By now you’ve most likely heard of G-Dragon, the Korean pop juggernaut whose exploits in music and style we covered extensively last year. But if you’re not a K-pop enthusiast, you are probably unaware of Taeyang—G-Dragon’s best friend since childhood, YG Entertainmentlabelmate, and fellow member in the mega-group Big Bang. Though he isn’t quite as flashy as GD, Taeyang is undoubtedly a star in his own right, with a well-earned reputation in K-pop circles as the genre’s best R&B singer and dancer. (He’s also a global face for Calvin Klein’s new CK One campaign.) Taeyang’s second solo album, RISE, has topped the iTunes album charts in 10 countries since its release in June,
Speaking with the 26-year-old singer recently, it’s clear how serious he is about his craft and artistry—two words not commonly used within the manufactured confines of K-pop. In our interview, Taeyang was characteristically candid and unguarded about his career. So why did it take him four years to release his new album? Which American artists is he listening to lately? What’s up with new music from Big Bang? And will he ever leave his record label? He answers all of these questions and more in this exclusive Complex Q&A.
How’s the reaction been to your new album, RISE?
Luckily, the reaction has been very good. I’m happy about that.
Are you happy with the music? Did it come out the way you wanted?
To be honest, it’s a little different compared to the initial concept I had when I started the album.
The last time we spoke, you said you wanted to make every track off the album as if it were a single. Did you fulfill that goal?
I’ve worked on numerous tracks and out of those tracks I’ve handpicked nine songs. I think each song definitely stands out, but as a whole, there are some elements that leave more to be desired.
There was a four-year hiatus between RISE and your last solo album. Was that due to your record company?
There were definitely demands from the company. So it took longer to complete the project. We ended up making a diverse array of tracks. And those that were approved became a part of the album.
There must be a measure of satisfaction now that it has finally been released.
I can never be satisfied. It took a long time for this comeback. I’ve wanted to showcase a lot more, because I wasn’t able to put out all the songs I’ve worked on. There are some feelings of regret.
Read the rest of Taeyang’s thoughts on his album, Big Bang, and Korean R&B at Complex.