On October 6, R&B artist DPR Ian released his EP titled Dear Insanity. Belmont University’s Korean Music Business Society (KMBS) was contacted to host a listening party for the EP release that would engage the college community to interact with the vast array of DPR content. KMBS is an organization that supports students with an interest in the Korean music industry, as well as global music in general. Despite being known for music, this is the first time an event of this kind has been held by a Belmont organization. This means great things for the development of the global music curriculum at Belmont University, which has a lot of room for growth. KMBS also partnered with Belmont’s counseling services to create a meaningful connection between the importance of mental health and Dear Insanity. Before diving into the connection that fans get through his music, it is important to know what DPR is and what DPR Ian represents. Dream Perfect Regime, or DPR, is a music collective that produces everything in house, from music to video. Under this label are four different members: DPR Live, DPR REM, DPR Cream, and DPR Ian. Their goal is to provide fans with a unique audiovisual experience created entirely by themselves. Christian Yu, known on stage as DPR Ian, founded the Dream Perfect Regime in 2014. He worked mainly behind the scenes at first as the main videographer and finally released music in 2020. Using music to cope with his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, DPR Ian’s music is an example of how artists can turn their struggles into art. His first EP was titled Moodswings in This Order, and it represents the ultimate emotional lows of his disorder. His second release was a full-length album titled Moodswings In to Order. Finally, his latest EP release, Dear Insanity, brings listeners face to face with Mr. Insanity, the personification of his manic highs. Because DPR is so heavy on self-production, every song is accompanied by a visualizer or music video. There are seven tracks on the EP each with an interesting and different sound; working together with the visual, they create the distinct audiovisual experience that sets DPR apart from the rest of the industry.
The first track on Dear Insanity is titled “Famous Last Words.” This track gives listeners an insight into all of the journeys and personas DPR Ian faces throughout the EP. It also kicks it off in the way of a story, rather than just a collection of songs. “Welcome to the Other Side” begins with the sound of an eerie violin, inciting feelings of anticipation and apprehensiveness. With an extremely unique production, the song moves from orchestral to electronic and upbeat. “Welcome to the Other Side” is the perfect title for this song, as it feels like the listener is moving with Ian from a low to his manic high, and the sounds match this as well. The first title track, “Don’t Go Insane”, starts again with a slow piano and builds up to a funk-inspired sound. The song and visuals are reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, but the lyrics make it clear that the project is quite personal for DPR Ian. He sings “Stay by my side, when the nightmare goes”, and this way the listeners know that this song is him moving away from his darker times. The next song “Bad Cold”, keeps a slight orchestral tone, but is much more upbeat. “I just want to shake off this bad cold” is the main point in the song, creating more of a direct connection between his disorder and “sickness.” “So I just danced” is the first song on the EP when Ian is completely letting loose. The song has an upbeat electronic vibe to it, accompanied by fun and colorful imagery. The penultimate song and second title track “Peanut Butter & Tears” is the stage where Ian has fully come into Mr. Insanity. He sings “Never been so better, danced away my feathers.” In addition to the upbeat instrumental, his voice is the strongest in this track. Everything communicates that this is his peak and where he feels the best. Finally, “Violet Crazy” ends the EP on a calm note, with a more traditional R&B sound. It sounds like DPR Ian has come to terms with Mr. Insanity and his disorder as a whole by making peace with it. Ian’s hands-on approach with music and visuals is clear throughout, and it makes the EP seem all the more personal. The buildup from dark and orchestral music to electronic upbeat funk was a perfect representation of the spectrums of his disorder. Music is an outlet for fans and artists alike, and DPR Ian’s Dear Insanity was a distinguished example of that dynamic.
- Jenn Onate