MILLI unleashes her long-awaited, “extravagant” debut album ‘BABB BUM BUM’

The Thai rapper tells NME about forming the ‘girl group’ MINUS, collaborating with TangBadVoice and SpatChies on the album, and how she applied jazz theory to her 2020 star-making singles ‘Pakkorn’ and ‘SUDPANG!’

Thai rapper MILLI has dropped her long-awaited debut album, ‘BABB BUM BUM’ – two years on from her debut single and months after she became a viral sensation with ‘Mango Sticky Rice’ at Coachella.

The record dropped last night (November 9) alongside a music video for the opening track ‘Welcome’ – which features the four-member ‘girl group’ MINUS. As its kaleidoscopic video makes clear and as the artist born Danupha Kanateerakul tells NME over Zoom, it’s not a real girl group, but one created from MILLI’s vibrant, multifaceted personality.

The album features fresh collaborations with fellow Thai artists TangBadVoice, NAMEMT, BOWKYLION and 1-Flow as well as previously released singles ‘Not Yet!’, ‘17 mins’ featuring the duo mints and ‘Sad Aerobic’. MILLI’s star-making 2020 singles ‘พักก่อน’ (‘Pakkorn’) and ‘SUDPANG!’ also make an appearance as a jazzy mashup towards the end of the 10-song tracklist.

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Watch the video for ‘Welcome’ below and read on for NME’s interview with MILLI about bringing her university studies into ‘BABB BUM BUM’, working with her frequent collaborator SpatChies, and her plans to promote the album live.

How do you feel now that you’re finally releasing your album?

“Yeah – I feel like, finally! I finished it! I feel like a teacher wanted me to send them homework but I didn’t make it on time. I just moved and moved the deadline. And then now, ‘teacher, I’m finished!’ I hope I’m gonna get grade A even if I sent the homework late.” [laughs]

I want to ask you about the album title. Can you explain it?

“So my album is called ‘BABB BUM BUM’. In the Thai language it means big, something very, very big. Extravagant style, very special. I wanted to do something like that – I am a loud person, all the time. I wanted to do something big and special, because it took a long time.”

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You took one and a half years to work on this album, right? Why did it take long for you to make?

“Yes, almost two years. There were many reasons. Maybe sometimes I was lazy and I could not think about writing my songs. Second, I’m so busy. I’m still in university so I still have to study. Third, my producer is so busy, too. So we had to match our time together and that was hard. I was looking for details, too. So I’d finish a song, but sometimes I’d want to redo it because I didn’t like it. I had a lot of mistakes that I learned from and that gave me a lot of experience. It took time and I think it was worth it.”

MILLI
MILLI. Courtesy of YUPP! Entertainment

Speaking of your producer, SpatChies – the production on the album is so ‘big’ and so fun. There are the clubby songs, but there’s also a jazzy one. How did you and your producer come up with the sounds on this album?

“Sometimes we’d get drunk. We love alcohol. We’d just love to hang out, drinking before doing the work. We’d try to do something different from what I had done before. When I make music, I see the picture – the colours in that song. This is how we speak to each other: ‘I think this song is a little bit green’, ‘that song, maybe we can use a trumpet, add a chorus’. We just have fun with it. Sometimes we feel pressure, but I think it’s also motivation. We don’t feel much stress in the work. We love to do it.”

The first song ‘Welcome’ features the ‘girl group’ MINUS. Can you tell me about the girl group?

“[Being in a girl group] was my dream when I was younger, but I couldn’t make it. I debuted as a solo artist. But I still wanted to do a girl group. I did a lot of auditions, but I didn’t pass. [laughs] So I made my own girl group with my personality.

“We cannot be perfect all the time. We just share what we are. ‘Welcome’ is the first track in my album because it says welcome to everything. I tell all of my life and my experiences in the song. And I cried when I wrote it. But I love it. It’s like I’m talking to myself.”

Now that so many people know you, do you feel that pressure to be perfect all the time, when everyone is watching you?

“No. I don’t want people to know a me that is not me. I want them to know the real me – not what I’m pretending to be, or what they want me to do, or what they hope I can be. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be the real me. Hey, hello, it’s me. I love to do this. I love to drink. I love to party. I’m a good person but you’re gonna love me because I’m not that good. You know what I am, at first.”

MILLI
MILLI. Courtesy of YUPP! Entertainment

And there is the second track ‘Saa-Tuu’. Can you tell us about that song?

“This song, I made with TangBadVoice. He’s a rapper and a photographer. He does a lot but he’s a genius at doing music. I just wanted to do something with him because I think we have the same opinion on many things. And ‘Saa-Tuu’… I pray for everything. I believe in the spiritual, Buddhism. I do the cards, I do the runes. I believe in everything. When I released my first song ‘Pakkorn’, I just prayed for one million views on YouTube – and it [happened]! It’s because of my songs, people like them, and because of prayer. So I just want to trust myself. Come back to myself, believe in myself, again. Sometimes you believe in everything but don’t believe yourself. I just want to tell people about that.”

Speaking of ‘Pakkorn’, you have a track on this album that reworks that song and ‘SUDPANG!’ together. That’s the song that is jazzy, as well.

“Right now, I’m studying in the school of music, and I wanna show off a little bit. [laughs] Because I learn and I’m really practising! I study jazz theory so hard. But I didn’t do all of it. I wanted to sing and have my ideas in that song. This is my first album, and ‘SUDPANG!’ and ‘Pakkorn’ are some of the biggest things in my life. So I wanted to bring them into the first album with me, but I didn’t want to bring them [as individual songs]. So I mashed them together and made them more jazzy, sexy.”

And you have another song on this album that’s called ‘Boy Pablo’. Is that named after the musician?

[laughs] “It’s not related to the band Boy Pablo. When you say the song name in Thai, it means… sometimes boys are stupid and silly. Sometimes we have to protect ourselves. I don’t wanna look silly because of you, boy! The story of the song is when you have a problem with your boyfriend or girlfriend and you don’t know how to solve the problem – to break up or stay together – you consult your friend. And your friend tells you, ‘don’t hurt yourself! Break up and dump him!’ And you say, ‘hmm, yeah, I think so’. But when you see his or her face, you get back together. Every time, it happens! With this song, I wanna tease my friends. A lot of my friends are always like this. [laughs] This is you! You do this to me. And I’m the consulting friend!”

You’ve been performing in so many amazing places this year. Are you going to announce a tour around this album?

[looks off-camera] “Do we have money for me to do my own concert? [laughs] I’m not sure. I cannot stage my own concert this time but I have a lot of festivals this year. It’s a show where I’ll bring all the songs from this album. I’m going with a lot of festivals this time. Maybe the people will know my songs there, but I hope I can do my own concert soon.”

MILLI’s album ‘BABB BUM BUM’ is streaming now via YUPP! Entertainment. The album will be available for pre-order soon and a documentary is on the way.

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