EXCLUSIVE: BM opens up about channeling his inner conflicts onto art, his solo album, The Penthouse & more
In an exclusive interview with Pinkvilla, one of the biggest names in the global music industry, making waves with every step, BM, opened up about his creative processes, turning struggles into art and more!
Think of the future of K-Pop and without an exception, one name comes to mind: BM. KARD’s BM or Big Matthew, embodies the very essence of revolution through art, in every possible interpretation of the word and has consistently been an active force of change both in and out of the music industry. Riding on the peak of his artistic faculties, BM is all set to march ahead solo with his upcoming release “Broken Me”.
Pinkvilla had the incredible opportunity to interview the artistic genius himself and the conversation that followed was undoubtedly one of the most eye-opening and exciting initiations into BM’s solo musical career that we could have imagined.
Keep reading until the end for a special message for HIDDEN KARD all over the world and especially in India!
Ishani: You've said this on multiple occasions that you've been a smiley person ever since you were little. My first question to you is, can you tell me one reason why you're happy today?
BM: One reason why I’m happy today: I’m alive, I have two arms, two legs to maneuver through what I have to maneuver through today, I have a lot of blessings and life is good. Not a lot of people have that and I should really be appreciative of the little things like that.
Ishani: Your career graph has been an incredible inspiration to innumerable aspiring artists and young people in general, across the globe. However, in your own words, you never thought you’d become who you are today. Where and who do you think you’ll be in another ten years?
BM: Wow, 10 years from now, huh? How I would imagine myself in ten years is maybe, the CEO of my own company, representing maybe not only myself as an artist but various artists and still appreciating the little things in life.
Ishani: Your name Matthew means gift from God, what do you think has been your biggest gift from God?
BM: Life, first and foremost, life has been the biggest gift; the gift of challenges, I feel like every challenge should be considered a gift, meaning that, what comes out after a challenge, the result of the challenge will always help you grow into a bigger, better person. So, as of now, that’s where my mind is at right now. Challenges are always a gift, life is a gift and being able to portray creativity through art, through music, through visuals, is also a very big gift.
Ishani: Your musical expression is heavily inspired by your personal experiences and your worldview. Has there ever been a moment where you found it hard to give a voice to your feelings? Similarly, have you ever felt it easier to deal with your personal life with the help of your creative processes?
BM: I fluctuate back and forth between someone who’s very expressively inept, I feel like I have a hard time, a lot of the time, expressing how I feel a 100%. Other times, I feel like I wear my heart on my sleeve, I feel like, what you see is what you get with me and when it pertains to music, 9 times out of 10, I do a good job expressing it, I do a good job getting my message across and I hope the fans and the listeners also feel the same way as well.
Ishani: You recently released your MINDSET with Dive Studios which is chock full of some of the most precious and vulnerable tidbits of your life that are now out for the world to listen to, learn from and relate with. How did you feel after essentially baring your soul and what was the process like?
BM: It was hard for me to listen to because it gave me goosebumps, a little bit, listening back to it because it put me in perspective again because when you’re recording these types of things, your mind is really not on the content but also on what it’s going to sound like audio wise, the structure of the content, your voice, your tone, there’s a lot of things to consider while you’re recording these types of things so while I was recording, I wasn’t really thinking too deep on it but after listening to the recordings, it put me into perspective of really what I went through so it hit me even harder when I was talking about it again and it all comes from a really real place. Everyone who has listened to it and has given feedback, I feel like they’ve gotten something out of it, which I’m very very happy about. It’s a story!
Ishani: It is an amazing story I would add, because it feels so real and vulnerable and just honest that it was just an amazing experience, the whole MINDSET.
BM: Yeah. Thank you. Shout out to DIVE Studios for that, they really did an amazing job with the production of that content and it was amazing.
Ishani: Your concert in India was something HIDDEN KARDs will never be able to forget. What would you say is your favourite memory from your time in India?
BM: Oh man, besides the food?! The food is amazing in India, oh my goodness. I think I gained like 4 Kilos while I was in India, touring. The food is amazing, the fans, wow! So energetic, super energetic, super off their seats, very cooperative, very nice. I think one big memory I had was, we covered an Indian song, that was one that was really fun because a lot of people knew the words to that song so they were really belting it and another one, I felt was a really special memory was that J.SEPH actually has a song memorised, a song from a Bollywood movie and one of his skills that people ask him about like, “Hey can you show us something out of the ordinary that you’d be good at”, he would say, “I love this Bollywood song OST so I can sing this for you” and he would sing it every time and I didn’t know at that time, it sounded like he was really good at the accent and at the connotation but he sang it in India again and everyone sang it back and I was like, okay he actually does have the accent down pretty well and I asked some fans too like, “How’s his Indian accent?” and they were like, “It’s good!” and I was like wow J.SEPH, he’s good. So that was a really big memory for me. Besides that, the fans, man. The fans were so amazing.
Ishani: You’ve been exploring your personal musicality through Soundcloud and other solo endeavours for quite a while now. What would you say is different about ‘Broken Me’?
BM: It’s very official, officially dropping on all the music platforms. Besides that, it also comes from a very intimate place in my life. The song pertains to a lot of experiences I had with internal struggle and I feel like listeners and fans, when they listen to it, if they’re also at a similar place in a point of time in the their at the moment, I just hope it gives them a little hope to get out of it, smooth, nicely and like I said before, how every challenge is a gift, when they’re out of it, I hope that they can consider that those challenges that they faced were a gift to become a stronger person, mentally and physically and emotionally.
Ishani: Your music video for ‘Broken Me’ is produced by Vive Studios and 8PEX and specifically, a handful of some incredible artists. How did you go about choosing the people you wanted to work with on this project?
BM: Oh man, I have to really give credit to Issac at 8PEX. 8PEX is a production house of amazing music producers and songwriters, me being one of them, I actually joined their production house and I have to give it to Issac. How the song formed about was, there was a short film that Vive Studios, they’re a brand new company that works with virtual technology, they were producing a short film and I was lucky enough to have Issac as a part of the audio engineering and the audio production of the whole film. So, he pitched my song as the OST and everyone loved it. Everyone was like, hey it fits in so well with the concept, it fits in so well with what they want to portray, being that it is also about internal struggles as well. While they were filming the shoot, Issac just pitched the idea. He was like, “Hey why not just shoot a music video while we’re doing the short film and everything” and Vive Studios was nice enough to oblige and say, “Hey, let’s do it! Why not? More for our portfolio!” so we were lucky enough to shoot a whole music video production on it and have Park Eun Seok, well known as Logan Lee from The Penthouse, to be a part of this shoot as well and it was an amazing process. Everyone on the shoot was just so cool. I am a huge fan of Logan Lee so working with him was an incredible experience.
Ishani: Vive Studios boasts of being the first ever virtual production solution in South Korea which is an especially path-breaking step in a world that has forced us into isolation. What was your favourite part or the most fun part about filming the music video?
BM: Well, the thing with virtual technology is that it can make the impossible, possible. We have scenes from Iceland, I’m on a road in Iceland and I’m on top of a moving vehicle with no one in the driver’s seat. Now, in real life, if you did that, chances of you having a successful shot without getting hurt are extremely low so with the help of virtual technology, we were able to make that happen and it was an incredible shot. While we were monitoring it, at the set, everyone was like, “Wow, we really made this possible! How did we do this?” and that was just a little piece of what virtual technology can do so Vive Studios really set the tone for the music video, they really did a great job on it.
Ishani: About the music video, I’m not sure if you know this but there are already one hour loops of your music video teaser on Twitter and circulating among fans and as much as I can tell from the teasers so far, it has a vaporwave, cyberpunk goth warrior vibe to it. It is obvious that this is going to be grand of course, but what can we expect from it when it comes to concept?
BM: In terms of concept, you’re gonna see me hurt. You’re gonna see me hurt physically and emotionally and mentally. You’re also going to get a lot of cool shots of Park Eun Seok, the actor. He did an amazing job with his acting. I love his acting in Penthouse, he’s my favourite character in Penthouse and Penthouse is one of my favourite dramas. I was able to witness that in real life like I was watching the screen as he was acting so I got an inside scoop on all the behind the scenes so, it was amazing. You’re also going to get incredible, breathtaking shots of amazing backgrounds of a sunset, of me on top of a cliff, me also in a setting where I am in an Korean road but it’s just a set and I can’t wait till you guys see it because I promise you, if I didn’t tell you it was virtual technology, everyone would have been like, how much did this production cost? Like getting hair and makeup and all the production people on a plane to go to Iceland, how’d you guys make that possible? People would have said it was a very pricey production but it all happened on set, which is like the craziest part.
Ishani: Like you said, we could not have imagined a more powerful and of course, visually appealing and explosive pairing on screen than BM and Park Eun Seok. This is quite literally our crossover dream come true. What was your favourite moment from filming with Park Eun Seok? Did you happen to cop any Season 3 spoilers?
BM: My favourite scene from the music video itself was the scene where I was on top of the car, of a moving vehicle. That was just an unreal shot and I feel like, what I portrayed while performing on top of the car was just, I was in a very real place. I was hurt on top of that car and it just felt so good. One funny thing though was, to make that scene look real, they had to use one of those fans that shoots air towards me. My mouth was getting so dry while I was lip-syncing, my lip kept getting caught on my teeth and I was catching myself do that so I had to fix my mouth constantly, like that was really funny. Those are some really memorable shots. I feel like, a lot of the scenes of Park Eun Seok were really really good. There’s some CG of him on a cliff and it was just breathtaking shots.
As far as Penthouse 3 goes, funny story! Penthouse 2 was still going on while we were shooting for the music video and while he was shooting for the short film and then on the last episode of Penthouse 2, I don’t know if you watched, this might be a spoiler for some people watching but I’ll spoil it anyways, Logan Lee Dies! Logan Lee died! I was so mad. I was so mad and so upset. I texted him right away like, Hyung, Big bro, if Logan Lee dies, Penthouse dies. I told him that, I said please, come on, give me something. He was like, “Hey man, we didn’t even get the script for Penthouse 3 yet, I’m still waiting on the script.” I’m like no, please! So I don’t know if it’s like, he’s never going to come back or if he is going to come back, if there is a script, if there isn’t a script, we’re going to have to stay tuned to Penthouse 3 to find out.
Ishani: I mean, Penthouse does have a reputation for bringing back dead character so, one can hope!
BM: Yeah, he has to come back alive, he has to!
Ishani: You know how Professor Utonium intended to create the Powerpuff Girls with sugar, spice and everything nice but without Chemical X, we would never have this iconic trio? As childish as this analogy is, with regards to your upcoming solo album, what would you say were the components that went into it (besides of course, your blood, sweat and tears) and what was the Chemical X for you that made it special?
BM: For “Broken Me”, I feel like 8PEX, my production house and Vive Studios were two very vital components to this whole production and they’re the spice and everything nice and everything in between too, with a little extra sauce too! If it wasn’t for them, this project would never have happened and, with a little bit of sprinkle of BM of top, I feel like that’s what gave it that extra little umph and then you had a great project.
Ishani: This is exactly why you’re a visionary in music and in this field, in general and besides being a revolutionary artist in your own right, you’re also the pioneer of what I call the BTG Movement which has brought way more attention to breast cancer awareness in recent years than ever before. Your BTG X STAYDIUM line is worth high praise not only because it is artfully elite when it comes to fashion (which is probably why it is always sold out) but also because the proceeds are donated to breast cancer research. What inspired you to turn something that started off as, well, simple appreciation, became a phenomenon and now has reached this unbelievable dimension to something that is quite literally saving lives and changing the world?
BM: What an incredible introduction of BTG & STAYDIUM so thank you for that, first off. I think, when it became the most popular meme of 2019 and 2020, I looked at it the way everyone else looked at it, it was a joke. At first it was a joke, I was on live, my fans asked me what my favourite part of my body I like to work out is and I said, “Man’s gotta keep his tiddies back, Big Tiddie Gang” and it went viral, instantly. It was crazy! While that was going on, we had our world tour and when we hit Los Angeles, I had a fan that I met backstage after the show and she was telling me that KARD’s music helps her get through her chemotherapy. I was like, “Wow, that’s so great. I’m so glad that we were that type of energy for you”. I asked her what’s the condition and she said she had breast cancer and at the time, it was October and on stage, I also mentioned it’s breast cancer awareness month so me being the leader of the Big Tiddie Gang, I I just want to let everyone know that it’s breast cancer awareness month so let’s be aware. She was very thankful about that and I could see tears in her eyes, she was almost crying because she was going through it, she was going through a lot of struggles because of the condition and the fact that you know, I mentioned that, something clicked in my head. I was like, you know what? I’m going to turn the biggest meme in K-Pop into something that we could be giving back to. So, I talked to my Mom, I talked to my Dad like let’s make a merch line, let’s donate money to breast cancer awareness. Why not? Why not give back? Why not take something that is solely a joke and turn it into something helpful?
Ishani: It is undeniable that you’ve been a refreshing wind of change in the K-Pop industry by just being you and the scene has never been the same ever since BM came up. Why do you think self-expression is so important for making art that matters?
BM: I like to express a lot of my views, a lot of my beliefs through what I can and what I can write now is the art of music, the art of performance. So, every time we come out with a comeback, I try my best to have some type of message in it. For Dumb Litty, which was my very first production as a producer, I really strongly put a point on self confidence: ignore the haters, ignore everyone who’s telling you you can’t do something and just do it. For Gunshot, I put a point on way with words. The way you use your words and the way you express yourself through words can either really make someone’s life or it could absolutely detriment someone’s life. These are all messages that I really really enjoy sharing to kind of let people think on it a little bit and to kind of catch themselves. Even me, to be a hundred percent honest with you, even though I expressed self confidence with Dumb Litty, I still have my days when I’m not self confident. I need to practise what I preach as well. I’ll catch myself also choosing words that I could have chosen differently and better. I need to continue as a human being, to continue to try to practise what I preach as well so, you know, we’re all in this together, at the end of the day. And I love it, I absolutely love it when I do this and fans also catch me on my mistakes and they let me know and educate me because no one’s perfect and we all can help each other out. I don’t know if that answered your question, I feel like I went so many different routes.
Ishani: Whichever way it went, it was just amazing!
BM: Thank you, thank you.
Ishani: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to HIDDEN KARDs all over the world and especially in India who love and adore you endlessly?
BM: Yeah! For all the HIDDEN KARD in India, I would love and cannot wait to visit again. I know India right now is struggling a lot because of COVID, so I’ll keep you guys in my prayers and hope that you guys can find peace and more comfort throughout this pandemic and by the grace of God, I really really hope that India can come out of it because I know you guys have it pretty tough right now. I’ll definitely keep you guys in my prayers.
For the HIDDEN KARD for all over the world, it was always the same vibe for me. I’m always very thankful, I’m always very very appreciative that I can call myself an artist through you guys and I will continue to be an artist that you love and you support and are proud of loving and supporting. It’s all love for me!
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