Musician DPR Ian takes pride in being a versatile artist, known for crafting diverse pieces of work.
The singer and rapper, whose real name is Christian Yu, is an Australian artist who currently lives in South Korea. He broke out during the Covid-19 pandemic, timing he describes as “tough because I never really got to see the engagement”.
“At that time, we had no idea how much of a great influence we were making around the world,” he tells The National.
“And I think it was just last year when we went on our first world tour, that's when I got to really see what [we were] doing.”
The co-founder of label Dream Perfect Regime (DPR), he made his UAE stage debut at Hyperound K-Fest in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. The label is multi-genre, spanning music and video, and includes artists such as DPR Live and DPR Cream.
“I think by putting DPR in front of [all of] our names, we wanted to give the idea that we're more unified as a team and everything that goes out is by the team, so no one is left out,” he says.
To him, DPR Ian is “just still a forever growing brand”.
“It's a journey finding myself and it's been quite a rollercoaster.”
The artist has spoken about his mental health in the past. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager, which can cause extreme mood swings, and he has performance characters that personify different facets of his experience with the disorder.
“I have two alters, I guess you could say we call them alter egos,” he says. “My lowest state is a character named Mito and he's very theatrical. And you know, he only has one eye, I don't know if that helps anything.
“I started off with the character Mito, and I think [my fans are all] very familiar with that character. Some people might call him dark, but, I always like to think the darkest things in the world are usually the most misunderstood.”
DPR Ian has been performing as Mito for the past two years, and has recently added a new character to his work.
“I thought, you know what, to further develop this storyline, I needed to introduce somebody that represents my highest [state] because it's not fair. And that's where we bring in Mr Insanity.”
“When I go manically high, I sometimes feel like nothing can stop me, no fear,” he says.
Talking about his latest EP, Dear Insanity, which was released on October 6, he says: “For people that are just coming into this, it could be a little bit too much for you to kind of take in in one day.”
However, at his recent Abu Dhabi concert, he was welcomed warmly by a crowd cheering and singing along.
“It feels like a dream. It feels overwhelming,” he says, reflecting on his time in the UAE. He performed at Etihad Arena, Yas Island, as Hyperound K-Fest returned for its second year, with a line-up that included Epik High, Sunmi, Enhypen, XG, Cherry Bullet and Peakboy.
However, the concert wasn't DPR Ian's first trip to the Emirates. He visited Dubai with his mother in 2015, describing the experience as “very majestic”.
“I remember telling my mum, I wanted to stay longer, but we couldn't. It’s such a beautiful place. I love it.”
He describes his return as “long overdue”, promising his fans – who are known as Dreamers – that he'll be back. “This is not going to be the last time, I promise. And we're always here, and Dreamers stick together. I never break promises.”