What would it be like if Taeyang of Big Bang did not exist.
It may be something fans don’t even want to image, but in order to evaluate Taeyang’s true value, such a method may be effective. Even if Taeyang didn’t exist, Big Bang probably would have been one of the best pop groups like they are now. Because the remaining members have their own talents and personalities, and thanks to strong training, they would be lacking nothing to continue receiving the fiery love of their fans.
But if Taeyang did not exist, Big Bang’s heavy presence could have been lighter than it is now. Big Bang’s singular existence is that though they are ‘idols,’ they are also recognized as ‘artists’, and the member who is in charge of a significant portion of this ‘artistry’ is Taeyang.
Artistry, and sincerityThe reason this is is obviously that Taeyang shows us an exceptional ability in song and dance. But in addition to his musical ability that can be summarize him as an ‘artist,’ there is another key factor that makes him the alpha plus of Big Bang. And that is sincerity.
Taeyang clearly shows us musical and human sincerity that is difficult to find in a member of an idol group and singer in his early twenties. We can this sincerity musically, through the traces of worry over continually wanting to show a better and fresher image through his solo activities, and humanly through his prudent and modest thoughts and actions.
We met Taeyang. It was during the time when his solo album did almost surprisingly well on iTunes charts overseas and he was getting ready for his second solo concert (September 25 and 26, Seoul Hall of Peace) after releasing his international album. Though the interview was filled with sincere talk about music, there was also some silliness, like how he began the interview by appearing from behind the sofa where he had been hiding with a bright smile.
Human’ Taeyang, prudent and sillyTalk about music has no end, but we were curious about ‘human’ Taeyang so we changed the direction of the interview. We asked whether he’s jealous of the other Big Bang members. And what he thought made him better than the others. “Jiyong has the sense to accept new things, Daesung is bright and sociable, Seungri has confidence, and TOP is charismatic and stubborn… Me? I’m careful (laughs).” Taeyang is in charge of(?) Big Bang’s caution.
We asked whether he would change his hairstyle, which he’s had for quite some time. “I want to change it. But I don’t have that kind of time. If I want to change something, I have to do it with a comeback after going on a break, and I would need time to study and find a new style, but even if I didn’t have promotions in Korea, I have promotions in Japan and other places overseas, so I don’t have any time to change it.”
After seeing such a serious side of Taeyang, we wondered about his other sides so we asked if he ever spends his time being silly. “There are times when I am silly. If there’s a closet in our waiting room or something, I go inside sometimes. The people around me now understand this kind of humor of mine.” He told us about the time when he was in the middle of filming a music video when he ran away from set in full makeup and costume, and took a bus back to the office.
After talking nonstop about music, Taeyang found difficulty with questions that required a funny story or funny answers. The image of him saying, “Ah, I can’t think of it right now,” making a pained facial expression, and striving to think of something was very Taeyang-like. It seemed as though Taeyang doesn’t keep much in his head other than things that have to do with music.
Musical modesty and musical greedTaeyang’s interview continued with some depressing(?) conversation. It was Taeyang who made it that way. When asked a question about his achievements and his high-scoring musical ability, he simply gave us modest answers. Even though it’s accepted that when celebrities are asked questions about themselves, they sugar coat their answers to some degree, Taeyang did not do so.
When asked what he thought about doing more aggressive promotions overseas with the basis of his success on iTunes, he said, “There’s nothing special. Other than releasing an international album because my solo album did well on iTunes, there’s nothing special planned. We’re just going to get out there slowly, one step at a time.”
When asked about his performance of motions and facial expressions that is unfolding quite naturally as if we’re watching a musical in his recently promoted song ‘I’ll Be There,’ he answered, “It’s not to the point where I should be receiving compliments. I just try hard to express myself naturally according to the music without practicing my acting on the side.”
He says that he is lacking in so many things even though he is being acclaimed that his musical ability surpasses that of an idol. “I’m lacking a lot. Musically, I think that I have to find a lot more areas where I can directly incorporate my own color, and on stage I think I have to be able to show an image that’s more relaxed.”
He continues to give us modest answers. He says that he doesn’t really show his Big Bang friends the music that he had been working on for his solo album. The reason is because he is “too shy…” When asked about his secret to digesting both song and dance together, he says again, “I’m still lacking a lot. There’s nothing special. I always exercise whether or not I’m doing promotions. So that I don’t run out of strength on stage. And because the facilities at the office are so advanced, I always grab a mic and sing live whenever I practice the choreography.”
But no matter how modest he tries to be about his musical greed and how much he tries to hide it, he can’t help but let it show. He has a lot of thoughts about writing lyrics. “There are a lot of dating stories in my songs and in most pop songs. But I want to write lyrics that reflect the generation, about society and people. Stories about ‘relationship’ or society’s ‘issues.’”
Concert, and analog with the bandTaeyang begins to talk more as we go into talk about his concert. Taeyang overflows with affection and greed about performing, to the point where he will pinpoint his first solo concert as the happiest moment of his life since starting solo activities. The way he thinks about performances is mature. When asked if there will be a surprise event, “Well… The center of all the preparations I’m putting in for my performances is music, and I believe that each concert is where I show everything that I have at that point. It’s the same this time around. Music and dance performances are a given and I’m exercising hard to show my body too (laughs).”
He has specially prepared his music with a live band for this concert. A band? It was a bit surprising to hear that Taeyang, whose promotions have been driven by digital sounds, would be performing with analogue band music. “I believe that performances should attempt something new each time and that this time has to be different from the last.”
“There are a lot of difficulties in doing my music with a band. But with a lot of effort, we’ve made it so that my entire performance can be done with a live band. Aside from two songs where it was totally impossible, I’ve prepared so much to the point where I can say that 98% will be with a live band.”
It is not just for ‘freshness’ that he chose to perform with a band. “I’ve had a taste for analog music. I’ve always listened to black music and have primarily done digital music, but the more I do music, the more I’ve come to believe that all good music have the same root, and I’ve shed a lot of my genre biases. And I’m starting to like old-school, analogue music more and more. So I thought I would do my own concert with a band.”
But what must it feel like for Taeyang, who has to match his dance routine to a band instead of to strong digital music that keeps to the beat without error. “There’s a huge difference. It’s definitely more alive. The music itself (which is somewhat freestyle) is live and it’s difficult to make its expression exact, but it’s less artificial.”