From puckering up her lips to fix lip makeup looking forever like a girl, to letting out a hearty laughing saying “I’m like H.O.T., hahaha” while wearing baggy pants, she loosened the mood of the shoot location. At the words of someone saying ‘You’re like a fairy’, she shouted ‘That doesn’t make sense, what do you mean!’ and laughed animatedly once again. Taeyeon who has returned with the first full length album of her life had no hesitations. Should we say it’s vigor remaining after taking over the music world. How could we not anticipate her record as she says ‘I have another exceptional song again’ and smiles.
We continuously watched the newly released ‘I Got Love’ music video as we came to the interview location. It was so good to the point that we’re disappointed it’s not the title song.
Oh my, that much? (Laughs) After releasing , the song came to me while I was wanting to show a new side of myself. As soon as I listened to it, I was totally fixated on it, so it is one of the songs I considered for the title song.
We were surprised watching the music video. It was the most ‘strong’ concept out of ones we’ve seen so far.
Isn’t it alluring? (Laughs) The melody is minor and the depth is heavy, so we created an image that suited that.
Amidst the trend of not releasing full length albums, you made a big decision. Isn’t working on a full length album very different from working on singles and mini albums?
Since there is a larger number of songs, I think I was able to put in various attempts. As much as it is the first full length album that has come out with my name on the line, we edited the lyrics to fit my sensibilities, and I had a lot of discussions with the songwriters. I also did a lot more recording compared to usual. In terms of time, I think each song took around 3 days. There isn’t a single song that I didn’t contribute to.
Of the solo songs you’ve released to date, they’ve all achieved success beyond what’s normal. Aren’t high expectations burdensome?
It would be a lie to say it’s not burdensome but I did have baseless confidence. I just do it trusting fans. You can’t just work on a record endlessly. There needs to be people who seek you out to continue to do it, and fans continue to show reactions so I’m able to do this with courage.
Many musicians compliment the rich ‘emotion’ contained in Taeyeon’s vocals.
Honestly, I still don’t think I know it well. At the early days of debut, I sang songs too calmly so I felt like emotions were lacking. I started promotions young and I sang songs along with choreography so it was even more so like that. Every time I receive a compliment with regards to emotions, I do tilt my head (meaning “wonder why”).
The plaintive emotion underscored within that simplicity is nice.
Yes. But now I wonder, ‘Wouldn’t it be okay to overdo it a bit’. So I’m trying hard. I try to be more absorbed in the lyrics, attempt various singing styles, and this time, annoyed many songwriters and composers. Saying “Oppa, how about something like this? Should we do it like this? Should we do it like that?”. (Laughs)
Is there a particular song that you contributed special emotion to out of the songs included in the album?
In the song that was given to me by Nell’s Kim Jongwan sunbae, there’s a part that says ‘Love is all like this’ in the latter half. (Note: Taeyeon is referring to “Time Lapse”.) That melody goes so well with the lyrics, so in the moment, I was able to get into the emotion of it. When recording all of the songs for this album, I tried hard to overly express the emotions, compared to usual. If you focus and listen, you’ll probably be able to hear the sound of my nose on the verge of tears. (Laughs)
We heard you were really nervous for your first stage for ‘I’, your first solo song. Do you think you’ll be nervous this time too?
Ah, no way… I’ve done a solo concert since then? I think I’m becoming more relaxed on stage.
You’re a veteran now, in your 11th year since debut. And you’re also twenty-nine years old.
When I was young, when you said twenty-nine, it would feel like a king (big) unnie. (Laughs) My age feels unfamiliar to me so it doesn’t really feel real. I’m looking forward to thirty. I vaguely think that I will become more relaxed.
When we see you in the photo shoot, you feel like forever a girl and yet, you have charisma.
I’m pretending to have it. I’m very timid.
We sought out the 100 questions, 100 answers you wrote when you were a trainee. You wrote ‘I want to fix my laziness’. Even though you were famous for having a practice bug and even now, you’re a universally acknowledged ‘workaholic’ who puts out a record every year.
How many years has it been already? (Laughs) I acknowledge it. I think I am a workaholic. If I don’t have work, I’m uneasy. My style is to whip myself (into shape). It’s not like I’m acting or doing musicals. If I don’t do album activities or performances, there’s nothing I can do. I have to force myself to rest. So when I have an opportunity, I continuously seek out good songs, and stay in touch with songwriters.
Do you still transform into a ‘House Fairy’ these days when you don’t have schedules?
I thought about why I’m a homebody. It’s partly because of my personality, but I think my hair color has a big effect. If I’m out and about with blonde hair, obviously people can’t help but look at me, right? Recently, I had black hair for a little while and people didn’t look at me at all. (Laughs) So I was able to relax and roam. But now I’ve become blonde again… Mm… I’ll become a homebody again.
What do you do when you’re home alone? According to fans, you look after Tiffany’s puppy, play games on your mobile phone, color your coloring book, do nail art, self-dye your hair, assemble Legos and listen to music.
It’s accurate? I also bake.
You personally made cookies and shared it with fans at Christmas.
I did do that. But I’m taking a momentary break from baking. Through V App, I filmed the baking process and received trauma. Trying to host a broadcast and baking at the same time was so hard. I fell into a sense of shame thinking ‘Ah, I am still limited and can only do this’.
Then does that mean there are no more Christmas cookies for fans?
I doubt that. Christmas comes every year? Don’t throw away your anticipation, wait and I will… (Laughs) Lonely people need to spend Christmas together.
It’s like you’re really friends with your fans.
It’s really like that. I’m famous for not having friends. For a long time, I only had members and fans. But recently, I’ve drank beer with friends I met through working on music with a single small light turned on. It’s not anything special but I was so happy. “Kkyah~ This is what happiness is!” and we’d clink our glass… My alcohol tolerance has increased a bit. I’m in the middle of attempting half a bottle of soju. (Laughs)
Do SNSD members send you messages of encouragement?
Yes. Members are all individually so busy but when a teaser comes out, I get a text at 4 in the morning. They say “Aren’t I waking you up from sleep?” and give me feedback and I’m so thankful. If we don’t have group schedules, there is almost no opportunity to meet. They look after me even after working late into the night and while they’re overseas, so I’m very thankful.
Do they only say good things?
Real families tell you stinging words too, don’t they? (Laughs) Why don’t you act more pretty, aren’t you being too shy? Can’t you overdo it a bit? Do it more boldly. Words like this.
If you could set a score for your personal satisfaction toward this album, how many would you give?
Mmmm… 85 points. Reason is… I was able to bring out a new singing style that I didn’t know I had. I was able to attempt a style different from what I had been doing. After recording, when I would tell the mixing engineer “Please take good care of this”, I was always a bit regretful. But this time, when I was recording the song that Kim Jongwan-nim gave me, I was so satisfied. My mood was really so, so, so good. It’s not because I did well. There was the feeling of ‘Nell gave me a song like this?’ and I sang Kim Jongwan-nim’s song in my own style and the fact that it got an okay made me really happy. He’s a musician that I was a fan of since I was a trainee. It was joy and sense of satisfaction I’ve felt for the first time. After recording, I really yelled. (Waving arms up and down) Like this. It was a real honor.
Is there anything you still want to attempt musically? The rock version of ‘Run Devil Run’ intro that you sang in 2011 is still called a legend among fans.
Aigoo, it’s not at the level of a legend… I like rock band music normally. My father likes foreign rock bands so I listened to Metallica’s music often since I was young. I enjoy listening to hip hop too. But listening to a song and singing a song are very different. I don’t think rap suits me at all. (Laughs) I think that the songs I’m singing now, with a comfortable band sound, and calm songs with emphasis on vocals are songs I can sing the best currently.
Through this album, what do you want to communicate to those listening to it?
Questions like this are the most difficult. This album’s title is ‘My Voice’. From the chorus, it’s only filled with my voice, and I put in an abundance of emotion when I was working on it. Personally, I believe that fans will recognize emotions like that. I hope you will listen to it in the most comfortable position. Considering my records will come out countlessly going forward. (Laughs)
Scans courtesy of @trr805