*Fantastic interview, by editor Jang Woo Chul, grab some popcorn cause its a LONG read.
In the January issue of GQ magazine, we had an interview with Taeyang titled “A boy doesn’t cry”. In that, he had said he would be releasing an album “soon” however it was released almost 7 months later. Also, the title of the album is not “Real” which he first revealed, but changed to “Solar”. We met with Taeyang again.
We have a bone to pick with you
– I know.
So you do know, will you tell the truth yourself. It’s useless laughing like that. First, let me hear it
– “First of all, I’m so sorry that GQ gave a false report because of my answer. I felt going through a lot of feelings at this time. That is, things don’t always go their way….”
If you say it in that tone…. Is this a sad interview?
– No. It’s a great interview. It was just that time was really ‘soon’ [referring to the time the first interview took place]. I thought we were at the finishing touches then but a lot of work remained. And it took a long time. Sorry
Why did it take a long time? The concept was changed?
– The concept itself, well you can say, it was changed a lot. Because my emotions themselves changed. If I have made music with the emotion of when I did the interview last year, my album would not be like it is today. Actually, as soon as 2010 came around, my heart and thoughts and emotions were changed. I think that the doors of my heart were closed without realizing because I was stuck indoors through 2009. It was difficult times for me. Why is it difficult, even though I do music, to be pleased and happy? By the way, a snowstorm fell as soon as 2010 came.
Was it January 4th?
– Seeing the snow, well, I don’t know how to say it…. I was at Teddy-hyung’s house. I thought to myself that I shouldn’t live like this. I thought that my closed-mind would become a hindrance to doing music. I just opened the door. That time has gone by. I could see the direction of what music I want to do and how to do. Actually, the album, when I had said that only “finishing touches” remained, actually had many songs similar to the mini album and digital singles.
Are you saying about committing sin (‘Sinner’), praying (‘Prayer’), or things like “sons of darkness” (referring to darker themed music)?
– Haha, right. All of them were like those the tracks. If it makes it better, I was only singing. I said I had to release my album soon, so I didn’t have much time. I just sang, invented beats, tunes and changed my voice. Setting up things so I may “feel” the song. The recording didn’t take much time. Actually, when I listened to the songs, after I’d opened my mind, I wasn’t satisfied. I sung them again.
Is it like that awkward feeling like when you read letter again after writing it the night before?
– Right. But the thought of devoting myself now to music, was fixed. It never changed. I had always though, I only needed to prove things on stages, as much as I was changed, because everything is exposed on stages.
How many songs did not make it into in this album?
– Going by the tracks, over 10 song didn’t come in after being recorded.
Did you do the final the selection by yourself?
What about the title song?
– Actually I received ‘I Need a Girl’ a long time ago. When I sang the song after I received it first, to tell you the truth, I thought ‘kimchi fried rice is all this song is about’. Anyway, I was annoyed because it was not steak.
Umm, just think of Taeyang having sour kimchi in a refrigerator!
– Haha. I just thought of that, that’s all. Because of my prejudice, which was that I received this song from a rookie songwriter, I thought there wasn’t anything about the song. Just thought that it was fresh and had a good melody? It seemed like I could make a new title song better myself. But then, if I kept on being greedy like that, it seemed like my album would not come out. I began to let people listen to the song. There were many responses that ‘I Need A Girl’ gets the feeling of my vocals the most. It was important that I began to listen and it got to me the most.
Were you confident of doing the lyrics ‘kimchi fried rice’ on stage well?
– Haha, that….
Actually, I can see you have an awkward facial expression. You didn’t.
– I thought it may be awkward, too, but I forget about it when I actually appear on stage.
* Come to think of it, where’s Teddy who was supposed to come with you? I have a lot of things I want to ask him.
– Umm, because he is not well today.
I’m sorry about that. You’re a co-producer with Teddy. What harmony and what conflicts were there?
– Nobody can control me better than Teddy. He readily accepts my opinions and adds new things. Conflicts are, well, what I’ve disturbed him, by being too close to him? When I saw the first snow of the New Year at Teddy-hyung’s house, it was perhaps after a months of staying. Looking back on it now, I’m so sorry. But I had no place else to go.
What did he, as a producer, want for you as a singer?
– I think what a person really wants to do and what the person can do well are very different. I do my best to reach what I want to do exactly, but Teddy-hyung suggests how to the best I can in the situation I am in. He is really an important person to me. I learn much from him.
What did you adhere to, to the end?
– Rather than trendy music, I wanted music that is faithful to the basics. I think it is good to try new things, but the basics – it’s indescribable, but there was something I wanted to keep in my conviction. Keeping balance, thought, is difficult all the time.
It may be in the same context when the company said ‘popularity’ when referring to the title song. By the way, the word ‘popularity’ always has a trap.
– I just thought the song has a different feeling from current songs, but the company called it referred to “popularity”. Well, actually we can’t say that ‘Where U At’ or ‘Wedding Dress’ were not popular songs. I don’t know how they would have been in our country, umm, maybe it’s like boasting a little, but….
Good things should be boasted. Who’s says you can’t boast?
– ‘Wedding Dress’ has been especially well received overseas. So, what is “popular”, and what is “not popular”?
As the album’s atmosphere changed, it’s like the songs became strange in the album.
– Do they seem different?
It’s a shame for the performance of ‘Where U At’ to be performed only once on television. Anyway, I’ve listened to this album Solar about 20 times, which is a process of what you have been through and your new beginning.
– I’m curious. How did you feel?
Umm, so, I thought you’re crazy. How did you sing so like…crazy….
– Haha, you mean I did well?
Going all the way with singing?
– So, I mean…. In my mind, I think I know a little. I can put in my sincerity very far in my songs. Even if they are genres which look like they don’t suit me, I could put my sincerity in enough, umm, well….
Are you hesitating because it’s like boasting again?
– I came to a conclusion after worrying a lot. Even if they are songs people can relate too, I can’t sing them if I’m not ready. But, if I can even sing songs like “Uh, Taeyang can sing a song like that?” then I think I’ll reach REAL someday if I just put my sincerity into it. I think I’m ready to prepare for that now. The songs I am doing now may be quite different from what I’ve done, but they are songs I can do to the fullest and with sincerity
What score will you give this album?
– It’s just a start. I have great expectations of what songs I will do in future, and also have great expectation for myself. What score can you give this album?
I’ll give this a strange score, but also generous. I’m giving you a grade of 95 for the album because of the song “Take it Slow”
– Haha, then the rest are a 5? It is a comfort to me that people like the song.
‘Take it slow’ is a good song. None of the songs are bad or out-of-style. But the lyrics are a bit too much
– Haha, right. It is a bit much. Actually, that is the root of R&B/soul music. I wrote the lyrics because I understood that [R&B style of songs].
Is it a story of sex? Was the word right there in the demo version of the title song’ I Need a Girl’.
– I took it out. I’ve recorded it once putting it, but because it’s the song I will perform with, I wouldn’t be able to with that word. Though it was changed anyway, I’m sorry a little. That was not a dirty explicit expression. It’s just one word, so I’m sorry.
I knew later that ‘Take it slow’ was composed and written by you.
– Even if I wrote it, I was satisfied with it only a little “Wow~”. Rather than liking it too much, I just made the song with with the feeling I got from the possibilities that could arise . But the company’s response was not so good.
That’s impossible. Their ears are below the appendixes (refers to the ears below the appendix)?
– Of course, there were people who liked it. Teddy-hyung, too, liked it so much. But some people didn’t understand it, so I have no other option but to stumble through the criticism. Because I’m not the type to madly compose songs, but I wanted to put my own songs in my album. I was unsettled, because of the responses to the song, that I wrote and composed from beginning to end. But when I hear good responses like this, I think, ah, that bad responses are inevitable.
Except for Intro, the first track is ‘Superstar’. There is excitement with the first track.
– Superstar came out as soon as I opened my mind.
Is this album the soundtrack to television show “Human Theater” (TV program in Korea)?
– Haha, that’s real. As soon as I opened my mind, the track made me feel good. Teddy-hyung and I like the song the most. It’s not very meaningful but the two of us like it, but I was so happy when the song was come up. Playing the song, I was getting my groove on all day.
Was it a free style dance?
– Right. In our way, we thought there was that this style hasn’t been done before and it’s fresh. I just liked it without meaning.
I think while you were at it, you finished recording at first go.
– Right. How did you know that? We were so elated.
Your voice is the most important point in this album. As you changed your emotion to suit the music, your attitude or way to express your voice would have been changed.
– I got into the habit of not setting myself up before singing. I just try to remember the feeling of what I felt when I listened to the song first. It’s like something like emptying my mind? When I sing without any thoughts, it becomes the voice I want. A balance, something that isn’t heavy or light. In a state where I don’t go “a song should be sung in this way”. I sang like this.
But every song would have not been recorded at once. What song did you have trouble to sing the most?
– It was ‘You’re My’. How many did I sing it? About 500 times? Maybe that much. When you said a while ago I sang like crazy, I was reminded of recording ‘You’re My’. Because my voice is exposed to the fullest, it was important to go along the flow from beginning to end. I should have expressed it delicately, try not to be too heavy or light and just in between. I recorded it in the middle of the night, but it was good when I listened to it the next day. I hope this album sounds like that. I wanted to put in those feelings of liveliness and hopefulness you have in the mornings, but also sound like the consolation and satisfaction of leaving work at night. I wanted people to feel that when I was singing. Let’s open up our minds.
How’s the technique? You voice definitely has become more plentiful and has various colors than ever before.
– I didn’t try to particularly make an effort in the name of technique. Training is only plugging away at the basics steadily, really. Umm, I don’t know how to say this well, but I was surprised that I already had those feelings before after listening to it, having sung it.
Now you’re boasting without hesitation…. Others, ‘Just a feeling’ is well embedded in minds but a little sounds like Big Bang’s song. It seems like the members should each sing a bit of it.
– Haha. I’ve heard that a lot. It used instruments and sources used before…. I’ve never thought of that when I first worked on it, but hearing the words a lot, it does sound like that. I often ask this a lot these days, but does it really sound like a Big Bang song?
Maybe it’s because you’re Big Bang’s member. By the way, how do you feel that you’re called ‘strange idol’?
– Umm…. Actually I’ve never thought I’m an idol. I think the distinction of being a ‘strange idol’ agrees with what I think and the direction I am aiming for. Isn’t it a good word?
Well, it may be not a word that you should prove. With it, you appearance on entertainment programs expects you to be an ‘idol’. Sometimes I enjoy that you have awkwardness in a viewer’s position.
– Actually, I’m dying of awkwardness. I became better anyway. I thought before ‘Ah, they’re completely different people from me’ after shooting [a variety show]. It means I couldn’t do anything there. I couldn’t speak a word. When I recently appeared on Strong Heart, it wasn’t like that so much.
Did Seungri help you?
– I was very reassured that Seungri was by my side. He does chat very well.
The first album – it’s the most exciting word to singers. Now, how much can you trust yourself?
– This word is a bit funny, but if I’m a person who can be the best, I will be so. If I’m a person who can’t be so, I can’t be even if I make a frantic effort. I just believe my possibility. I don’t think ‘I have to be like that. I will let myself be so at any cost’.
The word ‘a star doing their best’ is unattractive, really.
– Right. I realized that, too. Singing is the same. If I’m the person who will be able to sing a song that can impress a lot of people, I will sing that song at some point. That I can be certain of.
You continuously say that you were changed. But people usually don’t changed. There are only some reasons to be changed. By any chance, have you dated?
– Haha, no I’ve not
You have no sense of amusement. It was just a joke. When do you feel you’re young, and when do you feel you’re an adult?
– I often think I’m still young. Because I endlessly like what I like. It’s true that I feel a little more “adult” as I become an adult. I would say, I’m less awkward at the word ‘adult’. At least I’m not ashamed to say I’m an adult. Especially when I drive my car.
What’s your dream car?
– Without considering price, since childhood, I’ve felt a Bentley is really nice.
A dream girl is the right for a dream car. The word “baby” comes up a lot in the lyrics of this album. Who do you talk about women with? What do you ask, T.O.P or Teddy?
– People around me say it a lot. And I get advice from hyungs.
How do you feel when you hear this word?
– The more I listen to it, the more I don’t know. I don’t know how to satisfy the female species.
The female species…. It was released as articles that you did a blind date with SNSD’s Yuri and watched the concert.
– An acquaintance knew I was staying at home, said he will introduce a good girl to me, but I continuously refused. One day, the president came to Teddy-hyung’s house and said to meet her unconditionally, don’t shut me in, go out right away and have food with her. So I went out and had food. When I went there, she was SNSD’s Yuri. She asked me to go the concert. “So, I just went there”
Anyway, that’s a change, too, at least. You’re full of confidence in your songs now. What’s evidence can you give that you’re a good man.
– I’m confident of making the woman I like happy.
Who doesn’t have the confidence?
– Then umm, I’m confident that the woman I like will like me too.
Then, what’s the reason why people should listen to your songs among a lot of singers and songs on earth, and support your dream?
– Well, it’s just my first album, but I know the people who have been believing me. I know their belief and they have supported that my music, that I’ve worried and insisted, it is nice and right. I go forward. It’s the only word I can say for now….
I don’t know if I nitpicked enough but, ah, where is the ‘Real’ that earned you the nickname ‘Dong Re Al’?
– I haven’t dropped it yet [the title REAL, referring to songs like “Sinner” and “Prayer”]. It’s still here. When you find it, you will say ‘Ah!’ sometime….
Translations by MYOKOON@ALWAYSTAEYANG (please do not remove credit)