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“I often hear that Gintama is very kind to losers. The thought that “a failure like me can still keep living when I read this manga.” But I didn’t intentionally draw losers. I’ve been told that it’s because I’m a loser too. Well, fine. But honestly, I think everyone’s a loser. The only difference is the skin we put on. Once you open the lid and look inside, everyone’s the same. ”—Quick Japan Interview with Sorachi Hideaki
[13.06.16] mydaily interview
as usual, ignored the introductory blurb
“You released a new album …”
On one hand, there’s the sense that our hard work has come to an end, but, opposite that, there’s the feeling that we could have done better, so we’re at a point of being relieved but regretful.
“The album’s being received very well, though …”
When an album’s received well, it definitely feels good, but that tells us that there were that many people waiting for it, so that’s enough for us to be grateful for. The feeling that we’re being praised for having worked hard? That feels good. Amongst young friends, in the midst of other styles of music, we feel like we’re really working hard, so we wonder if maybe we won’t help other friends who are doing music different from mainstream music feel a little good.
“Nell’s become brighter?”
Ten years ago, since our first album, this is the first album we’ve released during the summer. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of talk that we also fit the summer well. Haha. Unlike our usual songs, there are a lot of positive messages, so it seems like people are saying we’ve gotten brighter and changed, but, honestly, it wasn’t a consideration of the seasons, but the result of working on something that fit the second part of our trilogy.
“The reason you’re releasing the gravity trilogy …”
Because we haven’t ever really released singles, we thought about releasing it as a trilogy. A single itself has its advantages, and, likewise, we thought we could make this like an omnibus film told in parts. The extent of the meaning of the whole album titled “gravity” will differ by listener, but we wanted to insinuate that, whenever you forget or lose a dream, that collapse that comes upon you or that hard time — that’s a moment of gravity. Even if you try to emerge from it, you can’t, and, through music, we wanted to express the different ways people use to escape from these hopeless situations.
We can’t tell you yet what feeling the final third part will have, but, because our usual production volume is large and twelve already made a number of songs, we think it’ll take a while to select songs.
“Nell’s production style is …”
Vocal Kim Jong-wan manages the lyrics and the general direction, and all the members consult together and decide on the sound as a whole as well as the arrangement elements. When we start working on an album, for two to three months, we feel like we’re living together in our recording studio, stuck together to the point that we get tired of each other. We don’t have specific individual roles. Our roles are to work together.
Jong-wan, like a leader, organizes all our many ideas, and he’s also quick to sense trends and capture the core. (Jae-kyung) I’m leading these old people well. Haha. (Jong-wan)
“Your thoughts about appearing on music programs …”
This is the first time we’ve been on music programs in six months, but the overall age of the participants has gotten lower again. We still can’t adjust to broadcast stations. To people like us who spend the majority of our time in the recording studio and in concert venues, the system of a broadcast station is different, and it always feels new. Because we spend most of the time in our dressing room by ourselves, if we see other singers, it’s fascinating, and it’s also fun if we see girl groups …
“The reason you don’t participate in Immortal Song …”
The reason we don’t participate on shows like I Am a Singer, Immortal Song, etcetera is just that our tastes are different. It’s not that it’s good or bad to do that, but, still now, we like holding our own concerts with our songs best. So, we know that we’ve gotten offers a few times, but we have yet to feel much interest in these programs. And, this might sound immature, but, we want to go out and perform happily, but going out on those shows itself feels burdensome.
“The reason Nell’s music continues to be loved?”
I think people look kindly on us living as a band. There are other ways like a TV show or other routes to show ourselves, but, because there are no other ways other than our music to get to know us, rather, I feel like people like us better for that. To be honest, I want to ask why they like us, too. (Jae-kyung) Maybe it’s because we change musically and constantly grow, and they like that? (Jae-won)
These days, being a singer as a job itself isn’t restricted to just music. Many important things are gathered up in a complex way, but, in our case, to a certain extent, I think people like that we’ve kept our focus on our music while maintaing the quality of our music. And, of course, because I’ve got a good sense of trends and write good music. Ahem. Beyond that, maybe it’s just that we don’t really think of music as work and, even now, enjoy ourselves? Even now, music is our biggest hobby and talent and fun. (Jong-wan) In the end, it’s music. I guess we aren’t so bad at music after all. Haha. (Jung-hoon)
“The music style Nell is pursuing?”
As long as we’re able to express our thoughts through sound, we don’t care about the style. As a rock band, we could have a more conservative tendency, but we don’t feel burdened in accepting new genres. Should we put it as a closed mind has a negating style?
All we need is to feel that we’re freely expressing our thoughts and enjoying ourselves on our own. Rather than us enjoying ourselves because our music is bright, if we’re able to use new sounds to create new things, that’s the fun we seek. Really, we like African-American music, too, and isn’t there the chance that we could also do heavy metal? It’s important to show the four of us making music together.
“Why you feel like you have a lot of depressing songs …”
It’s not that we think we have to use depressing and sad tracks, but, as we used songs that fit how we felt at those times, generally, a lot of those tracks were borne. (Jong-wan) If a certain person likes to write really happy feelings into a song, I think Jong-wan’s the type who writes more songs when his feelings have been stored up or when he wants to express them. There are lots of instances when he thinks about the same thing from a different perspective or expresses it in a different way. When you watch that, sometimes, you have to acknowledge a genius is a genius. (Jung-hoon)
“The secret to having been together for 15 years with the same members …”
Our first album was released in 2001, but we started as a band in 1998. All four of us were born in 1980, and we were neighborhood friends since we were young. The way we came together for music happened naturally. The four of us seem to be enjoying music and having fun, and we’d already met as friends, so, even if something happens that upsets us, if we just get a drink together, we make up immediately without a large effect. Also, there are no girls around us, and we don’t have a female member, so we think that could be a secret, too.
“The reason you’ve stayed with your agency without leaving for so long …”
We came to know Woollim Entertainment through our close friends Epik High, and it’s been eight years now, and we think it’s because we’ve gotten comfortable to the point where we don’t think we should move. Musically, Woollim lets us work without bothering us much. Of course, that could also be because we make good music on our own. Haha.
“If you have any hobbies other than music …”
We have no hobbies. After going all-in in the band, we’re busy enough just recording. Music is still hard even now. If I were to pick a hobby, then just drinking beer? (Jae-kyung) Among the members, I’m the active one. I like watching baseball, and I’m a fan of the Lotte Giants. I also like to skateboard sometimes. (Jae-won) I don’t have a particular hobby, but I like seeing films. Sometimes, I get inspiration, and I think film is similar to music. The one I’ve seen most recently is Iron Man 3? (Jong-wan) I also enjoy soccer games and see films, and I like being home. I also watch TV dramas. (Jung-hoon)
“Your hiatus after military training was long, and …”
We entered the military around the same time, and our activities naturally came to a temporary halt. We didn’t do a lot of things abroad, but, until our late-twenties, we worked non-stop, so, rather than saying that we were exhausted, we think it was a time when we forgot what we enjoyed and what was important to us. If you look at it one way, it was a time when we took our blessings for granted. Our four-year hiatus was a time that helped us remember how happy and good it was that we were doing music.
“Collaborations with other musicians?”
Recently, we worked with Big Bang’s G-dragon and gave songs to Sung-gyu from our agency’s Infinite, and they weren’t bad productions. We gave tracks to Sung-gyu’s solo venture because he liked rock so much and likes us a lot, so we thought that it would be nice for him to work with a musician he liked when he was young and tried to help him out.
But, also, because idol music is different from our music, it was a fun experience to think about in other ways. If you fit and can help each other out and need each other, then we welcome collaborations anytime. We like listening to rap music, too, as well as hip hop. We think it’d be fun to work with groups like Dynamic Duo, Epik High, etcetera, too.
“Plans to promote abroad …”
Because we’re working on our album, we don’t know when we’ll be able to hold our own concert here. We definitely think it’d be good to perform abroad, but we don’t want to go without preparing sufficiently. It definitely seems like it’d be different and fun to go abroad and hold a concert and come back, but, if it’s going to be for a long time, then we think we want to do it properly. Regardless of which country it is, if they’ll like our music, we’ve always got the window open. It’s just that, because we’re going to be doing music for a long time, we don’t want to be hasty about it. Also, we recently heard that Infinite is starting their world tour, and we hope that that first step becomes a second step, third step.
“Right now Nell is in this place …”
Hm the place we’re at now … We think we’re just at the border. Like the border between major and minor? We think we’ve always been here, and, leaving behind album sales or recognition, we keep ourselves open instead of leaning towards one style, so that’s our inclination. So, when underground musicians consider us, they think we’re overground, and, when mainstream singers consider us, we think they think of us as more underground. To be honest, that’s comfortable, and we like it. Because then we can do whatever we want. In the future, we’ll continue to be like this freely, happily like we are now.
translation by: jjoongie@countingpulses. use/take with credits.
“Reusing old clips is the basis of Gintama. Make it once, and use it many times.”—The Return of Gintama: Interview with the Gintama Directors
- I tend to hate those typical introduction and conclusion paragraphs inserted by the interviewer, so I skipped them. I may or may not come back and edit them in, but, for now, all I translated was the interview, which is the part that really counts, anyway. The only really interesting thing to glean from the introduction/conclusion, I thought, was that the interview took place on a rainy day in Namsan. (Yep, that’s how interesting they are.)
- There were inevitably words/phrases that tripped me up and that I have, therefore, indicated.
If Only Like Now, Nell
I know how many interviews you’ve done till now. If you hear a question with an obvious answer or that you’re tired of, just say so.
Junghoon: We like interviews with monthly magazines. We’re most comfortable during interviews, and photoshoots are fun. (Manager, are you watching?)
At first, we wondered if we should go to [some market] we heard you like or if we should use a concept where we bury you in twenty-some female models.
Everyone: Why didn’t you?!
Should we reshoot? I’ll have to talk to your manager.
Jongwan: That’s possible even if only we know. (laughs)
Last year at GMF, I could feel that both the public and band had waiting a long time [for this]. On stage, you struck a pose like [some elevated person]*. An orgasm achieved through Nell — I want to call it Nell-gasm. (laughs)
Jongwan, Jaewon: This is the first time we’ve heard of it! That kind of frank expression! We like it. (laughs)
* Did not know word; filled it with a general idea.
I heard you get a lot of energy while holding your own concert; is that what you’ve been waiting for most all this time?
Jongwan: It’s one of two things. I missed performing and going into a recording studio most, but, because I can’t separate the two, I think those are all. I really missed them.
Before we start … like warming up, I’ll ask you each a question lightly. First, for Jung Jaewon, the single life is?
Jaewon: Ah, you threw the question lightly, but it’s a question that requires a heavy answer. Heh heh.
Think about it until the interview is over. To Lee Junghoon, Kim Jongwan is?
Junghoon: Music teacher.
Jongwan: “I’m the teacher, you’re the student.” This thought comes up. (laughs)
For Kim Jongwan, sex is?
Junghoon: I knew you’d say this. (laughs)
Jongwan: Sex? It’s one of the few blessings that heaven could give to man.
Jaewon: Even monkeys do it.
Jongwan: Not sex that you have recklessly, but, if you look at it as something that you have in a relationship with someone who means something to you*, couldn’t it be a blessing? If it’s not that, then isn’t it misery?
* Confusing phrase that I ranted about before.
Lastly, for Lee Jaekyoung, ex-girlfriends are?
Junghoon: Jaekyoung’s crying. (laughs)
Jaekyoung: Suddenly, I don’t know what to say … (then tell us at the end.)
There are many people who say they cried or had their hearts torn while listening to your music. But, when I listen to you perform or on the radio, I wonder if you’re really the people who made this album. Instead of being depressed, you’re [sick, cold city men]* (laughs)
Jaekyoung: To be honest, we didn’t make it. Other avatars did! (laughs)
Jongwan: I think that’s our image. Because we all don’t like being obvious when we’re having a hard time, I think that’s why we can seem that way. And that’s why, during a performance, I intentionally don’t talk a lot. Even if we were to give off that vibe, it’s not like things become better, so there’s no point in talking about it on broadcast or in an interview.
* Koreans love to shorten things; ergo, 차도남 = 차가운 도시 남자 = cold city man. Then again. I could be wrong. Korean slang tends to go over my head.
Compared to previous albums, this fifth album, as a whole, feels softer. You say you’ve changed yourselves as well, so is it that you’ve gained more peace of mind or that, as you’ve gotten older, you’ve become a little heavier and entered a fixed orbit and become more stable?
Jongwan: It’s that our lyrics and sound and the way we convey things that have become softer, but I think the content of our music has itself become heavier. I think an adult is much sadder than a child. You could call it peace of mind, but, if you look at it from a slightly different perspective, as you come to know more, you become lonelier. When you’re young, because you don’t know a lot, you can struggle while confronting new things. But you can feel that because there are things that are new to you. Now, even though I obviously can’t know everything, when I keep thinking about the end or start looking ahead in advance, I think I’m much heavier and sadder. I can endure it because I’ve gotten used to it, but I think that just because I endure it well doesn’t mean the weight of loneliness has become lighter but that it becomes gradually heavier.
Jaekyoung: If you listen to our album without thinking of it as ours, this album is heavier. I don’t know if the lyrics are more frank or if the sound has become softer. I think it depends on how you hear it.
Jongwan: These are also just our thoughts, and I don’t want to force them on anyone. It’s just that, if there are twenty-somethings who are listening to our music now, after time passes and they become thirty-somethings and listen, the feeling then compared to now will be different. Honestly, whenever an album of ours comes out, we hear something like this. When an album is released, people say it’s softer than before, but, when I listen to previous albums now, it’s like that feeling didn’t exist at all before.
Jaekyoung: I want to invite people to listen to the same music over their whole lives. Even though it’s only been 20 years at most since I started listening to music, when I listen to musicians I liked when I was young now, the feeling is different. And the way I understand the lyrics is different, too. That’s why it’s fun.
Nowadays, I feel like guys who do music have become the trend.
Jongwan: I feel like you’re saying that because you haven’t dated a musician. They could have that charm. Musicians fundamentally require more space for themselves than others do. Because their lifestyle is more irregular, I think it’s harder to date. That’s particularly stronger in our team. (laughs) Because our team and circle of friends is small, when we drink or go on trips, we want to go together. Then, if you look at it from the point-of-view of a girlfriend, things become uncertain. We have a strong tendency to group together ourselves.
That means the space you’ve made amongst the four of you is solid. I’m jealous.
Everyone: It doesn’t really seem like you are, though! (laughs)
I feel like the fact that you worked on this album abroad gives it a different meaning from your other albums. What’s different about recording in a studio in New York and London or in Korea’s Mangwondong?
Jaekyoung: It’s different. It’s not different because it costs more money, but we went abroad because the sound we wanted to create was there. If the sound we wanted were in Dokdo, I think we’d go to Dokdo.
Jongwan: There isn’t a difference like in the difference 18K and 24K gold, but the difference is in the feeling. The music we like and the music we make today grew from the music we listened to when we were young, so that’s where the different feeling lies. To deviate from “it’s good; it’s bad,” foreign musicians today have a different feel, and we wanted to expand our own colour with that. There are many people in Korea who do well, too, but, because there was a different feeling we wanted to capture, we went abroad.
Junghoon: It was a really big dream of ours to record in a foreign studio, too.
Whenever people make music, they keep in mind to plug earphones into their office speakers and listen through them. Do you also take into consideration the equipment the public listens with as you work?
Jongwan: No. I make music thinking of and listening to the best audio. The sound we hear in the studio is the most important. Because it’s a product that comes from us, we have to be satisfied. Whether the public likes it or not after listening is the next step. The engineers who make the album with us ,continually change things from an objective point-of-view to fit the conditions of listening to music on an iPhone or on the computer. But we said, “Let’s not do that; let’s do what sounds good when we listen to it.” Because the speakers we have are likely to be better than those others have anyway, our album has to sound good here for us not to be ashamed. If I listen to it and feel shame or am not satisfied, then I’ve failed.
Jaekyoung: It’d be nice if people who like our music could listen to it in our studio. Listening to it in the studio is the real thing, so only we get to hear the good sound. That’s the irony. It’d be nice if there were such an opportunity.
Jongwan: If you think of an album as a commodity, it’s right to think of it as making something for the pleasure of the listeners. But, to us, before our album is a commodity, it’s a product first. It’s true that the sound quality [decreases], but I don’t want to accommodate that kind of speaker. Of course, I’m not saying that people who record like that are bad. It’s just that this is our style. Our value as Nell the band is, “After we’re satisfied, let’s see.” It’s that.
You feel like an artisan.
Jongwan: If you put it that way, then I think it’s something to feel good about.
But, when the public hears that, it won’t be easy to hear.
Jaekyoung: Even if everyone listens through various ways, there’s a difference in the resulting work. If the result of our work is good, then we’re happy regardless of any distortion that might form.
Jongwan: I like that we’re slightly romantic. I don’t know where I read this, but I read that, today, people choose convenience over romance, but, for us, at least when we’re making music, romance is still more important. (That’s a little more essential.) We’re romantic guys. (laughs)
When I look at your lyrics, it seems like you’ve dated roughly* once. There’s a very murky mood to them, too.
Jongwan: Can dating be light/easy? Even now my heart/chest feels full! (laughs)
* Another of those pesky words …
When you say Nell, many people attach the label “emotional modern rock band” to you and refer a lot as ever to Coldplay and Radiohead. Do you go looking for people’s comments?
Everyone: No, we don’t go looking first.
Jongwan: I don’t understand why modern rock in our country keeps being used like that. That label just refers to rock today, but, since before, when you’d think of a rock band, you’d think of things like a really extreme performance, but Radiohead and Coldplay aren’t like that, and, because they’re the two most famous bands today, I think people just use the label along those veins.
Honestly, couldn’t the big difference be that, while Coldplay’s Chris Martin married Gwyneth Paltrow, bands in our country haven’t really gotten into scandals with actresses? “Kim Jongwan dating Kim Taehee” — could this kind of scandal happen?
Jongwan: I’ll leave it to you to make it happen. (laughs)
I think rock bands still struggle financially. But, you’re one of very few bands in our country who hold solo concerts in large venues. Have you made some money?
Jongwan: I think that’s a preconception from long ago. Even when I look around me, there are lots of kids who are living above the standard of living. And it’s not like instruments are cheap, either. I feel like, the way the media handles it, things keep getting presented like that, and it’s regrettable.* When we were twenty and doing music, even if we had no money, we didn’t think things were tough. We thought we were enjoying life. “If we have 5000 won, we can drink three bottles of soju” — we had that kind of spirit. Even now, I think we had good fortune.
* This sentence confused the hell out of me, so I’ve no idea if it’s really correct.
Could it really have been good fortune?
Jongwan: You always need fortune, but only those who’ve worked really hard can get it. I think misfortune and good fortune come and go to anyone fairly. There are things we worked really hard for, and, then, I think there are things we seized when fortune struck.
But, in the world today, everyone wants to have more?
Junghoon: Read the book No Possession by the monk Bub Jung. (laughs)
You all seem like you have no greed. Because all you usually do are music and drink …
Jaekyoung: That’s because we pour everything into music. When we were jokingly asked, “What would you do if you were given 2000 trillion won?’, no matter how we thought about it, the only answer was music. If we couldn’t do music, what’s the point of having that money?
Jaewon: But, if it were 2000 trillion won, that could change, too …. (laughs)
Jongwan, when did you learn your timbre (musical colour) was peculiar?
Jaekyoung: Can I answer this? I learned this second year of middle school. Jongwan was singing, and thousands of schoolgirls just stared at him. In middle school, the kids who danced were more popular, but, then, I realised that a guy who sings well is better.
That’s right. If you call a guy who dances when you’re lonely at night, he can’t do anything, but, if you call a guy who sings well, he can sing you a song.
Everyone: Hahahaha (laughs)
Junghoon: If I can’t sleep tonight, I want to call Jongwan.
Jongwan: Forget it, I’ll just curse at you. Hang up! (laughs)
Over the last few years, various indie musicians like 10cm, Black Skirt, Jang Kiha, etc. have gotten lots of popularity. From a musician’s perspective, do you feel like the public has changed?
Jongwan: Before, if I felt like playing a guitar was different in itself, nowadays, I’m happy thinking that people are freely accepting people who play instruments. I don’t know much about the industry overall, but I think this change in recognition is a good thing. It’d be nice if people went to the Han River with their friends and played guitar and chatted with peace of mind and if many people performed on instruments. I’m looking forward to it gradually spreading.
As you finish a solo concert, you said that there were things you wanted to ask the fans but didn’t have the opportunity. What do you want to ask?
Jongwan: If life is worth living, if they’re living well, and college graduates are bound to worry about finding employment. Young kids have lots of worries, too, but if they aren’t living too trapped in worries. I’d like the people who like our music to be happy.
Now that I’ve interviewed you, your answers generally seem to come from you having emerged from thirty-three years of life*, but I think it’s very fascinating that the music you put out generally is so comforting to people who life from day-to-day.
Jaekyoung: I’m fascinated by that, too.
* More weirdness …
Finally, the single life is?
Jaewon: The single life has nothing to do with me! (Are there time you envy it?) I have no time to myself. I ultimately get lonely when I’m by myself, but I need to myself from time-to-time.
Junghoon: Run away from home! (laughs)
Past girlfriends are?
Jaekyoung: Memories that are both very clear and very opaque.
[2008.12.30] Elle Trend Explorer
Nell are walking through life’s memories. They’re seeking their heart in the images of their past. By capturing that heart, they create their music. Nell’s music is a black and white film you see through sound.
Nell, Walking Through Life’s Memories
Shin Kiju: I heard you’re different from your music. That you’re cheerful people.
Nell: Not to the point of being cheerful. We’re not depressed people.
Shin: The emotion Nell’s music presents is a grey colour. That hue doesn’t fade but has a strong toxic quality.
Nell: We think our music calms the heart. There’s music that shuts the ears at first listen. Nell’s music, the more you listen to it, the more you know it and the newer it becomes.
Shin: Nell remarkably have many mania fans. And the members each have many fans. There’s music you listen to only in fleeting moments. Nell’s music is sensitive and repetitive and toxic. Once you fall in, you just endlessly repeat.
Nell: The impressive thing is, some fans say that, while listening to an album from three years ago, they feel a newness. We don’t think there can only be one feeling to music. However, there’s a lot of music that draws out only one emotion. We want to create music that makes people feel as though they’re becoming closer to their emotions. That’s why we intentionally try never to make tangible references to our lyrics during interviews. We want the listener to interpret and feel our music subjectively.
Park Eunseong: Really?
Nell: A band’s music has to be like that. There can be many key elements hidden in music. That sound, one day, suddenly reaches you.
Shin: Then, listeners have to be active. Nell’s music creates core fans [fans to the core], but it can be difficult music for listeners who are used to being given the basics or who are used to being spoon-fed.
Nell: That could be Nell’s music’s strength and weakness. Instead of making music you can easily listen to, we have a style that makes listening to music more active. That’s a weakness because, these days, people don’t sit and listen to music. People need music they can play while driving or shopping at the department store or having a conversation at a coffee shop. It becomes used as background music for Cyworld and cell phones. It’s used as a means of accompaniment to other tasks. In that aspect, Nell’s music isn’t of much use. It can be almost too much just to turn on.
Shin: To compete in an era that consumes background music as music, and, also, to make an album with a defined shape — could there be any meaning in that?
Nell: We think there is nothing that’s [extra] about a world that can only consume music for an hour or two. Then, we’d have to have to make music like a book that makes you want to read it after reading only one or two pages.
Park: You said that Nell’s music can’t be background music. But, I think that Nell’s music, more than others, is very [evocative]. You could say it makes you imagine certain scenery.
Nell: When we’re recording, we consider what we call “visualization” very important. When we’re recording or in the latter parts of production, there are images that come to mind. There are many poetic things. We fix the sound to be able to express those thoughts. So we think that … There are many intentional parts, too.
Shin: What image do you think of first and start composing?
Nell: There’s a vague feeling that comes to mind when first composing a song. [Directors] can release that in an image. We think that musicians release what they feel about the image in their head through music. Basically, we’re hoping that the people listening will be able to feel our image through music. Whether in the process of creating a sound, even while mixing, we pay careful attention to that.
Shin: What about lyrics? Through lyrics, you can expand on the image more tangibly. But Nell’s music isn’t very explanatory.
Nell: We don’t think music is a medium to deliver the truth objectively like the news, and neither is it a medium to tell a story. Music has its own ability to deliver. In Nell’s case, we deliver emotions we draw out. It’s an incredible feeling to think that listeners are seeing the same image. That’s truly a pleasure.
Shin: Mutual understanding is a pleasure to any artist who faces the public. How is it? In Japan, healing music was popular. When people listen to Nell’s music, they receive consolation or their soul gains rest — do you care about such things?
Nell: It’s not exclusively healing music, but we think each member has a [standard]. However, we wonder if it isn’t that Nell’s music is fundamentally meant to comfort ourselves. It might seem selfish, but I make music to make myself happy. However, it would also be nice if those who listen to Nell’s music could also be comforted. If we can be a friend when they’re lonely. However, the very first to be comforted are ourselves.
Shin: Do musicians have to be selfish?
Nell: We do sometimes wonder what would have become of us if we didn’t have music. There were hard times and very difficult [tasks]. At those times, if we didn’t make music, we could have wandered without end. In that moment, we could rise up again while doing music. Our attitudes toward music changed a lot then. Music keeps me from breaking, so that I won’t be damaged as a human being, I think it helps me find meaning in life.
Shin: Because there are many people who live without finding that meaning.
Nell: Making music is like a blessing.
Shin: How much of Nell is in Nell’s music? Whether it’s love or hurt or personal experiences, are you the type to bring in lots of emotion? Some abandon themselves constantly to the very bottom for creativity.
Nell: I think it’s like always finding something in oneself. I think it’s definitely easier to do music during hard or unpleasant times instead of during periods of comfort and stability. It’s not like that for all projects, but, whether it’s office people or family or friends, when I’m occupied with them, I lose concentration. I need something that lets me focus on my emotions. I think that helps at the song-writing stage. During the latter half of production, emotional stability is better. I can sympathize with the saying to drive yourself to the very end for creativity.
Shin: Isn’t music a blessing and a burden?
Nell: I think a slump finds me every so often. A slump comes about every four to five months. This could be a personality problem. I’m the type to push myself, you see. Because I’m not a genius. I’m the type to throw everything I have into a musical environment and remove small parts. And I work everyday. And, so, a slump finds me periodically.
Nell: Not only when we release an album but also before we release an album or after, because we’re always making music, these things can come upon us more often than on other people.
Shin: Are you anxious about anything right now?
Nell: We’re anxious we won’t be able to eat dinner. We’re anxious about the economy. If the economy’s bad, culture dies, too.
Shin: As captured in Nell’s music, is there anyone who’s anxious about love?
Nell: If we’re anxious, then we think it’ll be really hard. Love is something you have then don’t have or don’t have then have. We’re all twenty-nine now. We know it’ll repeat itself. We don’t think we have significant worries.
Shin: You’re so optimistic about love, yet how do you write your lyrics or make your music?!
Nell: We think that’s different. Breaking up is always hard. However, struggling and being anxious seem like two different things. It’s sad when things that were there are no longer there. We’re not anxious, though.
Park: I think this new album’s title, “THE TRACE,” is the word that suits Nell the best. Would it be safe to say that Nell always seems to be leaning not on the future but on the past?
Nell: Instead of leaning … it’s more like we’re always living in the past. Even as we’re talking now, if one second passes, it becomes the past. We’re here because there is that kind of past. This album came out with a DVD that captures our moments then. We’re now at the end of our twenties at twenty-nine. We’ve never directly watched any of our performing selves from our twenties. We’ve recorded for a long time as the band Nell. We made it so we could remember ourselves.
Shin: Remembering the past seems to be the emotion that penetrates Nell’s music.
Nell: Because life is the past.
Shin: I can see why Nell are Nell. But did Jodie Foster ever call?
Nell: Ah, right, we never gave her our number.