Finally, he speaks about being known internationally! WOO HOO~
“I’m always the same. Whether I’m solo or with Big Bang, the one thing I have to do is sing and dance. I started solo activities with the things I did well with Big Bang, and I’ll show the things I learned while doing solo through Big Bang. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I am Taeyang and Dong Young Bae.”
Taeyang released his first official solo album ‘SOLAR’ two years since he first began solo activities. Because his debut EP ‘HOT’ was such a success, receiving recognition for its popularity and artistry, there were some early on who called this album [SOLAR] his sophomore slump, but ‘SOLAR,’ much like ‘HOT’ had done before, is receiving more love and recognition as time goes on. It makes us think that Taeyang’s album is definitely more like a heavy-duty stone bowl, rather than like a metal pot that quickly heats up and just as quickly cools down.
On top of that, Taeyang’s stage performances always brings forth the admiration of those who are watching him. His performances are bursting with energy and full to the brim. In one word, they are flawless. The steadfast effort and passion from the moment he stepped foot into YG when he was 13-years-old through the past 10 years have all contributed to Taeyang’s flawless performances.
We met with Taeyang for the first time in eight months thanks to this album. The place where we met was YG headquarters in Seoul Hap-Jeong, which was completed at the beginning of this year. At the appointed time, Taeyang showed up with a slightly disappointed expression, saying, “I thought we were going to interview at a cafe.” The weather was nice and we had promised to interview at a cafe rather than at an uptight office building, and we were sorry we were unable to keep this promise.
In any case, we sat and spoke together for a little over an hour. He was in a good mood that day, and we had a friendly interview with sincere stories and lighthearted jokes.
– You participated in the composing and writing of four of the songs from this album, and you also put up your name as co-producer; how does that feel?
▲ I learned a lot through composing and writing myself. The very act of experimenting regardless of whether the song was good or not was significant and gave me the opportunity to test out my potential. Putting up my name as co-producer wasn’t because I had some kind of selfishness about production, but it happened that way because it was my album, I had wanted to show of my own personal color.
– Were there any problems while working on your album? It’s not unusual that conflicts come up when you’re working with a lot of people.
▲ Teddy is like my soul mate, much like the relationship I have with G-Dragon. There are times when our opinions clash, but whenever that happens we talk it out. I’m not the type to be stubborn. (laughs) Though of course I have my own musical convictions. I try to do what I like and what I’m good at.
– Why did you choose ‘I Need a Girl’ as your title track?
▲ It took a really long time to choose the title track. I think I was selfish about it since it was my first official solo album. I kept receiving songs even after getting ‘I Need a Girl.’ If I were to work off of my greed, I probably wouldn’t be able to release an album even after 10 years. Everyone around me worried about it. The president also said to me, “You won’t be able to put out an album at this rate.” So I threw aside my selfishness. Later I listened to ‘I Need a Girl’ again and I thought, ‘This is it.’
– I guess ‘I Need a Girl’ wasn’t a song that you liked from the beginning?
▲ I think I have something like prejudice without my even knowing. It was the song of the first composer I met with, and when I heard it at first, I wasn’t 100% about it. But still I thought I should listen to other people’s opinions too, rather than just stick to my own. And it turned out that the reactions to ‘I Need a Girl’ were the best. They said it was a different feel from the other songs and it matched my vocals the best. And the lyrics were really good.
– There are people who point to ‘I Need a Girl’ as the 21st century’s version of ‘Wish List,’ which was released in 1989. And there’s a reworking of the lyrics as well. You were only two-years-old when ‘Wish List’ came out, but did you know of the song?
▲ Of course. Not only me, but all the members of Big Bang will surpass generations and look for songs from before we were even born if it’s good music. ‘Wish List’ is a song that received a lot of love from the public at that time. And I agree that ‘I Need a Girl’ is the modern version of ‘Wish List.’ Back then, the ideal girl was one that could make kimchi fried rice, but isn’t the ideal girl now one that can enjoy eating kimchi fried rice that the guy makes? (laughs)
– You didn’t personally write the lyrics to ‘I Need a Girl,’ but is the woman drawn in the song your own ideal type too?
▲ I don’t think it can be any other way. She’s such a perfect and beautiful girl. I think she has to be all guys’ ideal girl, not just mine.
– How would it have been if you had written the lyrics yourself? I think your fans would’ve enjoyed it even more. Was there anything you wanted to add to ‘I Need a Girl’?
▲ If I had, then only boring lyrics would’ve come out. (laughs) I’m totally satisfied with the lyrics now. There’s nothing I want to add. But if I had to describe my ideal type, you know how if you have a kind nature it shows on your face. I like women who look kind.
– We heard that ‘I Need a Girl’ was recently #1 on Canadian iTunes and #2 on American iTunes. On top of that, there are lots of videos up on YouTube of foreigners making remakes with English versions, male and female versions. It seems like you’re more popular abroad than in Korea?
▲ ‘Wedding Dress’ didn’t gain that much popularity domestically but it received a lot of love abroad. I saw a lot of remake versions uploaded online then as well. I think ‘Wedding Dress’ is why ‘I Need a Girl’ is receiving so much love abroad too.
There’s one thing I realized then. Even though I myself don’t go abroad, the music I make now is worldwide and the stage I make is worldwide. It’s a global generation now. I realized while working on ‘Wedding Dress’ that I have to be of the mindset that my music has to be heard by people all over the world. If I work with that kind of heart, I think people recognize it.
That was my ultimate goal while working with Teddy on this album. Let’s make an album that can hold its own wherever it goes, let’s prove that there’s someone who can make good music in Korea even if Korea itself doesn’t recognize us, is what we thought while we worked.
– In addition to the title track, listening to this album makes us think that Taeyang’s vocals became very diverse. It seems like you focused a lot on vocals, what kind of effort did you put in?
▲ I think I finally know a little about how I have to sing. They say pitch and beat are basics, and it’s particularly important to put emotion into the music. If I had just understood that with my head before, now I’m able to sing while feeling the emotions. Putting that emotion into the music, my vocals couldn’t help but become diverse. Before, I would differentiate between songs that fit well with my vocals and songs that didn’t, but now I can match my vocals to the songs without that kind of distinction.
– Another reason ‘I Need a Girl’ is so good is the dance. Should we say, we can picture the lyrics watching the dance without even listening to the song. It’s like the dance is telling a story.
▲ What I thought was the most important while coming up with the performance wasn’t the dance steps themselves but the song’s concept. I made sure to think of the concept so that the song and the dance steps will be in harmony. That’s how this dance came about. Working on ‘I Need a Girl’ made me realize why I both sing and dance. Ah, I learned and realized so much while working on this album. (laughs)
– Which song do you like the most from the tracklist?
▲ ‘Superstar.’ This track mixes together a hip-hop beat with instrumentation from the 70’s and 80’s, and is of a unique and new genre. Listening to it will give you a funky yet soulful feel. I was so happy recording it and I enjoy it because listening to it even now gives me that happy feeling again.
– You looked very mature in some of your jacket photos. And you grew out your beard.
▲ Do I look older? Now that baby-like image from when we first debuted is gone both for me and the other members. (laughs)
– You should start dating now that you’re older, yes?
▲ Definitely this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to date just anybody. My heart probably won’t even open up until I meet someone who makes me think, this is her, but if it’s not someone like that, there’s no significance in dating. Someone with whom we can be of mutual benefit, and there’s no hardships when we meet. If it’s someone I really like, there probably won’t be any hardships. It’s the same way with work. Because it’s something I really like, it doesn’t feel hard.
– Lastly, if you were to say something to the people you’re thankful to?
▲ I’m thankful to everyone who’s listening to my album. And I’m thankful to all the staff members who made me who I am today. I don’t know how it’ll come across when I say this, but when I look at the people around me, it makes me feel like I may be able to the best in the world one day. Because the people around me are the best.