Seungri was a cheerful guy. He gave honest answers immediately and straightforwardly to whatever he was asked. He has always been the most friendly and honest of Big Bang’s members, and this showed in his music. While G-Dragon and Taeyang have focused more on style in their solo albums, Seungri emphasized the power of the melody. The video to “Let’s Talk About Love,” which YG Entertainment voluntary put up for an R rating, was shocking to watch but then again, it was Big Bang and furthermore, Seungri, so it seemed okay. After all, he’s also turning 23 years old now. When asked whether the song’s title was supposed to contain the word ‘sex’ instead of ‘love,’ he gave a calm and honest answer instead of blushing. He was no longer the youngest member of Big Bang. There was even a maturity to what he thinks of his group. TenAsia met with Seungri at a cafe in Seoul on Monday.
Q. I saw in your “Making of the Album” video that you wanted to talk about love. Exactly what sort of love did you want to talk about?
Seungri: When asked, “What do you think love is?” a lot of people speak of things that are painful or lingering. I wanted to talk about various sides to love. Things such as the excitement, happiness, parting, pain, regret regarding love.
Q. Your R-rated teaser for “Let’s Talk About Love” was the talk of the town. But the reaction to it seemed split between “It’s excessive” versus “It works because it’s Big Bang’s Seungri.”
Seungri: Reality is that even if you come out with a really good song, all will go to waste without good promotion. I thought I could get everyone’s attention by coming up with something that’s provocative so we made an R-rated version. After much discussion with the officials of my agency and the filming crew, we came to the conclusion that it would be okay to go borderline.
Q. Then did a lot of your opinions get reflected into the video?
Seungri: They did.
Q. Watching that video made me wonder whether the original title to that song was supposed to be “Let’s Talk About Sex” instead of “Let’s Talk About Love.”
Seungri: Well, it does talk about the things that happen in a man-woman relationship as well (laughs). I wanted the song to contain various meanings, and what I wanted in particular was to appeal to the audience with my charms as a man. I know the video could look provocative because of the emphasis on red including the lipstick and apple but it’s definitely not just meant to seem sexual and racy. I just regard it as a clip that suits the music and I think that’s why it’s not repulsive.
Q. You recently gave your first televised performance [for the album] for which you also gave a Broadway show-like performance for “GOTTA TALK TO U” in a suit and all.
Seungri: I wanted to emphasize the fact that I’d matured. I wanted to break away from the image of being the youngest member of Big Bang, as well as the image I gave off on variety shows. My song may not seem serious if I’m not serious so I tried to be by holding myself back.
Q. What do you mean by holding yourself back? What sort of person do you consider yourself
Seungri: For me, how the person with me feels is more important than how I feel. I like making people around me feel happy.
Q. Based on what I heard in song “Love Box,” it seems that the color of your voice has changed. It looks like you practiced singing a lot. Did you receive a lot of lessons?
Seungri: Nobody in Big Bang receives vocal lessons anymore. We’re impossible to teach because we already have very distinctive colors. You could say that too much time has passed for us to take up new styles so it’s entirely up to us to improve. I personally wanted to produce a voice that’s different from when I did “V.V.I.P” so I put a lot of effort into finding my voice through the six songs in the album. For example, I tried singing in a deeper voice by lowering my voice that used to be more delicate.
Q. You worked on “Let’s Talk About Love” with G-Dragon and Taeyang. How was that?
Seungri: They’re set to release albums after me so I ran into them a lot in the recording studio. And I asked them to take part in my album because I thought it would be nice to have their voices in it. G-Dragon wrote some rap for me the day I asked him. And Taeyang paid a lot of attention to the album, making adjustments several times. It was as if they were adding color to the picture I had drawn up.
Q. You took up the responsibility of producer for the album, your first time to do so. I’m sure it must’ve been very different from when you only did the singing.
Seungri: It put pressure on me because it was my first time. But I told myself I’d do well by using the experience I gained during my seven years as Big Bang. In my mind, the executive producer is the person that is in charge of everything up to the point that the album comes out. So not just the music but also the music video, album artwork, photographs, and even the material the album itself would be made out of.
Q. Do you think you delivered your message well through the album?
Seungri: I wanted to deliver the emotions a man feels when he’s in love. For example, through song “GG BE,” I wanted to the express the feelings of being deceived by a woman (the song also contains the woman’s counterargument). Through “Come To My,” the emotions a man feels after a breakup, the explosive feelings. There are a lot of things that guys actually can’t express in words so I think a lot of guys would relate to this song. The first track “Let’s Talk About Love” and second track “GOTTA TALK TO YOU” are about seducing a woman (laughs). And Japanese movie “Be With You” served as inspiration for “Love Box.” I couldn’t fill up the album with just my experiences.
Q. Which song contains your experience?
Seungri: “GG BE.” I expressed how a guy’s love for his woman is dying out because he is tired of how she lies to him all the time. And the woman in the song is waiting for me to break up with her. You know how some people prefer to get dumped than do the dumping, right? I expressed all this, which could happen to anyone, in a Seungri-like way. She says she’s at a coffee shop but is dancing at a club. And why she always steps out of a black car…
Q. It sounds like you have plenty of experience with love.
Seungri: (Answers seriously) A lot happened.
Q. When did “GG BE” happen?
Seungri: About a year ago.
Q. How do you think she’s doing now?
Seungri: I don’t want to know!
Q. You must’ve talked with CEO Yang Hyun-suk a lot while preparing your album.
Seungri: It started by him calling me over and saying we should do some music, and he told me to start by making two songs. So I made “GG BE” first and had him listen to it. Him and YG’s main producer Teddy were there. After listening to it for about five seconds he said, “Not bad” and I was so happy that I exclaimed, “Really!” But he then told me, “Don’t get too excited. I’m saying that it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” But I saw this as him complimenting me in his understated way. After that, I made about ten songs and put the good songs in the album first. While working on it, he asked me things such as, “What do you think?” and “How do you want to go about this?” And he’s usually not the type to (laughs). So it seemed that he was finally acknowledging me as an artist. It made me really happy.
Q. How was your teamwork with the composers?
Seungri: The funny thing is that everybody was blood type A. We worked respectfully towards each other and didn’t have any fights. I’d like to become better at writing music by continuing to study it. And all the songwriters that I worked with this time said they’d like to work with me again. Such things serve as much inspiration for me. I regard myself a melody maker so it made me happy to be recognized for my work.
Q. Yes, it seems that you focus more on the melodies unlike the albums of other members of your group that are mainly hip-hop.
Seungri: I’m the only member of the team that seeks to do pop music. I want to do music that anyone can like and enjoy. That’s why I added pop sounds to this album in general. For example, I put in the sounds of instruments such as the guitar and piano, which everybody hears often, and tried to go with melodies that would sound familiar. Rather than trying to do music that I want to do, I focused on doing music that I want my fans to hear.
Q. How would you define yourself or what you call Seungri-like? How are you different from the rest of Big Bang?
Seungri: I’m the only person of the team that is cheerful, witty, friendly, and sociable (laughs). Everyone else is pretty shy. But I like being cheerful. Isn’t it nice to be able to have fun and laugh while doing interviews? I’d like to do music in the same way – in a witty way. People think of YG artists as rarely appearing on TV but I’d like to make Big Bang fans happy through various mediums.
Q. You’re active in Japan as well and have appeared in a lot of Japanese variety shows. You speak Japanese fluently too.
Seungri: There’s a reason for that. We made our debut in Japan about four years ago and when we went on a morning show there to promote our album, I did a brief interview in Japanese using simple expressions such as “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” But one of the members of our group said, “Stay quiet if you can’t speak Japanese! It’s embarrassing!” So that’s when I told myself that I’d show how good I am by studying Japanese hard. Nobody says anything to me now when it comes to Japanese. They actually ask me things. I now have power! (laughs) G-Dragon may be our leader but everyone depends on me when we go to Japan. Last year, I was an actor in Japan and I’m a regular on about three shows. I’m grateful for all of it. My personal activities like that help Big Bang as a whole as well.
Q. It seems that you’re still ambitious
Seungri: I used to be very ambitious. But reality taught me that ambition won’t get you everything you want. You need more than just passion and hope. It’s important to do what I’m good at and suits me. And more than anything, Big Bang is what’s important.
Q. How is your music as a solo artist different from that of Big Bang’s?
Seungri: We all agree with the fundamental idea that we shouldn’t stray far from the music we do as a group. And it won’t suit me anyway if I suddenly do rock or traditional R&B because I grew up as a member of Big Bang, and therefore I’m used to it. I watched and learned about music as a member of Big Bang. Of course it’s important to show my charms as an artist by showing my abilities but that’s what our solo activities are for.
Q. What do you think of the music of other members of Big Bang?
Seungri: G-Dragon’s music is like sushi. It’s sophisticated and has different flavors. His music also changes depending on how much he cooks it. Taeyang’s is like hamburgers. He’ll produces various flavors while staying within the boundaries of them being hamburgers such as a chicken burger and shrimp burger. TOP’s is steak! It’s important what wine you have with it. And Daesung’s is like spicy hangover soup.
Q. Everyone is currently working on their solo albums. When about will we get to meet you guys as a full group?
Seungri: I think you’d get to see the five of us together around the end of the year. Even if we don’t release a new song, I believe that it’s our responsibility to meet with fans through TV or concerts.
Q. What do you want to achieve through this solo album?
Seungri: I’d like to put meaning into the fact that I discovered my hidden talent rather than hoping to place well on music charts. This is the first album I’ve produced so I wanted to make it really good. Also, G-Dragon and Taeyang’s album will come out soon. It’s unusual for a single group to release so many solo albums in a row but I hope I’ll help them with a good start.
Reporter. Kwon Seok-jung email@example.com
Translator. Jessica Kim
Courtesy of YG Entertainment