*Updated* Taeyang Interview with F.OUND Magazine

During the summer after the two typhoons, I met with Taeyang. On the day of the interview in September, Taeyang has been rehearsing with the concert band until four in the morning. The rehearsal hasn’t finished and Taeyang woke up still a bit tired but still with his unique smile. As Taeyang has been busy with BIGBANG as well as his solo activities, we haven’t had the opportunity to know his story and his views on music. So our first question is direct:

What is the biggest change after his solo in 2008?
Ever since I started, I have just been working very hard so I don’t feel any changes. I spent a lot of time worrying when I was preparing for the album. What I know is that from being with BIGBANG until now, there are still a lot of things I have yet to learn. If that counts, then this must be the change. There are a lot of things I want to do and they just keep on multiplying.
You spent half of your life at YG. Do you feel any significant change?
I felt a lot of change ever since we moved. There are now more producers… A lot of people call me and Jiyong Daegam spirit* (Daegam means like “His Excellency”)
Daegam spirit at 23?
But it’s true! (smile)
Pardon for asking this, but you’re nearly 30. Aren’t you scared?
Very scared.
Why so?
Let’s just say, two years ago, I never thought of how scary it will be. However, during the process of making the music I want during my solo activities, I ran into a lot of problems! It’s as if I started drawing a very big picture for the past few years and I really want to finish it quickly and now, I’m trying to make the picture 3D. I’m worrying about where to start and how to draw. I think too much about that and I think I’ve developed a phobia in solving (the problem). But I’m not really scared of problems. I have faith and will try to solve them.
How positive! I didn’t want to talk about things that worry you. From what I know, you’re not “strong”. So how were you like before your debut?
The bigger the disappointment, the happier you will be! That’s how I think. I cannot just give up.
Have you been compensated for those times?
Can you prove that you are not the type who is easily “led by the nose” (just doing what others tell him to do)?
When I released the EP in 2008, I was given a lot of suggestions. But now, I decide on everything even the smallest things. It’s not because I requested it to be that way. That’s just the direction I want to go to.
Wow! That’s respectable.
Either way, I still feel pressured. I have now more responsibilities.
In the summer of 2008, since he wanted to sing the song “Sinner” well, he practised the very difficult choreography repeatedly. He needed to sing while dancing, a feat very difficult to achieve. Someone told him it was OK to sing not that well but he responded, “Ah… but I am a singer. I can’t just the quality of my singing just to be able to dance properly?” A week after, he performed “Sinner” on stage.
Taeyang received an online award and even the YG president praised him. It all seemed that all the issues about his worries are lies. Taeyang has always been like this.
How long do you usually practice?
You can’t just set a particular time for practice. You just have to keep doing it. This is what I think.
When you are criticized, do you feel frustrated?
I won’t get angry. I’ll just listen carefully and then try to improve.
So you just keep doing it until it’s perfect?
At least until I’m satisfied.
Have you ever felt torn between being an idol star and an artist?
No, I just want to be an artist.
Just want to be?
Ah, I will be an artist (smile)
Since you’re an idol right now, maybe completing all these will be easy. But are willing to sacrifice your popularity to become a musician?
I am.
After debuting, you didn’t have a period when you weren’t popular. If the times comes that you’re not popular anymore, will you still continue on?
Ah, I won’t give up. It’s nothing to be afraid of. This I am confident because I feel happy making music. It’s not like I haven’t worried before but now I’m slowly feeling more and more satisfied and happy. Music is still priority. The best part is receiving interest and love and making the music I like.
You sing well but lately you seem to pay more attention to your dance stages. Like for the “I’ll Be There” stage, people get dizzy watching it. Will you focus less on singing for the sake of presenting the dance stages?
Hmm… actually, I want to sing even better.
Is that a lie? (Smile) Then, why focus on dance stage effects? It’s just interesting.
Because that’s what I can do now. But singing wonderfully is still the basic thing. That is what I think. So as long as you don’t forget the foundation, you can do different things.
For live broadcasts, the “show” part cannot just be ignored. In reality, singers are more relaxed on music shows, right?
To be honest after being on so many shows, I feel like they don’t suit me very well. It’s too restrictive. Maybe it’s because of my obsession with wanting to do things I know I can do. If it’s short-term, I think visual effects have more impact than hearing. For this album, I wanted to have more relaxed performances. If you want to listen to music, you can listen to it wherever. I find no meaning in performing on normal shows without getting feedback (from the audience).
Foreign friends always ask why Korean singers frequently change costumes when performing.
That’s it exactly. Lately what you are feeling is not the music but the “activities”
Don’t you think that if the performer gives more suggestions, it will improve? (Referring to the “activities”)
Like I said, you can’t change the system which makes me very tired. Shows = more payback, which I don’t really know the effects.
What a pity! To make such a good album and only to sing it 20 or 30 times.
I didn’t think of this before. But now, I think “What else can I do as a singer? What about performing in other places?”I want it to be a place that is easy to find.
What do you want to be? A singer who sings good songs or a singer who can sing well?
I am a singer who can sing well, no, a singer who sings good songs. (smile)
I knew it. You want both.
There are a lot of singers who sing good songs, but not a lot of singers who can sing well. To make good music, first, you must love music… But if a singer really puts effort into it, the song can sound good too..
There are a lot of people who do not judge the music by its quality, but by its sales and the amount of times it’s being broadcasted
I don’t really study these things because if I do it’ll be troublesome
That is also quite wrong.
But still, I think what I am doing now is correct. Actually, after the release of the album, the biggest strength is from the international feedback. Now (in Korea), I don’t have any special ideas so I’m aiming for something higher.
Still, you can’t just put the album up on iTunes and assume the foreigners will buy.
I know but I still want to try. I feel that if I can do something, I’ll follow the plan and do it.
After the storm on the surface, what’s Taeyang’s success secret?
If I have doubts in any part or if I am being asked to do things that are against my principles, I will not do it. I must abide by them. If I go against my principles…I think I won’t be able to stand myself.
In the “I Need A Girl” period you filmed the MV twice didn’t you? Are there two different directors?
Yes, that is the case. It may seem like a mishap but the first MV did not include my suggestions.
That seems like a contradictory answer! Everything is decided by you but the MV was released without your knowledge.
The MVs you saw up until now were reviewed and revised by me first before they were released. That day was one of my busier days and suddenly the MV was released. I didn’t have time to watch and it was already released. When I saw it, I was angry and then the company immediately retracted the MV. All these happened within two hours.
Apart from copying scenes from Pharrel Williams (a singer)’s MV, a lot of the scenes are not very Taeyang-like. It was tough watching it. The ending is also very awkward.
Phew…the original plan is to shoot it from the top of the box (?) so it would have a feeling of having multiple images.
So, the new director filmed another “I Need A Girl” MV. How are you going to return this favour? (smile)
Of course, I am apologetic and thankful.
Did you change your mind about debuting in the States?
No, because I have already made up my mind about being a singer. Of course, I think about being on international stages… so I didn’t change my mind.
Se7en had problems in the States. Don’t you think you will be affected too?
Actually, I thought after the release of your English album, you will have other plans.
It’s all planned by me (smile). After the release of this album, I want to do a lot of performances and strive for more. I even thought of just placing a mike on the street and start singing! (smile)
Coming from you, it seems to mean ‘if you want to do, just do it’!
Ah, if this is so, then if I want to do, I will do them. If it is that simple, that’ll be great (smile) Realistically though, there are a lot of problems, not because of me but because of the company. To me it is like homework, a homework I have to do all the time…
Are you the type to be picky when it comes to music?
You have your own preference in music then?
A bit.
Don’t you think that should be hidden? I mean you’re starting to make music.
I do think it’s a bit picky, like how I don’t eat somthing… so I won’t listen to music I don’t like.
I know you receive a lot of CD gifts from fans and people in the industry. To be honest, how much do you listen to?
50%… But I must work hard to listen to more.
Are you able to discover good albums that way?
We originally planned to talk about his struggles in love in the beginning, but it must be boring for both parties, so we didn’t mention it. However as for whether Taeyang has an image that he wants to get rid of and the repeatative answer is that he has not been in a relationship before.
It is important for 23 year old Taeyang to break away from his love history and perform a few love songs is a big task. This is especially evident in “Wedding Dress”; after listening to it a few times, you will feel gloomy and sad. This is Taeyang’s feelings. As if he had acted in an emotional drama, the Taeyang now is more attractive than the Taeyang then.
Taeyang sang songs that can be easily understood for a reason. Taeyang’s change is welcomed, as with every song he expressed, the way he matures become more and more obvious. If his first solo activity in 2008 is a testing ground for R&B, then the Taeyang of 2010 is rapidly gaining confidence. He has finally understood music to the point of immersing in his image. Such is his persistence with his image, that he managed to flawlessly include “kimchi fried rice” into the lyrics of a song (I Need A Girl) for his album.
Now is the time for Taeyang to do what you want to do happily.
That will happen quite a while later.
How long will that be?
It takes a lot to add music into my element so my feelings can be more realistic. That’s why it will take a long while…
To be honest I’m thankful for a song like “You’re My”. However one grew uneasy as they listen to it more and more. Did you ever think of releasing folk (a music genre) songs?
I am preparing. If I am the first one to release it, it will probably not be bad.
After completing your solo activities for the album, you’ll be returning to BIGBANG. You don’t seem particularly thrilled about that. How does it really feel like?
There is nothing to be unhappy about.
Then why aren’t you smiling? (smile) That is what we thought you must be feeling when you returned to BIGBANG in 2008 after your solo, you rarely smile for a time.
How should I put this…I feel a bit regretful. Although solo activities have its limits, in actuality when I returned to the group I feel pitiful. As it is not the same as being a singer, so my body and mind did not adjust well. I won’t be like that this time.
This formal album Taeyang released had received good feedback. This will affect fellow group members after returning back to the group. If you can choose, how will you want to influence them?
I hope the overall stage impression or the stage show can be improved. As I can do the best part, I hope everyone will look at BIGBANG positively.
Don’t you want to write a few songs for BIGBANG?
BIGBANG’s style of music is very different, so I am not thinking of including anything in this album. If I can contribute songs for BIGBANG, that will happen slowly.
Do you have any reasons for being part of YG?
Of course there is. If not for YG, I won’t be making the music I want to now.
Actually when you were producing the album, I thought no one else writes songs for you apart from Teddy. Then I saw a lot of new names, and I thought, “ah, this can be done too”.
This is why I need to work hard. If I am more knowledgable in music and can make choices, I want to meet foreign songwriters. This hard work is for the sake of the future.
A lot of people want to work with you! If you can choose who to work with, how will the person be like?
It’s enough if the person is knowledgable in music or communicating. Hmm, a person that can fit each others’ opinions and know my style, I will be satisfied with this.
What do you want to say to the people who wait for you without hesitation after the completion of of your solo concert?
What should I say…in my next album I will work hard to find myself. Although the album this time did take up a lot of time, it was at least this amount of time. However long it take is not the problem, what is more important is how much I understand myself. This is just my selfish self talking, but if there is no meaning in the album, releasing it will be a bit difficult. Producing, recording, filming and a lot other activities…then critiquing the songs. These are the things I do when making my album, I don’t want to do pointless things repetitively.
Are you satisfied with your first formal album?
Yes, except for the first step.
Your fans are already eagerly waiting for your next single. I hope you will bring us a new kind of sensation next time.
Yes, that is what I want to give you too.
Taeyang who is thankful towards music does not think his current achievements are good enough, and this is only one of the memories of 2010…
In this hour long interview, Taeyang once responded to a serious question with coughing and a brief period of silence. If he takes such a short question so seriously, will he be satisfied with an album filled with his thoughts? Kind Dong YoungBae’s smile is filled with his purest sun, so please do not question him. Taeyang is already thinking of singing more songs and letting everyone see his many more exciting performances. These plans are already in his head. Towards the young Taeyang has a lot of greed and expectations when it comes to music – nothing can stop his 23 years old spirit from maturing.
Photos: YBMania
Chinese Translation: JOY. PARK @ Baidu
English Translation: J-Lene @ bigbangupdates

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