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To Taeyang, what does ‘people’ mean?
― Who I hope get certain ideas or inspiration from watching me.

Do you really think like that?
― Yes, I want to be such person.

Did the boy become a man finally?
― In what sense?

I don’t know.
― I think he’s becoming. I can’t say he became a man. Because he hasn’t grown up yet.

Then how do you know whether he’s becoming or not? Is there any sign? For example, a pressure cooker makes choo-choo sounds.
― That’s it. Exactly.

Well, what exactly?
― I feel a sign. I would really like to be in a relationship with a genuine woman. I never thought about that before. And it’s another story though, my regards for other members? My thoughts on them became incomparably greater than before. Now it feels like we are living together.

There’s this video on Solar, the second concert you had as a solo artist in summer, 2010. You probably see in it a very different you, right?
― Ah.. well, (pause for a while) um.. it’s a fond memory, filling me with emotions. It really is.

Do you feel like a lot time has passed?
― Yes, so much time has. And I also feel like I’m very different from then.

But people want you to be the same all the way.
― Yes, you’re right. Some people might not accept that I changed no matter what. I said the memory of the concert fills me with emotions, because there were special feelings I had at that time. I felt like I would never have an opportunity to hold such a concert again, I don’t know why though. It felt like the last time. There were such sad and strange feelings. Of course I’ll meet the audience again, but when I recall that time…

You once said you wanted to be happy whatever music by whoever artists you listen to, right?
― Yes, if the music is good.

How about your first own composition Take It Slow? Does it sometimes cross your mind?
― Whenever I listen to it, the most frequent thing that crosses my mind is “This actually came close to being omitted from the album.”

Have you memorized the lyrics now? (At the concert, he missed some lyrics)
― I have.

You’re lying.
― OK, I haven’t.

Does ‘slow’ from the title Take It Slow mean “Please take good care of the boy?”
― Haha.

When I interviewed you several years ago, I said you needed to drink, do some bad things, etc. so randomly, but now it seems I don’t have to say such a thing anymore. You even look like a person who had once drank but already quitted. But people are still interested in speculating whether you have dated or not. And that always embarrasses you, Taeyang.
― Whenever I hear such a gossip, I think to myself, “Does it matter that much? Is it such an important thing?”

Who knows, you have bottles of Korean raspberries wine* in your refrigerator?
― Haha, there’s only Perrier water.
(Translator’s comment: *Korean raspberries wine is known as a tonic that helps enhance men’s stamina.)

Is there any food you can’t eat?
― There’s none except disgusting food.

Don’t you pick out pieces of spring onions from your beef soup?
― No, I don’t like such a behavior. I don’t like others to do so, either. By the way, I have this talent in finding some delicious food.

How do you do that?
― Well, it’s just a hunch I have. I can see whether it’ll taste good or not just looking at it.

You’re a food guru, Dr. Dong?
― Yes, when someone brings some food saying it’s delicious, I guess that’ll taste such and such… and it turns out to be correct. Sort of, I think I’m almost an expert when it comes to taste. I’m so objective that I don’t think my mom’s cooking is always delicious. I can see the taste just looking at it.

What do you look at exactly?
― The texture of the food. It tells me how it’ll feel and taste in mouth.

Where did such a confidence about your palate come from?
― At first, I just asked myself if I was really good at appreciating food. Then, at some point, those around me began to ask my opinion. They ask before trying the food. Say, which one do you think tastes better?

I’m so doubtful to think you can actually appreciate tastes of different hamburgers at best.
― Um, I know what you mean. But I can confidently tell you. When I bite food, I can decide intuitively whether it’s dainty bits or not.

What do you think of your living here in Korea?
― To be honest, when I was a kid, there were times I wished my mom would had given birth to me in America. But now I’m really happy that I’m Korean. I’m not such a person who claims his blind love for his country, but I think there are so many things I can do because I’m Korean. First of all, there seems no country that has the kinds of food we have. I know I’m talking about food too much, but there’s really a variety of food in Korea. That means I know the tastes that others will never know. Americans won’t be able to appreciate the taste of cheonggukjang* stew. And what else?
(Translator’s comment: *Cheonggukjand is a fermented soybean paste that has a strong odor.)

Sesame leaves.
― Right, sesame leaves. But we can enjoy the taste. I think such a sensibility is reflected in music. There’s the sensibility that we have and others will never know. I think we have something they can’t even imitate.

So the origin of Taeyang’s music was cheonggukjang stew?
― Haha, you went too far.

Um, as for the Korean language, I think that…
― Ah! Can I say something on the subject first?

Go on.
― Um, I think Korean is the best. It’s crazy. ‘Norang’ is ‘yellow’ in English, but when the color fades we call it ‘nurikiri.’ We’re only ones who say our eyes are ‘chimchim*.’ Where can you find such an expression other than in Korean? And I know the subtle differences and sensibilities of those words because I’m Korean. That’s the greatest treasure that I have, I think. I’ve sung in Japanese and in English, too, but I can convey my exact feelings only through Korean. Think about the lyrics of the old Korean pops. Think about the lyrics of Jo Yongpil*’s songs.
(Translator’s comment 1: *Eyes that are ‘chimchim’ can be translated as bleared eyes or a dim eyesight. It seems Taeyang wanted to emphasize the variety and subtlety especially in Korean adjectives that have many characteristics of mimetic words.)
(Translators’s comment 2: * Jo Yongpil is one of the most famous and most admired singers in Korea.)

Your music will be much richer with the help of clear, good lyrics.
― Yes, I really think so.

That’s why you should have the company of books.
― Haha, I will.

It’s still unfamiliar to hear the word ‘jinsim*’ from a singer who’s regarded as an idol. How do you keep that word now?
― I said that I changed, that changing isn’t a bad thing, and that the time seems ripe, but as you said people want me not to change. But is ‘jinsim’ such a thing that can never be changed? Isn’t it what I can’t manipulate at all? Even though you change your hair styles or attitudes, what you want to convey through your music won’t be changed, I think. That’s not the thing that you can decide with your will. There are many singers who sing or perform fantastically, but I can only respect them when I feel their jinsim. That always remains the same. Actually it’s not very long since I began to be able to listen to my singing. So I can listen to my voice accurately now. In the past, I just tried to listen because I had to monitor it. For example, I couldn’t listen to my singing as I listened to Jo Yongpil or Michael Jackson in my free time. I used to think “Why did I sing like that?” or “I should’ve sung with this emotion,” but now I don’t think like that. I can listen to my songs equally as I listen to any other artists’ music.
(Translator’s comment: *Jinsim means the truth of one’s heart or one’s sincerity.)

“It’s just a white t-shirt. Ah, it’s easily ripped.” Sleeveless/ Wolfgang Tilmans 2012, Seoul

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TAEYANG always VIP*.*