Read SNSD TaeYeon's fun interview from K Wave's March issue

Time to ride the K Wave with SNSD's TaeYeon!

Here's her fun interview from the magazine's March issue where she talked about her latest songs, her personality, puppies, and many more~

The colours of Taeyeon’s solo albums seem to be a bit different from existing SNSD. After 'I', 'Rain' was unexpected.

TaeYeon: What kind of songs did you think I would do?

Let’s see. Somewhere in the middle between SNSD’s innocent image and Taeyeon’s cute and bright image?

TaeYeon: Haha. My personality tends to be free and not rough, so the songs are similar to that. It feels dreamlike. I like things that are natural. Just something that’s free.

Your natural and free disposition is reflected in the album.

TaeYeon: That must be true. There were fans who said they felt a new charm from my first solo album 'I'.

Whenever you release a record, it’s an all-kill. It was like that this time too, right?

TaeYeon: I’m just embarrassed and thankful. My first solo album 'I' received a lot of love so people continued to anticipate following that. This album is a digital single but there was such a big reaction that I received a lot of congratulatory phone call from many people. From manager oppa and family, which goes without saying. Even from people who didn’t contact me during 'I' gave me a lot of congratulations over the phone.

What did SNSD members say?

TaeYeon: For members, it’s natural because they witness the preparation process I go through for music. They’re calm, like ‘That’s okay’. (Laughs) If they overreact by saying they knew that would happen, they knew it would do well, or saying it’s daebak, it makes me squirm. Haha.

When you decide on an album concept, do you have input?

TaeYeon: I tend to show the results to Tiffany. Before the record is open, I show the unedited versions of album photos or music video to Tiffany. I don’t know why but I feel like she’s sharp. I feel reassured once it goes through Tiffany.

So what did she say? Her first impression of Rain.

TaeYeon: She said she really liked it. She said it’s different from what she had been thinking and the music video has a feeling of being somewhat natural and raw. When you watch a SNSD music video, all of the members’ outfits are matching and we dance in synchronicity. She said she likes it because it was filmed comfortably with everything a bit more relaxed, with a different feel from (SNSD music videos). 

After listening to 'I', I wondered if this album would have a similar feel. I thought it aimed for a free and hippie-like feeling. I felt a rock-like image but 'Rain' is different.

TaeYeon: This time, it feels like jazz is mixed in. These days, music is not locked in a single genre. There are songs that mix jazz with R&B, and it’s difficult to narrow down to a single genre. If you look at the mood, 'Rain' is R&B-like, jazz-like and ballad-like.

Even so, should I say that it has the unique scent of a Korean song? It’s a bit familiar.

TaeYeon: Really? Then I’m relieved. All of the songs I received were all created by foreign songwriters so I did worry that it wouldn’t match with Korean sensibilities. It’s probably became more natural with Korean lyrics.

Taeyeon’s solo album songs are sophisticated. 

TaeYeon: It’s somewhat pop-like but also feels ambiguous.

When I listen to your solo album, I can feel Taeyeon has been longing musically.

TaeYeon: Ah, me? I wasn’t thirsty, hahaha. With SNSD and because I sang momentarily on OSTs, I was satisfied with that, but when I look back, I don’t think I’ve ever really felt like I’ve sang to my heart’s desire. Through solo activities, now I feel like ‘I am singing’.

Since you are part of a group, instead of Taeyeon’s individual colour, you couldn’t help but show SNSD’s colours, right?

TaeYeon: If SNSD sang bright music that fit the girl group image, now it’s good to go in the direction of the style where it contains stories that I want to tell. 

That must be why many people are saying, ‘Ah, now Taeyeon’s individual colour is showing. It’s mature. She grew musically’, as they are listening to Taeyeon’s solo album.

TaeYeon: But there’s no ‘this is the type of music I really want to do’. The music that I’m into changes from time to time, and even if I want to do this type of music this time, next time, I want to try different music. If you look at it one way, it could be that my own colour is not clear, but if you look at it another way, it could be that I can do any genre.

Isn’t similar to looking for clothes that fit you still?

TaeYeon: I think so. I’m still looking.

If people are expecting something different from you musically, isn’t that overwhelming?

TaeYeon: Of course it is. As more time passes, there are a lot of friends who debut who are young, pretty and fresh. People are attracted to new and flashy things. So before a comeback, we really worry a lot over what kind of appearance we need to show, or what we should do. Because of a lot of activities, I also think we’ve saturated our image. We are promoting in Korea, of course, and Japan as well so we worry about what we should show now. 

The lifespan of idols tends to be short. Since there’s a window of time for activities.

TaeYeon: That’s right. So when we go to music broadcasts, I wonder if it’s a place where we should be. Because there are young friends who are fifteen or sixteen. There is a 10 year age different between me and Red Velvet’s Yeri. She was born in 1999. I was born in 1989. It’s an occasion where you are being seen so it’s obviously overwhelming when you’re developing a concept. You can’t help but worry.

SNSD Taeyeon, solo Taeyeon, TaeTiSeo’s Taeyeon. Isn’t it difficult to pull the weight of three teams(?) at the same time?

TaeYeon: There are members who act, we’ve each divided into several fields and with a lot of individual activities, I don’t think we’ve been able to show people a lot of our musical side. TaeTiSeo, as a representative of SNSD, has been able to show the appearances and music that SNSD hasn’t been able to show and it has been able to fulfill the musical side so I’m glad. What I can show with members and what I can show alone is different, so it’s almost not that difficult. I actually really like it.

You said you wanted to discuss a lot about music during the interview, so I felt like you’ve had a musical awakening.

TaeYeon: It’s because the only thing I can do well is music. (Laughs) Recently, I’ve been hearing questions asking me if I’m going to act. Everyone is acting so I’m asked if I think about acting at all but I would like to sing properly, at least once. I haven’t yet done it to the point where I’ve reached my limit. Since I’m out publicly as a singer, I’d like to do it properly at least once and then attempt other things.

You’re so cool.

TaeYeon: I want to do at least one thing properly.

You must have heard you’re doing so well many times but despite that, your heart is still modest, which is admirable.

TaeYeon: It’s not possible to satisfy yourself. Everyone is like that. (Laughs)

The premise of ‘Because he/she is an idol’ must have been my own prejudice. So I thought everyone was the same.

TaeYeon: If you say idol, you could think of them wanting to appeal in a visual, external way. In every genre, it would be nice to show myself, but I still think the focus is music. I’m always asked about various things like fashion, style or interests but I only really want to talk about music.

Your laughter is very vigorous. Actually, my close friend really likes the sound of Taeyeon’s vigorous laugh but they were disappointed that it’s difficult to see these days. They heard it often when you were a radio DJ in the past.

TaeYeon: I was a bit immature. When I was a radio DJ.

Has your personality changed a bit? As you were passing your teens to your mid-20s.         

TaeYeon: Even when I think about it, I think I’ve changed a lot. I started radio when I was 21 and when I think about it now, I was too young. I had just turned 20 and became an adult. I read and told stories, as if I knew things. Now when I think about it, whew~ Back then, I hadn’t experienced much so whenever I commented, I thought that I was inadequate. So I did vignettes, like a variety show, and I couldn’t help but be a bit brighter. My personality became like that, even without me realizing it. As time passed and I got older, I became more mature. When I was active as a young idol, I asserted my own opinions and went through conflicts with many netizens, and I’ve grown up through that. I was hurt a lot too. ‘Ah, this is how I’m being perceived. That’s not my intention. I can be viewed like this.’ I think I’ve felt a lot of these types of feelings.

I think you mature through hardships where you definitely get hurt and the healing process that follows.

TaeYeon: I think when I was a radio DJ and my maturity period were interlocked. I was really thankful for radio. After stopping radio activities, there were no opportunities to talk. I would chat excitedly and now that I was doing barely any variety shows, there were no opportunities to talk. One day, when I was doing an interview, I forgot how to speak. When the camera light went on, I would stumble over words and after that, I’ve had times when I would feel nauseated around cameras.

No one would have imagined that Taeyeon would have camera nausea. There are people who say your music colour has changed a bit. As your personality changed.

TaeYeon: Should I say that my personality is a bit dark? There’s a side of me that’s a bit sensitive. If I’m with members, I’m playful. Normally, I’m very quiet. I like being alone. Of the members, I tend to be the one who is least likely to enjoy things.

Isn’t that why you play well with puppies? You share stories with a puppy at home?

TaeYeon: What do I do when puppies like me? They just like me blindly.

I think your personality has been reflected in the album a bit.

TaeYeon: Yes. When I was starting solo preparations, I was thinking about what kind of songs I should sing and decided that cool and calculated doesn’t suit me. Since I like comfort and honesty, I vowed to show music that was similar to that. Sexy female singer doesn’t suit me and I’m not BoA unnie, so I didn’t even imagine showing a performance. I’m only starting now so I really wanted to just return to the beginning, so I wanted it to feel like starting to draw on a blank paper. So the song that came out of that was 'I'.

Is there a method or a standard by which you select the song?

TaeYeon: Every entertainment company has an ANR department. It’s a department that manages recordings and when there’s a record planned, they contact many songwriters. After that, ANR staff does the first round of filtering and then lets me listen. After that, we discuss together and that’s how we choose.

That must be how you chose 'Rain' this time too?

TaeYeon: Yes.

How was it? When you first heard it?

TaeYeon: As soon as I heard it for the first time, I really liked it. I really liked the beat. They said ‘Do you want this song? Or should we give it to another team?’ and I said ‘No, who will you give this to? It’s mine. I’ll do it. I’ll do it’. (Laughs) They said ‘Will this style be okay?’ and asked me one more time and I said ‘I completely like it?’. The company didn’t really like the second song 'Secret'. I said this is mine. I said I need to do it no matter what, and the company couldn’t win. There are a lot of people who like that song, more than I expected. I couldn’t believe this unexpected result. Of course, there are songs that I liked that didn’t do well.

Right. Wasn’t there a phenomenon of, if Taeyeon doesn’t like it, it does well?

TaeYeon: It was like that during SNSD. I didn’t like 'Gee' and 'Oh!'. But the year that we promoted with that song, we won a big award and we were #1 for 9 consecutive weeks. I wondered why the songs that I liked didn’t do well.

They must’ve been songs that were between popular appeal and artistic appeal.

TaeYeon: I don’t think my code fits with popular appeal. Songs with popular appeal have a hook that repeats so it’s good to sing along to. More so than songs like that, I like songs where you can’t tell where the refrain is and where the second verse starts. I really like songs that are fantastical or lounge music.

Then, every rookie singer should sing their song for Taeyeon. If you hear it and you don’t like it, it will do well.

TaeYeon: That’s just for SNSD. Hahaha. 

This song is emotional and rhythmical; the groove is nice. Taeyeon’s voice rings out strongly. Your voice is a bit sinewy. Should I say it’s high-toned and you can feel the energy? So I thought soft songs would suit but this song suits well too.

TaeYeon: More than this being my style, I think I’m expressing in a way that matches the song. That’s not really a good thing. I feel like I don’t have my own specific colour. My voice and colour is not coherent so every time I record, I always think ‘Ah, how should I do this?’ It’s difficult. Of course, people say it in a positive way. They tell me that it’s actually a good thing that I can express songs, without being tied to a genre, and if you hear it like that, it can be a good thing too. But I have more instance of mental breakdown than anything. Still.

Singers, or idols, or SNSD is so famous that there are many instances where you have to limit your behaviour. If you do that, there’s less opportunities for experiences and it could be difficult to express those feelings.

TaeYeon: That’s why I purposely watch a lot of movies. When I watch movies, I can feel this and I can feel that. I think ‘Ah, there are people like that too’. As expected, there are a lot of limitations. Where would friends who have become famous young go to experience things freely? But I started my adult life first so I have a lot of conversations with adults, and learn a lot through stories with staff members. It was big, getting hurt at a young age. I think it’s necessary to have time to get hurt. A little. (It’s hard if it’s a lot.)

Artists need to freshen their minds. How do you do it?

TaeYeon: I’m still looking for it. I’m very much a homebody, so I think the only thing I do is drink occasionally with members. After I got my driver’s license and had a car, I drove around but paparazzi followed me around, so I had to stop. Even that became a limitation and I became conscious of it, so I call friends over to my house, or I spend time with members.

It makes me a bit sad. What do you do at home?

TaeYeon: I drink, I watch movies, just really wholesome. Food (she hesitates for a moment)… I have to order it. I can’t cook. (Laughs)

What’s a dish you’re good at (cooking)?

TaeYeon: A dish? Can I say cereal? I live with Tiffany right now. Tiffany’s personality is very outgoing. Thanks to her, I got outside and do things. You know, American friend culture. Whenever it’s any special day, she says we need to make cupcakes. She tells me come do things while halfway making cupcakes. So I end up doing it with her. When she says we need to bake cookies, I bake it with her. She says we need to write a card, so I write one. No matter what, she says we need to do it together. (Laughs) So I think I end up moving my hands at least because of this.

Isn’t personality contagious? Or become assimilated.

TaeYeon: Mmm, I don’t know. Our tastes are a bit different. But we are very compatible. If Tiffany is red, I’m blue. But fascinatingly, we are compatible. I think it’s because we’ve lived together for a long time. It has already been over 10 year since we’ve lived together. We don’t provoke one another because we know the other person’s dislikes. We avoid what the other person dislikes and we know each other well. When I make fun of her, I know the limits. So I end it right there. Even if she gets mad, I know what I can do to loosen her up. So I do it up to that point. I don’t not do it. I do do it.

Your relationship with the members are still very good. You still do things together.

TaeYeon: I’ve been with them longer and more than family. I’m from a rural area and because I came to Seoul when I was young, I’ve seen the members more than family. Even if I see them for the first time after a month without seeing them, it seems like I saw them yesterday.

Are your tastes in music different from Tiffany?

TaeYeon: I think we have similar listening tastes. Fascinatingly, listening to music is different from singing it. There are genres that are easy to sing, which are different from genres that are comfortable to listen to. Our listening is similar. But when it comes to singing, we each have different tastes that we want.

We heard you listen to Rihanna often.

TaeYeon: I heard she has a new album so I’m listening to it. I like strong music like this. I like hip hop, R&B and soul - I really like those. But if I end up doing music like this, I’m not sure if I will be able to express it well.

When you’re alone, aren’t you practicing rapping?

TaeYeon: There was a rap when I was preparing for the TaeTiSeo album. But I couldn’t do it. It was my part and every time it was that moment, my mouth wouldn’t open. So I passed that part along to Tiffany. It was a song called 'Stay'. But I couldn’t do it. It doesn’t come out. I protested why they’re making me do something I haven’t done before and they said just try it once. But I said I couldn’t do it.

Then we’ll say that you’re not thinking of doing hip hop.

TaeYeon: Hip hop is not just rap. Hahaha. There’s hip hop R&B and there’s a lot more so I can’t give it up yet.

Truthfully, you did 'I' with Verbal Jint. There’s rap in it.

TaeYeon: I’m not sure if they were joking with me, but again, manager oppa told me to do that rap. There was female rap too. But it was too much for me to rap. Even more so, I didn’t think rap was right for my first album and I think I still need more time for rap. We’ll put rap on hold for now.

K Wave Magazine

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