[Interview] 10Asia Interview : Seungri Talks About His Album and BIGBANG

Writing, composing, producing, recording director. These are the roles Seungri was credited as having taken on in his first mini-album “VVIP.” And it is the main reason this is completely different from the first time he tried his hand at singing solo for “Strong Baby.” Seungri’s singing career took off from a starting point different from that of his follow bandmates G-Dragon or Taeyang who grew under YG Entertainment from a young age and were lauded for their musical talent in various ways. He also always stood where he was told to. So what sort of challenge was his solo album for him? Seungri, who always looks confident on the stage, confessed of his music-making experience he felt fear over.

10: It looked like you did a great job of lifting the mood for the pre-recording of MBC’s “Music Core” today, saying to your fans “You’re here!” and such.
Seungri: Fans are always doing a lot of waiting, up to five or six hours, so I think they’d be disappointed if I leave the stage after giving just my performance. I’d be too if I was in their shoes. And of course they’re there to see me perform but also partly for what they don’t get to see off the screen. That’s why I goof around and try to make things fun for them. I’ll also say things like, “It was cold today, right? Well everyone, you have my back, yes? Show me your support!” And that’ll make them feel that they’re close to me.
10: In a way, that may show how much more at ease you are. Do you feel more comfortable working with songs you’ve made yourself compared to when you promoted “Strong Baby”?
I did make the songs easier to sing. For example, with “Strong Baby,” G-Dragon told me to sing it and changed it around when it wasn’t working but the songs in this album are easy to sing because they’re made to fit me. It’s actually hard to focus when they’re not. I think songs become yours when they’re easy and comfortable to sing, although “WHAT CAN I DO” is a bit high-pitched. (laugh) That’s how you’ll have a lot of space to think about your performance and be able to give it change more often. We live in a world where people change their mobile phones every month so people may think my performances are boring if I keep doing the same things every week. But people pay attention to even the slightest changes so I try to change my gestures and choreography every time. Today, the stage was interesting so I used the space more. I was supposed to start my performance in the middle of the stage but I talked with my dancers and decided I would walk toward them from one side and then start dancing with them. We changed this on the spot.
10: I think it’s possible for you to place yourselves so freely because Big Bang is more about playing on the stage rather than dancing straight on time as a group.
We have no limits. We don’t have to dance a certain move or make a certain gesture at a specific point so we’ll take things out if we think they don’t work and use them elsewhere. Such mixing is fun for both the performer and watchers. And it makes things more fun for the dancers as well. The camera director and their crew will also focus more, asking how differently we want to be shot.
10: So basically put, it’s a performance rather than choreography. Your song “VVIP” in particular seems to include such visual elements ? like a fancy show in the U.S. from the 1930s when the Mafias existed?
I also included fireworks going off because that’s the sort of vibe I wanted the song to give off ? like a fancy show in Las Vegas. The song itself is about making you a VVIP if you enter my world so I gave a lot of changes to the song so that it may make the listener feel as if falling into such a fantasy. It started fancy, I rapped, then sang and changed it also like a musical. I tried to contain a lot of such images.
10: I think the drum sound in the intro helped to create that sense of space.
I like Justin Timberlake’s songs and the sound of the guitar in particular in the beginning of “Like I Love You.” That’s the vibe I wanted it to go in when the composer came up with the intro beat for my song and I really like it so we wanted to bring it out more. But I wanted us to use real sound rather than electronic sound. Electronic sound tires the listeners ears in a way. So I went with a sampling from a very famous overseas drummer’s drum line.

10: I’m curious to know about the overall process through which you made your album. The credits show that you composed music in collaboration with Choi Feel-kang, DEE.P and BIG TONE.
Seungri: If I wrote and composed all the songs, it would be music that Seungri likes. Music that only I would be satisfied with. Music that I make myself and enjoy listening to.
10: But it’s still a lot of people to work with.
The reason I worked with so many producers and composers was because I was scared. I didn’t know much about music. I think this is the first time since making my debut that I was serious and digged deep into music. G-Dragon usually does all the producer work so before, I’d go into the studio to record my part and when I’m done, practice the choreography, and that’d be it. And I thought putting on a performance and gaining popularity was all there was to this job. But I had no idea how to go about things when I was told to make a solo album. Before, all I had to do was do what people told me to. That’s why I worked with a lot of people. I always worked with three people and constantly asked ‘Is anything weird? Should we change this?’ I had no knowledge.
10: If you were scared, what’s the biggest reason you took part in composing and writing the songs?
It was a matter of pride. At first, our boss Yang Hyun-suk suggested a digital single. Containing only “WHAT CAN I DO.” I don’t know if it was because he liked the vibe to the song but he said we should get a few more songs together and make an entire album. And he hadn’t asked me to make the songs. But I couldn’t readily ask Teddy because I hadn’t been close to him. I felt that he might say, ‘He’s coming to me because he needs me.’ (laugh) I would’ve been nicer to him from about three years ago if I knew I’d get to make a solo album. (all laugh) And I wanted to ask Kush but it was hard to because he’d been sick. And G-Dragon, he was coming back late everyday promoting him and TOP’s duo unit album. So I was thinking, ‘Oh, I’m in trouble. I guess I should do it myself’ when the new producers joined our agency and clicked.
10: What do you mean when you say you clicked?
We were all blood type A. (all laugh) There were two producers, Choi Feel-gang and DEE.P and me but we clicked so well. That’s why we asked what each other’s blood type was. We understood, were considerate and respectful toward each other. We gave up on what we had to while accepting other things so we made songs very quickly. I think it took less than a week for all the songs to come out. We once made three songs in a day. “VVIP,” “WHITE LOVE” and “OUTRO (IN MY WORLD).”
10: Had you already thought up the basic melodies?
No. We’d start by playing a melody first, then try singing to it, and if it seemed to work, would keep adding more onto it. But in the process I started to wonder why I hadn’t done music earlier. I realized while working on this album that I love music. That’s why I gained a stronger desire to stand on stage. If “Strong Baby” was about me getting my name known, this time I wanted people to know what style of music I do.
10: So what do you think is your style of music? I’m sure it’s different from that of G-Dragon or Taeyang’s who have grown with YG since they were young.
I think I work with a variety of genres but it’s mainly pop. Taeyang does black R&B, Daesung authentic ballad, T.O.P hip-hop but dirty sound and G-Dragon likes an extremely wide range of music. I think my style is closer to white music. I like Justin Timberlake and boy bands like ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. But I’m with YG Entertainment so I sang most of my songs in R&B style. I think a lot of people would have looked the other way if I strayed too far from YG’s style since people have a certain level of expectation for who they see as Seungri of YG Entertainment.
10: Your vocals in particular for this album are different from when you sang “Strong Baby” — even more so for songs “OPEN YOUR MIND” and “I KNOW.”
That’s why I asked IU to sing in R&B style as well, different from how she usually sings. The song had to sound like it was done by a YG artist.
10: That must’ve not been an easy environment for IU to work with. How did you get one of the most popular female singers these days to sing with you?
I half threatened her. (laugh) I’d known her since three years ago so I told her, ‘I’ve made a sweet duet song for you so come and sing it.’ But honestly, you can’t get singers to sing with you if they don’t like the song but she liked it so we went for it and it came out well.
10: Like you did with the song with IU, you collaborated with different people not only in terms of the composing and producing but also singing. I’m curious to know how these came about and how you worked with the singers. G-Dragon did the rap for “OPEN YOUR MIND.”
I was actually going to ask Psy to do the featuring for “OPEN YOUR MIND.” I also wanted to make the song sound sexy by including sounds of breathing mid-way. But I realized that the song may not be suitable for underage listeners if he was saying things like, “Open my window and come in.” (laugh) Then one day, G-Dragon and T.O.P had gotten back all worn out around 5 a.m. after shooting their music video when our boss Yang said, “Then you do it G-Dragon. It won’t take you that long anyway, right?” and went upstairs. I’m sure he must’ve been extremely tired but he got it done in three hours. I don’t know if it was because he was sleepy (laugh) but the rap sounded odd and dreamy. It came out really well.
10: So what did you say to G-Dragon?
Man, they don’t call you G-Dragon for no reason. (all laugh)
10: And what did he say to that?
It’s me, man! (laugh)
10: Well the album has turned out to be a mix of yours and YG’s style. How has the response been within YG?
Mr. Yang was extremely surprised. He usually isn’t the expressive type but after listening the song he asked who made it, so I said I did, then he asked whether I came up with just the lyrics, so I told him the melody as well and he said, “Hmm… hmm… There aren’t any songs that are similar to this, are there?” (laugh) I was scared too because I wondered whether I had unconsciously plagiarized another song. So I checked through applications that look up similar songs as well. G-Dragon was very surprised as well. “Who made this?” “Me.” “This one as well?” “Yes.” “What about this?” “I did…” “This one is good… But I don’t think you made it. Did you really?” was our conversation.
10: For which songs did you get those responses?
He asked if I was the one that really made “MAGIC.” Taeyang and G-Dragon listen to it everyday. And they say they like the song but are kind of annoyed because I made it. (laugh) I know what they’re trying to say so it feels good.

10: Have there been times they’ve acknowledged you like that for other things in the past?
Seungri: Almost never. My members and Mr. Yang know how to deal with me. (laugh) They know I’ll cross the line if they acknowledge or praise me too much. After I gave my first performance on television for my new album, G-Dragon sent me a 30-line text message. He had monitored the performance and I’m sure nobody has gotten such a long text message, even from their own girlfriend. (laugh) Anyways, he commented on my expression, my gestures, my gazes, my wardrobe, my walk — it was in extreme detail. I was very grateful and happy. I would’ve stayed a not-so-great singer without it. The people at our agency are actually very cold-hearted in this aspect. They won’t tell you how great or amazing you were but instead tell you that you weren’t that great if you weren’t. And they’re correct.
10: So I’m sure you depend on and lay much faith in such monitoring that’s done about you.
I accept most of it. Except for maybe about five out of the 30 lines. Because I have a mind of my own as well. For example, there’s nothing I can do about looking short. I’m born this way. And my face is on the long side so I look even shorter on screen. It’s not an issue that can be solved by inserting extra heels into my shoes.
10: Well such monitoring and feedback on each other shows that Big Bang is more than just a group with brother-like relationships.
I guess it would be more accurate to say that we draw a distinct line between our public and personal lives. Our leader has an evident role he plays when it comes to work — he’ll confirm on the opinions the rest of us four share. But I feel comfortable with them when it comes to our private lives. Nobody is as humane as the members of Big Bang. Everyday is like a sitcom. I drink often with T.O.P and G-Dragon and I go to church with Daesung and Taeyang so we study the bible together. But we all stay cool-headed when it comes to work. For example, if T.O.P comes up with a rap that he thinks suits a song better than a rap that G-Dragon has made, he’ll insist on going with his. Then G-Dragon will respect his opinion, try it out, and go with it if he agrees on it as well. I think that’s why Big Bang’s music is about what all five of us really wanted to do and hear.
10: I’m curious to know how such work-related stubbornness and respect will have harmonized in Big Bang’s upcoming album — whether one person will hold the key to it or if it’ll emphasize the intersection the five of you create.
There are times when painting red, blue, black, green and purple on a white piece of drawing paper will becomes a work of art. That’s what Big Bang is like. We all have distinctive colors but every picture we draw turns out great.
10: What’s fascinating is that it’s sometimes hard to create synergy with very different people but Big Bang does.
G-Dragon is good at harmonizing us. For example, T.O.P has a unique voice so it sometimes stands out too much but G-Dragon will help him tone it down and with me, he’ll help me stand out when I sometimes don’t because of everyone else’s individuality. G-Dragon is good at being the leader.
10: Well, G-Dragon may be the leader of the group in an official sense but you’re the one who delivers the more personal aspects of Big Bang to fans. This was written in your autobiography as well but while the members Big Bang are shy and like to be amongst themselves, you seem to be quite different from them.
I’m a star player when it comes to being sociable. It’s because I’m inquisitive. When I meet someone for the first time, I want to start up a conversation with them.
10: In that sense, what do you think about what T.O.P recently said about you on a talk show?
It wasn’t too bad. He recently joined our so-called ‘Seungri Academy’ and worked hard on improving his talking skills. G-Dragon also asked when he’ll be able to take a class.
10: What does your agency say about your character on variety shows? You even sang Yang’s song at the YG Family concert and shouted out “Eun-joo [Yang's wife], I love you.”
Well about that, he said, “Seungri, he’s really funny.” And he’ll tell me not to do such things again but he also loves it when I do.
10: In other words, you go for what you think will be funny.
I make a lot of attempts and give up on the things that won’t work. Me and Daesung, our personalities are extreme opposites. We were both practicing for our musical “Shouting” when I came up with an idea and told him we should try it out to see what the director thinks but Daesung said it would be better to ask him about it first. I’m the type that makes attempt after attempt and moves forward like a wild horse.
10: Well you’re the youngest member of Big Bang and even within YG so don’t you ever get worried people will ask you why you do certain things?
Age means nothing in this industry. Even with reporters, a good reporter is one that writes well, no matter how young he or she is, right? It’s the same in our business well. Age means nothing. I think you rather try harder if your young to overcome that perception people have of you.
10: Have you always been so determined about striving forward?
I changed when I was promoting “Strong Baby.” So much happened then — I think I could call it the turning point of my life.
10: Exactly what sort of things happened?
After becoming popular as a member of Big Bang, I suddenly started thinking that I no longer want to be called the youngest of the team. And that’s when I got the chance to promote myself as a solo so I told myself I would try to change my image. And the song became popular amongst a lot of people. It won three weeks straight on a music show and got played in the clubs a lot. But I became arrogant… I guess I became haughty because I was young and immature. And people saw it but they told our leader instead of me. And I heard it through our leader.
10: What thoughts crossed your mind then?
I was angry. I wondered why such things were being said and why I have to be viewed in that way. It hurt my pride. And it lighted by competitive spirit. I told myself, ‘Okay, fine. I won’t let people say such things ever again.’ My motto was “I’m the best” when promoting “Strong Baby” but it changed to “I will never make the same mistake twice.” And for the two years that followed after that, I acted even more politely to people, I practiced over and over again without craving popularity, and just lived life as it is. My latest album came out after that. It actually wasn’t easy to release an album because YG had to release Big Bang’s album. Our fans have waited for Big Bang for so long but they believed in me and gave me the chance to pursue a solo career.
10: Is that the fruit of your efforts during the past two years?
Not once did I act greedy the past two years. T.O.P shot a movie and won an award for best new actor, Daesung was popular because of his appearance in variety show “Family Outing,” G-Dragon became a hit with “Heartbreaker” and Taeyang held a solo concert while I had nothing. And my friends asked what I’m doing, whether I’m just hanging out. But I couldn’t ask my boss to let me do something as well because it isn’t professional. I wanted to do something twice as well when someone has asked me to do it, not act out of place when nobody has asked me to. This album contains the time I prepared myself with a huge amount of determination.
10: I think the joy you feel from changing people’s perception like that must be different from the joy you feel from simply being love by them. Which is more important to you?
Changing someone’s mind. There was a reporter who used to hate YG and Big Bang but I purposely acted even nicer to that person when we once got the chance to meet. I said, “Come on, why be like that? We worked so hard. Please write nice things about us this time.” And that reporter did from then on.
10: That’s probably something that’s hard for other members of your group to do.
I do it because they won’t. They themselves say they can’t. And that they’re very grateful for me in many ways because I do. At our new building, the managing and PR team are on the fourth floor, the planning and A&R team on the fifth floor and the planning team are also on the sixth floor but there are few artists that go to the fifth and sixth floor. But whenever I go in, I go to all of those floors to say hello and ask how everyone is doing. That’ll make them realize who they’re working with. The members of my group aren’t quite aware of such things (laugh) so I do it for them.

10: What do you think is the difference between someone saying that he can’t and someone who can?

Seungri: With the other members in my group, they may think about doing things that come from their heart but let it go if they think they shouldn’t after giving it a thought. (laugh) They’re pure-hearted as well but smart enough not to show their real selves.
10: And you?
I’m quick-witted so rather than controlling my heart with my head, I make a move when I need to. And it’s something that’s very important. When you make a move, you need to do it to the extent it’ll seem cute and not turn other people off but it’s something you need to study a lot. You need to try making attempts, try killing the mood… But like I said before, not make the same mistake twice.
10: I’m sure it helps you expand on your relationships.
I tested it out once for a recording for a TV show. And the reaction I got for when I said, “Hello, I’m Seungri of Big Bang. I’m looking forward to us working together today,” versus “Hello, I’m Seungri of Big Bang. Go, camera directors. I’m rooting for you today.” They’ll hold the camera at you differently by making them smile in such a way because they’ll open their hearts to you. People are just like that.
10: That’s true but when you do the work you do, there are people who will hate you even when you haven’t done anything wrong. How do you feel about that?
Oh, I’ll willingly accept it. Bad comments about me that get posted on the Internet. People who write them do so because they’ve watched me perform and are interested. My job is with every performance, to decrease the number of bad comments that get posted. From ten to five to three and then none.
10: You already mentioned how you strive to become better than you already are — your desire to do so seems to become stronger when people point out your shortcomings.
Well it has to do with this album but somebody said to me, “You can’t even sing a falsetto when you’re a singer? Do it all over from the beginning.” I was angry but it was true because I couldn’t sing a high note through my nose. So I said okay and practiced my falsetto for a whole year. Thanks to that, I was able to sing falsetto for the songs “OPEN YOUR MIND,” “MAGIC” and “IN MY WORLD” in this album. And nobody has said anything to me about my falsetto since. The same goes for how I’ve become a member of Big Bang. My ninth grade homeroom teacher had told me I probably won’t be able to become a singer. I was so embarrassed because all the other teachers heard what my teacher said but once I became Big Bang and gave him our album, he said, “I’m proud of you. I knew you’d make it.” (laugh) There’s sort of a satisfaction I get from such incidents, when I get to show people who didn’t think I’d make it, what I’ve done.
10: You quelled the concerns and undervaluations people had of you from the moment you became a member of Big Bang, until now, by showing the results to your efforts. Is there anything that you ultimately want to achieve at the end of this road?
I want to become someone that many people will feel gratitude toward. I once asked one of the employees at our agency why he still works with YG, despite his old age and the work being tough. And he said it’s because of Se7en. He said he had worked with Se7en since his debut and that he couldn’t leave because he can’t forget how he took care of him from back then. How cool is that. That’s the sort of person I want to become. It would be truly amazing if people stayed with YG because they are moved by me, Seungri.

Source : ygunited
Original Source: AsiaE /10Asia Part 1 3