In an industry dominated by girl groups and boy bands, K-pop group KARD is a rare co-ed team, featuring a quartet of stars who arrived on the scene in 2016, and have steadily gained a sizable following. Initially known for their Latin pop-infused singles, they’ve recently transitioned their sound into boisterous dance tracks, and their most recent single, September’s “Dumb Litty” is a high-intensity self-love anthem.
Produced by BM (Matthew Kim), the song’s release preceded the group’s current Wild Kard Tour, which brings the quartet to Chicago today (Oct. 25) at the Patio Theater and will see them perform at Atlanta's Buckhead Theatre on Sunday (Oct. 27).
Like the Cali guy he is, BM is perhaps one of the most relaxed K-pop stars when it comes to accessibility and communication with fans, freely sharing his thoughts and conversing with people on social media, offering motivation and words of wisdom as well as a good time livestreams, comments on social media platforms, and more. He was inspired by his interactions with fans and brought his forthright approach to the world into "Dumb Litty," serving up inspiring lyrics through the bombastic tune.
Amid KARD’s Wild KARD tour, BM jumped on a call with Billboard to discuss what the group is up to recently, songwriting, and how uses social media as a way to see what music would inspire fans.
You’re in the middle of your tour right now, currently in Brazil at the tailend of your Latin American leg, and you’re going to head to the States next. What’s something that you’ve enjoyed so far in this tour or are looking forward to that’s kind of differentiated this from your past performances internationally?
I think during the tours before, [I was] really nervous. A lot of it, I wasn’t sure what I was doing on stage so kept to what we practiced. This time, I feel like it’s a little bit more free on stage, and kind of just more free honestly. Tried to have a lot more fun this time.
You guys got a lot of buzz early on in your career because you had a very noticeable Latin-inspired pop sound, but now you’ve kind of changed things up with "Bomb Bomb" and "Dumb Litty." How do you feel about KARD progressing as artists and trying out some new things?
It feels really good. The best thing so far is the fact that the label, and even amongst ourselves, we’re starting to trust each other as far as [the] creative process, and just making music in general. Like “Dumb Litty” was made within the group. I think all in all, we’re starting to be able to really grab a hold of what we really want to do and really want to show, and hopefully it’s starting to show in our music and in our performances as well.
What inspired “Dumb Litty"? Reading all the lyrics, it’s a really kind of kickass song, you’re kind of telling everyone you’re just out there ready to do your thing. Why was that something you all wanted to sing about?
I get a lot of messages from fans, I try to read it and try to give as much feedback as I can. Apart from just kind of answering them through social media, like Instagram questions and whatnot, I thought it would be a good time right now to kind of do it through our music. One question that a lot of fans ask is, “Where do you guys get your confidence from? How do you guys deal with self confidence issues and being self-conscious and whatnot?” I kind of wanted “Dumb Litty” to be a response to that.
We’re not always confident, but if you’re going to do you, you have to do you. Not really compare or think about other people outside, or even let negative voices from yourself put you down. It was kind of the message to not only other people but also the negative person in yourself, because I think that’s a huge issue nowadays. Even if no one’s really talking about you, it’s mostly in your head, especially the younger generation nowadays. They have it in them, they’re so unsure, there are a lot of negative voices in their heads. I just kind of wanted it to be a song that when you listen to it you don’t hear that voice, but just gain confidence and have fun.
What does the title of “Dumb Litty” mean?
It is a funny story. I’m from L.A., so I always use terms like, “Ah yo, that was dumb crazy. That was dumb lit.” We use terms like “lit,” “litty,” and stuff like that, so I kind of wanted that to kind of be a catchy phrase. But funny story is that I put that out and actually spoiled [the title ahead of the song’s release] by accident when I put up a picture of the monitor screen at the music video shoot, and the title was right there on a piece of paper on front of the monitor. So everyone figured out what the title was.
When that happened, I started getting a really negative response. “Why would you name the song that? Why are you so tryhard? Yada yada yada, cringe.” So I was like, “Ah man, okay, I guess it wasn’t as catchy as I thought.” But at the same time, after that, in my head I was like, “Ah man, this is so bad.” But at the same time, this could be good because it could be something that makes you curious about the song and what it’s going to sound like. So I kind of just went with it, and as the song says just ignored all other voices and just went with what I felt.
For the music video, you all embodied classical, western mythology gods. Why did you want to do that?
For the music video, at first we were all thinking we should do a crazy party scene, and like a tunnel and have fire everywhere and whatnot. But we had done that already in [the music video for] “Bomb Bomb,” and so we wanted to do something different. So we talked to the label and we talked to our creative director. She was like, “Why don’t you guys modernize Greek god concepts into the music video?” I was like, “Oh, what?! How are we going to do that? I can’t even picture it in my head.” But our director, it was actually her idea and she made it come to life. It was a really, really good idea because that was a huge topic discussed online too. Yea, that was really fun.
How did you feel to be representing godlike beings? K-pop “idols," now gods…
It felt pretty good. [Laughs] I think it was pretty spot-on, which Greek god was appointed to each person’s position. We were like, “Okay, this is actually pretty accurate,” so it was a lot of fun having been able to play that. J.Seph, he was the god of wine and he likes turning up a lot. Jiwoo, she’s super badass, so being the goddess of war — that was awesome. Being Aphrodite for Somin, she already does her beauty thing with YouTube and whatnot, so that really matched well with her. And [for me], Thor, he’s not even a Greek god. That matched really well. And I was Zeus [too]. Zeus was really badass, too.
You’ve been writing a lot more for the group recently. How does it feel getting to put your own spin on KARD’s sound and share your music with the world?
It feels crazy. First off, [“Dumb Litty”] was the first main production that I got to produce for. I didn’t know what was going to come out of it, but as far as the label, everything is much easier if everything is created in the company. So I got to be a little bit of a help to the label on that side, because they didn’t have to go out looking for songs and whatnot. Besides that, honestly, I think this is just a really big stepping stone as a person who has a dream to be a good producer. Man, I have so much on the way. I have so many ideas, and the next one — I really want it to not only be a single but a whole album. Just like a bunch of good songs that I already have in my head. I already have beats being produced right now, it’s just all in good fun. I can’t wait, honestly. I’m stoked.
Does that mean we’re going to get an album soon, do you think?
Hell yeah, hell yeah, for sure. The next one is for sure going to be an album. We’re not putting out singles anymore. To be 100% completely honest with you, “Bomb Bomb” and “Dumb Litty” were really like — we were in a super big hurry because — if we would have put out an album at the time, we could have. But we weren’t confident putting the songs out we had at the time. But I think that for the next one, there’s going to be enough good material to put out an album. For sure.