Photography by Sarah Buthmann
We first heard of Young Bong when we saw him perform alongside Emil Stabil a few weeks back at a Lil Label showcase at VEGA. To nobody's surprise, the Danish rapper and latest addition to the label was what you'd expect from somebody rocking a name based on weed-smoking paraphernalia. Donning shiny sunglasses and a hood on stage, he threw out the same IDGAF attitude we’re used to seeing from rappers while covering classic topics such as pussy, drugs and money. It was a bit of a shock, then, that when we asked to interview him about his new track, he suggested we visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art to see exhibits by Feminist/Pop Artist Yayoi Kusama and Expressionist painter Lucian Freud. After all, a high art museum isn’t exactly street or badass—but then again, we quickly learned that Young Bong is a man of contrasts. Yes, he’s an ambitious rapper… but he’s also a bit of an art nerd. Yes, he wants to sell custom Young Bong condoms… but he also thinks a lot about death, taking cues from the darkness of painter Francis Bacon. As we spent the day in the museum together, Young Bong’s duality unfolded further and further. Here’s how our visit to the museum went down.
ROOM: YAYOI KUSAMA - SPROUTS
Dedicated to works from her youth, showcasing her early drawings and sketches about nature.
NOISEY: So you’re dropping a new track this week and working on a debut EP. What did you write about for the EP?
Young Bong: I wrote a lot about my state of mind. Since I was very small, I’ve always had big thoughts—thoughts about existence and stuff like that. So in a way, this EP is my attempt to describe those thoughts.
It sounds like it’s pretty dark.
The EP captures the feeling of being alone, in some way. I have those nights when I think too much before going to sleep—so much that I can't sleep at all. This past month I’ve been thinking about death a lot. I can get so into it that I can’t even breathe.
What’s your opinion on death? Are you afraid of it?
I’m very afraid of it. I really, really don’t want to die. I have so many things to do before I die. I even wrote a song about stopping time and having the ability to time travel so I can do everything I want to do.
At 24, do you still feel young or do you feel like time is running out?
I don’t feel like I’ve grown up, but I still think that time is running out. There are things I need to do now because I won’t be able to in five or ten years. They’re not huge things, either. I want to spend more time in nature; I want to spend more time fishing. I want to travel the world. I want to spend time making art again. Little things.
ROOM: YAYOI KUSAMA – INFINITY
Dedicated to Kusama’s fascination with infinity, showcasing dizzy spaces and phallic symbols/sculptures.
What do you think about the exhibit so far?
It’s not that exciting, to be honest. Lots of penises in high heels—that’s kind of it. In a way, though, these rooms do connect to what I’m doing. It’s like in my music: the artist is taking us through different dimensions of her work. It’s like we’re getting swallowed by the works and it's a sensory overload—like some sort of art version of Tivoli.
I’m more into prints, anyway—silk-screen on textiles and posters, that kind of thing. I’m also pretty into old methods, like lithography.
Do you silk-screen yourself?
Actually, I made bedsheets with an image of myself silk-screened onto them. My head is the pillow and my body is the blanket. They’re not as high quality as bedsheets with prints of Justin Bieber on them or anything, but I’m quite happy with them.
Don’t you ever wake up and get freaked out looking at your own face like that?
I haven’t used them myself. They’re meant for me to give out as a present, but actually, I would love to give them out to everybody. That way, everybody can sleep with me. Maybe I should start using them so I can sleep with myself. That would be a bit schizophrenic, wouldn't it?
That whole bedsheets thing is very entrepreneurial of you.
Oh yeah, I’m thinking about making a lot of Young Bong merchandise. For example, I also printed myself onto condoms.
How would printing yourself onto condoms even work? Like, wouldn’t condoms be too small to print a clear image onto?
No, you can make the prints small enough so they fit the condom. You just have to roll out the condom and then print it—that’s why it’s still unusable and in prototype phase. If I nail that printed condom, it’s like, damn—Young Bong is getting up in a lot of girls.
Would that even sell, though? Think about a girl pulling that out for a guy. All of a sudden, he isn't fucking her anymore—you are.
In that case, I’ll just make Young Bong-printed toilet paper. That way, if the guy gets pissed about the condoms, he can just wipe his ass with my face.
ROOM: LOUISIANA MUSEUM’S PERMANENT COLLECTION
Rooms featuring works by artists such as Asger Jorn, Francis Bacon and Picasso.
Young Bong: If you think about it, Picasso’s kind of like a toilet. Every museum has to have a Picasso.
So true—and this Picasso piece is pretty whatever. What about this Francis Bacon one, though?
Actually, Francis Bacon inspires my universe quite a bit because of those melting faces of his. When I had to get a cover image for the new single, I thought of something Francis Bacon-inspired. Bacon’s super dark and that kind of relates to the spaces I’m thinking in.
Do you find rapping or making art works like therapy for all those dark thoughts, then?
Not really. It’s more like an attempt at therapy, but one that doesn’t succeed. It’s not enough—I will never calm down my thoughts. I’ll always be like this, I think.
It sounds like you’re being super honest about those thoughts on this EP, though. Considering that, how do you react to criticism when you're being so open?
With some songs, you just have to tell yourself to take it. It’s hard with those super personal songs, even though the criticism comes with good intentions—and on this EP, all the songs are personal. However, I am a rapper, so obviously I also use typical rap lines.
Do you want to do that or do you feel like you must to be taken seriously as a rapper?
I think it’s part of the game, but I just do it because it feels natural. Those lines can be funny, or they can simply sound good. It’s necessary because otherwise I’d be some random guy with his heart on his sleeve, and that’s way too cheesy. Plus, rap lines can also be super honest, too, and those are the lines that entertain the audience, anyway.
You sound like you’re pretty confident with what you’re doing. What are you most nervous about with this EP, then?
Nothing, really. Of course I want people to like it when it’s done, but the most important thing to me is that I’m happy. If that happens, I’m good.
Thanks, Young Bong.