When left of in our conversation, Macro was telling us about he got his start, the trials he had to go through. All lessons applied, it’s now time to look toward the future.
Skills of the Trade
What software or gear did you start making your music with and what do you use to create your music now?
Ableton… and Ableton. I also use a midi keyboard for MIDI work sometimes, and my Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 ohm headphones for mixing and mastering.
What is the most important aspect of building your music?
Having fun. I’m not sure if this is from the same quote that’s translated as “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” but there is a Confucius quote that I know in Korean that roughly translates to “a genius cannot beat a diligent worker, and a diligent worker cannot beat someone who enjoys their work.” As such, I too believe that true enjoyment begets diligence and passion, which in turn begets true quality. So I try my best to always enjoy what I do to the fullest.
There’s this conception about hip-hop, battle rappers vs. studio rappers: battle rappers don’t necessarily make great music away from battling. Do you think that same idea applies to DJs vs. producers (you’re either good at one or the other, but not both)?
Yes, I think many are that way: good at one but bad in the other. But then again, many others surpass those boundaries. That’s why I respect rappers that can freestyle and make good records, and those that can DJ and produce well. I strive to be one of those types of artists, but I also have the utmost respect for those that dedicate their lives to becoming a true master of one, instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades.
What do you see as the biggest difference between DJing and producing?
I like to compare DJing to being like cooking and producing to beimg like farming. A party-rocking DJ has to worry about pleasing the appetites of the customers in front of them, in the limit of time that they are present, while a producer must grow, farm, and cultivate the fruits of harvest, which shows long-term care and dedication. Obviously both require lots of experience and knowledge to master, and they are similar in that the ultimate goal, at least in the service sense, is the satisfaction and appreciation from the consumers.
But like the trend of “farm-to-table” these days, the line between DJing and producing seems to be getting blurred these days, as many producers DJ their own music and vice versa.
Do you prefer DJing or producing?
I love both, but I find myself missing DJing during long periods of producing, and missing producing while on my DJing grind. I guess grass is always greener on the other side.
You’ve worked with a wide range of artists. Who had the biggest impact on you?
Father of Chrome. You will notice I have a plethora of collaborations with him, and we even have a joint album in the works. Not only is he a very good friend of mine, but he is also an inspiration to me in his creativity and approach to sound design.
Any interesting stories about any of the artists/producers you’ve worked with?
Tae Buddha. He is on my last two releases from Daily Earfood, and is also a good friend of mine. He is a veteran rapper that just never caught on with the Internet self-promo game. When I heard him rap, I was astounded that such a talented rapper could have such little media presence. Partially due to his health, he was on a hiatus from rapping, but he has been making moves since recovery, and I truly enjoy trying to get such underrated artists the exposure that they deserve.
The First Wave of a Tsunami
In 2014, Macro, along with his partners in MMIK, were part of a documentary chronicling his ascension in the club scene and further as a producer. It’s here that we first fully understand just how impactful his influence was in introducing a wider range of genres to clubgoers, particularly the now flourishing trend of moombahton, a hybrid form of reggaeton and house music that originated in Washington, DC. Much like go-go in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s, moombahton exploded in popularity among club DJs. Its sound is heavily influenced by Latin and Caribbean rhythms, providing the perfect catalyst for the electrifying atmosphere that DJs crave.
But would you believe there was an immense amount of pushback when the genre was first introduced in South Korea? Indeed, DJs and producers like Macrohard found themselves on the wrong end of a some scathing criticism.
You were blacklisted when you first introduced moombahton to the Seoul club scene. Do you think there was fear about this type of music in Korea? Why do you think that is?
I think that fear stems from money. It was always the club owners that dictated the “sound” that they wanted to represent, out of fear of losing customers or making their VIPs unhappy.
I’m sure you have heard scandals across the globe, where a DJs, even legends, were cut off short or asked to play a certain way. In Korea back then, it was mostly the club name and image that superseded the DJ. A part of me understands that, and as residents they must follow certain guidelines. But I was a guest DJ when they forced me to stop playing moombahton, and it was even at a party for international students. I was just displeased at how they treated a guest DJ. I was no legend, but I was a guest nonetheless, you know?
Where Do We Go From Here?
Macrohard is a humble artist who has his eye constantly on where he can go next. So the question of not only his future but the future of music in Korea weighed heavily on my mind from the moment I was given the chance to interview him.
You’ve played a big part in changing the conception of Latin-infused music in Korea. Do you think people are now more open to different ethnic music coming into the country?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I had a “big” part… but I tried and fought for it with pride; and I wasn’t the only one. I do think Koreans are more receptive to those kinds of music these days, but that probably has more to do with artists like Drake and Justin Bieber singing on “moombah” tracks than my works.
(See what I mean? Humble.)
What do you see as the next musical influence to sweep through Korea?
Hard to say, because I have been away for so long. But I do often see Korea getting its musical influences from mostly America but also bits from Japan and Europe.
Any advice for those starting to get into DJing/producing?
This is for those who find it too daunting: learn it by trial and error, until it becomes natural to you. I am a self-taught DJ and producer, and I only got here by making enough mistakes to know not to make those same mistakes again. And I judge a pro not only by how many good things they do but also by how few mistakes they make. And again, don’t forget to have fun!
Who are some artists/producers you really want to work with?
Damn, this is a hard question… among those that are still alive… off the top of my head: Dr. Dre, Brodinski, 9th Wonder, DJ Shadow, Mr.Carmack, Troyboi, Daft Punk, Mos Def, Pharrell, Hudson Mohawke, Tasha, Gaeko… I can keep going for hours. I know I’m nowhere near at any of their caliber. But I might as well dream big, right?
What producers do you think people need to be listening to now/looking out for (besides yourself, of course)?
Although some of these guys are already well established: Luca Lush, Chris Dogzout, Dom Dias, HMU, West1ne, Demicat, Imlay, Cabinett, Flozee, Dope Tendencies, Candid Creation to name a few.
Lastly, could you tell your fans and newcomers what they should be looking out for from you in the future?
Even I don’t know.
Macrohard is a man with his own vision, paving his own path to musical ascension. He doesn’t follow trends. He creates them. He doesn’t mourn his setbacks. He looks ahead to the next beat, the next loop, the next bit of inspiration. He is truly a fascinating artist, one everyone should get to know. If you’ve heard from one of your favorite K-pop groups, there’s a good chance Macrohard has had a hand in making it part of their musical lexicon. Take a moment to listen to this man and his music. You’ll find yourself just as fascinated as I was.
Any final thoughts?
I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such an extensive interview, but thank you so much for your time and attention if you’ve read through this far. I can’t promise that I’ll be the best artist, but I can promise that I will be ever-improving, or die trying.
Thank you so much for taking time out to answer my questions. (I know there’s a lot. I get a little carried away when I’m really fascinated by someone.)
Thank you! It was a pleasure, and I am humbled yet again.
Again, please take some time to discover and fall in love with Macrohard: