My whole life, I battled with this other individual
Until I finally decided to make him come to life
and his name is MITO

DPR Ian is a 30-year-old singer and cinematographer from Sydney, Australia. Ian started his musical career in 2012 by debuting as the leader for K-pop group C-Clown, which broke up in 2015. This is when Ian transitioned to a role behind the camera lens, directing MV’s such as  Mino’s “Body”Taeyang‘s “Wake Me Up“, and Bobby‘s “Holup!”

Thanks to Ian’s early integration into the Korean music scene, his crew Dream Perfect Regime or DPR, was able to connect with other Korean artists quite naturally. This allowed their flagship artist DPR Live to reach out to featuring artists such as Dean, Jay-Park, and Crush on his debut EP. Since then DPR Ian has been helmed as the visionary behind DPR Live’s gorgeous MV run, blending colours with vistas driven into the sunset of Live’s emotive lyricism. Finally, after Live’s debut album Is Anybody Out There?, Ian has pivoted back into the spotlight as an indie-idol with the release of his debut album.

MITO or Moodswings In This Order unravels as a concept album based around Ian’s bi-polar disorder. Ian has stated that he has had manic depression since he was a child. He has expressed his bipolar disorder as a yin to his yang, where Ian is quiet and reserved, Mito is loud and maniac. This duality plays as the central motif stringing each track together. 

Kanye West‘s Ye album also portrays the bipolar condition. On Ye, bi-polar is effectual on the album, a superpower that Kanye uses to create beautiful music. Mito exists as the lead character of the record. His story becomes the framework of the album. 

In giving a disorder its own soundtrack, the album could have veered off to “Climbing Up the Walls” by Radiohead territory, where the record would take a jarring look at the composer’s feelings being manipulated by prevalent thoughts. Mito avoids this by using conversational lyricism (much like Ye) and instrumentation that melds pop-rock with R&B elements. The result is a record that can comfortably sit alongside K-pop and indie releases. In turn, Ian has left the jarring moments of dissecting a disorder for the visual component of his album. To date, DPR Ian has released five MV’s for his eight-track album.

I wanted to depict Mito
In his most darkest form
And the video for that, yeah gosh

Ian explores this mental push and pull mechanism between himself and Mito through his MV’s. In “So Beautiful” we see the two different sides of himself vying for control of his body. This manifests with Ian waking up in unfamiliar places while Mito spirals in-between his forgotten moment’s with a distinctly monochromatic tone.

“No Blueberries” carries on these parallels opening with a flickering confrontation between Mito and Ian in the bathroom mirror. The confrontation is quickly silenced by prescription pills and “No Blueberries” produces its visual centrepiece.

Honestly, there are times
Where I regret a lot of my decisions
“Nerves” was one of the songs I had to make
To express that

Ian truly is a brilliant visual storyteller. “Nerves” serves as an example of this fact. Sonically, the track is formulaic, something you could hear from Maroon 5 during their Songs About Jane era. Lyrically, the song follows the cliched expression of saying you are doing fine when you are not. There is nothing new here until the MV starts spinning its story. Nerves shown in a single shot where a shaky hand tries to light a cigarette. 

Transitional shots continue the storyline carried throughout the previously mentioned MV’s. At the core, though, the MV follows Ian falling apart after a failed relationship which eventually leads Ian back into the black and white arms of Mito.

It is the downward spiral of Ian, the origin story of Mito is founded here in heartbreak. The MV’s opening subtitle “When did it all start?” a great clue while a snippet of “Dope Lovers” plays a foreshadowing of the heartbreak Ian will suffer through this MV.

“Dope Lovers” stands as the most immediate track on the album with “No Blueberries” as a close second being the single which made everyone anticipate a possible record by DPR Ian. “Dope Lovers” uses both colloquial phrases for the word “dope” to epitomize these “lovers”. Dope in the way something is cool and dope in the way it is an addictive drug. Sonically, the track loops Ian’s falsetto to allow its chorus to produce that airy, floating-on clouds feeling that love manifests. Ian implements a lower, almost spoken tone to deliver each verse a juxtaposition that is well crafted. 

I’d hoped that this track would receive an MV. A companion piece even to CL‘s “+5Star+” MV. The love portrayed in that MV can understandably leave a heavy emotional scar as shown all across “Nerves”. 

Instead, DPR Ian’s latest MV to release in support of Mito is “Scaredy Cat”. The MV seems to take elements from every previous MV for this album and mash it together with an almost comedic undertow. It has the self-portrait feeling of “So Beautiful” while carrying the same broken-down elegance of “Welcome To The Show”‘s setpiece. The theme of “Nerves” seems to reach crescendo here, as Ian’s behaviour mimics The Joker.

According to Ian, there is a “Scaredy Cat” within Mito so what we are witnessing here is a bit of inception: a character within a character. The MV is reminiscent of Maddox‘s “Sleep” or rather a properly executed version of that MV. It seems that ever since Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” hotels have become the perfect place for mania to echo off of the walls.

It’s an MV that has Ian’s Mito energy shining though, his charisma shines through here and has you wondering how he wasn’t the main visuals of C-Clown way back when. This MV has turned one of the least appealing tracks on the album into something much more palpable.

Finally, there is “No Silhouette”, the closing track of Moodswings In This Order. This track is a gorgeous piece of atmospheric music that makes you want to listen to the record over again. “No Silhouette” has this Daft Punk-y keyboard solo outro section and a vocal loop that lasts throughout the track showing Ian at the heights of his artistry. 

The instrumentation is what makes the track bend and spiral. A Spanish guitar loop runs in circles alongside Ian’s repetition of the lyrics “I lost myself”. Lyrically, this is Icarus flying into the sun imagery, something even Jaden Smith did recently with his Syre and Erys projects. Perhaps the weakest point of this record is the songwriting, on “Scaredy Cat” the line:

DPR Ian – Scaredy Cat
I scream out loud just to see if I’m alive

Goo Goo Dolls – Iris
Yeah, you bleed just to know, you’re alive

Being so similar in form as an iconic track such as “Iris” the line sticks out like a sore thumb. Perhaps this is the negative side of making an album universal, losing a unique perspective. It is preferred to have the artist delve deeper into his art. That being said, by creating a persona for your disorder, perhaps it is better to keep from delving too deep.

An example of this is Trent Reznor has said that after writing a track called “The Lovers”, which spoke about succumbing to the seduction of addiction or love, he found himself thinking about his past addiction due to writing the song. Addiction and disorder are two different worlds but this does offer up a reason as to why Ian might not have spent a large time on lyrics.

Overall, this record joins DPR Live’s discography as an example of the excellence coming out of DPR. The only hope is that Ian continues to pivot between musician and director, Ian and Mito. This has been a record about the two sides of Ian. It still has that universal statement of embracing the voice in your head and what a gorgeous sentiment that is. 

Billboard, YouTube (1)(2)(3)(4)(5) Images via DreamPerfectRegime