When The Sun Comes Up Original article on Esquire Korea.
Taeyang who graced the cover of Esquire February issue in Fendi
Answers by Taeyang
Q1. Hwadap: Donation Flea Market and Auction by Taeyang and Friends is currently in the midst of preparation. This is your first event after your discharge from the military.
A1. When I was in the army I kept thinking about how I should meet my fans for the first time after being discharged. We mostly meet our fans on the stage, but there may not be such an opportunity immediately. I had many thoughts and concerns and actually came to a realisation in the army. I think I have too many clothes which are really not necessary. In the military, you only wear one uniform and battle outfit. This is already sufficient, and I still felt ‘isn’t that too much?’ Is there a good way to deal with the things I own? So I thought it would be good to set up a flea market in my name, share good things, and donate the proceeds to a good cause. At first, I was troubled by how I should meet my fans and this event seemed to match well with the various ideas I had, hence I proceeded to do it.
Q2. I heard that Taeyang would be contributing 1000 items.
A2. If you add the items contributed by my friends I think there are about 2200 items. Maybe more… Yes, there are about 1300 of my items.
Q3. What are these items [that there are] so many?
A3. Mostly clothes. I wore stage costumes for my activities, but I also wore my own clothes on stage. As a result, I have many clothes, in addition I started to become interested in furniture so I also collected some pieces of furniture. But people’s interests change. Furniture and interior accessories I initially liked and bought ended up not being used.
Q4. Isn’t it too precious to let them go? You bought all of them with your own money.
A4. Not at all. But I didn’t know which ones to give away. For example with clothes, I would think maybe I will wear them one day? So I set a standard that for clothes I have not worn in the last 1-2 years, I would probably never wear them anymore and could be taken out. Considering my personality, for things I possess now but don’t use, I probably will not use them in the future. As such, these things I own don’t have meaning, and it would be better to share them with people who need them.
Q5. It is also a time to organise yourself.
A5. Yes. About 4 years ago I did a flea market with Jiyong. If the feeling then was about organizing things, then this time it is something I have planned myself, so I hope it will be successful and I can make it a yearly event.
Q6. Yes. When this interview is published, this flea market will be over (It opens on 18 Jan 2020). There will be people who feel regret knowing of this event too late.
A6. I wish this flea market becomes successful so people can hear ‘If we go to this flea market, we can get good items at really good prices’, so more people can participate and there can be more profits for good use.
Q7. I heard that the proceeds will be going to good causes, particularly hearing-impaired children and youth. Perhaps it is because Taeyang is a singer and understands the joys and excitement of music that you are especially concerned about those who are hearing-impaired?
A7. I looked at several places for donations and this one attracted me the most. No matter what, I am a singer, a person who gives music to others to listen to. I feel it is not just listening to music, but the act of hearing itself that is extremely meaningful. Of course sight is important too, but I think that a beautiful sound has the ability to transform people the most. That’s why I hope that this can be a special gift to those who are hearing-impaired.
Q8. You mentioned that you thought a lot in the military. How was life in the army? Someone like you who loves to sing and cherishes singing and has not been on official stages for close to two years, I guess you must be missing the stage a lot?
A8. I actually had a lot of fun. I think it was quite a necessary period for me. It may be a very difficult time for some people, and of course there were times when it was very difficult for me too, but overall I felt that this was a very necessary time in my life. Without it, I probably would have grown less as a person. I say it was interesting and enjoyable because I started working at a young age and never had time to rest. I felt there were always some troubles and mental fatigue. In society, starting from “what to eat” there were endless troubles over things, but in the military, I just had to be faithful to my daily work. So to me this was a very big resting period. I was so comfortable mentally.
Q9. It was a period where you could rest after a hectic life always running to and fro, and you could also clear your head.
A9. That’s right. I also became very close to my friends whom I lived with. If it weren’t for the military, it would have been impossible for me to experience living together with friends with an age difference of 10 years and who all came from different places. I think I learned a lot. My friends’ concerns, their cultures — I saw many things that were different from what I usually see. I felt a lot. I learned a lot.
Q10. What did you feel? What sort of differences?
A10. They are in their early twenties, at most mid-twenties, but the culture they experience is a totally different platform. For example, when I was in society Youtube was just for me to search the music I liked, I wouldn’t watch too much of it. But looking at them enjoying various types of content through all sorts of platforms, I realized that “Ah, even though I’ve always been working here, there are so many types of platforms that people are feeling and experiencing and influenced by”. I became more open in thinking.
Q11. You had the thought that “I’ve only seen a part of it so far”.
A11. That’s right. From the moment I reached a certain point, I’ve been doing repetitive work like producing music, making albums and performing, doing all these repetitively, but as someone who has been living like this, I felt that there were many different areas (than I’ve ever experienced). I took part in military events in the army and even then, I could experience many fundamental things that I haven’t had in our performances. Rather, I should say that I felt more like a singer? Because compared to our performances, the military events were very poor in terms of sound facilities and other conditions. But as a soldier on the stage comforting fellow soldiers, you can’t complain about such conditions. You shouldn’t. Anyway, I stood on such a stage and it was really the most simple and basic setup, music and audience reaction. As such, I seemed more like a singer.
Q12. Music, audience. That’s everything.
A12. Yes. I felt like how it was at the very beginning with these performances. The “Yes, I had these kind of performances too” type of feeling? Moreover, we were not performing in front of fans who came specially for us, but military soldiers or their families. I felt very excited as I saw people who had never seen our performances before.
Q13. Excited? (Laughs) Weren’t you scared? If they were fans you could believe that they liked you, but you wouldn’t know if the general audience liked you or not.
A13. That’s why I performed even more with the feeling of when I was just starting out. As you said, fans come to concerts because they like and miss me, but this is not the case. Instead I am standing in front of a “random” audience, even though it’s not something I have felt recently, I would still feel nervous, but because of this I would also feel excited standing on the stage.
Q14. Instead you feel like you received energy.
A14. I received a lot.
Q15. Actually, I heard that you had asked if it was possible not to be interviewed during this meeting.
A15. Ah, the reason I asked that was because I actually really like doing interviews. But how should I say it… it seems like it will be the same in future… I want the interviews to be more careful. The things I say, of course at that moment it captures my thoughts accurately, but people change as time passes. Through interviews, what I mentioned (at the interview) becomes a reflection of me, thus I think the interviews should be done more carefully. I wonder if it would be better if I only give an interview when I am more constant. Moreover as this is my first interview after being discharged, although I don’t feel burdened, I thought I should do it well, hence I had that kind of feeling.
Q16. I agree. Because the words you say at that moment will remain forever in print. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anyone who will always answer the same.
A16. Yes, there isn’t. It’s the same in the army, you have a lot of time to think in the military. You can only spend time to think. When I’m on duty at dawn, because it’s early in the morning, I get very emotional. That’s when I have a lot of thoughts. It changes every minute.
Q17. What did you think about the most? I guess you might set your goals or resolutions maybe?
A17. Yes, there are those too. But there are so many resolutions and goals and they keep changing… But if you say the one that I think about the most, it was about myself. I think I have looked back at myself once again. I am thankful for things in my everyday life, also for time, for example, when I was in society, I seldom felt that “this time is too precious”. But in the military, I really felt that a lot. I am very grateful for the time that I have been given. I also think a lot about the people around me, and my fans… I am not saying I should act to be a better person to them, but basically I want to have better relationships. Sometimes it’s hard, but I also have to say the right things to them. If I want to become such a person, I have to be more mature and humble, I think about this a lot.
Q18. “Sometimes it’s hard, but you have to know how to say the right things to them.” This sentence resonates in the ears.
A18. I don’t want to just look like a good person, a kind person, like I am pretending to be something. I think that if there’s someone you love around you, if you really love him/her, sometimes even if it’s difficult, you need to learn how to say the right thing. How to communicate correctly, this is a problem. I think this was the most important thing in the military. Because it is not easy for everyone to communicate with friends coming from completely different environments and worlds. But no matter what, we have to live together for a very long time, so I think I slowly learned a little. I think I’ve grasped it too. The most important thing in getting someone to understand and convey my meaning is to say it honestly. I think it’s best communicated by expressing that honesty in a way that we can understand and empathize with each other. Because music is also ultimately about achieving resonance (with the listener). We need to communicate.
Q19. In that sense, from their point of view, Taeyang also seems to be from another world.
A19. That’s right. They were curious about me at first. Furthermore, these friends with a 10-year age difference grew up listening to our music. Back then they were in sixth grade in elementary school, or first year in middle school. The age where they are interested in those things (music and celebrities). They didn’t keep their distance because of this, but we lived together like I was a neighbourhood older brother. After a while, we ended up hanging out together and sharing our problems like regular soldiers. “How should we complete this training successfully?”, or “Let’s do it this way, then we can get a vacation together.” These kinds of things.
Q20. You got a vacation, so?
A20. I tried hard to get a vacation. (Laugh) Because I’m in the artillery, those in artillery would understand, if you shoot the guns well or finish a task well, you can get a vacation. And there’s basic training. If you finish the training well without accidents and achieve good results – it doesn’t mean you can always get a vacation; it is up to the discretion of your commander – but in my unit if you complete training well with a positive attitude, you were cared for as much as it was tough.
Q21. I feel that you really enjoyed your military life. Even now when you are recalling it, you look very happy and excited.
A21. Yes. (Laugh) It was interesting to feel a sense of achievement different from that in society, and to achieve that sense of accomplishment from working in different ways.
Q22. So far you have said that “I learned a lot from my military life”, “even though these are friends who are meeting for the first time, thanks to their encouragement and support I was able to enjoy myself”. But I think that’s because in the first place Taeyang is the type of person who can create such harmony. I’ve never been in the army so I don’t know, but in a group setting such as the army, not everything can be carried out accordingly to plans and directions. Maybe you had to try very hard, or just entrusted yourself to others, but no matter what, I think Taeyang is someone who embodies himself.
A22. I gained a lot from military life, and one of them was I felt that I was very free. At the same time, in this way, I could also live freely somewhere else. If I felt free here, I have confidence that in most circumstances I could become someone more fitting to myself and more free.
Q23. Perhaps the nearest chance to express that confidence would be on stage at the Coachella Music Festival in April.
A23. That’s right. This will be the first time to meet my fans on stage after being discharged. This is also a chance to show many things I’ve not been able to show on stage before. Personally I’m looking forward to it a lot. There are also many worries. It needs to be worked through, but it’s not something I can do alone. But it seems we have a great opportunity. No matter what, if we can create a great performance with a good presence I think it’ll be very meaningful.
Q24. Did the offer come from Coachella first?
A24. Yes, they sent us an offer. One of the show’s headliners is the legendary rap metal band RATM (Rage Against The Machine). They are also reuniting for the first time in more than a decade through this festival. It seems like we were sent an offer based on this concept.
Q25. Did the members talk together about this? Whether to be on stage or not.
A25. There are a lot of worries. Any choice is not easy for us right now. No matter what decision we make, we don’t know whether it is for the time being or for how long, we could get a bad look. That’s why I talked with the members a lot. Actually we had already talked a lot before the offer from Coachella. There’s no right answer. We thought a lot about what to do, but after being discharged from the military, we received this unexpected offer, and we agreed to give it a shot.
Q26. Are you ready?
A26. Like myself everyone has just been discharged not too long ago, firstly we are exercising everyday and conditioning ourselves to be ready for the stage.
Q27. I don’t know if you saw it, but the news has been coming out nonstop. According to Billboard magazine, “The group Bigbang which has been through many ups and downs since their last album in 2016 is back”. In Korea there are also many opinions that it is too premature.
A27. If possible, I just want to leave a really good stage at Coachella.
Q28. Frankly speaking if I were Taeyang, I would probably feel it is unfair. Honestly, Taeyang has never made any noise since debut.
A28. Basically, I just want to work through this difficult time together in the most realistic and wisest way. To me, I have spent half of my life working as this group called Bigbang, and been active as Taeyang of Bigbang. I have formed relationships with people I met because of this group. More importantly, I was loved by many fans while I was in this group and playing music. That’s why I think that I’m also responsible, that it is my calling to do my best and get through it together.
Q29. Is Taeyang by nature the type who is self-improving?
A29. I have that tendency. I don’t think I’m a celebrity who keeps creating topics whether good or bad. This is why I once said that this celebrity outfit doesn’t seem to fit me. I don’t like being talked about socially, whether it is good or bad. I just think it’s very meaningful to simply make music and I would be very happy doing so. Rather than saying I am self-improving, might as well say it’s an innate tendency. While in the military, it seems that I have rediscovered that “Ah, so this is me” type of feeling.
Q30. That reminds me of what you said earlier about the stage in the military. The feeling of going back to the very beginning, things that you have forgotten.
A30. Yes exactly, that’s right. If I say “So this is me”, then within this, there will be my good side and my bad side. I couldn’t really differentiate this when I was young, but as I grew older, and with the time spent in the military, now I can honestly acknowledge the various aspects of myself. Although I still have a lot that is lacking now, all the more I’m thinking of making up for these with a better me.
Q31. What is the bad thing?
A31. There’s a lot. I feel a lot is lacking. I don’t know how to say or express it. For example, I want to contact people more often and get closer to them, but I feel I wasn’t good enough [at it.] That’s very important. I know I just wasn’t good enough, but I was really bad at it. But I hope this can get better, not by being forced to, but I hope I can take care of people more sincerely. All in all, I think I have talked too much about the military…
Q32. Because this is the latest footprint that you have left in your life. From this it seems you have learned and rediscovered a lot.
A32. Actually, I think what I have discovered the most is myself. [END]
FASHION EDITOR 고동휘
FEATURES EDITOR 김은희
PROP STYLING 김경민
DIGITAL DESIGNER 이효진
Thanks to Redsun for the translations and onebluemouse for putting this together.
Please credit alwaystaeyang for the translation and include all credits if reposting.