q. Hwangchi and Nukchi
There is a community called Hiphopplaya that has had a radio from the early stages. It is a historical radio with as it started out with the 1st generation rappers as the MCs. We like to always have fun so the two of us always have fun with the show. I always pretended to be on the radio when drinking but I was casted to be on Hiphopplaya.
Q. In actuality do you match well?
Nucksal-hyeong matches well with anyone. He has a good personality so he fits well no matter where you put him. Because there is a hyeong with that type of personality, it was relaxed when I did the radio. Right now season 1 is over and hyeong will be busy beyond imagination after ‘Show Me the Money 6’ so I don’t know what will happen to the radio.
Q. You were a rap trainer on ‘Produce 101 Season 2’, where there any anecdotes that you remember?
I appeared on the showing thinking that it was a chance for my face to become known to the world for the first time through a broadcast. Honestly because those kids don’t want to do hip-hop like me there were limits to how much I could help them. It was my first time on broadcast and I didn’t really have much interest in idol singers so they felt distanced from me and it was hard to cultivate them. I was always out of spirits but it was a different experience and I finished filming with fun.
Q. Memorable Disciples
I really remember them all. A lot of time has passed so I can’t remember all the names but Eui Woong has a cute face and worked really hard. Dongho and Samuel were cool and Jaehwan was the only individual trainee that was able to debut so I remember him. Also, Sang Kyun is a rapper but his skills are good and he’s cool.
Q. Looking at articles, you appeared with Nucksal on ‘Show Me the Money 6’.
It’s overboard. From a few years ago I stated that I wouldn’t appear on the show. To be honest, appearing on ‘Show Me the Money 6’ also has its advantages. However from the start I began making music not because I wanted to be famous but because I like music and didn’t want to receive anyone’s judgment. Because ‘Show Me the Money’ has now become the panel of Korean hip-hop I wanted to be recognized to a certain extent and helped Nucksal-hyeong while enjoying myself. In the future I don’t know if I will appear on the show but I don’t think I will. (laughs)
Rappers Huckleberry P and Beenzino hyeong that I really like, when I watched their solo performances I think ‘That’s the path I have to take’. I thought that een without broadcast I want to see victory or defeat.
Q. Don Mills’ music has unique lyrics. Where do you find your inspiration?
When I am inspired I recall people or situations that disregarded me. I put all the anger I feel at being disregarded when it comes to rap into my lyrics. And if there’s a topic I recall a situation that matches the topic and write about my own experiences and memories.
Q. It seems you perform a lot more than appearing on TV programs. Are there any memorable anecdotes you have from a performance?
Performances are always fun. If there is anecdote, during my amateur rapper days as Hwangma, there was an opportunity where I could show my freestyle rap on stage after I went to watch Minos hyeong’s performance on EBS ‘Space Empathy’. It was a nerve-wracking but good memory of going on stage. Thus I went on ‘Space Empathy’ a while ago but when I recollect that time, they asked if there was anyone who dreamed of becoming a rapper, there was no one. (laughs)
I don’t know why but even if people find me weird I make people laugh. If other people make the atmosphere stiff then the audience becomes serious. I guess there’s a funny atmosphere with me (laughs) Some time ago I suffered from depression but it’s a relief.
Q. Did you suffer from depression?
I had it from about 3 months ago. Whenever it becomes summer I get depressed. Most men will become that way in fall but for me it’s summer. When it becomes summer I become jealous and envious of everyone. Now the days have cooled down and I have completely returned back to normal. I had an interview once when I was in my depressed state but I said a lot of bad things. I’m hiding the evil energy inside. (laughs)
Q. You Became Known Through your Featuring on Beenzino’s Song
I’m also curious about that. I was doing my part-time job but I suddenly got a call from an unknown number and it was Beenzino hyeong. I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was a friend playing a prank so I even said to give me proof (laughs). I was embarrassed and so was Beenzino hyeong but as we spoke on the phone, I felt that it was Beenzino naturally through his characteristic pronunciation. (laughs)
Q. Why did he give a love call to you?
I finished up my part time work at the play station room and met up with hyeong but he was completely shocked after watching my ‘88’ music video. He said that my style was one you can’t see in Korea and that it was unrivaled, and then he said he wanted to do a ‘crazy’ song together. After working together he forcefully continued to become a close friend. (laughs)
Q. Forcefully close?
I’m going to release an album soon but hyeong helped me. With a grateful heart I was going to see him off as he enlisted but I couldn’t keep my promise. It was really early and far. (laughs) To be honest after that (collaboration) hyeong has been really busy so we haven’t been able to contact each other much and so it seemed a little overboard if I went. We’re close but not as close as I am with Nucksal-hyeong. Hyeong is really famous so I can’t rashly treat him like we’re really close. My personality is that I don’t hide myself and I’m not completely amiable either. (laughs)
Q. Because of your ‘Strong’ Impression There are a Lot of Instances Where you are Misunderstood
Rather it’s because of my strong impression that I don’t fight. A while back at night I was getting off the bus and an older lady had dropped her wallet so I called out saying ‘Hey, Excuse me’, but she screamed and ran away. And there was a time I was walking around the street in hip-hop style clothes and was questioned by the police.
Q. The Same Hairstyle Since 2014
I’ve liked hip-hop since I was in middle school so I did a buzz cut that is a simple hip-hop hairstyle. Back then it wasn’t really a time of the buzz cut. But it didn’t fit me well and I would wear a hat and after my hair got longer I would cut it into a buzz cut again and repeat. Nowadays when I see friends with the same hairstyle as me it looks cool.
Through the introduction of a friend I met a foreign hairstylist and I’ve kept this hair since 2010. And then I came to Korea and there was an Iranian hairstylist that I liked. No matter how much I tried to explain, because he couldn’t speak well he didn’t get the feeling. If you leave some hair on top and shave the sides it becomes Marine hair. I had to undergo that every time so after I tried doing it myself I started cutting my own hair since 2014.
In the contents of ‘DDR’ there was a special episode where I cut the hair of volunteers. A lot of people volunteered but I selected 3 people and cut their hair. I cut my own hair well but cutting other people’s hair is really hard. My hairstylist friend was at my side helping so all of them liked it. (laughs)
Q. How did you make the contents for ‘Don Mills’ DDR’?
In the same interview when asked what I always wanted to do, I answered that I always wanted to be in the same position as Yang Dong Geun hyeong since I was little. Hyeong does everything from acting to rapping to dancing. Just like how he came out funnily on ‘New Nonstop’ in the past I want to enjoy doing sitcoms or documentaries. The ‘DDR’ PD saw the interview contents and gave suggestions. I didn’t really have much thought about it in the beginning but one year has already passed steadily.
Q. Recommend the Most Fun Contents
The 10th special episode. As a setup, I introduce company worker Heejung but I make Heejung mad. That special episode is fun and the part where Dok2 shows up is fun as well. Dok2 is looking for a gold necklace so he meets up and appears on DDR. There are a lot of parts where Beenzino hyeong shows up as well.
Q. The contents do you plan to show in the future?
Like I mentioned before there was a time when I was depressed so I rested during that time. I felt that I couldn’t make people laugh so I was skeptical. However, I came back shortly and started again. (laughs) In the past I forcefully made people laugh but now I will naturally shoot my daily life.
Q. Are there any variety programs that you wish to appear on?
I want to appear on ‘Let’s Eat Dinner Together’ and ‘Island Trio’. Whenever I go to the convenience store or anywhere if I don’t greet people because I have an awkward personality, many people misunderstand me. They think I am a monster. Truthfully I don’t know if it’s to the extent of a monster but I’ve seen it in comments. (laughs) I think it’s because female middle school students and female high school students like a style of a guy who looks pretty thus they think that way.
Q. Do you search for all comments?
I search them. I hope there are compliments.
Q. Musician that You Want to Work With
Recently I’ve worked a lot so I’ve worked with most of the hip-hop rappers that I wanted to work with. Right now I want to work with the rapper named Los. He also has a strong image but I think if we did a song and music video together it would be really cool.
Q. Music that You Want to Present in the Future
Without falling behind the trend I want to keep my color that I’ve had till now. It is becoming fresher but more than challenging a new atmosphere I have the thought of making my music heard that I’ve had till now. Just like Dok2 who has always presented similar music, I want to have Don Mills’ music heard that you can’t find anywhere else.
Q. Rappers that Don Mills Recognizes
There are a lot but Yang Dong Geun is my idol. Before I saw African American TV I first saw Yang Dong Geun hyeong and felt like my heart was going to burst. I don’t know why though.
Q. A Word to Fans
VMC’s album is going to be released soon so please listen to it a lot and the music video is really fun so please watch it a lot as well. I will continue to have a lot of performances and if I appear on TV please welcome me, and I am in the middle of preparing my album so please keep an eye out for that.
Editor: Woo Ji An
Sunglasses: Black Pirate by Moda Lunettes
Makeup: Shim Soo Young
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Write: 2017-09-12 10:20:32 / Update: 2017-09-12 10:33:54
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