Early morning, there was a long line of traffic leaving Seoul. It was May 1st, a Friday before the long weekend. It was also the release day of Big Bang’s new single. Their comeback took as many as 1,157 days. The reaction was enthusiastic. ‘LOSER’ and ‘BAE BAE’ made it to the trending search words and the first place on music charts within seconds. The world was uproarious with stories of Big Bang. At that time, Big Bang was having a free but busy morning in the middle of a barley field in Ansung, Gyeonggido. A tractor-carriage carrying tourists passed by every 15 minutes, but no one had ever imagined Big Bang being here. Colourful clothes were hanging on the hanger leaning against a tree, and staff members and the cars that the members were riding in formed some kind of a fort. The sky was blue as ever. In an old storage building that used to be a drama film set, models that got their makeup done since 7 in the morning were rubbing their sleepy eyes and looking in the mirror. From the speakers, Big Bang’s new songs were playing repeatedly. The five members of Big Bang were stretching.
“Which song was good?” The first one to bring a chair over and ask the question was Taeyang. It’s been a year since I have seen him after his solo album activities. He was tanner and more muscular than before. “Yesterday I stayed at the office until midnight editing the music video. Then I emptied by mind and watched for people’s reactions.” Since they hadn’t been on broadcasts or doing any kind of interview yet, Taeyang was curious as to how the new songs appealed to the public. It wasn’t an anxiety about how the market would evaluate their songs, it was 100% curiosity. To be honest, the two songs were shockingly good. If the era of Big Bang could be divided into two, pre-‘Lies’ and post-‘Lies’ periods, I felt like the new album would also become another turning point for Big Bang. This was Big Bang’s music… It’s not easy to find musicians that can create the type of music only they can make, and it’s even harder to gain popularity with such music. Other than Big Bang, who would ever be able to talk about sticky rice cakes and martial compatibility in such a classy way?
“Isn’t it fun? The lyrics are enjoyable too. The lyrics weren’t ‘sticky rice cake’ at first, it was ‘call the police’. At first we just had the flow and we were discussing what the lyrics should be, and suddenly ‘sticky rice cake’ came up, and I really like it. We were going to use sticky rice cakes and buckwheat jelly together…but we thought that would be too much.” The background stories of how the music came to be is always interesting. But what I wanted to find out about the most was Taeyang’s long hair in ‘BAE BAE’ music video! Seeing shirtless Taeyang with long straight hair riding a horse was very shocking. “That was my idea. I wanted to be sexual but funny at the same time rather than being cool. So I overdid it, and even the staff in our office had clear likes and dislikes to the scene. So yeah, it turned out like that.” I was thinking, what would it be like if today’s photoshoot included a scene of Taeyang riding a horse? Let’s say if he learned how to horse-ride. “Not at all. Once I climbed on a horse without practice and I was almost crushed to death. Although it was fine because it was a well-trained horse.”
In the music video, TOP with a cat-eye contact lense on one eye, appears with Kohei Nawa’s crystal deer. Just like how he appeared with Kim Hwan Ki’s ‘deer’ in his previous solo track <Doom Dada>, he again brought forth a modern artwork to the image of Big Bang. TOP is not only a quite well-known furniture collector but also a known art lover. “Kohei Nawa and I are friends. I appear in the MV without one eye, and in the lyrics I say ‘pretty eyes like a deer’, which is an old expression. Since it’s like falling in love when I meet a girl that has something that I don’t have, I naturally came up with this. Also, I rap about natural beauties, and the artwork is a ‘natural’ taxidermied deer.” How they can put a lot of effort into each music video? That’s because their release is a special long-term project. CEO Yang Hyun Suk had said that instead of releasing a formal album right away, Big Bang will be releasing 4 single albums (M, A, D, E) with 2 songs each on the first day of every month from May to August. In September, the word ‘Made’ will be completed and the full album will be released.
The songs have been already made. But the list hasn’t been confirmed yet. If they make a better song in between, the list may be added or changed. It’s still a secret whether there will be more songs in the final album. “I can’t tell you. We need to look cool too, right?” The only thing they can add to what’s already been said is that they can’t restrict the genre of their music, and also that all songs have been made recently. Of course GD started preparing the new album ever since the actives of <Still Alive> have ended, but it was early this year when Big Bang got together and good songs were starting to be made. Things just worked out naturally when they were laughing and having fun. They dumped the old songs with no regrets. “That was when we had the most fun. Around March and April when we were done recording, we decided to listen to all the songs one day. We had wine and cheese in the studio and we danced and had fun with the music. It was a lot of fun.” I can imagine that it would have been like the music video of ‘We Like 2 Party’.
The photoshoot was no different. Taeyang said that Daesung in his beret looks like a bus guide lady and shouted “Ohri~”. Daesung started shaking his body and danced in response. It has been a while since Daesung, who usually doesn’t leave his house unless he’s working, has been out to the field like this. At their concert at the Olympics Stadium before the release of the album, Seungri even commented about Daesung “He doesn’t do anything other than playing the drums at home. Please come out of the house”. “It’s somewhat true. I don’t enjoy going out. I wanted to learn how to play the drums ever since I was young, so I started learning it after my first solo album tour in Japan. It’s been around 2 years. It’s a lot of fun.” And the reaction of the members after watching him play? “Do you know the movie <Whiplash>? It’s like that.” This crazy and comical drummer basically doesn’t give a damn about anything. For the filming of music video of ‘LOSER’, Daesung changed his hairstyle to create an image of loneliness. “When I covered my eyes and changed my image, I became cautious and quiet. To be honest, I can’t see very well.” Daesung learned how to communicate without his eyes. “So I’m studying how to act with my lower face”
Daesung has been busy with his solo activities in Japan for a while. The hyungs commented on Daesung’s popularity: “In Japan, Daesung is the most popular after the emperor.* Whenever we’re on stage for a Japan tour, we lose our nerves because of the cheers for Daesung.” They jokingly bragged about Daesung’s popularity. Daesung didn’t know how to react to their compliments. “Ayoo, what are you talking about. The reason why I can do my solo activities is because of Big Bang, and that tells us how Big Bang’s popularity got bigger in Japan.” The last day of the concert in April was Daesung’s birthday. Under Seungri’s lead, a cake was brought up to the stage and hundreds of fans and the members congratulated his birthday. After the concert, they was an after-party. “I had a lot of fun. Some people were worried that I was working on my birthday, but it was the most special birthday I’ve ever had. If I didn’t have that, I would have just stayed home and order a lot of delivery food, and that would have been it.” I was curious as to what he got for his birthday from the members. “Nothing. We just decided one day not to exchange gifts. Just like that.” The reason is pretty great. As Big Bang’s popularity grew, their income grew along with that, and if they start choosing suitable gifts for each other, one day they’ll have to buy houses for each other. So this is what a life of a superstar is like.
The members think that the biggest superstar amongst Big Bang is Seungri, of course. “He’s like a celebrity the most amongst us. I envy him.” Even when travelling, this young elegant gentleman has a different way of doing things. Because he has world-wide personal connections, private planes are involved. He even has a friend that owns a club/team. “My friend has an elevator in his house!” Seungri, chewing on a cheap kimbab, proudly added. Members tease but adore this innocent maknae. Honestly speaking, Seungri had a lot of thoughts while preparing for this album. He was dispirited from different incidents too. “I felt like I was losing my judgment. So rather than taking up my opinions, I listened to what the members or other producers said. In the end, I’m happy that the album is out.” Seungri was assigned the most important parts of the shoot. For example, he roughly drove a vintage pickup truck at 30km/h. He also put his arms around a model and acted out a romantic scene. Seungri, who had a guitar on him, strum the strings and started singing Lee Jang Hee’s song from the 60’s. “I have something to tell you~. Tonight I suddenly have something to tell you.” Then he asked model Lee Ho Jung, whom he first met today, in a gentle voice. “Do you by any chance know how to play a C minor?”
The photoshoot continued until sunset. With the clear moon, a helicam was flying in the sky. Members, who have never seen a helicam this close, were amused by it like little kids. “We have a lot of fun just by being together. We’ve known each other since our trainee days, when we were in our 10’s. We know everything about each other. When I go out, I don’t have any friends. That’s because I don’t have a lot of common experiences to talk about with others. But when the five of us get together, we chat and we laugh. That’s what powers me up the most.” Taeyang said. Next year, it will be Big Bang’s 10th anniversary. The finale of ‘Made World Tour’ that will continue to 2016 will probably be their 10th-year commemorative concert. Big Bang has already overcome the limits of an idol group from YG Entertainment. Boys in their 10’s who used to sing ‘Dirty Cash’ without even understanding the meaning have surpassed a stage of creating their own, classy songs and became an icon of an era. Of course the process was not always as good as playing with water in the summer. We can see that just by looking at the lyrics of the song ‘LOSER’. GD said this: “Everyone has their own problems. We do too, because we’re humans. Seeing us from TV, people may think that after performing at a concert in front of a lot of people, we go out to parties, drink and hang out with girls, but that’s not true. When we’re done our work, we go home, watch a movie, sleep, and that’s it. There’s a sense of emptiness that we get from this.” What kept them going was each other.
Whenever Big Bang released a new album, it was always beyond our expectations. What would it be like after 10 years? “If there’s no excitement, there’s no reason for us to continue.” TOP was determined. GD added that other members agree with TOP. “From a third-person point of view, if our appearance on stage is not good, then we don’t do it. If we’re not cool and not confident, what can we show you? Trying too hard to look cool, I hate that so much.” So this means when Big Bang is no longer like Big Bang anymore. “But right now, this is really fun. I felt it again with our activities with the current album. As time passes, we start to find out more about ourselves, what we can do to become better, that’s how it’s been for us until now. I want to keep it this way for 10, 20 years from now,” Taeyang said. Just like the name ‘Made’, Big Bang is still in the process of making themselves with the completion of the new songs. Even when it got dark outside, members sat down in a deserted house and continued to talk about their music and their future. After their manager nagged them a couple times, they finally got up. Before getting in the car, I told them “You guys are cool”. Instead of a goodbye, they said, “We think we’re cool too! We still have that ‘hungry spirit’ inside us.”
*emperor: seems like they were referring to the four famous Korean actors in Japan.