perfect humble baby

[TRANS] ELLE November issue - interview with Baekhyun

When the news of EXO’s volcanic fandom came to us last year, I asked the young ladies around us. “Why is EXO so popular?” A junior answered that she has ‘fallen’ for EXO. “Sunbae, look at them first. You’ll be hooked!” And on a day in 2015, while I was flipping through the TV channels, I watched EXO’s performance on their new song. I couldn’t look away from the nimble performance of these male idols who look alike but are so different, pwerfully and sophisticatedly coming together and spreading out repeatedly. This year, there were many opportunities for the non-fans of the public to get a sense of the capability or worth of EXO, the global worldwide group that was rumoured to be a legend. The presence of each and every member had also became clearer. Baekhyun promised to proceed with his first individual pictorial as ELLE commemorates their 23rd anniversary since the first published issue. We were informed beforehand that he is called a ‘Beagle Idol’ because of his particularly bright and cheerful image, but the 24-year-old young man that we met at the filming scene was well-mannered and senseful, and evoked good impressions. Despite this being the first photoshoot that he had taken alone, the filming went by without an awkward moment. He was also aware of what the editor wanted even before directions were given and moved proactively. The most impressive thing out of all was the positive energy that influenced liveliness even on the sharp(!) editor! Baekhyun left us to practice for the concert that will be happening in Korea’s very first dome stage-like Gocheok Sky Dome during this coming weekend. He even left us with a well-mannered bow that might have had his body folded in half at the waist.

You are born in 1992, aren’t you? Do you think that today’s meeting is destiny?
I heard ELLE Korea’s first published issue was in 1992 too. It’s an honour to have my first individual shoot in ELLE. Though the shots weren’t little, it felt like pictures were being taken really fast. When I have photoshoots together with the members, it feels like time passes really very slowly. Because even if just one person has his eyes closed among the eight, we have to do another take.

You are 24 in Korean age. But truthfully, you look a lot younger.
I look younger than my age most of the time. The members are all in their mid 20′s. These days, there are many groups that start off in their teens but when we debuted, we weren’t all that young. 

Without realising it, it has already been 4 years since EXO debuted.
I still cannot forget our first debut showcase. I actually don’t get that nervous at anything. I thought, “Just do it like I’m practicing and everything will be alright.” However, when I heard the fans’ yells as the intro video appeared, a shudder ran through my body from head to toe. Even when I am tired, my exhaustion goes away when I stand on the stage. It must be a habit.

When did you start thinking you have to be a singer?
I declared it to my parents when I was 11 years old. I told them that I didn’t think I would be able to work sitting in an office, because I’m very lively by nature and I cannot stay still in one spot. I would sing along to the songs that came out on TV and my friends would tell me that I was good, so because of that I wanted very much to try it out. Then, in the sixth year of elementary school, I saw singer Rain sunbaenim and I officially developed my dream of being a singer. I thought he was very handsome when I saw the broad stage being filled up just by his powerful presence.

You’re said to the member with the shortest training period in the team.
While on my way to take the entrance examination for Seoul Arts University, I was casted in front of the school, and when I debuted, it had not yet been a year since I entered in the company. I am thankful to the members more than anything. They were already a formed team that was just finding their identity, but everyone took me in welcomingly. They were never unfriendly to me at all.

Was it not because of your unique sociability?
I orginally have the kind of character that is not afraid of strangers. Even if someone gives of the vibe that they do not like me, I would still be friendly towards them. And I will like anyone who has basic manners. You seem to receive love in particular when you greet your sunbaenims well.

Where did you learn that way of life?
I learnt it naturally in school. There are many celebrities who couldn’t experience school life fully but I was lucky that I became a trainee after finishing both middle and high school. I identify with the saying “School is a small society” as I work. It really feels like I am in school whenever I am with the members.

You’re said to be the team’s mood maker. Do you like entertaining the people around you?
I do not like tensed atmospheres. If the atmosphere seems languid, I will chatter noisily. I actually did not know what it means to be depressed when I was younger. I thought, “Is it that unpleasant feeling I get when it rains?” If someone seems down, I would talk with no purpose and make them laugh. Because if you do not extinguish the depressing thoughts quickly, your heart will keep getting heavier and then it will be difficult to overcome them in the future.

So when you troubles, you…?
I will talk to the members about it. I do not keep it inside. Even if I will not find a solution, I would still feel lighter by just sharing it with someone. The members are not the kind of friends to mindlessly spread whatever we talk about wherever they go. To have friends I am able to share my heart with is a really happy thing. 

You had a role as an MC on a special broadcoast during the long holiday for Chuseok. If you were to comment on your own qualities as an MC…?
I could not help but look like a guest because I was emceeing together with the veteran sunbaes (laughs). I came back learning a lot. I realised that to become a good MC in particular, there are a lot of things I need to know. Both Kim Gura and Yoo Seyoon sunbaenim could talk easily about any topic. I really have to read more books too. This is embarrassing but when it comes to books, I remember only a few that I read in middle school. I am not good at doing things that are sedate. I am the type that likes to try doing this and that. 

Something that you enjoy the most these days is…?
I like games the most. Haha. I exercise a lot these days too. To be honest, the first day I went to the gym, it was so tough that almost gave up. But I persevered through the hardships and after doing it a few times, the feeling of showering afterwards is really nice. I would like to recommend this to people who are troubled over dieting (laughs).

Something new you want to learn or something you want to do better than you do now?
More than any other things, I want to be better at singing. Because I wanted to be a singer from the beginning. I want to sing so well that people who listen will go “Wow!” and be in admiration. Without too much flourish or techniques, but someone who is able to sing effortlessly and relatably [to people]. Though I do not have the opportunity of singing alone yet, I hope that I will be able to let many people listen to my songs in the future.

The EXO song you personally really like is…?
‘Love Me right’. Because it is a song with a funky vibe, everyone would be hyped. I think it brings out our real selves on the stage. In reality, the members are all somewhat carefree. Now that there is a song that matches with our natural selves as compared to the intense kind of song ‘Wolf’ is, you can feel the members jumping around because they are excited.

This year you were doing promotional activities diligently. Because of that, there are many opportunities for the public to find out the appeal and capabilities of a group like EXO.
I really do not know how time passed so fast. It felt like yesterday that we filmed the teaser video for ‘Call Me Baby’ and waited for the album to be released, but it is now already October that our repackaged album has come out and have had our concert. We did not perform much in music programs but I feel like we had many activities here and there. It was very fun. It feels good to EXO as a whole and to the members as individuals.

When did you feel that your popularity is ‘tremendous’?
When I hear the fans’ shouts. It is because our fans raise their voices with all they have when we go to a concert venue or an awards ceremony. Though I am grateful about receiving so much love, it is not our goal for our current popularity to stay as it is. Among the members, we say “Boys, what are all of you doing? We need to be better” a lot to each other.

But is there a higher position? You are the group that sells the most albums this year in South Korea though
We have to really be number one in South Korea. The thought of being at the top is really… I have not been there even once. It still feels like we are rookies. Wherever we go, we politely greet our sunbaes and the staff, and when we monitor ourselves together after leaving the stage, we go “Why is our dance like this? Let’s practice more.” It is good to have this kind of teamwork and attitude we have now where we are not prideful and where we strive to move forward.