SHINee, who is welcoming their 5th anniversary of debut in Japan, achieved a total concert attendance of one million, including their 2016 Tokyo and Osaka Dome concerts. Within SHINee, who fascinates (fans) with their high-leveled performance, the one in charge of dance--Taemin--is having a solo debut in Japan!
With androgynous looks that made it seem like he leapt out of a shoujo manga as well as a gorgeous performance, Taemin seemed to also have a hidden potential to become a power vocalist like his co-members Onew and Jonghyun. But actually, he also has the ability to become a delicate, fine vocalist.
Why is it Taemin who cut through the boundaries as a solo performer? If you look at and listen to his works, the answer is obvious. It would be nice if Taemin's charms, not as SHINee's member, but as a solo performer, persists.
-- On August 2014, you were the first SHINee member to debut as a soloist in Korea with the mini album "ACE". With your Japanese solo debut, it's already your second time, so is the feeling any different from the first time you experienced a solo debut?
Taemin: During "Danger", I ws really nervous so there was no space for complacency. I only thought I should do my best. With "Sayonara Hitori", I've already gained experience from my Korean solo so somehow I feel more at ease this time. However, the theme differs between my Japanese and Korean activities, so even though it's my second time to do a debut I still feels fresh. It's a bit heart-pounding, thinking how "Sayonara Hitori" will be exposed to various places.
--What is the unique color of Taemin as an individual artist, instead of a SHINee member.
Taemin: It's a bit difficult to say, but I think the mood of the music and performance is my style and is something not just anyone can do. Something about how to blend the two together.
-- The title song, "Sayonara Hitori" is a song with a Japanesque feeling, but what is Taemin's impression of it?
Taemin: I also think that it has a Japanese sort of ambiance. In preparation of this mini-album, in order to show a new side only Taemin can show, new songs are necessary. And in order to become close to Japanese listeners, we chose songs with J-pop feel.
-- Taemin's Korean title tracks, "Danger" and "Press Your Number" were both dance songs, so it's really surprising to see a new image with a different feel from you.
Taemin: Actually, there were plans of an even more difficult conceptual song for the title track, something like Final Dragon. But I thought that "Sayonara Hitori" is a song that will be able to show my strong points more, so we had a last minute change. It's a song with an immense Asiatic feel. That's why, in order to express that theme in the performance, we have to put the concept into the choreography.
-- Even though it's emotional, the dancing is intense?
Taemin: There are many parts in the choreography that expresses the lyrics, so by watching the dance, doesn't the dance convey the world view of the song well? I think the fascinating part is that when the chorus/hook is over, the beat abruptly becomes stronger. In this part, the dance also becomes intense, so I think it's the highlight. Sugawara Koharu-san choreographed the dance for me, and seeing the dance for the first time was unforgettable. Because it's what I also had in mind. I thought, "We thought the same!!"
—Even though the lyrics are painful, the world view of the song is wondrous. When you sing the song, what kind of scene do you imaging?
Taemin: In my mind, I (also) play the part of the protagonist. Like there are two Taemins talking to each other. The Taemin who has become alone looks at the other Taemin from afar.
— In your music video for Press Your Number, there are also two Taemins, so do you mean that kind of feeling?
Taemin: That one is about showing the inner self. There's a strong Taemin persona and a gentle Taemin persona. In Sayonara Hitori, Taemin walk towards my own dream, but somewhere the lonely Taemin watches over the other Taemin from far away. That is the image I have.
— The song Sekai de Ichiban Aishita Hito is a story about a couple who love each other but decide to separate ways. It's a love song that is both warm and painful. If Taemin were in the protagonist's place, will you also be like that and wish for the other's happiness from afar?
Taemin: If it were me, I wouldn't break up with the girl. Because she's an important person, right? I'll say, "Come back!" This protagonist says, "I can only pray for you" but that's impossible! (LOL) I think I will persuade her (to come back)! Ah, but when I'm singing the song, I adapt to the feeling of the character (LOL).
— In your song Final Dragon, there are lyrics that go, "Things I cannot hand over, things I have to protect." For Taemin, what are these things?
Taemin: Hmm...what would they be? I do possess things that I firmly believe in. Also, those are things that I cannot yield no matter what other people's opinions may be. For example, choreography during concert production. Since I believe in (my dance ability) I cannot hand it over to someone else. It's my responsibility.
— During SHINee's Tokyo Dome, was there a part (by you) that you couldn't hand over to someone?
Taemin: That would be my solo stage. We used a grand piano for that production. It was a bit difficult to put a grand piano on stage but I insisted on it. I persuaded everyone.
— Your entire mini album speaks of "Love that cannot be realized." But to Taemin who has turned 23 recently, what is the love you yearn for?
Taemin: I saw this on the internet but I want to be a couple who is able take photos in the same place every season--for spring, summer, fall, and winter. It's really great and almost like a drama. I'm a bit jealous of that kind of love.
— In SHINee's dome concerts, you presented a medley with One by One, Soldier, and Press Your Number in Japanese, that it almost felt like a (released) album.
Taemin: Is it too bad (it's not a released album?)? I see, hehe (LOL). I wanted to perform songs that I like in our dome concert, and I chose those three. Should I include them in my next album? I wonder? It'll be overlapped/attached with my debut work, Sayonara Hitori (LOL). During SHINee's first dome concert, I performed Danger in my solo stage. Actually, I really wanted to sing it in Japanese but wasn't able to. So this time I really wanted to present my songs in Japanese.
— In 2015 and in 2016, SHINee had consecutive dome concerts. In last year's concert, there was a bit of nervousness felt, but on the second time, there was more composure among you.
Taemin: Yes, we're more comfortable. The members also talked about how "last year our hearts were beating so fast, we felt like we're about dying and it was kinda sad." (LOL) On our first dome, I had a (minor) injury, then I cried. This year, I challenged myself to absolutely present a perfect stage. That is what all the members felt, too.
— How did you feel on your first (2015) dome concert?
Taemin: It felt like it was the last moment of my life (LOL). We were frantic to the point of dying. We absolutely have to make our first dome concert successful. We thought since there would be many people who will come to see SHINee's live for the first time, we absolutely have to show them our appeal.
— We would also like to see Taemin, as a solo artist, perform in Tokyo Dome.
Taemin: Of course, that's my dream! I want to do it. I want to perform on stage, too~
— What kind of concert do you think you'd have?
Taemin: One where there's constant crying (LOL). Like, "Thank you very muuuuuch~!" (acts like he's waving to the audience)
— Since your debut at 15 years old, you have constantly grown together with SHINee, but as an artist, what do you think your turning point is?
Taemin: Probably that moment when I had the opportunity to debut as a solo. I think, I started in 2014, so probably the winter before that? I was given a homework by the company: "Record a pop song and bring it." It was something I've never even thought before so I thought, "What for?" But since it was a precious opportunity that I couldn't afford to miss, so I did my utmost best for it. I guess my growth was felt in the song, and after that, they gave me the talk about having a solo debut.
— Your Japan debut is this July, which is also your birth month. This year, you are able to spend your birthday with your Japanese fans. Not as SHINee, not as an artist, what kind of person is a common 23-year old young man named Taemin?
Taemin: Probably just a young man who likes games (LOL). Also a guy who likes talking with friends and going out drinking. When I'm on break I'm like that. When I'm at work, I concentrate on my work, but when I'm on break I do my best to separate from work and just spend it as a break.
— What in Taemin's mind is an attractive mature gentleman?
Taemin: I think it's someone who looks attractive while concentrating on his own work. Someone like, looking at that kind of person, you'll think, "Ahh that's wonderful."
— Aside from work, what is your number one hobby?
Taemin: Billiards. I play with my dancer staff and friends.
— Who is the best in billiards among the SHINee members?
Taemin: Onew and Minho are kind of good....but, I'm the best!
— As expected, you can't lose (LOL). You have said before that having a solo is one of your dreams. How do you feel now that you have achieved it?
Taemin: It feels that my greed has become bigger (LOL). As SHINee, our aim was to have a concert in Tokyo Dome. Now that that's achieved, and I also managed to have my solo debut, I want to have a solo tour. But when I think about it, I'm like, "Ahh, human greed is really intense" (LOL). At first, I was just happy being able to make music. But I want more of everyone's love. Since I'm able to have a Japan debut, I'd also like to go on a tour in various places in the country and meet a lot of people.
— From the Taemin who is steadily achieving his dreams, what kind of advice will he give the 15 year-old Taemin who is just about to debut?
Taemin: I'd say, "It's better to have more confidence in yourself." I have a slightly shy disposition, so it's regretful. I'd want to do that over again!
— Lastly, please give a message to the people who will be listening to Sayonara Hitori.
Taemin: I'll be happy if you could listen to the album not by SHINee's Taemin but just Taemin. The album contains a lot of my world views, and presents a lot of my style. With Sayonara Hitori, I'd want to become closer to everyone. Taemin, as well as SHINee, will continue to do best so please cheer for us!
➤ sources: here
➤ translation may not be 100% accurate.
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