Our own Arturo spends a day with Yahpp, discussing many topics...
LANDS IN AMERICA! (THE FIRST U.S. INTERVIEWS, 3/30/05) Dallas,
Texas, USA On an early Wednesday afternoon here, Yahpp,
the much-revered leader of the Korean band BanYa, emerged
from the Immigration/Customs section of Terminal E at Dallas/Fort
Worth International Airport. Clad in jeans with denim leg
straps and a Twilight Samurai shirt, he had one suitcase
in tow and a carry-on bag slung over his shoulder. I had
half-expected to find him with his trademark orange “concert”
hair, but it had now returned to its normal state.
We exchanged friendly greetings and proceeded to the car,
beginning Yahpp’s first-ever visit to the United States.
Flying in from Mexico City, he had just completed a trip
to Tampico (in the north), where a large Pump It Up
festival was held over the prior weekend. In addition to
the festival’s large Pump tournament, Yahpp’s band
-- which creates much of the game’s music -- staged a concert
there for the gathered enthusiasts. Now headed back home
to Korea, he stopped here along the way to meet up with
the official Supporters of the Texas region, Proz and myself.
We would soon be touring local arcades as potential tournament
sites, and discussing tournament strategies, from local
and national ones, up through the highly-anticipated Pump
It Up World Festival later this year in Korea.
First on today’s agenda, though, was a promotional interview
of Yahpp that I had set up with one of the local Korean
newspapers, The Korea Daily. Yahpp first smoked a
menthol cigarette before we went inside, revealing that
he was a light smoker and that a pack of cigarettes might
last him three days. We then met with the editor/interviewer,
and Yahpp took the opportunity to promote our upcoming tournaments
in the article. The brief story ran in the next day’s edition:
That out of the way, we toured our first arcade, and then
met up with Proz, who had just driven in from Austin to
join us. We met at Yahpp’s hotel, and got him checked in
and settled. Also, our first interpreter, Yong, arrived
during this time. Yahpp’s English is fairly good, but still
limited, so I arranged for interpreters to help speed up
the process. More arcade touring then commenced in various
parts of the area.
Eventually, evening came and food was becoming a priority.
Yahpp had indicated to me that he did not want to eat any
Mexican food while he was here, when I had earlier asked
him about dinner plans. He said he had been eating nothing
but chili down in Mexico the prior week, laughing that chili
was on everything there. In addition, he said he was feeling
a bit ill in his stomach. Several cuisines here were suggested,
including Texas steak and Texas barbecue. But Yahpp was
very eager to have an “American” hamburger, so we took him
to a greasy burger-and-fries joint, popular among the locals.
Toward the end of dinner, we were joined by new interpreters
and fellow pumpers, Qtie and Jolly. We then moved the group
back to Yahpp’s hotel room, after first procuring a few
libations, to conduct further discussions about tournaments
and festivals. We learned that for the 2005 Pump It Up
World Festival, coming up in November in Korea, the Korean
government was actually the party that would be paying for
all of the world’s elite pumpers to come compete to decide
the World Champions. These are all-expenses-paid trips.
These trips are won in each country’s national tournament.
The number of trips/competition slots for each country is
based upon the size and progression of the Pump community
there. For instance, several countries such as Brazil, England,
Argentina and the U.S. have only two slots allotted at this
point. Korea and Taiwan have four slots, while Mexico has
ten. That’s right, ten. Again, keep in mind, this is based
upon supply and demand. To put things into perspective,
consider that the entire U.S. has roughly 1000 Pump
machines. And what about Mexico, you say? Double, or maybe
triple that? Try 15,000.
Eventually, our business discussions were completed and
I was finally able to conduct….. THE INTERVIEW:
I had earlier asked Yahpp for an interview, with the intent
to post it online for the Pump community. Since there
is so little information about him (and BanYa) floating
around, I saw a great need here to enlighten the many Pump
and BanYa fans around the world, and to clear up a few misconceptions
which even I shared. Also present for the interview were
Proz, Qtie and Jolly. The interview itself was rather informal,
due to all the people present and the use of interpreters.
Or perhaps it was the American beer we all had, including
a regional specialty beer, to further immerse Yahpp into
the true culture of Texana. Consequently, this printed interview
will be a bit “freeform” as well, forgoing the standard
I began the interview with routine questions about BanYa
band members. To re-iterate, remember that Yahpp is the
leader of BanYa. He produces for them, composes, plays 2nd
guitar, and does some vocals. Some might be surprised to
learn that he sang the lead vocals for “She Likes Pizza,”
“Pumping Up” and “Hate.” And no, his regular voice does
not sound that way, if that’s what anyone is wondering.
Of the old band members, Oh-Jay is no longer with them.
PJ Gun still is affiliated and is now the lead producer
for Pump. I won’t go deeply into the rest of the
revolving cast of BanYa members, as they can be easily found
at Yahpp’s MP3 site, www.yahpp.millim.com . A guest violinist
there named Lucifer might catch your eye. I also wondered
about Ms Goon, a guest guitarist, noting that he was male.
When I explained to Yahpp that “Ms.” is a feminine title
in English, he laughingly reported that he will educate
Goon on the matter, so that he will now likely be known
as M.S. Goon. Yahpp also informed that Goon is one of Pump’s
Stepmasters, creating steps for the songs (Yahpp himself
has also done some stepmaking).
There are three BanYa Pump albums, to date: The
1st Step to the BanYa, InterLock and BanYa
3rd: Unfinished. They are viewable at these links:
1st OST :: Banya:
2nd OST :: Banya:
In addition to the game versions of the BanYa songs, on
these CDs you will also find the occasional full version
as well as a few non-Pump compositions. But these
albums are not available for sale. They were only produced
for promotional purposes, and have been distributed as prizes
at tournaments and other events. This greatly limits opportunities
for fans to own their own copies, but for those that are
currently BanYa-less, good news is on the horizon. Yahpp
reported that his latest album, likely to be finished before
year’s end, will be a 3-CD set. It will be comprised of
his first (pre-BanYa) album, a BanYa “Greatest Hits” disc,
and then his latest work will be on the 3rd CD. The plan
is to distribute it on his Millim site (previously listed
in this article), where fans can also listen to much of
his music. Proz asked him if there were any artists that
directly influenced a BanYa tune. Yahpp revealed that The
Chemical Brothers inspired both “Final Audition” and “Naissance.”
And for those that have always wondered about the origin
of the famous “Final Audition” phrase, “I Will Make You
Understand,” Yahpp only knew that it was taken from a sample
library. To no surprise, Yahpp is also working on yet another
classical remix, but I am sworn to secrecy about further
details. It is likely to appear on the new Pump version
(tentatively called Exceed 3), which is slated for a November
release date. He also has a new hip-hop tune in the works.
I asked Yahpp about the origin of the band name, BanYa.
It has been widely reported in the past that the name means
“anonymous” or “unknown,” which is logical for a studio
band assembled by Andamiro to create music specifically
for Pump. The Chinese origins of the word also say
it stands for wisdom, among eastern religions. But none
of this is how the name evolved for them, corrected Yahpp.
The much more interesting truth to the matter lies in Yahpp’s
love of 1980s American rock. As a big Nirvana fan, Yahpp
derived “BanYa,” using a little wordplay, from “Nirvana.”
Looking at the last syllable, “vana,” and pronouncing it
“bana,” he then slapped on the beginning of his name, “Ya,”
creating “BanYa.” The letter “Y” is capitalized, as in his
name, out of habit, he said. Yahpp also said that since
“Nirvana” means something akin to “another realm,” he likens
“BanYa” to a gateway into this realm.
Upon asking Yahpp about his role in the songwriting, he
related that he’s written about 80 percent of the BanYa
songs, excluding the classical remixes. I asked how hip-hop
duo Drunken Tiger got involved with the first album -- the
album producer bought their recording rights and combined
them with BanYa tracks. While they were never in the studio
together for that album, they later became friends. The
first album took 2 years to complete. Some songs took as
long as three months to finish, while “Extravaganza” was
polished off in a mere two days. Yahpp had no idea that
Pump, and subsequently his music, would become so
popular. His first CD, before BanYa, had not done well.
He had been dabbling in scoring for online games when the
Andamiro opportunity came along. Three songs were completed
in about three months, and this led to them becoming the
“official” band for Pump.
Yahpp has had no formal music training. He is self-taught,
even on electronic equipment. Proz asked what mixing software
he utilizes, and was told, “Q Base, Sonar, and Acid Studio,”
among others. Though he plays only guitar in BanYa, Yahpp’s
talents extend to piano and drums as well. He cannot read
music, playing everything by ear. He was born and raised
in Seoul, where his parents opposed his musical pursuits.
I asked Yahpp, now 25, if he was married, indicating that
I had heard this was the case. He politely replied, “Are
you crazy?!” and alluded to people spreading rumors that
he was, but that they were untrue. He also has no children,
but is the owner of 2 dogs (a Great Dane/Pointer mix, and
a Weimaraner), currently under the care of his mother, while
he is out of town.
Yahpp’s favorite foods include kimchee stew, American hamburgers
and strawberries. Interestingly, he HATES pizza, with his
song, “She Likes Pizza” being about an old girlfriend. He
also mentioned that he likes elk’s blood, which comes from
the antlers, and is used as an herbal remedy in the Korean
culture. He remarked that it was very sweet tasting.
Some of his hobbies include visiting health spas and playing
computer games. He is a fan of both Warcraft and
The Sims. Earlier in the day, as we were driving
past the clean cookie-cutter neighborhoods of “perfect”
homes in the northern suburb of Plano, Yahpp commented that
it appeared we were actually in the middle of a real-life
Sim city. For sports, his tastes lean toward the
more extreme sports. He enjoys roller-blading, snowboarding
and K1 kickboxing.
He is also familiar with several other martial arts, which
brings up the subject of his nickname, Yahpp, or E-Yahpp.
Knowing this was not his actual name, I had naturally inquired
about its origin. He explained that it derived from the
sound one might make upon executing a punch or kick in Tae
Kwon Do, or the like. Just like in the movies. “E-YAHPP!!!”
He said he cannot play any sport that uses a ball, although
I finally convinced him to try some basketball free throws
earlier at a local arcade. He did acceptably, despite his
initial misgivings. As far as spectator sports, he is a
fan of soccer, but admits that he does not understand American
football. He also loves baseball. One of the first things
he asked me upon arrival here in Dallas was about fellow
Korean, Chan Ho Park, who plays baseball locally for the
Turning our focus to music, he offered up some of the American
music artists that he enjoys. He is a big rock and metal
fan, and greatly favors older acts, it appears. He listed
Nirvana, The Doors, Aerosmith, Janis Joplin, Pantera, Marilyn
Manson, and Linkin Park as some of his favorites. Asked
about jazz, he cited a love for the “old school” and musicians
like Miles Davis, not caring for the modern, smooth jazz
movement. For hip-hop, he favors Jay-Z and Missy Elliott.
He would like to collaborate with a rapper for a new project,
he revealed, whereupon I immediately offered my services.
Okay, well, maybe not. The most recent albums he bought
were Nirvana’s In Utero and a special edition of
Metallica’s Master of Puppets, both on LP records,
a format that he loves.
Moving onward to Korean artists, I threw out various names
and asked for a word or brief phrase from him to describe
each. The notables:
Drunken Tiger -- Laughter
Lee Hyun Do (from Deux) -- Very good guy (and a personal
Tasha Korean, first one
1TYM -- Perry’s brothers
YG Family -- Future of rap
Psy -- Good, funny
DJ DOC -- Korean “playas,” bad boys
Novasonic Brothers, played in concert with them
Yoon Do Hyun Band Opened for one of their concerts
In addition to the aforementioned friendships with Drunken
Tiger and Lee Hyun Do, other stars he calls friends are
Eugene Park, Pippi Band, and Jung Mal Lu, a Korean jazz
As far as cinema, Yahpp is a fan of Blade and also
The Matrix (the first movie). He also likes Cameron
Diaz, he revealed. I asked about the recently popular, violent
Korean gangster film, Old Boy, and Yahpp gave it
a hearty endorsement.
As Yahpp has been traveling extensively in his relatively
new role as worldwide leader of the Pump Supporters, I asked
if he had any favorite cities that he has visited. London
was his answer, citing their preservation of historical
architecture, which he said shows a strong international
I asked what he really liked most about Seoul. His reply
was “the subway.” He hated “traffic” there. And if a foreign
pumper was going to be visiting Korea, such as for the upcoming
World Festival? His one piece of advice for them was “Don’t
stare at Koreans.” Apparently, this is especially rude there,
even moreso than it is in American culture.
Of course, I also had to ask about the source of the company
name, Andamiro, as well. Yahpp told us it was an older word,
with agricultural origins. It relates to rice placed into
a basket, until it is full and overflowing. It represents
abundance and profitability, the company’s goals.
I wrapped up the interview by asking Yahpp to reveal something
to his fans that no one knows about him. He paused momentarily
in thought. Slowly, he raised his left pants leg to the
knee, revealing his lower leg. Initially perplexed, I surmised
he was going to show some ghastly scar or the like. Then,
translators Jolly and Qtie, both Korean females, started
giggling. They explained that he was merely showing that
his legs were completely hairless. Qtie remarked that this
would make some women very happy, sharing a laugh with all
of us to end a most memorable day. A day with Yahpp.
Thanks to Arturo for allowing us the privilege of using
this interview. Also, thanks to Yahpp for the coming to
Dallas, and giving us Pump fans a great and addictive game!
-Arturo, posted by bse523