Kim Jaejoong and sinawe’s Kim Bada. Although this is a unpredicted combination, it seems very natural and logical. Kim Jaejoong’s first solo mini album “I” is produced together by Kim Jaejoong, Kim Bada and The Koxx’s Shaun. This album is the result of Jaejoong merging everything he likes, skilled at, and fits with together. Singer who has debuted for 9 years, a member of JYJ, a relatively new actor – all these tags must make Jaejoong heart heavy. However, with the release of the first mini album, what Jaejoong thinks about this most is: because I like it, so I want to try; because I like it, so I want to show it for the fans. During the Round interview on January 21st, Kim Jaejoong opened up: “Because I’ve always liked rock music since I was little, so in spite of the burden, I chose to sing rock. I also did this for the fans who have always liked me, I want to fulfill what they want to see.”
Q1: So you chose rock as your genre for the first solo album?
I’ve always liked rock music since I was little, and I frequently sing it. During group activities, my solos during the concerts were all re-arranged versions of Korean rock music. The solo single released in Japan was also a rock song. Although there were a lot of chances for me to sing rock music, I didn’t imagine my solo album would be rock also, what’s more is my heart that decided to take the chance. I was very fortunate to have the help from sunbaes like Kim Bada so I could have the opportunity to complete a good album.
Q2: You seem a little concerned with making rock music?
Because I didn’t start off as a rock singer, so I felt burdensome towards stereotypes. However, I felt really great after knowing that everyone treated me with a very accepting heart. I wanted to make an album that after listening to my music, both rock lovers and the general public can say something like “oh, this is not bad”. And this kind of determination helped me a lot too.
Q3: Because this is your first solo album, we’d imagine you wanted to express a lot. What do you think is most important?
This album in and of itself is a message that I want to pass onto everyone, because I’m saying things through the genre of music I’ve liked since little. “One Kiss” is a love story told through metaphors; “Mine” says about courage and will to move forward that were formed after going through pain; “Healing for Myself” is a story that everyone has gone through in love; “All Alone” is an expression towards feelings. If you bought the album and listened to it, you can feel my way of expressing differs from song to song. I have a voice that changed according to the music. (laughs) The vocal teachers who like rawer and more individualistic voices generally don’t like my singing style. But I still like changing my voice to sing in order to better fit the needs of the song. It would be great if everyone can directly listen to and find this kind of difference. I would also be incredibly happy if the lyrics can move the audience.
Q4: Not only sinawe’s Kim Bada composed “One Kiss” and “Mine”, The Koxx’s Shaun and others also took part in the making of this album.
Kim Bada sunbaenim and all those who helped me weren’t people who I originally know – they were all introduced to me by mutual friends. At first I asked Kim Bada sunbaenim to write me a good song, and I was worried that he might think it was abrupt, but he actually wrote me a song. The first song that he gave me was “One Kiss”, and as soon I heard it I wanted to sing it aloud. Kim Bada sunbaenim has never written music for someone who has never sung rock before and as young as I am before, but he wrote it for me very enthusiastically.
Q5: What did Kim Bada said during recording?
It was very different when we were producing “One Kiss” and “Mine”. For “One Kiss”, he taught me bits by bits from the tone in my voice. When singing, I can’t sing like how I usually sing pop music. Rock has its own vocalization, expression and techniques. I really learned a lot as he taught me all of it. As for “Mine”, he let me do whatever I want. And thus “One Kiss” has a heavy yet solid feeling to it while “Mine” has changes in terms of vocals. I told sunbaenim that I wanted to go back and forth between the rough and smooth vocals to give a little spin to the song, and he gladly agreed. So as for “Mine”, it wasn’t recorded in bits but was completed like a live performance.
Q6: It should be difficult learned all those techniques in such a short time.
I practiced vocalizing a lot in the studio. Kim Bada sunbaenim wanted me to sing more roughly, but I really wasn’t able to sound it out. I put in a lot of effort; it was like meeting really scary composers when first debuted, the feeling of recording for the first time. To be honest, my first impression for sunbaenim was not scary at all, he was very easy to approach.
Perhaps it was because I was able to see him a lot in a MBC program before, seeing sunbaenim feels like seeing someone who I can see often. But I got a little scared when started working with him, I didn’t think that he have that many tattoos (laughs). But despite the difficulties we encountered, when we play the song after finishing the recording, his “ah, it’s not bad” completely releases me from my tiredness.
Q7: We’re very curious about Kim Bada’s reaction when he first met you.
I didn’t properly groom myself then, I looked kind of… (laughs). Though it was our first time meeting, everything felt very natural. “One Kiss” and sinawe’s music are completely different, but from a different perspective, this strange combination between sunbaenim and I may be able to give a magical feeling. After listening to sunbaenim’s music, I praised it a lot. And Kim Bada sunbaenim smiled, since then all the gap disappeared (laughs).
Q8: When your visions begin to mix with the characteristics of Kim Bada’s staff, who was leading?
Kim Bada sunbaenim definitely led us. The instrumental music was completed by different bands, they worked very hard. Usually people leave when the time comes around, but they listened to the recording and say “ah, nope, we need to go through it once more”, and they re-record it. Even when people from the company said it was fine, they still say “no, let’s do this again” (laughs). If they didn’t put all of their hearts in, we wouldn’t have such good music. It was the first time I recorded this way too. Usually, there’s a guide-like background music, and then you add all the other vocals to it, and in the end you do the synthesis. But Kim Bada sunbaenim finishes the synthesis 100% first, then adds in the vocals last. He believes that the instrumentals is very important, so the burden of I must perform perfectly lessened. Because the instrumentals was so amazing, just listening to it can give me goosebumps.
Q9: Other than “There’s Only You”, you wrote the lyrics to all the other songs. Do you feel burdened to talk about your own stories like this?
Not at all. The concept of the album was completed accidentally. Because “All Alone” was written by me, of course it was directly from my feelings. “Mine” and “One Kiss” was composed by Kim Bada sunbaenim, but the free expressions in rock music is very important. He believes that it is best for a singer to pass the message he wants to pass through his voice, so it was great that I was able to write the lyrics for them.
Q10: In the title song “Mine”, what does “Don’t come here, this is my ocean” mean?
It doesn’t mean that Kim Bada is my ocean (laughs). (T/N: Bada’s Chinese characters mean “ocean”) It means a territory, I used ocean to describe it because of its depth. Although there’s sky and earth, it was difficult to illustrate the depth with these two; however, ocean can express the depth properly. Though I used “You are terrible It’s like you are diseased, you/Poison spat out in the wild runaway mixed with screams/Poison I’m already used to”, instead of a diseased person in pain, it’s more like a zombie – someone who chases after with no sense in him. “Poison spat out in the wild runaway mixed with screams”, I really was screaming when running away. The poison that constantly flied at me made me feel really filthy. No matter what kind of poison you spit out, I’m already used to it; it’s not that big of a deal, so don’t come to my territory.
Q11: From its lyrics to the music video, “Mine” is the strongest song in the album. Were you troubled to put it as the title song?
I was troubled until the end. I was constantly distressed before shooting the music video, and had thoughts of whether I should use the more popularized “One Kiss”. Because the style of “Mine” is very strong, most people will either love it or hate it, which makes it really risky; but the title song will be shot a music video. When I think about that, I feel that “Mine” could show more of its dimensions if it could be received not only through sound but images.
Q12: In the music video, there were both ravens and snakes, the style of “Mine” as a whole seem to be connected with your current situation.
Hmm, perhaps. The snakes are to express the things that wrapped and clung onto me. The run against the ravens means to face darkness and go past it. And the dog means dog. (laughs) To be honest, I’m okay with whatever the audience took it as, I only wanted to express the confidence of having courage. Something like “my territory may be narrow, but in here, I’m living happily and freely, please don’t go as far as disturbing here”. It’s not talking about being wronged, or being tired. The music was very strong itself, so the lyrics appeared immediately. I did revise “One Kiss”, the current lyrics were completely rewritten.
Q13: You are also acting at the same time, but to present such a strong image in your music activities, are you not worried to be stereotyped?
I was once worried about it. It was for the people who wanted to hear the voice of the singer Kim Jaejoong that I was so eager to make this album. Not as a part of JYJ, but an activity belong to just me. I didn’t want to make my fans, both domestic and foreign, wait too long even though it is just a mini-album. Three years is a long time, the fans are always listening to the same songs, I think they wanted something new. To be honest, I was almost impatient. Of course, as you complete a drama or movie, your image as an actor gradually sets in. You perhaps want to ask whether it is necessary to present such a strong image. Even though it may not be necessary, actors have actors’ clothes while singers have singers’ clothes – when wearing different clothes, you need to perform to the job. If under such strong music I’m still wearing suits, then I’m not during this music justice.
Q14: We are very curious what kind of images you are going to present during this upcoming concert. We heard you have something up your sleeves?
Oh, I haven’t really figured it out. I actually haven’t been wearing accessories or coloring my hair recently, since I thought it’s best for an actor to not be overly polished. When I was shooting for the movie, because of the filming, I felt really great about the nearly naked feeling when not dressing up. It made me realize that’s all I have. It felt really good. But through this album, I wanted to present a better stage so I stopped controlling my image and wanted to display a polished side of myself (laughs).
Q15: The scene where you wore the horns left a very deep impression. How much did you participate in styling?
I offered a lot of ideas, but the MV director Lee Sangkyu also prepared a lot of props. When trying to set a theme in the beginning, I suggested that we start from the lyrics. On the second day, he brought topics such as imprisonment, chains and freedom. So the products were dark angel, vampire, chains, horns, masks etc, we really prepared a lot of things that match the lyrics.
Q16: What was the most memorable reaction towards the album that you’ve seen?
Someone wrote “this music video has everything that I wanted Jaejoong to act as”. Because I really want to satisfy my fans and there is a huge variety to my fanbase – fans who like my looks, fans who liked me through my dramas, fans who enjoyed my voice from the very beginning, fans who like the skinnier me, and people who like the more muscle me – it seems like this album has done it all. Let it be people who like slow ballads or the stronger songs, they can all hear them through the five songs in this album. This music video also contained different images of me. Things that should take several years to complete, now it’s done.
Q17: If you have to choose a favorite song…?
I like them all. Hmm, though I do particularly like “One Kiss” and “All Alone”. Until now, I’ve been listening to “All Alone” the most, I listen to it when I go to sleep (laughs). To be honest, I was very sad when I wrote “All Alone” while playing the piano. This song makes the audience pay less attention to the voice, the techniques, the notes or tempos, and instead focuses on the emotions behind it. “One Kiss” is a great song, and it took a lot of effort to record. In comparison to the other songs, my head was about to explode when I wrote the lyrics. I usually write songs at night, but this was the first song I wrote in daytime. You might feel a little disgusted to hear me say this (laughs), it is really hard to write the lyrics during daytime in the studio, so I closed my eyes and the sunlight flowed through the tiny gaps between the curtains. There seemed to something dark that passed by in between the swaying curtains and it felt like hands from heaven, trying to bring you away. And then all the feelings appeared, I was able to write it easily.
Q18: What did Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu say about the album?
Junsu likes “Mine” while Yoochun likes “One Kiss”. Yoochun came back from China recently, he said that as soon as he heard “One Kiss” there he thought it was time to drink. Junsu, on the other hand, said “oh, hyung, it’s not bad”.
Q19: Junsu was the first to release his solo album and successfully conducted his world tour. We are curious as to how you are going to conduct your activies.
I’m really envious of Junsu. He completed a world tour alone, that is, in itself, something pretty incredible. Although I really wanted to try it too, there’s only five songs on the album, which is nowhere near enough.
Q20: Other than the Korean fans, the Japanese fans have waited for a long time too. Since you’ve won the lawsuit against Avex, there should be changes to your activities in Japan.
I really wanted to greet the Japanese fans with a concert first. If we can act according to the result of the lawsuit and gain the freedom to produce music in Japan, I want to release a Japanese album and I think it’ll great if I can appear on television programs.