[INTERVIEW:VOGUE JULY 2014] LA DOLCE VITA
LA DOLCE VITA
TaeYang rose again. His life is about to open a radiant morning as the literal meaning of his second solo album [RISE]. Look at TaeYang’s glittering youth; who passionately dances with colorful candy-sweet ladies!
It’s World Cup season nowadays. Do you like soccer?
No, but I do want to visit Brazil. I like to watch beautiful scenery.
And there’re lots of beautiful girls.
Haha. I’ve heard about it a lot. Today’s shooting mood is also like South America.
(You) danced with a lot of passion too. What is the style code for this album?
First of all, the main color is gold. I got my album released today, and not just its cover, but the inner-sheets are also gold. So I bought a gold necklace. I wore that chain, which has the logo from ‘Ringa Linga’, on the ‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’ M/V. And and a gold Rolex watch and a white gold watch.
Looks like a wedding watch.
After I finished this album I wanted to give myself a meaningful gift. I had a hard time preparing this for 4 years. So I bought 2 watches to comfort myself.
‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’ wasn’t supposed to be the title song for the album, was it?
‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’ was the last song I made. About 3 months ago. Actually I was going to choose another song as a title – such as ’1AM’– but somehow the release of my album was constantly delayed. I had been though a lot of heartache, but it is my boss who determines the release after all.
What kind of changes occurred along with the album delay?
The direction of the music has changed. For the first 2 years, I did what I wanted to do. I worked alone from the start to the end for my own satisfaction, but my boss expressed it as a lack of direction. Of course I didn’t think I was right for everything.
Then why did you change your mind?
Given those circumstances, I couldn’t have released my album at all. I learned it through trial and error. I wanted to do more and more of what I liked as time went on. I thought I needed to draw a big picture by listening to others before my preference grows too strong. From then I accepted the company’s opinion as much as I can. That’s how I made ’1AM’; most of the tracks in this album were made from then on.
Which track is the most like TAEYANG?
The Intro ‘RISE’ and the last track ‘Love You To Death’, which Tablo participated in producing. Both of these were made 2 years ago. I made the Intro first to set the overall direction for the album. I thought it was a fresh sound which was not very well known in Korea at that time.
You must be so sorry for that. Music is not a thing that needs to become richer as time goes on like wine.
I wanted to make songs quickly, so I could listen to people’s opinion about them. Because when I listened to them, they were good. Anyway I am grateful for releasing this album and being loved by people now.
It seems your album is quite well received.
Yes, I was worried about it so much. It was something I never tried before. Honestly, I understand my company’s side too. My last album was loved by people who like my music very much, but was not that popular with the general public. So I decided to make music which can be loved by as many as possible. If there are the gains and losses for this album, I can say this is it. I expect that those people who loved my previous music’s color would feel betrayed a bit. So I worried if the album wouldn’t become popular. The album might have become something betwixt and between.
This may sound embarrassing, but personally, this album feels like a Coming of Age movie to me. While I was listening to those tracks, I recalled like, ‘Ah, I also had those feelings in my 20s.’ The whole album was like a story that contained someone’s glorious days as memories and scenes came across my mind.
I think that’s very good feedback for me. The best thing I’ve ever heard until now. The last 4 years was a time when I have felt things the most. From 23 to 27. I tried to put enthusiastic zest, love – these kinds of unorganized feelings I’ve felt – into the album. It feels like I finally got the fruits of my long-prepared creation, since you felt them as a story regardless of their genre.
You had your comeback stage at SBS [InKiGayo], right? It was such a large-scale stage. The best part was the explosion of the solar system in the supersized screen at the climax.
I was surprised too. I had asked SBS to keep the mood from the ‘Eyes,Nose,Lips’ M/V, but they took very good care of the stage. I can’t have that kind of stage at the broadcasting companies, so I thought it would be nice if people can see the changes which describe the song at the supersized LED screen. They prepared more than I expected.
I also recalled Cho YongPil’s ‘Hello’ M/V. The mood is totally different, but the general code of this album is connected to his music somehow.
Exactly. I was unintentionally influenced a lot by Cho Yong Pil while making this album. His last album was good, but I also listened to his former music a lot too. I have learned many things from him – not only his music but also about the attitude of his life. So my music might show those things. Especially, I thought about him while I sang‘Let Go’.
Does the ‘King of pop’ know about it?
Yes, I visited him to show him my music. At first, he listened to the song and told me it is a very good song. And of course, he advised me on every detail which needed to be improved. I think we heard the song over hundred times there.
I knew you went to his album showcase before, but I didn’t expect that much.
I like his music because it has many messages. When I first met him, I was a little nervous because I admire him so much, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable to be with him at all. Actually I feel more comfortable to be with him because we have a big age gap.
The legendary senior and the junior whose music is the hottest these days met and share musical sensitivity together!
To be honest, when I was young, I barely listened to any k-pop. The root of my music is actually foreign music. But after I became a singer, I agonized over things like ‘What kind of singer should I become?’ Everybody thinks about [these things], but I was very serious. Even music was a secondary concern to me. I saw his documentary then, and it impressed me so much. If there’s a real singer, he is the one. I wanted to live like him!!
When was it?
It was after I released my first solo album. I started to listen to k-pop music then. I started with Cho Yong Pil and listened to LeeMoonsae, whose song had been remade by Bigbang, and DeulGukHwa… DeulGukHwa’s music especially is really amazing. The lyrics and the scale are… I don’t want to define what music is, but if I have to do it, their music seems the nearest one.
DeulGukHwa’s lastest album was beautiful too. What do you think about Taeyang’s album?
I can’t compare myself with them. But I want to persuade people with my own color. I am doing various attempts for now, but I am eager to find my own music and release it to the world. I will never stop the effort at least.
This album seems to fit your age very much.. Your first full length album and single album were very refined music which felt like sensational and trendy clothes for someone special, but this album was so natural. I liked it.
If you saw my album jacket, you would know it – I tried not to do anything as much as I could. I can certainly say this. Like ‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’, I did the music from myself for this album. I put my feelings for the moment into the music without regard for the music’s genre. I even met some of the tracks accidentally.
What kind of accident was it? Can you give me an example?
For example, the way I met ‘Let go’ was one. YG’s studios run around the clock. I was going home after work at dawn when I heard the melody of the song. As soon as I listened to the melody in the hallway, I immediately made the song’s demo. ‘Body’ was similar too. When producers install a new program, they usually make any sound roughly. Teddy was playing with new sources and I liked it very much, so I took the source to make ‘Body’.
That’s why I felt the song was naughty and freewheeling somehow. It fits the mood of the studio today as well. But why did you use ‘Body’ as the English title of ‘Beautiful’?
We strongly supported ‘Body’ for its name, but boss strongly urged ‘Beautiful’ is better.
CL’s voice which appears for 2 seconds is also impressive. Did CL write the lyrics “My head, shoulder, knee, foot, It’s better than yours” herself?
I mentioned earlier that I made the song at the spur of the moment. I put a sampling from Kelis’s ‘Milkshake’ the first time. Because the lyrics said ‘your body is so beautiful’, I used the sampling as the answer to it, but I couldn’t get the approval to use the sample. So I suddenly had to replace it with someone else’s song from our company. If you listen to this album, you can find quite a few hidden featurings.
The woman’s voice in the middle of the track no.9, ‘Love You To Death’ is CL too?
Yes, haha. We use CL the most because when we need a woman’s voice all of sudden, we have to bring someone in the studio as soon as possible. Come to think of it, she is always there when we need her. And she is the best too. Actually for Track 9, only CL can make that kind of sound. But the sound effect distorted her voice so much we agreed that it would be awkward to use her name for the featuring of the song.
Are there any other cameos too?
I needed quite a number of background vocals for this album. For example, all those people in the office-such as songwriter hyungs, and trainees – sang together for the last part of ‘This Ain’t It’.
That’s interesting. Speaking of ‘This Ain’t It’, the song was the most unfamiliar and unexpected song among all the tracks. Taeyang who sings to the accompaniment of acoustic guitar!
Yes, actually that was the hardest song to record. Literally I thought ‘This Ain’t It’ a lot. Haha. The song is mixed with pop and british rock music a lot, but I couldn’t understand it because it wasn’t my style. Of course I knew if I sang this one, it will be quite unique. But the first time, I couldn’t get the feeling. So I recorded the song the most.
Can you play guitar as much as you play piano?
No, but I’d love to. Especially electric guitar.
You pursue the style as I expected. Do you still enjoy skateboard?
I rode a skateboard 2 years ago, and I ride a bicycle nowadays. You may be surprised if you see me. Because my bicycle is a very ordinary one. Haha. It’s perfect weather for riding a bicycle these days. So I take it and go around places near my house and Han River.
Is your wonderful house which was introduced in [Vogue Living] still in the condition as it was before? Still smells like strawberries?
Ah it smells like fruit flavor a bit. It is almost the same as back then. I want my house to be clean, but it’s a little messy now as I started my solo activity. My clothes are all over the place.
Other members are collecting things such as clothes, funiture, fine art…
I collect ‘memories’. Haha. I remember things very well.
You must have a quite big memory capacity.
You’ve mentioned this song contains your story at the ‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’ making video.
The song is about longing for a past lover. I was so lonely at that time. The song came out the right time to express the feeling.
That’s the season flowers blossom. You made the song 3 months ago.
Yes. In the spring.
That happened to you then?
Well.. I don’t know. Haha.
You didn’t need to say it was your story. Why did you do that? People will ask about it like me.
Because it really was my story. That’s why I wrote the song. It’s hard to explain, but I felt really sad when I recorded the song. Because the song was all about my real emotion.
Could you write the lyrics even though you were that sad?
At that time, I just wrote the lyrics over 3 pages in my memo pad. As if I was writing a diary. That’s why I love music. I hung on making music to overcome my emotions and because of the emotion, I could make music whenever I feel sad, upset, and happy. I tweeted something before releasing my album, I tried hard not to miss every moment of making my album somehow. I tried really hard to express frankly my feelings and emotions at the moment through music.
When was the happiest moment then? ‘Ringa Linga’ which was co-produced by GD is exciting music as if you are having a fun party with friends.
I can’t count the happiest moments because there are too many. When I’m with BigBang members, it feels like I am having the most fun in the world. That’s for sure. I laugh the most when we are together. When I bury myself in making music, I often forget my age. We 5 make me not forget the feelings of my age even if I do what I like. We tease each other most of the time, and it’s really fun.
What do BigBang members do nowadays?
TOP is filming a movie, Seungri is appearing in a drama [Angel Eyes]. DaeSung is about to release new solo album in Japan, and JiYong has been so busy and is now having little rest. We are creating BigBang’s new album together.
You are going to have your first solo tour concert in August in Japan.How do you feel?
One of the reasons I wanted to release my album soon was the concert. I wanted to meet my fans on stage. It’s hard to share feelings in TV shows and a concert is too short. So I think a tour is the best way to do it. A Solo tour wouldn’t be as much fun as a tour with 5 members. [In terms of] preparation and the time I have to wait for the show. But I will have my own memories of the stage.
You’ve joined half GD’s world tour, which member will join you?
I don’t know. Everyone is busy. I’ve got enough help from GD, more than I’ve done for him. He helped in my album production and came for my first come back stage too.
Instead of other BigBang members, we invited 4 models for today’s shooting. We are going to make a mini music video for ‘Body’. And we will upload it on Vogue.com.
It was fun. I wonder what it’ll be like.
By the way, what has producer Teddy said about this album?
While Teddy-hyung was finalizing the organization of my album, he told me it is a ‘well made album’. He said ‘it’s really hard to make an album that has 9 tracks in it. That’s why you took 4 years’.
4 years is such a long time, you can even finish a Bachelor’s degree, Congratulations! You graduated. What kind of special compliment do you want to get?
You’ve already mentioned it. I found out other people understood my thoughts that I’ve tried to put in my album because of you. That makes me happy the most. Actually while I was a little tired today, I really enjoyed shooting.
A compliment even makes TaeYang dance. Considering an entire life as one day, which position would ‘Taeyang’ be located in the sky now?
I guess ‘Taeyang’ just rose like my title [RISE]. The sky is not bright yet, and the sun is about to emit its light in all directions. It’s too early to judge where I am now. It’s just the beginning.
Editor: Lee Mihye
Translation by redsun for alwaystaeyang.wordpress.com.