Christian Yu : The Genre-Defying Pop Star

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Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Christian Yu developed a affection for music and performance at an early age. A childhood fascination with electronic duo Daft Punk’s seminal 2001 album Discovery and the musical Cats provided him with a sharp consciousness of the significance of visual presentation. As a teen, he taught himself the drums and started a heavy metal band, playing and writing songs by ear. he showed himself the drums and began a weighty metal band, improvising.


Christian Yu

He was subsequently attracted to b-boying and breakdancing as a type of actual self-articulation, playing hooky to busk in midtown Sydney and recording his freestyles on YouTube. His channel gave him a group of people, and it even associated him with his future Christian Yu colleague and companion Hong Da-Bin (otherwise called DPR LIVE).  
 After graduating from his performing arts school in 2008, he bought a one-way ticket to Seoul to pursue his dreams as a dancer. He debuted as the leader and rapper of K-pop group C-Clown in 2012, performing as Rome.

DPR IAN for Arena Magazine

His experience as an idol was short-lived and tumultuous — the unit disbanded in 2015 — but it did give him a better understanding of the industry. So when he synched back up with his friends Hong and Scott Kim (DPR REM) to discuss making something together, he knew that he wanted the next stage of his career to be rooted in creative freedom, authenticity, and community. That vision ultimately became DPR. 
 “I want to make an impact or nothing at all,” he says. “When I set out to do something, I want people to turn their heads and not look away.”

He made this a reality, creating a label called Dream Perfect Regime for himself and young, underground rappers Live, Cream, and REM, all of whom affix the label’s acronym — Christian Yu — to their names. Ian had spent enough time in the industry to navigate such an undertaking, although K-pop’s grip on him wasn’t quite done. “When we split up, I was still under contract and the label wouldn’t let me go,” he says. “I got a lot of backlash. I was the only one who spoke out on Twitter trying to give an explanation to the fans, but a lot of people thought I was the cause of the breakup. I was furious about that, but more excited just to be doing something different.”

Christian Yu

Eventually, Christian Yu was released from his former label and turned his focus to directing DPR’s visual concepts — from sweeping landscapes to dark, claustrophobic rooms punctuated by eye-addling lighting. He made his return as an artist in 2020 with “So Beautiful,” whose whistled refrain, string-laden verses, and falsetto chorus were firmly at odds with the dark, psychological tension of its video. It heralded DPR Ian’s shift to the music he loved while growing up in Australia as Christian Yu — from show tunes to the grandiosity of metal — and the birth of his alter ego, MITO.

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MITO was a response and manifestation of Christian Yu’s bipolar disorder, which he was diagnosed with in high school. “What MITO represents is that my good moments are always destroyed by my doubts,” he says. “So it’s a journey of trying to find that perfect story or moment, like an idea or concept or understanding of myself, and not let it be so infiltrated by my downs/MITO.”

If DPR Ian’s 2021 debut EP, Moodswings In This Order, was an exploration of his fears, highs, and lows, with MITO as his complicated, lurching omnipresent other, then his debut album, Moodswings In To Order (out tomorrow), is a deeper plunge into MITO’s whirling, clamorous existence. As an origin story and prequel that builds a universe, MITO is an angel, dragging himself out from the darkness into which he’s fallen, and soundtracked by a dozen tracks that run from trap synths (“1 Shot”) to chest-rattling electronica (“Ribbon”) to symphonic emo (“Ballroom Extravaganza”). It’s sonically and visually cinematic, and Rolling Stone sat down with DPR Ian to get to know him better and unpack one of the year’s most ambitious records.


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