Kim Do Hoon, founder/ CEO of RBW
Since most girl groups debut at a young age, they usually have cute and lovely girl concepts and eventually grow in experience. On the other hand, Mamamoo set up a skillful image from the start, slowly mastering all the qualifications of an idol.
Mamamoo debuted in 2014 with Mr. Ambiguous, immediately receiving the title of being very talented. They have strong live skills and they know how to have fun on stage. However, this “Talented” title resulted in receiving a mature image. Last year on MBC’s “Sunday Night–King of Mask Singer,” Kim Gura saw Solar and said, “Mamamoo isn’t lovely. They seem wild. Isn’t your concept a slim Big Mama? What is your age?”
Two years later, in the year of 2016, Mamamoo broke the prejudice that came with the “Talented” title. This is the girl group that captivated both its fandom and the public. On February 26, the title song “You’re the Best” of Mamamoo’s first full album, “Melting,” achieved a music chart all-kill. This song even placed first on music shows and on the album chart. The number of members on their fancafe exceeds 60,000. Out of all the girl groups in the country, they have the 6th biggest fandom. They have completed the steps to success.
At the center of Mamamoo’s success is Songwriter Kim Do Hoon. He is a hitmaker to top #1 on 2014 Domestic Music Royalty Revenue. His hit songs include SG Wannabe’s “Sin and Punishment,” K.Will’s “My Heart Beats,” Lee Seunggi’s “Will You Marry Me?”, Davichi’s “8282,” Wheesung’s “With Me,” Baek Ji Young’s “Don’t Forget,” Soyou x Jung Gi Go’s “Some,” etc. He’s currently the CEO of company RBW and is successful with Mamamoo. Kim Do Hoon used his 20 years of experience to form Mamamoo. Kim Do Hoon grew through the birth of Mamamoo and he shares the story behind 1st full album, “Melting.”
Q: First of all, congratulations. Mamamoo won their first place win on SBS “Inkigayo” on the 6th for the first time since debut.
Kim Do Hoon: I’m very happy. It’s the first time that singers I’ve produced won 1st place on a music program. It’s very meaningful. Songs I’ve produced for other singers have gotten first place. But this time it feels difference since it’s regarding singers I’ve produced.
Q: Many assess that Mamamoo is opening a new prospect for girl groups. They have broken the usual success techniques original girl groups used. This girl group has a fresh concept. What mindset did you have when you were first making Mamamoo?
Kim Do Hoon: I think that I am more compatible with singers who sing well, such as Wheesung and K. Will. When I worked with singers who thought aspects other than vocals were important, the songs did not turn out so well. Then I realized that I work well with singers who sing well. Idols need to be able to have fun on stage and the main vocalist needs to be the first to be recognized. That is why I picked kids who brighten up on stage. Existing production company seniors were pessimistic about the idea, but I was certain. Because I witnessed the success of Big Mama in the past, I knew that we can win with our vocal strengths.
Q: In contrast with Big Mama, Mamamoo has a rapper, Moonbyul. Was this to set Mamamoo apart from Big Mama?
Kim Do Hoon: At first, I wanted Mamamoo to take on retro like Big Mama, but we don’t want to be limited to just that. I wanted to make a singer who can sing any genre, so I couldn’t just leave out the rap part. But I didn’t want to make stale music. Mamamoo is not a typical vocal team. I looked at the possibility of widening their spectrum. There are two rappers, Moonbyul and Hwa Sa. They both took rapping lessons together back when they were trainees.
Q: At first, Mamamoo were often called “Talented Girl Group”. However, they did feel older. I notice you tried to break this point of view through “Um Oh Ah Yeh”. Even through “You’re the Best,” we sense that they’re getting younger.
Kim Do Hoon: I was aiming for that. In the beginning, all of the staff members for the music video, even the director, were people who have never worked with idols. On music programs, the rookie idols honestly did not seem different from each other. Because I wanted it to be different, I just went for a different direction. Slowly, I produced songs for them that suited these girls’ age. I don’t think I will make a song for a younger audience. I found the right age audience. (laughs)
Q: How did you first form together Mamamoo?
Kim Do Hoon: The central figures of Mamamoo were Whee In and Hwa Sa. These two were the first to be chosen and the rest were added later. With Whee In and Hwa Sa as the center, I was making a base color for Mamamoo.
Q: How did you get to know Whee In and Hwa Sa?
Kim Do Hoon: Before RBW, there was an agent company called Rainbow Bridge Agency. This company introduced trainees to other companies. It was a great opportunity to meet trainees who wished to become singers. I find kids who have fun more pretty than those who have pretty faces, but lack in singing and dancing. Hwa Sa and Whee In stood out to me all the time. I knew through them, a distinctive team can be made.
Q: Whenever we interview the members, the most common thing they said was, “The CEO gave us the idea.” It seems like you all share ideas together. How do you come with ideas?
Kim Do Hoon: My motto for making music is “Let’s have fun.” If you want to make it enjoyable, you need to do well and you need to work hard to succeed. I do not have serious meetings with the Mamamoo members. When we discuss together ideas for the album, music video, concept, etc we would brainstorm while laughing together. The ideas that make us want to high five each other were the best ideas. We came up with the idea for dressing up as guys for “Um Oh Ah Yeh” in a meeting like that.
Q: It’s not an idea that was made through one person, but rather it’s the result of people working together.
Kim Do Hoon: Honestly, there isn’t anyone who’s extremely smart among us. Mamamoo are all (gifted with sense) animal-like friends. If they think a certain idea is lacking something, they would ask their fans. Many musicians starred in the music video for their debut song “Mr. Ambiguous”.The concept for that was “A musician formed by a musician.” Now, we changed our direction to “A musician formed by the public.” Our moo-bong and snapback goods were our fans’ ideas. On our homepage, there’s a section called “Design by Moomoo” where fans can upload their designs. We would select a design we like and we give an incentive to the designer. Even for the promotions for “You’re the Best,” we are planning to ask many ideas from fans.
Q: Was changing your direction to “A musician formed by the public” also part of your plan?
Kim Do Hoon: It was in the planning stage. That is why for the first full album, I wanted to show the process for every single song. However, it didn’t go as plan, so we ended up just revealing the video.
Q: In your perspective as the CEO, what do you think is the appeal of the Mamamoo members?
Kim Do Hoon: Whee In and Solar maintain the balance for Mamamoo. Firstly, Solar is sincere. She’s not the nitpicking type. When we ask her to do something, she’d completely understand and do it. And she’s very stable on stage. Whee In helps Solar become the backbone of the group. Whee In would stay one step behind Solar to support her. They all have great basic skills in dancing and singing. Even humor. Hwa Sa is the type who gives character. Hwa Sa gives color to the team. As for Moonbyul, the other three may seem chaotic to her, but she would put them in order. When the members are fooling around, Moonbyul is the one who is the most calm. She would watch over them and then control traffic.
Q: In the first full album, there are variety of songs. “You’re the Best” is the title song for this album. What kind of identity did you want to pack in the album for Mamamoo?
Kim Do Hoon: The song “Um Oh Ah Yeh” we released last year is like a bridgehead that has brought us to where we are now. I felt that for the next song, I needed to properly mix together the color of “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and the color of older songs. Even if I want to change Mamamoo’s color, because of their vocal nature, this kind of color just naturally shows. If I gave this song to a different kind of singer, this singer would not have been able to give off the same feeling. Thus, I tried to make a song that properly expressed both the color of “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and older songs. It became a very Mamamoo-like song.
Q: What did you plan to be the purpose of this album?
Kim Do Hoon: I was thinking about 2NE1’s “Follow Me” concept. It’s similar. It’s something along the lines of unnies being at the top. I wanted to show Mamamoo are cheerful kids next door who know how to have fun. I wanted to make stories that showed life of the common people. We wanted to go for stories that people in their 20’s can relate to. If you look at the songs in the album, many types of stories are melted in there, such as cooking (”My Own Recipe”) and hometown (”My Hometown”). While trying a variety of genres, at the same time, we wanted to make music that captures life. That is this album’s concept.
Q: While preparing for Mamamoo’s 1st full album, what aspect did you make sure you did not miss?
Kim Do Hoon: Back when I was young, if you wanted to listen to music, you would have to either purchase the CD or tape. It was easier to listen to the music from the beginning to the end. That is why I think that it’s important for the album to have music that would act as the resting point. Rather than only focusing on giving power to the whole album, it’s important to add songs that would help make it easier to listen to the album comfortably. When I make albums, I add many songs that would not make you tired of listening to the song even 10 years later. In this album, there are also a lot of pleasantly simple songs. I wanted this album to make the listener want to play the album again later. Overall, this album not only has strong songs, but also diverse and comfortable songs, and songs that the public can relate to. I tried my best to think in the listener’s perspective and think about what they would want to listen to. I think even in the future, Mamamoo will continue to seek that.
Q: Mamamoo participates in writing the lyrics, but it seems like they haven’t fully stepped into the producing domain yet.
Kim Do Hoon: Mamamoo is still in the state where they haven’t sufficiently received musical training. They’re not ready to produce their own track yet. They are very good at having fun with music they’re given and they know how to express what they feel. Now all the company has to do is help them in that musical aspect of producing. If you look at the lyrics from the first album, you can notice they wrote them groundlessly. But now, they’ve gotten so much better. This part is only the baby step, but I think they will get very far.
Q: Mamamoo is very famous for having a lot of energy. Do you also have times when you’re flustered?
Kim Do Hoon: I haven’t yet. (laughs) When we’re together, it’s so much fun. I also have a similar tendency, so we just have fun together.
Q: Mamamoo has many funny vidoes. Which video made you laugh the most?
Kim Do Hoon: For me, it’s the “Unpretty Rapstar” parody. There’s this staff member who always make our videos. This staff member has the mind of a mania fan, so this staff member has many ideas. I did not take part in that video. This friend and the Mamamoo members made this video together. They make so many ideas when they fool around. I think that’s how they make many funny videos. It’s like they’re just spending time with friends.
Q: Mamamoo won first place on music chart, music shows, and the album chart. The public response is very good. Did you expect such a response?
Kim Do Hoon: I did not expect it. To be honest, I was not very confident on this title song. The reason why I released two pre-release songs was because I was not confident in the title song. Since the other songs in the album were good, I wanted to promote the album in that way more. The fans were also not pleased with the album being released on a Friday. It’s because the show performance can negatively affect the ranking of the song. But I was thinking if it was released on Monday and we waited until Friday to perform, then during that time, the ranking would fall. In the end, I decided to have the performance while the ranking is still high.
Q: I’m sure reaching the top, winning first place, can cause concerns.
Kim Do Hoon: I’m very happy about winning 1st place, but I think it’s best not to cling onto winning first place all the time. I think it’s best to make music while having fun just like now. If we keep on greedily seek winning 1st place, we would overexhaust ourselves and it will be tiring. Winning 1st place is not what being a singer is all about. Rather, it’s being able to happily work together with the public. That’s the best part about being a singer. I constantly remind the Mamamoo members about this. Instead of telling them “Let’s win first place next time, too,” I’d tell them, “We felt great when we won first place, but when we don’t win first place, let’s not feel miserable about it.”
Q: Mamamoo has many nicknames. “Mamamoo who you can trust listening to,” “Girl Crush,” “Kids Who Play Well on Stage,” etc. Which nickname do you wish Mamamoo was referred to in the future?
Kim Do Hoon: Mamamoo will not forever go down the road of being the “Kids Who Play Well.” I wish they’d be considered as someone people are comfortable with, someone who can comfort them when they’re sad, and even singers who are like friends. When it’s time to play, they would play with you. When you feel sad, they would comfort you.
Q: Do you have anything to say to Mamamoo?
Kim Do Hoon: As you become more successful, I hope that you will manage your image, be well-mannered, and be modest. I’m not saying you’re arrogant right now. Since you’re all still young, it’s possible to become careless. I did mention this at the 1st place party. It’s just this one thing, be mindful of your manners and attitude to everyone. I always tell them to be humble. That and I hope they’ll be healthy?
source : omonatheydidnt