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”?
Seungri: 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.
Seungri: 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?
Seungri: 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.
Seungri: 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.
Seungri: 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?
Seungri: 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?
Seungri: 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?
Seungri: 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.
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Reporter : Wee Geun-woo eight@, Choi Ji-Eun five@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@, Lee Ji-Hye seven@