Changmin: (We) don't meet often. But recently, Seulgi and I filmed together, so for about two months, we met. So except for Seulgi, I didn't meet the rest often; also maybe because I am a senior, so it would make them feel a little awkward? Because I am the senior, I have to initiate conversation to make them relax a little, but whether it is them or EXO, even when I interact with them now, there is always a little awkwardness. However, if it is Super Junior or SHINee, they get along well with the trainees. But if I want to get closer to them, it becomes a little difficult. I don't like it either when just because I am a senior so I have to be more strict.
(Red Velvet) Meeting with Changmin directly, do you feel it is difficult to get close because (he is) a senior?
Seulgi: We have filmed together before so I feel that Senior really takes care of others, and makes others feel comfortable and is easy to get along with. It is really good. However, after all, he is a senior...
Changmin: um... after all (they are) juniors, and girls too. To get along (with them) is a bit more difficult as compared to guys. Have to pay more attention (t/n: be more careful), haha.
In that case, sitting here like this facing each other and talking, is this the first time?
Seulgi: Ah! Before we debuted, we met before. In the recording studio on the 5th level.
Wendy: That day was the day before we debuted, suddenly (Changmin) came to give us support and even gave a lot of good suggestions.
Changmin: Now I remember. Because it was the day before (their) debut, I thought they must be feeling very nervous, but they turned out to be tougher than I thought. So I thought: they appear like professional artistes, don't have to worry, they are doing well.
When Changmin first went onstage, do you still remember what it was like?
Changmin: To be honest, I was a student who did not dream of becoming a singer, so it was without any idea or thought that I debuted. Like a student who goes to the TV station to watch (t/n: like a participant), everything seemed new to me. However, the members who were with me, after our first stage had ended, they burst into tears. They had been training to become a singer since they were very young, and had huge determination. I was envious (of that). Red Velvet too, from early on, they have decided the path they were going to walk on, and is facing it straight-on. Although they are girls, I feel that that is really cool. I am envious (of that) yet proud of them.
On Red Velvet's debut stage, were you nervous at all?
Joy: At the start there was no real feeling, no thoughts about it. But once we stood on the stage, and started doing the first moves, hearing fans cheering for us, at the end when we held hands together, then only did (I) start feeling emotions. Instead of nervousness, it was more of heart-felt emotions.
Wendy: When I was watching the seniors perform, I was not nervous. But in the dorm, once I thought about the next day (debut), and suddenly felt nervous. Even if it was jus opening my mouth to speak, I felt like throwing up. So before going on stage, I didn't eat anything and was hungry the whole way.
To Red Velvet, what is TVXQ's existence like?
Seulgi: It was really because of watching seniors (referring to TVXQ) that I developed the dream of becoming a singer. When I was younger, I would practise seniors' songs and dances with my friends. It was really fun. Because of this, I also got to know SM and came into this company. It was a dream to me.
Joy: When I was in middle school and went online, I saw a clip of seniors performing Proud during one of their Japanese concert tours, and how they teared while singing. Without knowing it, I cried too. At the time, I was really touched, and decided then to also seriously do well and stand there too one day.
Changmin: At that time, I didn't cry. I was the only one that didn't cry (laughs). To think that someone would have seen us (then) and therefore have dreams is really mystifying and yet rewarding. Students nowadays, rather than studying in hopes of achieving their goals, isn't the number of them who are blindly listening to their parents' wishes on the type of person they want them to be, the majority? I was once one of them. Because of an opportunity I had never imagined, I became a singer. When I hear of people who like them (Red Velvet) say such things (about following their dreams), I really feel touched.
Wendy: I really want to follow senior's example. After all, no matter how much one likes what they are doing, to have lasted for ten years is not easy. Although I often hear the words 'not to forget your original heart' (not to forget the initial spirit/mindset), when I see TVXQ seniors' who behaves as seriously as just like they were from when they first started, I really want to learn from them. Red Velvet will also show a good side to everyone for a long time.
When talking about TVXQ, what are some of their hot songs that you will immediately think of?
Seulgi: I really like Rising Sun, I remember practising it many, many times.
Irene: Rising Sun too, in third year of high school, I performed it during a talent show during a school trip outside of school, haha.
When TVXQ debuted, what were Red Velvet members doing?
Joy: I was watching TV at home. At the time I was in year one or two of elementary school? Now that I think about it, I must have been watching the Magic Castle MV on TV. Because I was still really young, I only remember that I was watching it because the oppas appearing were really handsome. I still remember that my Year 6 sisters beside me really liked it.
Changmin: Just how old are you?
Joy: 19 (laughs)
Seulgi: Because I wanted to be a singer, so I watched seniors' audition tapes. Later when I auditioned, I used seniors' songs. The song I sang was 'Doll (인형)'.
Changmin's memories of the past should be resurfacing one-by-one right?
Changmin: Of course, who does not have a black history? (laughs)
It has been 10 years..
Changmin: It feels like time really passes by fast. When I was not in Korea, although the people in Korea will think that there is nothing going on during those days, however, our overseas activities are really a lot, and time is spent busily. But also because it is like that, it also feels like time has not really moved. At the end of it, then I realise that time has really passed by fast.
If you were to talk about changes in these 10 years, what do you think has changed? After all, the environment has changed a lot.
Changmin: Of course. As time goes by, I can always feel that the environment has really become better by a lot. However, I don't like comparing the past with the present because I will be concerned over whether I was too old-fashioned in the past. Haha. Like when SHINee debuted, I also thought that (they debuted) in a better environment than we had. Of course, if Kangta or Boa seniors looked back on us TVXQ, they would also feel the same. Other than that, everyone's view of artistes seem to be different. In the past, we (were viewed) from the perspective of 'entertainers' (t/n: like just performers), now it is from a perspective of 'artistes' and the special recognition given to it. The feeling of rebellion has also disappeared, better than these, the most important is still that (?)*. Just like Red Velvet, kids that are outstanding in appearance, dance and singing are starting to appear. So our position is also gone (laughs). Yunho-hyung and I always talk about how these days, every company's trainee system (seem to be) structured well, so it is like everyone is doing really well. However, individuality is not outstanding, this seems to be a pity.
* the ? appeared in the original article too.
TVXQ on Red Velvet's Happiness, what do you think of it?
Changmin: Um... when I watched the performance, I felt like I wanted to go to the TV station to support it. Hahaha! Recently, haven't most girl groups seem to be using sex appeal to appeal to many? But these friends have used their own distinct melody, and started a little differently from others, which makes them seem more striking.
(Red Velvet) While (carrying out) activities as artistes, have you ever thought about questions that you would like to ask your seniors? I hope you can talk freely, and resolve your concerns.
Seulgi: When looking at the camera, what kind of expression should (I) have? I am really concerned about this point, to be honest, I am not clear on which detail I should focus on. Is paying attention to my expression while showing a pretty appearance better? Or should I just enjoy the performance just like this, and have a carefree smile?
Changmin: I seem to be like the latter. Of course, if there are PARTs where you need to show a pretty side, then you have to work hard. But you also have to be careful as to whether the people who are watching will think you are 'acting'. Actually, you don't have to 'act', because everyone knows that Red Velvet is pretty. These kind of words, don't they sound like something fans would say? Haha. The natural self is the prettiest, the sexiest, the cutest. As long as you act in accordance to the theme/concept (of the performance) and enjoy the stage, that should be enough.
Joy: This is something that we feel while doing our activities... at the start we're really happy, so we feel blessed when we stand on stage. But I find that I have slowly become affected by the reactions from the surroundings, and then I feel it is really tough. In the past, I had just one standard (to reach), but now, how do I get that standard again?
Changmin: um...for that question, even until now I feel it is difficult to answer. No matter what, the managers and staff around us are always looking out for us, giving us suggestions to help u become better, aren't they? So I feel that 'mentality' is the most important. No matter who it is, when you hear (negative) criticism, you will not be happy. As long as one is able to grasp the important points, pick out the opinions that should matter, forget those that should be forgotten, and then quickly switch one's mood. I think if one is able to do this, then one is a person with a healthy mentality. But if it is an extreme cheeriness like a mania, living life (too) merrily sort, I don't think that is a good mentality. As long as people are able to embrace their own healthy mentality that is enough. Although the suggestions that fans give are also important, however, I hope that (you) don't become happy or upset just because you care about every single one.
Wendy: After carrying out hectic schedules, I will feel very tired. Then, depending on my body condition on the same day, my voice could become hoarse. At that time, what should I do? Every time I encounter this, I will always become more afraid, nervous and therefore, make mistakes.
Changmin: There was a time when my schedules were also a lot. In the midst of my busy schedule, I also had to present a good appearance on stage, it was really a huge burden. Like how I was the type (in the past) who would, because I had gone off-key, become really despondent and upset with myself. Of course singers have to show good sides of themselves, but they are still human and will still have that part of themselves which makes them feel regretful about. Like the seniors who have great vocal ability, if that day, their condition isn't good, they will also make mistakes. So I think that the most important is that one must always be well-prepared and maintain a good condition for your body. I am the same, recently, I don't forget to take my health supplements, having a good sleep. When I am tired, I drink a lot of water and talk less. Once you all get your own tricks (knowledge of what to do/secrets of success) quickly, you will do very well. People won't think that you can't make it just because of one mistake. You have to think of it as just one of the stages that you will experience and don’t feel too pressured about it. You need to have the wisdom of having a good mentality in order to overcome (things) leisurely.*
Irene: In the group, I am the leader. If I want to be like U-Know Yunho senior, who has been a leader for 10 years, and be a good leader like him, what should I do?
Changmin: In charge of linking the company, the staff and the other members, that is the leader. Therefore, I feel that it will be more stressful and tougher than now. Having to always eat different food, to put up with kids who have had different upbringings, is that enough to be able to lead day and night for 365 days?* Actually, everyone's situation is different. I think that being a leader is very tough. If i liken it to a ship, where each and every one (who aboard the ship) would have different things to say, and have different things that they each want to do. (A leader) would need to take into account all that many differing opinions, consolidates those opinions into one, and steer it towards the direction that you wish to go. And because every decision would have its pros and cons, you (as a leader) will need to pick a decision whereby it has the most pros and least cons, and that decision should be good enough to convince the majority (in your team).
Due to this, the leader has to interact the most with the staff, and then interact the most often with the members. At times, in order to convey the company's opinion, (he) may have to act as a bad person to the members (doing things in a way that the members may not agree with). Further, he is like the breakwater, getting hit left right and centre (while protecting the members). That's the leader. And (he) still has to, more than anyone, be generous of heart, have leadership ability. Therefore, it is a most difficult and tough position. So I hope that you four girls should talk more to each other. Although you are all sisters, you have to give your unnie a lot of strength. Even though you may quarrel often, the leader is always looking out for the group, and (he) has to consider the staff's opinions as well; guide the members, taking care of them, (he) is someone that needs (his) motivation raised. Although I have been saying similar things, I hope (you) can quickly change your mood and thereafter, have a good mentality.
*the 2 other translators and myself debated over the phrasing for quite awhile and finally settled on this.
Do you have any personal tricks (secret of success) on how to change one's mood?
Changmin:For me, I drink. Haha. Not that I drink when my mood is bad. But I drink in a healthy and relaxed manner, with a type of : let's do it well tomorrow! feeling when drinking. exercising, strolling or taking a drive to relax. I do those quite often.
Wendy: I like to check out the scenery while having a stroll. I also enjoy sitting in a cafe and observe other people chatting. My mood will become relaxed and got better unknowingly.
Seulgi: I listen to music that will make my mood feel better, and write in my diary. Or I use the time to organise my thoughts.
Irene: I use a MIND MAP to organise my thoughts. because my sense of smell can be rather sensitive, so I will spray some nice-smelling perfume on myself. I also like going to Ttukseom Island at Hangang River, sitting on the mat at night and talk. Last night, I went there with Seulgi to have a chat.