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You said songs made you cry, so I can’t argue any more. By the way, there must be some differences between the Uijeongbu boys and the Seoul boys, right?
― The Uijeongbu boys are wild kids. They’re different, very different. I can be sure because I lived there. The high schools there were not standardized yet then, so there were different schools where top students and good kids went, where just the ordinary kids went, or where some lazy kids gathered.

Where did you belong?
― A middle-upper school.

But I heard that you were sort of a school fighter.
― Ah, that’s a twisted story. I think that resulted from the differences between the Seoul kids and the Uijeongbu kids. Because when the Uijeongbu kids meet, they first ask who the jjang (best) of each other’s school is. So I also asked the question to Jiyong when I met him for the first time, “Who is the jjang of your school?” Jiyong answered me this and that, and asked back where I was ranked in my school. I said the jjang was blah, the second-in-command was blah, and the next was me. I was joking, but it was true those kinds of kids were my friends because I was a boy who liked dancing rather than studying. The rumor was made from that. I never committed a crime, but frequently got into mischief. I disturbed the class, spoke out random things, provoked the teachers without reason. I became bold because I felt so comfortable among the kids in my class, and I think a part of my talent as an entertainer manifested itself through such behaviors. I danced and sang in the hallway all the time.

So did you willingly show your dance upon requests then?
― Ah, I did everything when I was selected as a representative of the class… I do anything if they arrange a stage for me.

Jeez. It was you who named yourself Taeyang, right?
― Before joining BIGBANG, I used Taekwon* as my name when working as a featuring rapper. I didn’t like that name. I even found out my name was Taekwon after the album came out. But I really didn’t want to be called such in BIGBANG, too. Little kid as I was, my strategy was like this: if I made a totally different name for myself, I must get scolded. Then let’s keep the first word ‘Tae’ to name me Taeyang instead. Hyunsuk hyung said it didn’t sound very good, but I liked it.
(Translator’s comment: * This name is originated from Taekwondo, the Korean martial arts.)

I knew Lies already, of course, but what made me finally pay attention to you was the song Look Only At Me. Every summer that song comes up in my mind, and that means it brings about a season, that song does..
― About 5 years have passed already.

― Yes, I feel like that. Back then, there were no producers around me. I had to receive songs for my first solo album from some foreign composers whom I never met nor knew his name, I had to carry out in such a haphazard fashion. But no matter how hard I thought, it didn’t seem proper to me. There wasn’t a single song that touched my emotions. The album should’ve been out much ealier according to the original plan, but I continued to say no till Hyunsuk hyung said half-jokingly that he couldn’t put up with me anymore. Haha. I just waited. On the other hand, I was just muddled. After about a year, Teddy hyung joined the company, and one day he let me hear a song he said he had composed just last night. And it was the very song I’d been waiting so long, wow, that was really… I couldn’t hide my happiness. I said, I looove this, I really like this, I ever wanted to sing a song like this. I revealed my feelings too much.

Drawing a picture in mind. Kwon Bumoon, the artist I admire once said, “The photographers are likely to be like hunters inevitably, but they should ever be vigilant not to be like that. If you dream of the picture you want to make come true with all your energy, then it’ll finally come to you.” What he said is not about mysticism but about the inevitability of the world. Of course, it’s also different from making one’s best endeavors.
― Ah, that’s right. I see what you mean. And I really like the words! It may sound very abstract, but that has been always true in my case. When I feel that I want to do something, the whole picture comes to me like a photograph. It always does, in the same way. There are times that such a picture doesn’t emerge in my mind, in fact. And I think I must not push ahead in that case. It doesn’t seem to work trying all the time to get good music, make good music, etc. The only way out is waiting while drawing a picture in your mind.

And if you can’t wait like that, you’ll possibly lose edge just overnight.
― Yes, that’s true.

This is the fifth time for me to interview you, but you look like a whole different person today. Why do you think you do?
― I’ve changed. My personality also changed. I’m even different from who I was just a year ago. I think I changed because the time was ripe. I never tried to change myself, and the new me these days who look happy and bright also seems like a part of myself.

What do you think you’ve gone through?
― Many different seasons.

I saw you trying to introduce every session man one by one on the first stage of the BIGBANG world tour. Your voice couldn’t be heard clearly in the roar of the crowd, but such an episode makes me thinking “Yes, that’s Taeyang. That’s his way.” Though you just did what one has to do, it touched my heart.
― Haha, I don’t know why, either, but those who have kept an eye on me often tell me things like that. I’m such that kind of boy, I think.

I got this impression that you are not a person who boasts something that he really doesn’t have. One rarely tells a lie intentionally without need, but one can happen to make some pits and even sink into them oneself while proceeding a conversation. But Dong Youngbae never does.
― Actually, when I’m asked a question, I’m too busy working out an answer to be able to make up a lie.

In what way does a singer called Taeyang look at the present?
― Ah, that’s the question that I really want to make a good answer to. (pause for a while) I’m not sure I’m properly articulating, but since I turned 25, what comes up in my mind most often is the realization that I don’t have an infinite amount of time. But with the insight, I became very relaxed all the more. It’s strange but I feel more comfortable now. What’s this? How should I describe this? I have no idea myself.

You became braver than before?
― Once I turned 25, I became conscious of my age. I want to do exactly what I can do now.

It seems that you think the priority of now doesn’t need to be your next solo stage.
― Yes, that doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, whether it’s traveling, singing, or dancing, everything seems circling around me and I’m at the center of it. Actually, I don’t even care how others see me. Maybe I became much less conscious of something? That’s why I’m excited. I’m very happy these days. I feel like I finally became myself. I wonder what your opinion about it, but I’m very satisfied with our new album. How do you like it?

Bad Boy is brilliant.
― I can see really clearly now. Before, there was always some confusion at the back of my mind. I knew what I liked and what I wanted to do, but once the time to take action came, I started drifting again. I felt heavy. Now, I feel thick. Whatever song I sing or whatever music I dance to, my own color is thicker than them now. I don’t get lost any more.

Tae! Kwon!
― Haha.

Do you sometimes read books?
― Books? Ah, I haven’t read much recently.

Why do you wear such a guilty face all of a sudden?
― To be frank, I love comic books too much.

Is it shameful to say that you like comic books?
― You don’t know about One Piece, do you? That is the best for me.

It’s a good thing to be able to stay easy and free. Because such a capacity isn’t something that can be obtained from nowhere.
― I want to travel whenever I get time. You told me once that traveling always helps. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why then. I had many enough opportunities to travel before, too, but I just didn’t hit the road. Firstly it’s no fun to travel alone, right? Then while traveling for work or something, I felt such a refreshing feeling that I was in ‘another place.’ Though I haven’t traveled a lot, I feel, as I felt when I went to Okinawa, Japan last year, that what I’d lost is being brought back to me in those places far away home. The places make me think “I used to love those things so much”, “I was like this and that when I was a kid”, etc. Everything felt new and different. I want to travel anywhere and everywhere.

What is surprising to me is that you are probably conspicuous but never provocative.
― From time to time, it comes to my mind that I’m not born to be a celebrity. I don’t feel sorry. (pause for a while) By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about me not looking provocative.

“This is the cap I wore when I filmed the MV of Look Only At Me. Anyway, maybe I should have washed it before bringing it here.” Cap / Oliver Laric 2012, Seoul

“This is something I really wanted to have. This bracelet is the birthday present that the members saved up their money and bought for me not long after our debut. They did it for me even though they obviously didn’t have much money back then.” Bracelet / Francesco Vezzoli 2012, Seoul

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TAEYANG always VIP*.*