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Pump Haven :: Arturo's Interview with the leader of BanYa, Yahpp!
11:59PM CST :: 4/04/05


Yahpp Interview!

Our own Arturo spends a day with Yahpp, discussing many topics...

 

YAHPP 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 Q-and-A format.

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:

Banya: 1st OST :: Banya: 2nd OST :: Banya: 3rd OST

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 Texas Rangers.

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 friend)
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 band.

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 identity.

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