YES L.A. MUSIC SELECTION
YES L.A. MUSIC SELECTION: WHY BE
DJ Hvad and WHY BE live in Dome of Visions, Copenhagen.
To Jumpstart the New Year with a bang, we’re scouring all corners of the earth to bring you the rarest and hottest musical beings in the game.
This week, we’re inspired by the sounds of WHY BE, aka Tobias Lee, aka Yung Boo Khaki. Korean by blood and Denmark bred, he’s an up-and-coming DJ / producer / dolphin / resident of the North Pole. WHY BE transcends us into new dimensions of sound and visuals, mixing elements of the experimental and unexpected. We caught up with WHY BE this week to chat deeper about his life, music and favorite emoji.
Check out WHY BE’s ‘WHALIN’ (KYSELINA OST) below for major sound + visual + emotional stimulation.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing – culture-wise, how much of your environment influence you personally and musically? Did your parents influence your lifestyle in any way?
I was pretty chill as a kid, but also a loner. Growing up in Copenhagen, I’ve always known that I was Korean (I’m adopted). I would always get confused when the kids on the playground called me Chinese, because I knew I wasn’t. My parents encouraged me to be better than that. It wasn’t until my early twenties when I became resentful at all white, especially Danish, people around me. As if an angry beast had been napping inside me through all these years of being racially tormented. Being Asian in northern Europe — or any color, to be honest — sucks. No matter how Danish I feel internally, I am very aware that no white Dane will ever consider me to be truly Danish. They have a sense of entitlement that I owe answers to all of their cringeworthy questions — about the way I look and about my origin. The amount of jokes and rudeness I had to endure personally as an Asian in Denmark was mind-blowing, and I will Gangnam style someone’s face very soon. Kimchi in your wound, Denmark! But all jokes aside, other than the racial growing pains, my parents did the best they could. My dad taught me how to be patient and work hard for what I wanted. My mom taught me how to be independent and to also have fun. I’m sure that neither of them expected that their advice would mold me into a DJ!
WHY BE performing at the D-CAF Festival in Cairo, Egypt, Sring 2015.
How did you first get involved with Halcyon Veil?
I had known of Rabit’s music for some time. After a few exchanges of janky MP3s, he asked me if I wanted to release something on his new label. It didn’t even have a name at the time but I trusted his vision and I liked that it didn’t have a specific direction or profile.
Who else do you work with and what are your thoughts on the music scene in Korea, USA and Denmark?
The music scene in Denmark is slow, but there are some really strong crews who are progressing tremendously and receiving a lot of deserved attention. My Danish label, Syg Nok, is a collective of outcast geniuses who definitely saved my sanity on so many levels and for that, I owe them everything. Hari (aka DJ Hvad) who founded the label, encouraged me to express my feelings and not be ashamed of what or who I wanted to be. I respect that he personally cannot be bothered by other people. He is his own sun, earth and universe because he created his own world and no one can tell him otherwise. It’s guru swag on stupid levels.
You are able to blow up in the underground music scene without having to compromise what’s true to your soul. Do you see yourself collaborating with any corporations in the future? What are your thoughts and limitations on that?
I don’t really see myself working with corporations because they probably wouldn’t know what to do with me. But never say never…
Where did you get the name Yung Boo Khaki (Yung Bukkake)?
DJ Yung Bukkake was a name I came up with when I decided to go ‘solo’ and took a break from making music with my friend and flatmate at the time. It was supposed to represent the feeling of being online and getting jizzed on from every angle. But somehow, people responded negatively to that name. So I paraphrased it to Yung Boo Khaki, which to me, was still a cute way to throw the name around, but I never officially used it. It’s more like a tombstone avatar at this point.
What musical platform do you use and how important is the internet to you and your creativity?
I mostly use SoundCloud — although they act really evil and dumb — and I also recently started using HulkShare. Without the internet, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now, and I wouldn’t have built many of the friendships that I have today. With that being said, I also realized that whatever great relationships one might build on those platforms, there has to be an IRL/physical output, or else it’s simply too dark and dusty.
Original flyer artwork by WHY BE for the first installment of his mix series ‘FAMISHED,’ which was premiered on Radar Radio at the beginning of 2015.
What inspires you the most?
The most inspirational thing for me is seeing my friends do what they do, so amazingly well. Besides that, I’m inspired mostly outside of music. I recently had this insane dinner, a few months back, where I feasted on chicken liver, bloodcake and bone marrow. I went straight home that night and made a sick beat — it was lit.
Tell us a bit about your visual creativity.
Visually, I only know what I don’t want, then, I evolve it from there. I like to utilize the people around me like Seychelle, who executed the cover of my EP, and ECCO2K, who created the video for ‘WHALIN’. I strive to depict a story that the music is not already telling. And if the visuals are not able to do that, I prefer that the music stand alone. I made a video for a remix I did for Triad God a few years back called ‘I Never Told You.’ The video samples my own private vacation footage and recordings of being bored in Copenhagen.
What’s currently on your personal playlist and headphones at the moment?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Susumu Yokota, Heinrich Neuhaus, Aske Zidore and the ‘Interstellar OST’ these past few months, and I’m nowhere near being done with them. Other than that, my friends are really good at blessing my inbox, so I play a lot from them as well. Right now on my headphones is ‘Anya’s Garden’ by Chino Amobi.
If you weren’t doing music right now, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be a cartoonist! Growing up, I used to draw a lot and switched gears into music when I started playing the guitar at age 14. I eventually quit playing the guitar when I began attending art school. But I recently borrowed Kablam’s guitar because I missed having another skill other than banging my head against my laptop.
Original flyer artwork by WHY BE for his B2B session with Pan Daijing on Berlin Community Radio.
We love that you sport a lot of our favorite brands like Telfar. Is that a go-to brand for you?
I first knew of Telfar because he’s a sick DJ. It wasn’t until much later that I found out he was also designing. I was lucky enough to get booked for his party during Paris Fashion Week in the summer of 2015, and he blessed me with some beautiful pieces that I could never afford myself. Artists usually get dressed or gifted clothing by the designer for playing these kinds of fashion events, but I genuinely and deeply love his designs, and he is such an amazing person that it makes me smile my face off.
What’s your favorite emoji, and why?
My fave emoji is :3 because it sums up how I feel 90% of the time.
Last question: what is your spirit animal?
A dolphin — because it consciously has to breathe… and I can relate to that a lot.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris this weekend for Men’s Fashion Week 2016, you can catch his set at Silencio – featuring other flames J-Cush (Future Brown / Lit City Trax), Guillaume Berg (Bromance) and Kiri (Phire Wire).