BM Enters a New Dawn In Our 25th Anniversary Issue - Men's Folio
Style, Interview

BM Enters a New Dawn In Our 25th Anniversary Issue

  • By Asaph Low

BM Enters a New Dawn In Our 25th Anniversary Issue Balenciaga
BM graces our Men’s Folio 25th anniversary issue and shares his thoughts about his solo music career, favourite fashion designer, top three artistes on his playlist and more.

Balenciaga Technical tailoring twill blazer, nylon t-shirt, cotton fleece pants, Crush leather shoulder bag; BM’s own earrings

Hey BM! We are thrilled to have you as the cover star of our 25th anniversary issue. Do you remember how you celebrated your 25th birthday?
On my 25th birthday, I spent the day recording my debut song — it was actually a very significant day for me as it was the start of my solo career.

What sort of significance do birthdays have on you? Are you someone who prefers a big party or a simple celebration?
I love a big party, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be grandiose. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of positive memories, and sharing these moments with people close to me had a lot to do with that.

And what about age? Is it just a number for you?
Age is just a number with a lot of things often coming with it, and a lot of times, just the opposite as well. Experiences I encounter and how I grow from them are closer indicators of where I’m at. I focus on that to navigate myself rather than focusing on the actual number itself.

You are about to hit the big three (turn 30). Do you think it represents a new phase in your life compared to your twenties?
It does feel like a new chapter is about to unfold. I spent most of my 20s developing as an artist and my 30s feel like it’s going to be an extension of all that whether it’s focusing on fashion or acting. I’m excited to learn more about myself and where I want to be heading to become a better and more compelling artist.

Balenciaga Nylon tracksuit jacket, nylon track pants; BM’s own earring

For the record, what does Big represent in your Big Matthew stage name?
It’s a nickname from my earlier days — growing up, I was big for my age and whilst transitioning to K-pop, it just stuck around. I usually go by BM now (interchangeable). Other than the physical aspects of the name, currently, it represents my aspirations and ambitions to become a positive influence on the world through my artistry.

You were raised in America but later moved to Korea. Which country do you refer to as home these days?
California will always be my home. Most of my family is there, so I gravitate towards that.

What do you miss about America while you’re in Korea and vice versa?
After ten years, I’ve adjusted to being away and moving around. If I had to “miss” something in either America or Korea, it would be people and memories. Other than that, food. I love food!

What was it like growing up in America as an Asian kid?
Tough — there were racial tensions, but it extended past the Asian minorities. It’s something we experience and often see growing up. As we mature, it empowers us to make better decisions and leave a better legacy.

BM Enters a New Dawn In Our 25th Anniversary Issue BalenciagaBalenciaga Denim hooded jacket, jeans, Trash Pouch leather bag, leather boots; BM’s own earring

Did you find yourself standing out amongst your peers or being left out?
I wouldn’t say I stood out; Los Angeles has always been a cultural melting pot. When I started dancing at that time, it was something that not many people pursued, so professionally, there may have been some distinctions before I transitioned to Korea — the journey has been positive and supportive.

And when you went to Korea, were you warmly embraced or shunned by the locals? Korea is a beautiful country with a warm culture, and many of its dynamics are community-based.
People wanted to help me adapt to the local culture, especially during the early moments of the crossover. I admit it took some time to learn the language and juggle everything else, but overall it felt good to return to my roots.

This is rather belated, but congratulations on your second digital Single, “STRANGERS”. What were some thoughts or emotions running through your head while you were writing the lyrics for “STRANGERS”?
Thank you! Strangers was a fun project to showcase a different tone of my artistry as it became the song used in my second campaign with HUGO BOSS.

This release continues your solo debut from where you left off last summer. How has this journey been for you now that you’ve put out your second Single?
I love being able to share my music with my fans! The second Single is a continuation of my interest in exploring different genres of music — it’s been incredibly rewarding to experiment and create things in interesting formats.

After being back in Korea, my day and night begin and end at the studio; there’s definitely more music that will be released in the near future — stay tuned!

What was the motivation behind making music as a solo artist, and do you feel your solo journey is about self-discovery?
Transitioning to a solo artist came hand in hand with my desire to discover myself and develop as an individual. Often times, it’s the idea of progress that plays a motivational role — it gave me a platform to expand into new avenues of creativity.

It also gave me the freedom to take risks and explore. I wanted to see where I could take things.

When it comes to praise and criticism for your music works, how do you process and internalise them?
Praise is my inspiration to push myself more. Criticism was hard to take initially, but as I head into my 30s, I’m at a headspace where I’m able to analyse and take it more constructively to better myself.

Was music your career choice from the very beginning, or did you want to pursue something else when you were young?
I always rapped for fun with friends when I was younger. The normal California scene where we freestyled to instrumentals in garages after school was something that happened regularly. It was never something I saw myself doing professionally, whereas dancing and performing were something I dreamed and wished to do for a living.

Joining a fairly locally well-known competitive choreography team helped me curate and and chase after that dream.

Who are some music artistes you look up to?
Pharrell, J. Cole and Drake.

Balenciaga Nylon ribbed turtleneck sweater; BM’s own earring

Being a music artiste is tough. What is a piece of advice that you have held onto since the start of your K-pop career?
Patience, awareness and self-discipline are key. Nothing will come overnight, and building yourself as an artist will depend on self-awareness in not only your art but yourself as a human being. What you portray will come from who you are.

Self- discipline will help you tackle obstacles (whichever they may be) and guide you close to where you always dreamed of being.

Prior to your solo debut last year, you mentioned fans could expect a different version of BM. How different is BM as a solo artist versus being a member of KARD?
KARD has a distinct sound and concept in itself — my solo artistry is the other side of that coin. Of course, they are both related in some form due to my association but ranging from genres to experimentation with my delivery, fans should expect to see a BM that could have different conversations using different types of mediums — a separate entity entirely.

Now that KARD has made its comeback, how do you toggle through the two different BM personas?
After the schedule is organised, it’s actually fairly easy. At the end of the day, it comes down to time allocation and commitment. It’s something I’ve been working out but haven’t run into any issues shifting in between.

I’m still “BM” in a group setting, and there’s just more time allocation and emphasis placed on cohesive dynamics with other members.

KARD recently concluded the American tour early in September. What was it like being on the road again after a long time off?
It was a dream come true after the past few years with COVID. Being In front of the fans is always rewarding, past all the struggles that transpire behind the scenes. Fans will always be the best part of this experience and journey.

Apart from music, you also have a strong interest in fashion, making notable appearances with the likes of Balenciaga, Kenzo and BOSS in fashion week and campaigns. What do you naturally gravitate towards in fashion?
Fortunately, I’ve been able to have incredible experiences and moments with brands that align with my interests and curiosities, such as Balenciaga, Valentino, etc. I gravitate towards a brand with a distinct message or experience; much like concerts to musicians, it’s all connected.

For looks, I get inspired by experimenting with shapes, silhouettes and different colour schemes.

How do you describe your sense of style, and do you have a favourite fashion designer?
Kim Jones, Demna and Glenn Martens are some of my favourites. I was honoured to be part of Demna’s recent Balenciaga campaign.

Sometimes I prefer more street and sometimes more elegant looks — I try my best to keep a mix of both for my sense of style with an emphasis on the silhouette.

BM Enters a New Dawn In Our 25th Anniversary Issue BalenciagaBalenciaga Nylon ribbed turtleneck sweater, jeans, leather belts

Diversity and representation remain one of society’s key topics. How do you feel about being part of the advertising campaigns of international brands such as Balenciaga and BOSS?
It’s important to have Asian representation and a voice & visibility in the industry — I’m thankful and honoured that brands like Balenciaga and BOSS are part of the solution. We are beginning to see more and more brands becoming more conscious and supporting goals.

Being part of an international campaign is one of many ways to keep this momentum.

As someone who embraces both Western and Eastern cultures, how do you advocate for diversity in the music and fashion industry and in life as a whole?
I use my voice and platform to work and support Asian talents (local and global). It’s important to push and create situations that allow diversity to be present and prosper. Being in these campaigns (a form of representation) and staying active in the industry helps me keep the “door” open for others and introduce new possibilities in creative solutions.

For music, as a solo artist, I always look to see how I can collaborate with talents around the globe. Lately, I have a lot of South East Asia and African talents in my mind — it’s also manifested through the genres I explore as I believe music is one of the best ways to connect cultures and present diversity.

“STRANGERS” was used in one of HUGO BOSS’ recent campaigns. What was running through your head when the news first broke to you?
This was my second subsequent track that was used in recent HUGO BOSS campaigns. I felt honoured to be a part of a campaign that reinforces the ethos of doing things your way and figuring things out for yourself.

It’s always a pleasure to work and feature on a project that resonates personally.

The theme for our Men’s Folio October 2022 issue is METAVISION, and marks our foray into the Metaverse. How do you think the Metaverse will impact the music industry apart from holding virtual concerts?
Ultimately, it will help or enhance connections between artists and fans as it opens up new possibilities and conversations about how to engage and interact with each other. There is still a bit of R&D that needs to be carried out before we start seeing “leaps” of changes.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it alters or impacts how fans consume or access experiences.

The Metaverse promises many things to come; what’s one thing about it that you’re most excited about?
There’s a lot of potential floating around. For me, I’m excited about the idea of being able to connect with other communities in the comfort of shared spaces of common interests and hobbies that ties in with how it transcends space. I feel like it will test or even change our “vantage point” and allow us to see and experience from a new perspective.

Finally, what’s next for yourself in both music and fashion?
I’m preparing for my full album (hopefully releasing next year) and KARD’s comeback. As for fashion, I want to have more meaningful collaborations with other Houses and explore emerging designers at on and off-calendar fashion weeks.

Photography Kim Yoonwoo
Creative Direction & Styling Izwan Abdullah
3D Artist JJ Low
Grooming Ko Yeon Jung
Hair Song Sang Ah
Hair Assistant Park Jaeryeong
Photography Assistant Seo Donghyun
Styling Assistant Manfred Lu
Production Manager Oh Seoyul | SY Production

Once you’re done with this story, click here to purchase our October ’22 New Dawn issue or here to read it on Magzter.