[Interview] Grazia Cover Story - Jonghyun
* Notes / additional context have been added by the translator in [square brackets]
G: Between “interviewer” and “interviewee,” which do you think fits you most?
J: Well, I’m not sure. I don’t particularly prescribe which side the “interviewer” and “interviewee” is when I talk to people, so I don’t think there’s much difference in my attitude [whether I’m one side or the other in a conversation]. Only, when I’m a radio dj I try to give examples to try to draw out an answer within a short amount of time, as characteristic of a broadcast. “I like this type of thing, what about you?” That sort of thing.
G: Isn’t it hard to do radio every single night? It seems like it could make you feel tied down.
J: I normally sleep late, so it isn’t a big burden as long as it isn’t during promotions. It doesn’t so much make me feel tied down; rather, it feels like I’m settling in my own place. To tell the truth, I take a long time to accept new things, so I prefer delving deep into one thing [at a time]. As a medium, radio also has an entire world that pervades it, so I learn a lot from it. I like the feeling of communicating as well, and I’m going to do it for a long time, no questions asked.
G: Is there anything you’re focusing on personally these days?
J: Music is always a given. And I’ve been thinking about methods of communication. I like listening to people who think differently than I do, and I wonder about how they came to have those thoughts.
G: That feels extremely level-headed and logical.
J: Well, is it? Above all, I think my habit of reading, which was developed by my mother’s influence, has had a big role. In my elementary and middle school days, I could only get my allowance if I wrote a book report correctly. So I don’t feel any pressure about writing at all. And I enjoy putting my thoughts down in writing. I’m continuously observing these sides of me, so I’m able to express my thoughts in no uncertain terms. But my foundation is always communication and dialogue.
G: Communication, whether in writing or speech, is such a difficult thing.
J: Still, humans are social animals so I believe that if we meet more people, and accept their thoughts even if we can’t understand them, that we’ll be able to grow that much more. At the very least, when someone has doubts about me I want to be able to give them a definite reply. I always keep peace central to my conversations.
G: That sounds a bit vague.
J: For instance, one of the pictures I love depicts a protester offering a flower to a soldier. I think this is what peace is, regardless of likes and dislikes. It’s the kind of peace where, it doesn’t mean you unconditionally support certain people, but rather that you accept the existence of those people.
G: Your thoughts are really deep.
J: I was like this in middle-high school, too. My mother was the principal of a daycare center and studied women’s psychology, and child psychology. Now she even works as a psychosocial therapist, so she’s talked to me a lot about many different things. Even if I don’t study it myself, there are things I’ve observed by her side, so. In the end it all comes down to stories about peace, for people.
G: Do you still read lots of books these days?
J: Yes. These days, I read a lot of essays. I’m in the midst of observing different ways of writing — what sorts of expressions make your writing sound more like [prose] fiction, and what makes it sound poetic, from a grammatical standpoint. Literature and grammar have a lot of different offshoots, right? So I’m trying to see what ways I need to delve into those offshoots in order to write more effective expressions.
G: From listening to the songs you’ve written, I thought you’d be someone full of sensitivity and sensibilities, and it seems I was correct.
J: That’s right. I have to be. Because I make music. But to be honest, I tend to gain more of my sensibilities from videos or photographs, more than from books.
G: Things with visuals?
J: Things that are still. I get a lot of abstract inspiration from things like movie posters, or scenes with a lot of impact. I don’t go to the movie theater often, but I really love movies. So I set up a beam projector at my house, and these days I have a silent film called <Artist> playing on repeat. When I like something, I always watch it many times over.
G: It feels like you’ve been working nonstop ever since your solo activities at the beginning of the year.
J: You’re right. I’m continuously busy, and I still have a lot left to do in the future.
G: “2:34,” which you released on <Blue Night> last week, was good too. Do you have a lot of songs stored up?
J: I have a ton. There’s gonna be something released today, too.
G: I mean, you’re even good at rapping? How is that fair?
J: I have to do the basics since I’m a musician, haha. Honestly, when it comes to the rap in “2:34” I think [the reaction was positive because] people related to the lyrics I wrote, which truthfully unravel real things that happened between me and my friends, rather than me being good at rapping.
G: Maybe because I happened to be listening to SHINee’s new album on repeat at the time, but your “colour” felt distinctly different [from SHINee’s] so it made a deep impression on me.
J: My musical colour is closer to my solo album and the music that’s been revealed on <Blue Night>. At first I agonized over how to fuse those things with SHINee, but I came to think that I don’t particularly have any reason to do that. And the song I made with the intent to focus on SHINee’s colour and analyze it a little more, rather than trying to force my own colour on SHINee, is “Odd Eye.”
G: What’s your idea of something that’s “SHINee-like”?
J: Well, first off, beyond the concept of “dark” or “light” I think our biggest virtue is that each of us have a different colour. When more than two agents combine, normally it’s bound to create turmoil, right? But our members are agents who have their own individual colour, yet at the same time, they’re unafraid of getting “mixed.” That part is really cool. The members have an incredibly cool attitude, so I wanted to maximize that characteristic. In terms of parts, I’d have them do overlaps, or add a lot of doubling as well.
G: Aren’t there any clashes when you have discussions about music?
J: I tend to be really flexible with the members. I’ll tell you a funny story. When we were working on “Odd Eye,” I directed the members for the first time and we used honorifics with each other. But the members didn’t think it was corny or weird, either. Within that space, we set our relationships aside and faced each other from the position of people doing music. Which is why it turned out well, I think.
G: Do your egos as “player” [i.e. performer] and “creator” ever come into conflict, or are there times when more weight is placed on one over the other?
J: I think it differs from day to day. Because I still juggle the roles of “maker” and “player,” and sometimes “supporter,” all at the same time. But really, as SHINee I enjoyed just being a “player,” an existence that gives inspiration to someone. I tend to roll up my sleeves and take a stand if something doesn’t satisfy me, but the level of completion is already excellent, so (laughs).
G: No matter how much you enjoy it, isn’t the act of creating always painful? It seems like your personal standard for completion would be really strict, too.
J: That’s right. There are lots of times when it’s painful. But I get a lot of inspiration from negative feelings. You could say I’m a social person who actually grows from feelings of inferiority, like “I’m really lacking.” Of course, those feelings are agonizing at times, but when I pass through that sort of contradictory stage and complete something that I’m pleased with, I also get really conceited, too. Like, “Ah, I’m a genius. How did I come up with such a thing? Haha.” So my emotions have a lot of highs and lows like that, but I tend to enjoy that and I’m used to it now.
G: When were you recently in awe of yourself?
J: Listen to the song that’ll come out on <Blue Night> at 12 o’clock tonight (“Wouldn’t That Be Fine?”). My shoulders were up way high [with pride] when I was listening to it in the car on my way here earlier. Haha.
G: Are there any trivial pleasures you’ve discovered of late?
J: Record players. My mother ran a record store until I was four years old.
G: Your mother has influenced your life in a lot of diverse ways.
J: That’s right. My life’s center, and source of nourishment, are my mother and sister. I continue to go on living because of those two people. In any case, my mother likes record players, so I bought her a 1960s’ console record player. My mother has LPs that she’s saved and cherished for 20 years, and I’m also in the midst of collecting classic jazz, or standard jazz LPs. The things I like are LPs, scented candles, DVDs.. those kinds of things.
G: They’re all things totally suited for hanging out by yourself.
J: That’s right. Which is why I also decorated my house really prettily. Want to see? (Shows pictures on his phone and shows off about his interior decorations) It was seriously so pretty that when I took the picture, even I myself was filled with admiration. I chose the colour of the wallpaper, the lighting, props, etc. all to my own taste. It’s so beautiful, right?
G: It looks like a room that’s been optimized for work.
J: Haha. There are times when I work, but I like just lying down like this at home. My personality has always been like that. I like to fantasize.
Source: Grazia via Perfect Reason (http://cfile6.uf.tistory.com/image/2151344655C0C573163247)
* Please do not edit my translation
* Please take out with full credit