TVXQ had very little sleep for the past 3 days, shooting the music video for their new album. The interview took place around the time when everything was getting ready in preparation for the new album release in the end of September. The two, who didn’t even have the time to trim their beard, got out of their van. It would be hard for the two, who met in their teens, to grow up in similar speed and condition, but Uknow Yunho and Max Changmin were in very similar shape, as if they’ve met for the “Over 180cm, 9 head figure” group. The first things that got blurted out of our mouth in meeting them were not the formal pleasantries but rather, simple and clear adjectives. “So tall” and “Handsome”. When one said “So tall!” the other replied by saying “Super handsome!” (The fashion reporter who was responsible for their styling was 5 months into pregnancy and gloated at seeing them standing there as it was apparently good for prenatal education).
As the previous album was released on January of 2011, it was definitely not a short break if one remembers the current music industry pattern. Of course, this “break” is only if we’re thinking of Korea. When they are out of our sight, they were in Japan or some parts of Asia. Big concert schedules such as “A-NATION” by TVXQ’s Japanese agency AVEX, “SM TOWN” where all performers from SM Entertainment appears, and TVXQ’s own tour dizzily cross each other on calendar. I attempted to somewhat memorize it, only to give up very quickly. Even the SM PR representative has given up on it. The reason why the broadcasting stations could make concerts like “Korean Music Wave” to go around the glove is because “SM Town World Tour in Paris” has proven something. I remember my eyes popping out at the photos and videos from Paris while watching them to write the
“We did a lot of tour in Japan, but Paris was completely new. As well, I thought they may find us unfamiliar compared to all the active juniors… but the crowd started singing the Korean lyric along as soon as we started ‘Mirotic’. It was so cool! I was really surprised,” remembered Yunho. “Regardless of who, when you get interested in a person you get interested in his or her culture. Kind of like that, I think more performers were given the opportunity. There was a period where ‘Sorry Sorry’ by Super Junior was really hot overseas. Surely there has to be some Europeans who learned about TVXQ and SM performers through that?” There has to be both excitement and fear before jumping into a new market. Yunho remembered that the fear was a little greater. “It does feel like we’re the national representatives. But somewhere along the way, we were just having fun. At that point, it felt like I leveled up”.
To the singers who are doubtlessly top, ranking in #1 on various charts may not mean much. Of course, there are events such as bringing the most audience as a Korean singer in Japanese Tour, or ranking 10 single albums for the first time as a foreign artist on the Oricon Weekly chart. To TVXQ like that, what do they need to have in their mind while being active? They surely would make decent profits by bringing a dance version of popular children’s song. Yunho said without hesitation. “My thoughts differ. That’s when we start. That’s the point where we can start going downhill. It only means something if we break our own record.” Right now is TVXQ’s “That moment”. Changmin said cautiously. “If I compare it to school life, the memories remain more precious when you do a lot of things well rather than just being #1 in academics. I want to build more than just being #1 in academics. To be honest, our music isn’t even something that would be #1 in a lot of places. Songs that a lot of people can listen to while having fun, are the ones that get #1 these days.”
The topic changed to music. The idols who may appear to only concern about being pretty and look handsome, worry seriously about music from time to time. As an actor becomes famous by meeting a good character, a good music can brand the singer. TVXQ has passed the freshmen years long past, to be a nine year old group. Even the people who can’t distinguish between Uknow Yunho and Max Changmin would know that TVXQ isn’t a team making just another sweet song. TVXQ and its music go well with uniforms like suit, even with the powerful dance. It has a pattern to an extent, it’s sometimes determined, and it’s closer to being dark than being bright. It’s not a song we can sing along well in karaoke either (If I do, I fall tired while singing). During our conversation, we called this simply a “heavy music”. It definitely differs a bit from the current music trend. Ever since the “well playing” BigBang has changed the dynamics, if a performance-based singer couldn’t do one or the other, it didn’t look so good. Either you play up the stage, or you refine it perfectly.
The reason why TVXQ is still top when they’re walking a different path from the trend is because they have their refined stage and music. The dynamically formed stage combines with the looks, the shape, and the performance to reveal their body. Yunho is improving day by day on his singing ability, and Changmin is the person who got the best Shouting! Yoo Young Jin’s genes out of all SM performers. TVXQ had to try their best even after becoming somewhat successful. It’s because the two of them had to do everything. “A while ago, a guy at the health club just came up and said ‘You’re Uknow Yunho, right?’ and said ‘You guys got this one thing. So you look different from all others.’ We hear sometimes that it seems like we’re spitting out blood. There are times when I do want to try a more trendy music. But we have our root elsewhere. It’s something that started when we sung ‘Rising Sun.”
Changmin talked a lot with the produce Yoo Young Jin about the colour of TVXQ while preparing this album. To put it simply, he decided that if they bring out a “heavy music” again, the listeners and the viewers will define what TVXQ is. Changmin seemed to be concerned about being defined as “just their own music”. TVXQ’s conclusion was that in the new album they need to take a slightly different direction. A little easier, a little brighter, with various genres. “It’s always our homework. Not losing the current style but find a connection with a variety of people… It must be a dilemma for everyone who expresses something for work. The popular culture changes the “It” trend very fast and uses it up. If we have to follow the public’s taste every single time, we won’t survive in the end.” Yunho said after Changmin. “I’m confident. While preparing for this album, I felt a lot lot lot lot of things. Not just from the work, but from my personal life as well. I can’t tell you what it is, haha. As I had a lot of thoughts, I want to believe that I’ve given some life into the album.”
Yunho and Changmin are standing in the same land, but their styles differ a bit. Yunho must’ve been a MAN from the moment he was born. A MAN who’s not macho. How precious! He treasures past and roots much. He even watches frequently their debut song, “Hug” or previous stage performances. The times when he “wanted to become the bed of your room for just one day”, the teen times which a grown up man would find embarrassing. Yunho has accepted that he does cringe a bit. “But because I had that, I have now. So I don’t want to forget about it. The times when I lived as Jung Yunho rather than Uknow Yunho, the times when I was a trainee… I try not to forget about those times. I meet up with old friends often. I live hard, but everyone else really lives hard. I just had a little more of experiences that they couldn’t have. But when I see my friends working very hard to get things that I get easily from others, I feel that I’m still young.” Types like these don’t change easily wherever they are, whatever they do.
The story about him in middle school, participating in “SM Teen Best Competition” and asking the judges to “see my dance to the end, whether you dropped me or not. The stories about doing all kinds of part time jobs such as removing snow, serving at a meat buffet, etc. in Seoul as a trainee from Gwangju. Yunho may have been different from other immature male students even then. But it was still surprising to see him talk about sleeping at the Seoul station and parks in
Changmin has said through multiple occasions that he’s thought a lot about how it would’ve been “to live an average life”. The story about getting picked up by the SM employee who was watching him suspiciously while he was playing badminton in middle school (there were casting managers in the 90s who wandered round the middle-high schools in order to find the hidden gems), or the story about doing some “army clapping” moves when they asked him to dance, are so contrasting to Yunho that it makes us laugh. When there’s a day off, Yunho always goes out, whether it be just for a walk. Changmin leaves himself free, eating, sleeping, and just rolling around. He doesn’t ask the hypothetical question anymore. “It’s not that I changed intentionally, but it just happened naturally. It’s a little embarrassing, but this work became fun. I learned to enjoy it at one point as well.” It will take a bit more time to enjoy acting. Changmin’s first TV drama
The Changmin I found out through the media seemed to be sensitive and delicate, harsh on himself, and kind of like a poker-faced person. When I asked Yunho about good qualities of Changmin he said “He never speaks easily. He always thinks multiple times and show with his actions.” Changmin really spoke delicately and cautiously in real. When he talked about his important qualities he said “I want to live easily and happily. If I have fun every day I may not know that it will be fun in the future, so I want to have fun as much as right now – drinking, on stage, with family and loved ones” and added that “maybe I’m saying ‘fun and happily’ easily because I’m much better off financially than my peers. Others may call it carefree…”. When he was talking about being #1, he looked for an euphemistic expression, in worries of devaluing other’s opinions about #1. It was brave to see him deliver his opinion prudently but clearly. Of course, he can joke around with funny faces, saying “I can rap so freaking well”. There were moments when his eyes got big and sparkled, and one of it was when we were talking about soccer. Talking about how there’s no end when you go online for soccer… we ended up concluding that “Otakus move the world”.
Although TVXQ is always surrounded by crowed and building airplane mileages like Geroge Clooney from
Yunho said that he could continue TVXQ even after he aged. Since Michael Jackson went to his 50s, he could keep the TVXQ style and still go with it as long as his body allows it. “I do have the hope to perform good music even after times have passed. I would be a little more knowledgeable then, and I want to help out the juniors who would be going through what I’ve gone through. I’d like to have a family that I can take care of in mid or late 30s personally.” Changmin remembered Kaneshiro Takeshi, who lived around Asia as if they were all one country. “(He?) performed in Japan and in the Greater China region in their respective languages. I dream about acting and singing while traveling free and limitlessly. Of course I could live like that even while doing TVXQ’s music like now.” Yunho and Changmin, who were picturing their 30s didn’t separate their hard-kept and well-keeping TVXQ from it. I hope their future goes as what they pictured now. There’s about as much time as what has passed since they first got into SM Entertainment to reach that goal. They said it themselves. It only means it if they break their own record. Will TVXQ transgress TVXQ?
Translation by: Fuzzybunny
Shared by: DBSKnights