“Seohyun We Don’t Know”
After daringly gazing into the cameras on stage for her first solo album ‘Don’t Say Know’, Seohyun is clearly telling us her story. And we discovered a new Seohyun. “That is the side of me, as is.”
Today at the photo shoot location, you were completely different from how you’ve been described up until now, Seohyun. SNSD maknae, proper lifestyle girl, rather than the shy image, you were closer to being bold and cheerful.
Recently, a male actor that I met for the concert video shoot told me the exact same thing! He thought I was stiff while only doing my work with an impenetrable personality, but that I was unexpectedly different. Truthfully, there was a side of me like that when I debuted, but my personality and values have changed. Back then, I considered self-control to be the most important. If I had a schedule at 6, I would wake up at least at 5 and read a book for 30 minutes, and always focused on staying on top of everything, but gradually, I came to have an obsession toward habits like that. While reading, there were moments when it was therapeutic but sometimes, I thought that I was doing it for the sake of doing it, and wondered if I needed to be like this, when I knew well I wouldn’t cross the line. For 10 years, these types of various thoughts came to mind, and I changed naturally. My image that a lot of people think of are from when I was seventeen years old.
If seventeen year old Seohyun was a bit compulsive, what is twenty-seven year old Seohyun like?
Should I say I’ve found the balance? Before I would only chase after productivity, but now I tend to enjoy doing nothing. I’ve come to understand that time that is without any weight can be meaningful from time to time. And I try hard to live without being cooped up to much. Since my career is being an entertainer, I meet a lot of people, but most of them are people I need to be careful around and keep manners around. So I try to meet with my normal friends often who I can relax around to my heart’s content and walk around here and there wearing a hat. When I first debuted, I thought my entertainer career itself was everything in my life, but now I feel that my career is really a part of my life. Within that part of my life, I still put all of my efforts into the precious opportunities that I cannot let go, and I’ve also come to focus on family, time with friends and love.
From your first solo album <Don’t Say No>, we’re able to feel that natural maturity. It felt like the story of twenty-seven year old Seohyun, no longer a girl, but also not a forced feeling of being an adult either.
That’s why this solo album is extra special. I didn’t make it with the goal of shattering my proper lifestyle image, but it projected the side of me that wasn’t reflected until now. At first, the company suggested, “How about enlivening your maknae image and coming out one more time with the side of you that the public knows?” and I declined in a single stroke because I wanted to show the current and real side of me. I told them that if carrying my original image is necessary that I would rather give up my solo. I was that greedy for it, and even when I think about it again now, I think my decision was right.
Lee Yoonjung’s styling, who was a vocalist for ‘Pippi Band’ and ‘EE’, is memorable, who is with you for today’s shoot as well as your solo promotion. We think the concept which combines the retro mood that you’ve shown with SNSD with a sensual component played a big role in your natural transformation.
This is my first time working with a team that I can 100 percent trust and greedily ask things of. If I don’t like the outfit or the hair, it keeps coming up as a concern when I’m expressively acting or singing, but during the promotions this time, I was able to perfectly focus on the performance. I thought it would be burdensome to fill the stage alone that I would stand on together as eight, but without any pressure, I enjoyed it entirely… I was so happy.
Lee Yoonjung director calls Seohyun ‘Seo Tto Mo’ (‘Seo What Else’). Because you always ask, “Is there anything else?”. (Laughs)
Normally I have a lot of greed. (Laughs) And this is my first solo in 10 years, so I didn’t want to do just enough. I thought it would be better to overdo it, and then take it away little by little, I really couldn’t stand not having enough. Because of that, there were instances where I felt sorry for Yoonjung director-nim. “Oh! I really like it! But can we change it like this over here?” But when I told her what I wanted, she always added ideas and realized the vision above and beyond.
Of the seven songs included in the album, you personally wrote lyrics for six songs. Overall, the content is about human emotions of love, from heart flutters with a ‘some’, boredom and breakups. But different from conceptual SNSD songs, the lyrics were universal love songs, which was interesting.
I didn’t want to fabricate it. When you breakup, normally you dwell at ‘That jerk!’ and you don’t really concoct anything cool beyond that. I wanted to express the feelings that come out of encountering situations like that as is. Personally, even if I like the melody a lot, if I can’t relate to the meaning of the lyrics, I feel like it’s 1% lacking. SNSD songs mostly use unique words so that aspect was always a bit regrettable for me. I always craved communication (through my music) and I thought that any women around my age could relate to the topic of love. I wrote the lyrics distilling personal experience, as well as imagining how would I act, or how would I feel, if a certain situation came to me.
We were wondering if a few of the songs were based on personal experience. Most of the lyrics are emotional, but the 6th track ‘Bad Love’ even more so, as it especially gives an explanation of a situation. “Your strong cologne / Hides someone’s trace / You laugh calmly / You call me again late in the night.” (Laughs)
I’ve never met a man as bad as that! (Laughs) The melody of ‘Bad Love’ was so dark, so as soon as I heard the song, that situation came immediately to mine. The lyrics have been edited, and it was originally a bit more unclear. “All of your behavior awakens all of my senses.” Like that. Personally, I like hearing “Is this your experience?”. It means it’s realistic. Truthfully, I looked at all of the lyrics I wrote and thought ‘Wow, I seem like a person who has dated a lot!’.
When we listen to the album, we can naturally imagine Seohyun’s love. When you date, what type are you?
If I like someone, I clearly express it. Before, I didn’t want to get hurt so I loved sufficiently and couldn’t open my heart easily but when time passed, I only had regrets. Why couldn’t I say anything, if I expressed myself then, my heart wouldn’t hurt like this now. After experiencing this a few times, my personality when I’m in love changed gradually. Now I try my best to be honest in every moment. This must be why when love ends, I become very cold these days. If it’s over, it’s over, and I have no feelings and I don’t think of it at all. After expressing with my whole heart, I must get sick of it. (Laughs)
Not in romantic relationships, but with regular human relationships, do you tend to take the lead?
I’m a lot more careful than when I’m in a romantic relationship, but I tend to be confident. I lived in the same house with SNSD unnies for 5 years and I really learned a lot then. Each person had their own way of living for nearly 20 years, from minute daily habits, like the direction you squeezed your toothpaste, eating habits and sleeping times, to values so in the beginning, we couldn’t help but have trouble. From my perspective, it’s not wrong but to someone else, it could be perceived as wrong, at first, I thought it was very unfair, but as time passed, I naturally learned ways to understand. It’s not wrong but it can be perceived like that, so I should be more careful, I learned to open my mind and reflect back on myself. It’s a lie to say that the time I lived with unnies wasn’t hard at all, but I think that it was definitely a necessary time.
The biggest outcome of this album is that you were able to announce your identity as Seohyun, not as SNSD. We are wondering what sense of identity you have as Seohyun the singer, or Seo Juhyun the woman.
Honestly, Seohyun the singer and Seo Juhyun the person are not different at all. That why I’m trying hard to reflect myself honestly and trying not to be conscious of others’ gazes. I think the most important thing is conviction. Not being easily swayed when you hear various opinions. Even if I do my best, it’s inevitable that there are unsatisfied people, and I don’t want to change myself to suit those people. I think stubbornness with reason, and having a confident voice of your own is cool, as both a person and a singer. I’m always working hard.
On the other hand, is there anything that’s unsure, or an area of most concern right now?
My life going forward. If I only focused on work for the last 10 years, I think now it’s time to open a new chapter. Going forward, I think about what I want to do in the next 10 years, and I’m trying to find a new interest beyond being a singer, actress and doing musicals. (You really have a lot of greed. (Laughs)) Of course! It’s true that I’ve been happiest when I felt a sense of accomplishment toward work, but going forward, that won’t be everything. I keep asking myself if my life as Seo Juhyun was as passionate as the effort I put in as Seohyun toward work. When I look at my life as a whole, I think time to find things that I want to study more or attempt was lacking. Now it has been 10 years since debut, I’ve release my first solo album and I’m in my late 20s, I wonder if it’s okay to turn my gaze to a different area.
Source: Harper’s Bazaar Korea