[TRANS] Marie Claire July Edition Interview With Kim Junsu – One And Only, Kim Junsu

Kim Junsu will be returning with his second solo album. It’s an album that goes well with the Summer nights. A hot but refreshing, serious but not too weighed down; a unique youth lays within him.

Today’s background music was a collection that ranged from Mika to Bruno Mars, Taio Cruz, Foo Fighters, Calvin Harris, Adele, Jason Mraz, Wanted and Jin Haerim. This was a playlist chosen by the hero of the photo spread himself. Between the songs could be heard the unique and husky voice that anyone could recognize from 100m away. The owner of this voice is none other than JYJ’s Kim Junsu, who spent the whole half day at the photoshoot continuously humming a tune as though he was drinking water or joking with others. Soon to return with his second solo album, he has graced the cover of ‘Marie Claire’

He has been busy. Around this time last year, the first solo album of Kim Junsu, who showed off a unique color that was different from that of JYJ’s Junsu, recorded amazing achievements on various charts such as the Billboards and iTunes Japan. He also held a world tour that started in Seoul and took him to countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, New York, Europe, Chile, Brazil and Mexico. He also stood on the stage and poured all his energy into a musical. Having proven his ticket power and talent time and time again in big musicals, he is now considered to be a certified check in the musical industry. We can’t help but be amazed that his entry into the musical industry has led to a movement of Korean musicals spreading out overseas. It’s difficult to find a sense of normalcy from any of these stories. He’s never not been a star since his debut, he is still a strong and powerful star in the industry. But he is also a wonderful youth who has finally and earnestly chosen his own path and taken responsibility for it. Shall we all wait and see what path this man has chosen, and what ‘event’ or ‘phenomenon’ he will create this year? First, we know that many are curious to know more about his latest solo album. Everyone will get the answers to their questions in just one month. But before that date comes, a couple of hints may be uncovered from the clear answers he gave us.

– It’s not long till the date of your comeback. We’d like to know how you feel right now.
When I released my first album ‘TARANTALLEGRA’ last year, I felt a lot of pressure, as I knew I would. Not only was this my first solo activity, but I was also the first member of JYJ to do so; so I really wanted to start on a good note, at least for the sake of the other members. After I released my album and held my world tour, I started to think more positively and I was overflowing with energy. I also gained a sense of confidence. What I needed when I released my first solo album was courage. But now, my ambition is even greater. What I mean is my ambition to create an album that rivals, or even surpasses, my first album. Right now, all I can say for certain is that it’s an album that has a completely different feel from the first album It’s also different from my single album ‘UNCOMMITTED’.

– Could you drop us a hint about your upcoming album?
I’m also sad that I can’t tell you anything specific. I’m thinking of putting a variety of genres into the album overall, as I’ve been doing from the start till now, but it will have a stronger emphasis on R&B and hip-hop than the first album. I’ll be including a track that has a swing or jazzy feel as well. For the title song, I took many people’s opinions into consideration before making the executive decision, and it’s a song that I received a while back and have been treasuring till now. When the time came to start preparing this album, I suddenly felt the urge to listen to this song. And as soon as I heard it, I made the decision to include it on the spot. I was really happy when I received that song, and I felt even better when I heard it again that day. It’s a song that fits the Summer season well. It will be an album that’s like a hot and exciting Summer party. It’s a little less heavier than the first album, but it’s not an overly bright or light album either. I think the pivotal point of this album will be if I’ve been able to find the perfect middle ground.

– Compared to your first album, which took a very long time to be released, the preparation process of your second album has been relatively fast. Have you had time to personally reenergize yourself?
Luckily, I’m very good at switching between my on and off settings. I’m completely different when I’m working and when I’m taking a break. I had about three months off. While I was taking a break, I wrote music and traveled to the Maldives. With three other guys!


– We’re not very envious of that. (laughter)
But it was great, even though it was just all guys. I spent most of the day in the ocean. The color of it was indescribable. I prefer vacation spots over cities. I like landscapes of oceans, sunsets and palm trees.

– It sounds like Kim Junsu’s second album is one people should take to the beach than the cities.
It’s true, it’s true. The music would go well with a cocktail at the beach.

– Fans in hot countries will probably enjoy it.
Because it’s a song full of passion!


– How do you feel when you see the crowds of fans waiting for you when you touch down in another country’s airport?
It’s amazing. It’s amazing enough that they know who we are, and that feeling grows when I hold concerts. Because they sing along with us in Korean. It’s hard to hear JYJ’s music, unless you listen to it as an audio file, since it’s hard to see us on broadcasted TV shows. But to see that fans exist halfway across the world, in places where it isn’t even easy to travel to, who are able to sing in Korean, it helps me realize yet again that I can’t slow down or get worn out.


– You chose the background music for today’s photoshoot, and what you said when Jin Haerim’s ‘Lover’s Concerto’ came on was interesting.
It’s a song that needs to be listened to in your car on a rainy day, on a day with rain that makes you feel good. Not just any car, but a taxi. The taxi driver sitting in the front seat would be a foreigner (laughter), and when you can see the sun setting between the buildings and the falling rain, that music would be playing in the background. Whenever I hear that song, I think about Europe. I start laying out the scene in front of my eyes. I’m on the eight lane road in front of Paris’ Arc de Triopmhe, and the traffic is jam-packed. One entire side of the road is red because of the rear lamps of the cars sitting back-to-back. I’m looking at the scene from behind. The sky is getting darker, and it makes you feel happy, sad and excited at once.

– That’s very detailed. (laughter) Your method of approaching a song is very interesting. Do you come up with such images when you interpret your own songs?
When I first heard ‘UNCOMMITTED’, I got the feeling of wind blowing. ‘TARANTALLEGRA’ gave me the feeling of fire. It brought up a fantasy landscape in my mind.


– What do you think is the biggest strength of Vocalist Kim Junsu?
If the skills of music can be broken down into pitch, tone, technique, dance and rhythm, I would say that my biggest strength is my sense of rhythm. This may sound like boasting, but even I think I have a pretty good sense of rhythm. (laughter) There’s a slight push and pull in each beat, and I’m confident about naturally taking control of the push and pull without having to consciously focus on it. I enjoy and feel comfortable when I’m performing music that keeps the rhythm alive. While I was rehearsing yesterday, I discovered a new rhythm that I hadn’t assimilated into my body yet. It was ‘a rhythm I’d never seen before’ that made me think that the beat was kind of weird, but also really fun.


– What stands out in Kim Junsu’s music is your sensibility.
From a while ago, I’ve always thought that sensibility was the most important aspect of music. No matter what tone or technique you have, you’ll create a great song if you have the right sensibility.

– In life, as you get older, sensibility dies pretty easily. Artistes always need something to stimulate their sensibility. What do you think is keeping your flame alive and burning?
It’s true. The more you age, the more realist you become, and your sense of imagination and sense of challenge starts to deaden. That’s fatal to any artiste. But ironically, the experiences I’ve accumulated as I’ve gotten older have kept my sensibility alive. When I approach music, I think of my own stories. Singing is like acting. You have to completely immerse yourself into it. If you’re singing music with lyrics that are meant to seduce someone, I believe you have to sing as though you’re really trying to seduce someone.

– What do musicals mean to Kim Junsu?
‘Mozart!’ is extremely meaningful to me because it’s the production that gave me the opportunity to stand on stage again. I was left with so many scars as a human being when I went through such a major life event in 2009 that it wasn’t the stage I was scared of, it was the world. I was so frustrated and sad, but this production taught me that the place I needed to be was the stage. It felt like all of the musical numbers reflected my feelings, and expressing the dark inner workings of Mozart, the genius musician who captivated the world, was a great opportunity for me as an artiste.

– We’d like to learn more about the process of taking such a difficult character like ‘Tod’ from ‘Elisabeth’ and giving him your own young and sexy twist.
After I finished ‘Mozart!’, I found myself engrossed in musicals and I went to watch almost any musical I could get my hands on. That helped me expand my knowledge and thoughts. Musicals only work when all the actors come alive exquisitely and focus their energy and release it outwards. The method I chose was to find an answer through rehearsing diligently. I watched other people preparing to become their characters. I would try to understand all the characters who appeared in the production in order to create my character. It was a very passionate and fun work process. This August, I’ll return to the encore run of ‘Elisabeth’. To be honest, after I received the Best Musical Actor Award, I felt a greater sense of responsibility and looked over many productions. But there weren’t that many productions a musical actor in his 20s can do. So I want to hit my 30s quickly. I told myself that if I was going to take on this role again, I’d have to create a character that surpassed that of my first turn in the musical. And I was confident that I’d be able to do that, so I decided to put myself into the character of ‘Tod’ in ‘Elisabeth’ again, although it will overlap with my solo album activities.

– There must have been both good and bad experiences in the past 10 years. There are some that we know, and some that we don’t. Do you think they have all been meaningful to you?
Although I’m only 28 years old, I want to believe that I’ve gone through all the bad experiences of my life in my early twenties. (laughter) But I don’t think any experience could be meaningless. I think that if I’d only had good experiences, I wouldn’t be prepared for what lay ahead in life. A lot of things have happened, and I’ve learned so much because of this. I still have two years left till I hit my thirties, and my twenties will have been 10 years of learning, whether I liked it or not. I believe they will be ten years that will affect the direction of my life in my thirties, forties, and the rest of my life.


– We think you’ve become much stronger in the past ten years.
But because I’m the youngest in my team, I think the fans still see me as a little baby. (laughter) I think you need a self-centeredness that is flexible. If you follow the words of others, your core will falter, but if you are stuck in the belief that your thoughts and ideas are the only things that are right, then you will never progress. Should I call it wriggling around in a flexible core? Ah, I was so surprised when I heard Jo Yong Pil’s ‘Bounce’ and it made to reevaluate my thoughts. It made me think that I want to be a singer who keeps his own color and creates music that is loved in each generation, no matter how old I get.

– When we see Shinhwa become active in the industry again, it’s interesting and it makes us think they’re such great guys. The three guys of JYJ look like you have a connection in which you can really talk to each other about anything. HAve you ever thought about what JYJ would look like in 10 years?
I once heard this from them. When they’re alone, they feel their age of men in their early and mid-thirties, but when Shinhwa get together, they feel like high schoolers all over again. Because they’ve grown up together. JYJ are like them as well. Completely different from when we’re alone, we become very childish when the three of us get together. (laughter) We become more mischievous, our instinct to make others laugh makes us do weird things, and all three of our voices get louder. 10 years later? I’d like for us to stay the same. When I heard what Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter said on ‘Radio Star’, I thought that I’d like for JYJ to be like them. When I see the Gospellers, a Japanese a capella group, all of them have gotten married, with a wife and kids, but they still stick together and even their families are close. When I see them, I find myself thinking that I’d like to age just like them.


– In some of the interviews you’ve given before, you said, “Instead of trying to escape from my idol image, I’d prefer to change the perception of idols in Korea.” Do you still believe in this?
Yes. Idols are singers who perform the hottest and trendiest music of that generation, but are also the people who pioneer the music, dance, and planned performance generation. Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you’re automatically an idol and just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you’re automatically not an idol. Hallyu contents are greatly loved everywhere around the world. That means that our pop music has a great strength in the world. This means that idol groups shouldn’t be consumed as a product; they should have their self-regard protected and allowed to progress. That responsibility lies on me and my fellow singers.

– Your Tokyo Dome concert early this year must have been very meaningful to you. It couldn’t have been easy to get there.
It was our first official Japanese activity in three years and our return to Tokyo Dome. Once, we weren’t able to rent the Tokyo Dome venue, so we ended up performing at an outside concert venue three hours away from Tokyo. On one hand, we were so grateful for the fans who came all the way to see us, and they became a great source of energy and motivation for us. But on the other hand, we felt so bad for making them come so far to see us. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to stand on the stage of Tokyo Dome again, but it all dramatically played out so well. To be honest, I still thought that our concert could be cancelled at any time, even during the actual Tokyo Dome performance. The shock is greater if you don’t prepare yourself like this when things go wrong, so I always have this kind of mindset. But luckily, we were able to stand on stage there. It was indescribable. I even teared up on the last day.


– Are there any fears you have right now?
I don’t have any fears. It’s not really a fear, but there are times when I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to perform my music and be loved like I am now. The love we’ve received from our fans has been so large in the past four to five years since a big change affected us, so I think it’s more important to repay that love we’ve received till now rather than releasing music and expecting popularity from it.”

– If any other musician or idol member had said something like that, we would have just accepted it without a second thought. But it sounds different coming from Kim Junsu and JYJ.
I have many roles to play. I am Kim Junsu, XIA, JYJ’s Junsu, the son of my parents, and a soccer player with a number 12 jersey. I can’t divide myself for every role. All of them are who I am. I hate being fake. No matter what the situation, I try to be as sincere as I can, and I try to do my best, have fun and stay positive. But when I am the musician Kim Junsu, when I am XIA, I’m okay with sacrificing ‘me’, just a little bit, to repay the countless fans who have given me their love. When I’m on stage, I just want to sing with all my heart, without a single thought in my mind.

Source: [Marie Claire Magazine]

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