Yoo: H.O.T. was a very young group back then so I wanted to write about their normal lives. They had little experience in life but were full of energy, and while there was so much they want to do, there actually wasn't much they really could do so they would be dissatisfied. So I wanted to express them in the state of having an aggressive attitude. And I thought that at one point, I wanted H.O.T. to seem colossal. They were the first idol group to hold a concert at the Jamsil Main Statium and I wanted them to look big for when they do something like that. For their song "I Yah!" I thought of a man in a black trenchcoat, like in "The Matrix," walking alone in the desert and I wrote it thinking that they would get to show it on a big stage.
|Yoo Young-jin [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]|
Yoo: TVXQ is really good when it comes to singing and dancing so I wanted to have them try a variety of things. I felt that they would be able to pull off big performances in particular, like H.O.T. did. And "Rising Sun" was where that all came together -- it's a song through which my hopes came true. It was the first time during my ten years of composing dance numbers that everything, from the choreography to the vocals to the dancing skills, interlocked perfectly. After that, I gave them "Tonight," wondering whether they would be able to pull that off too because it has to be sung on a very wide range of notes. But they were really good at that too. (laugh) I got excited so I came up with some ad libs spontaneously which they also pulled off too. That's when I told myself that I can try whatever I want with this kids (laugh) so I started coming up with songs which would maximize the abilities each member has. With SHINee, I thought it would be better to add in some easy parts rather than make their songs too difficult or aggressive. I also did it because I studied writing melodies with limited chords while I was pursuing my solo career, and it turns out it fits better with recent trends.
10: With each generation, the style of songs that you produce have also been changing. How do you think the recent trend of dance music is changing?
Yoo: What I think remains unchanged is that there is a growing crossover between genres. Whatever the original genre, new genres keep stemming from it which I think makes it necessary to think up more unique ideas and complex structures. In that sense I think you shouldn't be scared to attempt carrying out new ideas. I felt that Black Eyed Pea's "Boom Boom Pow" is simple to the extent that it could be considered close to minimalism but Americans let it become a huge hit. I'm envious of how they make such music and the way it can be accepted.
10: I think you've been making new attempts in that sense too. "BONAMANA" is made in a similar way as "Sorry Sorry" but I think you purposely meant to add in a Korean style of melodic structure to it.
Yoo: You're right. To start with, I wasn't intending on making something completely different from "Sorry Sorry." It suited them and the singers had liked the song a lot too. So instead of thinking I would divert from it completely, I expanded on it. My wife did a bit of traditional Korean music when she was in college so when I asked for her recommendation for a samulnori beat, I came across a drum beat which I thought could be used as the melody. That's how I came up with the melody in the beginning of "BONAMANA." There's definitely a limit to how much I can do because I'm a pop music composer but I want to do more specialized music. The melody in "BONAMANA" may repeat in a very simple way but I wanted to give various changes to it within that flow. I'm trying hard in my own way. (laugh)
10: You have become more elaborate in how you build up each sound in particular. The tone of percussion in "Ring Ding Dong" was impressive too. It wasn't too dry nor did it ring out so much that it drowns other sounds.
Yoo: I really try hard to stick to the layers in which each sounds builds up. When the public listens to dance music, they only hear a few things like the kick, snare, high hat and percussion. And then maybe a bit of melody, the bass and strings, but you can't make dance music where only those sounds are noticeable. You have to squeeze in a lot of sounds underneath it too. And there are sounds which you would never imagine would be used for melody but they actually do have melody. I lay out the most basic sounds first and then keep adding in other sounds which will make the original sounds sound more rich. I can't make every sound be heard well but I use sources which will fill up that space even if one can't hear them. I sometimes add in noise to the LP or make sound effects with my own mouth too. There's a sound called glass percussion that was used in "Sorry Sorry" but it was actually made by hitting the plastic handle of a screwdriver onto a coffee mug. I think my 15 year career has helped me accumulate the know-how to immediately execute such eccentric ideas into my work.
|Yoo Young-jin [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]|
Yoo: You're right. In a way, I sort of missed my chance. I really wanted to learn to play the piano but I couldn't because my family was poor. I had to raise my younger siblings while living apart from my parents. And when I finally grew up and tried to learn the piano, I started my singing career. I started studying chord theory, musical composition and chord patterns around the time I became a sergeant while serving my mandatory military service. I learned chords by playing the piano with two fingers. (laugh) But I released an album right after I was discharged from the military so I still play the piano with two fingers. (laugh) Back then, people told me not to use such absurd chords but although it sounded like it was not in complete harmony to my ears, I also felt it was right. And I think I expanded on that idea.
10: Is that why you absorb music through rhythm and not through melody?
Yoo: When my senior musicians asked me why I consider vocals as rhythm, I told them to look at Michael Jackson. Why he would add in sounds like "Ah!" in the middle [of his songs]. I think one should be able to think of such things simultaneously with the choreography. I think that's where my ideas stemmed from. From Kang-ta in H.O.T. to Donghae or U-Know Yunho, there are many singers in SM who want to do music. And I tell them that no matter how hard they practice from now on, they will never become better than pianist Yiruma. But I tell them to instead create something that they can be good at. It's necessary to come up with a new approach even if it may make you look like a fool. Everything that can be done with the existing 12 scales is being done so you need absurd ideas from now on to make songs. You never know when they day will come when you throw a computer at the window and that sound is used for rhythm. So I don't know until when I'll be working but I keep trying to come up with absurd ideas.
10: Are you considering releasing a fourth album?
Yoo: Mr. Lee Soo-man has been saying I should and I would like to too. But I don't want to be a burden on the company. If I say I want to [release an album], the company will let me. But I think I'd have a hard time if I made 5,000 copies but was told only 900 were sold. (laugh) To the extent that it won't be burdensome, I do want to release songs, at least in the format of a digital single, to let people know that I am doing music.
10: What's your goal as a musician?
Yoo: Up till now, I've rejected requests for interviews or short filmings of me teaching TVXQ. And I plan on not doing any more after this one. I prefer to continue doing my work in my own corner. If a singer is the main character, I want the focus to be on them, not on me for being their producer. I want to be a helper to SM and all of its singers. A helper who always does everything that he's been given to do. I think I'd be very happy if I could sit down in a studio even when I'm eighty and still be creating rhythms.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok two@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@
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