Read SCV’s latest interview with Cream Villa‘s rappers Ex8er, Quaimo, Loben, and Ben blank.
Note by SCV: the team Cream Villa, who completely believe in the blood type personality theory, squeeze on a sofa that is too small for four people. Giving off a refreshing impression that let me literally feel the salty Busan air, all four of them adjusted themselves to my pace and I interviewed them unhurriedly. It was a bit early. YG who had some free time that day joined us too. I wanted to have a discussion about music but we had to end the interview early to match their schedules.
SCV: It is a first for me to interview this many people at once. Please introduce yourself one after the other.
Ban blank: I am 30-year-old Ban blank. I am active in both PRIZMOLIQ and Cream Villa. Nice to meet you.
Ex8er: My name is Ex8er and I am 27 years old. I am part of Cream Villa and GrandPics. While I used to be active as a solo artist, I can meet you now like this, having completed Cream Villa’s project album. Nice to meet you.
Loben: I am 30 years old, active in PRIZMOLIQ and Cream Villa and my name is Loben.
Quaimo: I am the youngest of the team, 21-year-old Quaimo. Nice to meet you.
SCV: How was Cream Villa formed? Please tell us about the formation process as well as your team’s name.
Ex8er: Originally, we were all working together as part of the Busan-based crew GrandPics. However, in order to make a living, some members started to work at offices or founded businesses, and music had to take a back seat. So only those who were still making music kept working together. Although there were quite a lot of crew members, there wasn’t that much actual “substance”. Therefore, we thought that we’d be able to unleash a better synergy by holding concerts or doing something as a team, so the most active members got together to release an album and that was us. Our team name comes from the group Slum Village, whose “Village” inspired us to use “Villa” and since all of us are making nineties boom bap we added “Cream” which comes from the nineties’ representative team Wu Tang Clan’s track “C.R.E.A.M”. That is how we created the name “Cream Villa”, it sounds good and also has a bit of a cute side to it so I am satisfied with the name. We are four rappers, DJ Tiz, producers Scary’P and Doplamingo, and designer Bred, all in all eight people.
SCV: How long have you known each other?
Ex8er: It’s been a long time. About seven to eight years. With Quaimo it’s been one or two years but with everyone else it’s been a long time.
YG: What do you think is your ‘rap ranking’, [who is the best]?
Ban blank: I guess everyone thinks that they are the best (laughs).
YG: Recently, people rarely release albums as teams, I am curious if you got along well with the producers. What and how much did you expect before making the album and what meaning did you attribute to it?
Loben: After we had formed the team, we had many conversations because we had to find out what kind of style [of music] every team member has. At that time I thought that our style wasn’t very distinctive. And that each one was making slightly different music. We definitely had something in common, but from a listener’s point of view it wasn’t clear what kind of style the team Cream Villa has.
Ex8er: We have been doing rap really well but I suppose our only disadvantage was that we didn’t have a distinctive style. These days, having a certain ‘character’ is very important. In the beginning, I was dissatisfied with it (that people are so focused on a constructed concept). Now, I think that we have found our very own ‘character’ too.
Ban blank: While searching for our own style, we first got inspired by the four-member teams Clear Soul Forces and Slaughterhouse to make trendy boom bap. So we decided to mix various jazzy styles with boom bap. And while working and asking for everyone’s opinions, I think we slowly found a heavy, grave style. As we got immersed in that [style], we ended up with heavy-sounding tracks like ‘Dead Wrong‘, ‘격‘ [Class], and ‘면도날 Flow‘ [Razor Blade Flow].
Ex8er: As there is no other 4 MCs & 1 DJ group in Korea yet, I think that is something that distinguishes us, something only we can show. Duos or trios occassionally show up in our country[‘s hiphop scene]. However, a formation like ours is unprecedented and we will use that to our advantage. When the audience listens to a track of ours, it always is a track we completed as a group. With that in mind we finished work on the album and we tried our best to produce each song even better by making every verse with 16 bars, as if all of us were competing against each other.
YG: When you were working on the songs together as a group all the time, did it ever occur that you wanted to redo or improve your own verse when another team member had written a really dope one?
Loben: Sure. It happened especially often with Ex8er, he really changed his lyrics several times. Slightly as if he had an OCD.
Ex8er: That’s true. I have rewritten my lyrics for the album’s title track ‘Burn’ eight times. And the track features eight people, so since I alone have written eight verses, I could perform it by myself.
SCV: Are you a bit of a perfectionist?
Ban blank: I think he is. And not only that, although he (Ex8er) is the one who recorded [his verses for] the tracks, he doesn’t know which recording is better. He always asks us in our chat group.
Ex8er: I sometimes ask the others and go with the majority opinion.
SCV: Do you think that you succeeded in creating a good synergy by combining each one’s style?
Loben: When we work together, we do try to adapt our styles so that they sound more similar. And when we work on our own music, we completely show off our very own style.
SCV: Please introduce your album ‘In The Village’ in a few words.
Ban blank: The album is made up of tracks of the boom bap genre, and it is very enjoyable if you listen to it in the correct order of the tracks. These days, people often rap for the sake of rapping, but we carefully decided on a beat and a clear subject after long consideration and paid a lot of attention to the lyrics. The album should have come out in the beginning of this year, but since we considered many things like these it took that much longer. I can proudly say that this album is a really good album. I have released several mixtapes and albums before, but even compared to all my own music I am confident and proud of this album. I do find it a pity that we weren’t able to promote it [properly] but … I am so satisfied with the album that in my opinion we should be receiving an award for it this year.
Ex8er: Tracks one and two explain that we were influenced by Busan and foreshadow what we can do. Tracks three to five were released in advance and are heavy-sounding tracks which show the overall style of our album. Like track five, track six tells of our attitude but is made from a different angle. Tracks seven and eight emphasize what we are capable of as a team. They especially underline the advantages of a DJ. In track ten, each of us says something to their respective role model. Track eleven is about attaining rap money, the prize for our efforts.
SCV: If it was supposed to be released in the beginning of this year, how long did it take you to make the album?
Ex8er: We had started planning it before but we started working on it last year around November. Since it came out this year in October, it took us about one year.
Loben: In the first two weeks or so, we had finished nearly half of the album’s tracks. That’s why we thought we could release it this year in spring, but the work started to lag and got delayed so we had to do a final spurt. We were telling people that the album would come out around March or April, but like all work it took much longer.
YG: Which track of the album do you personally like the most?
Quaimo: I like the last track ‘Black Cream’ the most. Of course I feel attached to all eleven songs, but if I had to choose one of them it would be the eleventh track. The reason for this is that I wrote my lyrics for it the fastest. They’re just my most well-written lyrics. ‘Black Cream’ is a track about hopes and aspirations, and at the time I was the most hopeful and full of aspirations.
Loben: I wanted to include stories about us in the album. I also wanted to sjow off our skills and attitude. So that when someone listens to the whole album, they will know what kind of skills and attitude Cream Villa has. Maybe that’s why I like the first track ‘Bib’. After finishing work on all the eleven tracks, I felt happy when I listened to the first one. Its content is “We grew up in Busan, and being inspired there this is the kind of music we make.” I felt proud through and through that as a rapper from Busan who is making music in Seoul I have made a great song in which I give a shout-out to my hometown.
Ex8er: I am satisfied with all tracks since they all have meaningful messages, but the track I like is number six, ‘No One Does’. The beat matches my preferences the most, but as it is the least popular song of the album I realized that my taste is too dope (laughs).
‘No One Does’ is about things nobody does [as the title says]. I guess that everyone has a role model. I often thought about what it would be like to work together with that person or meet them. However, after doing rap for about 7-8 years and experiencing the whole thing myself, I realized that the person I had considered my role model wasn’t that great [after all]. I was disillusioned and thus started to go my own way. That is what the song number six is about and it’s the reason why I like it the most.
Ban blank: I like the track ‘격’ [Class] the most. While making music, I got the feeling that rappers have lost a lot of respect for DJs. It seems like they consider them as someone who only plays the instrumentals. There is a DJ in our crew and I’ve always wanted to revive the respect for DJs. Watching our team’s DJ Tiz-hyung from the side, I found out that he is the first to arrive at a concert venue and the last to leave it with his equipment. He is extremely skilled too and I think that he doesn’t get the treatment he deserves. We are often not acknowledged either but that doesn’t matter, however I saw quite often that people look down on him. As a close friend of his and his teammate that made me very sad. That is the reason why nearly my whole verse in ‘격’ [Class] is about respect for DJs. Of course, I also rap about my hometown Busan. That is why I like ‘격’ [Class] the most.
SCV: That [about the DJs] is something people really cannot know if they haven’t seen it for themselves. That is a good attitude you have and I really hope everyone would listen to the track. I heard you also filmed a music video this evening. Which track is it for? And when can we see it?
Ban blank: It will be released either in the beginning of or in mid-November. The music video will be for our title track ‘Burn‘. It will probably be a very cool video, so look forward to it.
Ex8er: Actually, the concept we had in mind before filming the music video for ‘Burn’ was very similar to Deepflow-hyungnim’s ‘당산대형‘ [The Big Brother] so we had to change plans in a hurry. Since [the music video for] ‘당산대형’ [The Big Brother] was made so well, we thought that we shouldn’t clumsily add [our own video] to the subject.
SCV: Did all of you decide together on which songs to use in the album?
Ex8er: We nearly had no conflicting opinions while working together. That might have been due to us being close anyway or due to our similar tastes, but while working on the album we agreed nearly unanimously. I’d say that it was rather us rappers and the producers who had a bit of conflicting opinions, but when we [rappers] chose a beat there were no problems. Of course, there were slightly differing opinions but since we are all good people, we solved things by discussing them. Amongst us, there is nobody with blood type A. However, the producers both have blood type A so I think that’s why we clashed.
SCV: Do you usually care about blood types?
YG: I am blood type A but I don’t get offended easily. (He seems offended already.)
Ban blank: Ah, really? Our whole team swears on the blood type personality theory. We think there is an actual correlation.
Ex8er: I don’t get along with AB bloody types … for real.
SCV: (I am AB though …) I shall introduce you as a team that believes in the blood type personality theory.
YG: What advantages do you have as a team?
Loben: I think since we are four people our advantages can be experienced especially at concerts. You’ll know if you see it but we clearly have power. And even though we don’t agree on certain gestures or anything before the show, we naturally have good teamwork. That is where our advantages stand out. We planned this album for the sake of giving good concerts with it, so I’d like it if many come to see us perform and spread the word about the album. If I had to name a disadvantage: since we are so many, it happens that we have to change concert setlists due to different schedules.
Ban blank: I am someone who doesn’t really think about disadvantages, so I think we have a full range of advantages. Since a strong friendship connects us, I don’t think we will ever disband.
YG: Do you have any concerts scheduled?
Loben: In the coming week we will perform at Rolling Hall amongst others.
YG: Can we expect to keep hearing boom bap from Cream Villa?
Loben: If there is a different genre that matches our preferences, it is absolutely likely that we consider it. We don’t want to limit ourselves to the boom bap genre. If it is a genre that goes well with our constellation (4 MCs, 1 DJ) then we will give it a try.
Ban blank: We love boom bap but each of us has their own preference so we are considering several possibilites. It’s not that we think: “We only have to make boom bap.”
SCV: Are you working on anything new?
Ex8er: Preparing Cream Villa’s album robbed us of a lot of our strength, so I think it will be difficult to produce anything new for a while. There might be a possibility that we suddenly and spontaneously release something, though.
Ban blank: We’d like to perform at many live shows from now on. As each of us is working on their own stuff, we don’t have plans for anything new yet [as a group].
SCV: How do you want to receive the spotlight as Cream Villa from now on?
Ban blank: I have never thought that we had to make it as Cream Villa. We simply do this while believing in each other, no matter if people buy our music or not. Since we do the music we like that is nothing we care about. We aren’t doing this thinking, “Cream Villa has to attain this or that position in the hiphop scene!” either. We’d just like to be known as cool people who make good music.
Ex8er: I hope that Cream Villa will get its own ‘turf’ in the hiphop scene. So that when people talk about our very own style, there is Cream Villa’s exclusive ‘area’.
YG: Are you having any troubles lately?
Loben: As we are people who make music, advertising is difficult. We don’t really know how to advertise ourselves and the fact that we’ll go under if we don’t do anything is hard on us. While making music all this time I have often seen those things happen and have experienced them myself, that is why I feel as if the same thing will happen this time again. Therefore, we should promote ourselves actively but there is a limit to what we can do and since most things involve monetary issues, it is indeed a burden to us. I lose a lot of energy to worries like these, so it’s hard.
Ex8er: Also, we should have finished working on the [music] video before the album release but a schedule-wise problem we couldn’t do anything about came up and the music video ended up being late. The effect of showing [music] in a video is great, but we cannot really blame anyone for what happened and it is truly a pity.
SCV: Who was in charge of the album’s overall engineering?
Loben: All of us know how to mix but we got greedy in respects to the sound so we paid someone to do it for us.
Ex8er: Ah, our CD is going to be released soon.
SCV: Give me just one CD please. (Looks at them and changes his mind.) I will buy one. And I will upload a photo to proof it.
YG: You said that each of your solo works will come out, please introduce your personal upcoming plans and goals to us.
Ex8er: I am working on my album. These days I like watching director Hong Sang-soo’s movies and I’d like to convey the emotional flow [I have while watching them]. I am thinking of something similar to how “The Anecdote” can move you deeply with one or two lines as part of one big flow. Of course, I did not think of this idea while listening to “The Anecdote.” My goal is to release it in November but it could get later because of the same reason Cream Villa’s album got pushed back for.
Loben: PRIZMOLIQ are preparing an album for, earliest, the end of this year. Since we will decide on the album’s style while working on it, it is not certain yet, but I think its content and style will be completely different from Cream Villa’s.
Quaimo: As for me, I have been preparing an album since the beginning of this year, but I didn’t like it and overturned it. In the middle of this year I got stuck and things didn’t work out well, so after pondering on the genres and styles I have finally cleared things up a bit. Not too long ago I had planned to abandon it and was out playing. I didn’t just hang around though, while having fun I did a detailed introspection of things like my appearance or how I treat others. Since something bad had happened in the middle of this year I had been feeling edgy, so I think I took a rest for a while to regain my composure. I now clearly know what I want the album to be like and feel like officially starting to work on it. I have decided on the album’s overall structure, its sound and genre too.
Ban blank: I will devote myself to PRIZMOLIQ’s album too. It has now been about two years since I came to Seoul. Loben and I have been living positively even in hard times; we will have a good time while making good music.
SCV: Can you tell us anything about HIGHFLIES and DJ Tiz’s upcoming activities?
Ex8er: Scary’P is preparing a producer album for November, and Doplamingo has released a full-length album which received good reviews. He is spurring work on his solo project to continue those activities while supporting Scary’P’s album.
Loben: DJ Tiz is quite a free soul, sometimes when he feels like it he releases a free mixset. He even makes the covers himself, I don’t think they’re that nice (laughs). I think he should let someone else make them, but he quite likes to design things and do stuff like that himself. Maybe because his blood type is B, he doesn’t care what other people think of him. He doesn’t care at all if many people listen to it or what kind of reviews people write about his music. He simply immerses himself in what he enjoys. He has always liked sports so he often plays soccer too. So, we don’t really know what he’s doing.
SCV: Ah. To put a long story short, you have no idea what he’s up to?
Loben: I can’t guess anything but you never know, he might suddenly release something. We will perform at many concerts together.
Ex8er: Ah, I am thinking of working again on the Scary’P X Ex8er album which fell through because I had to go to the military. After releasing an EP I will start working on that.
Last but not least, please say a few words to ROKHipHop’s readers.
Video: Hello, we are Cream Villa. Nice to meet you! I am Cream Villa’s Ban blank. / I am Cream Villa’s Ex8er. / I am Loben. / I am Quaimo. / We, Cream Villa, have released an album on October 1. Please listen to the album from the first track to the last while reading the lyrics. We’d be very grateful. We did our best to prepare the album over the span of one year. We can proudly say that it is a good album and many other musicians we know have also told us that it’s a good album. So we hope that many people listen to it. Please look forward to Cream Villa’s concerts, a possible next album, and each of our solo albums. Also, we hope that everything will go well for ROKHipHop too. Thank you. Peace out!
Interview by SCV, YG
Translator’s note: a big shout-out to SCV for not only allowing me to translate his interviews, but also especially creating the English version of the banner which you see above, and even checking the finished translation! Also many thanks to ROKHIPHOP’s head who made all of this possible.