Source: F.OUND Online
Translated by: Emily@icarus-walks.netIt was the end of November when I met with Tablo. When I sat down with him, that month, he had already released his solo album "Fever's End," and had participated in interviews on music programs and with major media outlets, but what I was most interested in wasn't the story that everyone wanted to hear. "So far, the interviews I've done have been short. I haven't been able to explain fully. I didn't have anything to say because there are many cases like mine, but the interviewers kept looking for my answers. If there's something you want more, you have to have control." At that moment, as an editor with an open heart, for the first time in my life I worried that the interview might not be possible. But at the same time, I was hopeful that even Tablo, who had compulsive self-protective instincts built up from that storm-like time, would be willing to give me the full story.
For some time before the release of "Fever's End," Tablo had lived as both 'father' and 'husband'. During that time, a man who had become accustomed to a night life was reborn as a morning person, and his schedule of eating and going out was changed to accommodate the needs of his 18-month-old daughter. "Unlike me, my daughter likes to wander," Tablo said, laughing to himself as he discussed how different fatherhood is from how he'd imagined. Tablo is a person who has found himself in the middle of his roles as father to a beautiful daughter, husband to a beautiful actress, and musician who makes the excellent music that gets stuck in your head. After focusing on one thing for such a long time, the eruption of the incidents related to his education had no choice but to leave huge marks on his motivation and life. It was then that this album was born. It wasn't a team album, but rather a solo album full of Tablo's personal stories, which was his first release under his new contract with YG Entertainment. The album, "Fever's End," was an album prepared with thoughts of stories of the many hardships and struggles he had endured. Although some people showed reactions like, "Isn't it too fast?"... who knows? Maybe those are the type of people to avoid. Is two years too short a time?
When the album was released, your face only appeared briefly on television broadcasts. Since then, you've only done interviews, so what is the reason behind limiting your activities like this?
Although compared to my previous activities it may seem limited, in my position I'm really enjoying it. I haven't been doing much for these last 2 years. Usually these days, it might seem like even indie musicians don't restrict their activities, but I've only done two broadcasts and have showed my face only a little on stage performances, and I think that's okay. In fact, that's part of the understanding of the album. This is an album that I made using those kinds of thoughts, and also with the fact that it was made with parts of me. I tried to find the people who would listen to the music even without activities, and to that extent it helped me put a lot of myself into the album. However, the project began and it seemed that many people were welcoming it. I wanted to reach out more, so I went on a few more broadcasts and at senior Lee Sora's invitation I appeared on "Lee Sora's Proposal." It's because of all the good feedback that the album has received that we're even doing this interview, right? Even senior Bae Chulsoo asked me to come out once, so I went out on "Bae Chulsoo's Music Camp."
Since you've had these comeback activities, I think there must be people you're thankful to. It seems like you were able to open the door and communicate with the world again.
Oh, of course I'm thankful. There are many people who I'm thankful to, enormously.
What did the stage look like after returning to it two years later?
I felt shaky and awkward. I think it's awkward being in the music industry. Especially on SBS' Inkigayo.
When you came out with Taeyang (of Big Bang), did you feel like that was better than being alone?
No. There was more tension. Taeyang is Taeyang. (Laughs.) With Big Bang, going out with these friends who have made more consistent stage performances, I was afraid there would be a strange quality. However, because Taeyang enjoyed himself so much, I found myself unwittingly enjoying it too. Our joint stage received so much praise that it even made me think thoughts like, "Isn't this our team?" (Laughs.)
Maybe not, but it seems like you'd make a good project group together.
I don't think I'd like that. (Laughs.) He's a friend who's younger than me, but I'm thankful to him. When I first joined YG, he had the big role of making me feel at ease inside the company. He pretty much dragged me in.
A lot of people were shocked by your decision to sign a contract with YG Entertainment.
I was shocked too. Even I didn't expect it, it happened like I had never imagined.
Then I'll ask, did you consider signing with a different label other than YG Entertainment, or not?
There were other labels who contacted me. But because there was a divide between the way we contacted music at that time, the conversations didn't last long. I wanted to focus on the comeback first, rather than focusing on my feelings and my appearance. Whatever I did and wherever I went I was worrying about the music. I think it was naturally meant to be for me to come to YG. They said that they would take care of me who had been living exclusively for some time. By virtue of me being her husband, (Kang) Hyejung was worried about me, and when a phone call came that said she had to meet with a manager, she told me that she would be grateful if I gave her a ride to the meeting. That manager then asked me if there was anything I needed and got in contact with me separately. At that time the idea of releasing an album seemed totally crazy, so I think that without YG I couldn't have done it. It was the only place for me, so it naturally became that kind of connection.
It seems like moving between labels can have a huge ability to impact the people you're close with. Personally, when I think about "contracts" I think that you begin with the end in mind.
In fact, in that movement the people who I'm closest to are Dynamic Duo. They're really good friends of mine. As soon as I'd made the decision I went to talk to them over a beer. You know, those kids have open minds that are as much about people as they are about music, so we were able to come up with a lot through exchanging thoughts. Since I'm entering into YG, that could result in a lot more networking opportunities for me. In that sense, I must be proud. The main distinguishing reason is to have fun doing what I do. But as you get older you start to forget what that means. Why? The most important thing to me is having a "crew" that really cares about me as a person. The people who stay by your side during times of hardship are your "crew", and that's not a relationship that's divisible by things like signing contracts with companies.
How do things work in YG? Some musicians make albums in one shot and are paid upfront, but as a solo artist do you think you can continue ahead with YG?
I don't see why not? (Laughs.)
There's the music, but the lyrics were written like the original YG style, so it seems like in the company there's some kind of instrument of change. Would you say they display different emotions?
I don't know if it's that this place has a different spirit, but there was a lot for me to learn first. Previously because I had only ever been among musicians, it didn't seem like there was much for me to learn. You know, friends like Nell and the guys from Dynamic Duo. Kind of like that, people with similar sentiments. With people like that since we all feel similar it's not easy to learn things, but within YG I've been learning a lot as I approach a new environment. I think it's good if you can let yourself be affected by new things.
What do you think about the strength within YG as a label?
I haven't had a lot of experiences yet, but so far it seems like they have a lot of great employees. I always thought of it as something oppressive, but I realized later that I only thought this because I was seeing it from a distance. Now I have a broader idea of it, and the people I only saw from a distance are right beside me. Can you believe it? So now, I'm able to dream a little more.
Interviewer: They [people who you have worked with] would be sad to hear (laughter)
Tablo: No. Back then, I wouldn’t have seen them even when they were by me. I used to be quite selfish, thinking ‘I was the best’ and ‘i have to do it all’. I’m very happy to have the “dialogue” aspect solved. You see, the “Fever’s End” Exhibition was not of my own idea either. It was just a vague wish,and then they [YG] made it happen.
Interviewer: How does it feel to be in the same company as your wife?
Tablo: Since our departments are different… (laughter) Like a husband who works at Samsung Electronics and a wife who works at Samsung Life Insurance? (laughter) We don’t have much opportunity to meet up, but we exercise and take Japanese language courses together. It’s quite enjoyable, like we are a C.C [Campus Couple].
Interviewer: Besides the T.V. engagements, are you thinking of meeting with fans personally? Such as a SoloConcert…
Tablo: I would love to, but I do want to plan slowly. The passion for the concert is important, but the repertoire is also crucial. I also lack self-assurance as of yet.
Interviewer: As you mentioned earlier, since it is an easy-listening album, I think it would be good to have a small-scale concert, with the thought of “meeting” the fans more so than anything else.
Tablo: There are still parts of me that needs to be examined, if a concert is to be “something worth having come to”.
Tablo’s Fever’s End packs many stories. These narratives that could be said to be a record of the last two years are nestled in the CD, as well as the booklet’s odd visuals like a hauntingly beautiful picture book. In the way he wrote lyrics, and the content which expressed the difference unlike other rappers.
It was impossible to think that themes of his lyricism could become so singularly melancholy. At the end of the CD, having read through the weave of his diary-like lyricism, I became curious. Had the past two years been an oddly different stimulus for his creative drive, quite unlike his musical career leading upto Tablo expressed, “it would have been good if I could have regarded those sentiments as “inspirations”. I would have had better time,” honestly. Because he did not even have enough head space to regard himself as someone who does music, [Tablo] says that he did not even think to effuse the mountainous feelings through music.“But those things [writing lyrics] seem to have become habitual. The confluence of thoughts rhyming itself automatically, sorting into bars… The songs came to be as those elements took form. Although it took a while, for me it has been one of the most natural process.” And as an album that has come to be under such circumstances, Fever’s End feels like a comma. A sojourn for someone who had garnered great fame as Epik High, for him after his two years.
Interviewer: You mentioned that you had to spend what should have been your happiest years difficult, [but] Ithink it would have been worse if you were by yourself, almost unbearably so… Have you thought of it like
Tablo: Of course. I did think that what should have been my happiest years were the toughest I had faced. But at the same time, I do understand that the people who bring me most happiness are bearing this with me. I gradually realized that I have reasons to be happy. If I was alone… I wouldn’t have been able to bear it. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have needed to.
Interviewer: After marriage, events that make you rethink the meaning of family crop up. As someone who spent that tumultuous time together, what kind of person was Kang Hye-Jeong?
Tablo: It was love as I expected. When you are dating, you would think, “ah, perhaps it would be like this if I marry this person.” And for me my expectations had to be answered to as soon as I was married,and I very much admired her strength that showed when we dated. She is unassumingly strong. And that aspect of her showed greatly after our marriage. Even when I grew weak, she would give me her strength. If she were weaker, wouldn’t she have run away? I think anyone else would have done so.
Interviewer: Aren’t there things that you wished to have reacted differently to apropos plethora of rumors and events thereof? Perhaps, there are certain reactions or behaviors that you may think exacerbated the rumors?
Tablo: I think however I reacted, the outcome wouldn’t have been much different, since many people’s goal from the start was to see me crumble. Do you know what I kept thinking about the past little while?For the past seven years I haven’t taken a day’s rest from making music, making them laugh, or putting on concerts. But why was it that they would trust other people’s words first, even before hearing me out?Why would they trust them? Among those people, many of them knew my face, music and even had occupied the same space, but why was it that they would believe people they didn’t even know? Then it hit me, “perhaps I was at fault for making them believe those things.” I think, regardless of how I reacted, the result would have been the same. Still there are many who don’t wish to trust me. Frankly, it isn’t the problem of believing in me or not. I can’t understand those who believe me and those who don’t believe me the same.
Interviewer: After the string of events, have you thought to simply focus on music alone?
Tablo: There’s hardly anything that has changed for me, when it comes to doing music alone. Perhaps,it would be more fitting to say [that I do music] “even more than before”. Isn’t it funny? Why would the “tablo iq test” be the trending phrase after Fever’s End’s release? “Tablo-lookalike Martian Virus”as well. I don’t even want to mention “high-educated sexual predator hiphopper”. I neither produce nor consume these “interests”.
Interviewer: There are aspects of our society that got you on people’s radar due to your degree?
Tablo: Of course. But that is a piece of information that I have not volunteered without someone asking me first. If someone asks, I would reply “yes”. Oh, the amount of efforts I put in just so that people wouldn’t ask me that question. After the 4th album, they stopped asking me the question. When I became “Epik High”’s Tablo instead of “Ivy league” and “elite” Tablo, I was ecstatic. I cannot ask others to focus on certain aspects of my life. Do I have the right to ask of others? Anyways, now I realize that there are certainly parts of my degree for which our team benefited. And when I am glad I was the only one to suffer when it came the time for us to be under fire for my degree. The benefit went to the team, and thecompany. The hardships came to me, alone.
Interviewer: How opportune is it that at the end of it was the album. When I listened to the album, I thought how lucky it would be to do music.
Tablo: I am quite happy to be doing something, even if it isn’t music.
Interviewer: If you had stood up later, would the response have been different?
Tablo: Well… I’m just glad that I am alive. (laughter)
Interviewer: When reading your recent interviews, there seems to be the general consensus that your lyricism contains dual meanings. Thinking that the songs would contain spite or defiance. Have you never thought to express the totality of the specturm of sentiments that you held?
Tablo: Not at all. Of course, there must be some relation between the state of my mind and my music. Ithink my music had been especially like that. But my current state of mind has no desire to show anything to anyone. I don’t want to plead. What is most important is that there is no anger in me.
Interviewer: Is that usual for you?
Tablo: No. I would flare up even when I shouldn’t have been angry. (laughter) I used to be like a fire.But, suppose it changes.
Interviewer: Ah… Has the people changed you so?
Tablo: Perhaps. Anyways, I don’t quite feel angry. Nor do I feel dejected or hatred for others. Actually, people around me seeemed to be more angry, asking “don’t you feel persecuted? Huh, doesn’t it all piss you off?” When the album came out, people have told me that they expected something stronger. When I asked, “Why” they would say, “well wouldn’t you feel great afterwards”. Well, what they feel and how I feel are two different things. I can’t feel angry just so others could feel good about it all, can I?
Interviewer: The album felt somewhat like a monologue or pages of a diary. Are you the type to organize your hardships and thoughts before expressing them?
Tablo: I used to just say all those things. What’s ironic is I used to get into a lot of trouble because I was too honest. There really was no reason to be that honest, I don’t know why. When I started dating my wife, and when she was pregnant with our child, I told them publicly. It was to the extent that they would say I was rash, but I found it amusing that I was being remembered as a liar. I realize that I was rash then. I was brazen and insolent. I wouldn’t hide my feelings. I even had lots of avenues to express them; radios… I was arrogant. I thought, “Someone would understand me, and take it for me.” It was something that I shouldn’t have indulged in.
Interviewer: The album making was your way of working through the conflict.
Tablo: I’m glad.
Interviewer: Do you think you are someone who can utilize the mass-media?
Tablo: How so?
Interviewer: I ask, because you don’t seem to be evading direct question. You seem to have good grasp on the characteristics of mass media.
Tablo: Among the people who work on television who doesn’t know how to do that? (laughter)
Mithra of Epik High is currently in military service. The fans would naturally expect a new EH album come this may, when Mithra will end his military service. However, Tablo says that only when Mithra is out would they start thinking about their new album. The rest of the members have agreed to this point.Tablo explains that if we make an album out of sense of duty, it wouldn’t be such a good album. For fans,he would rather prepare little souvenirs. Mithra Jin, who also has been thinking of his solo album, does not wish to rush comeback as Epik High. Albeit a tad bit dissapointing for EH fans, they would have to hold out a bit longer in the belief that they will return with quality materials.
In the middle of the interview, the question about Mithra, asked to change the topic, turns to answers about Dynamic Duo. “When Mithra gets out on furlough he would chill with Choiza. He says
it helps him.” It is perhaps understandable in light of his teammate’s marriage, let alone his recent fatherhood.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep credit when taking out!
questions? mention us on twitter @icaruswalksnet or comment on the original thread(s) on the forum (icarus-walks.net)