How old were you when you first got to listen to music?
I was an elementary school student then. One of my friend’s father was working as a producer for a television music program and when I got to visit his place, there were so many music albums of international artists. I heard hip-hop for the first time there and I was kind of shocked.
Like, “there’s this kind of music in the world!”?
I’d only listen to k-pop until I heard of this genre, hip-hop, so I was just like “why is hip hop called a good type of music? I don’t even know what this foreign language means.” I just didn’t understand why it was called good, so I wasn’t that interested in it. But when I heard the song called “C.R.E.A.M” by Wu Tang Clan. They were the most popular U.S. hip hop group back then and my vision of music was just so widened at once.
So the barriers of the language didn’t matter?
Of course i didn’t know the meaning of the lyrics or the right pronunciations of the English language at all, but I didn’t care those kind of things because that music sound was just so cool. I had both the CD and the tape, and I listened to them until the CD and tape were worn out, and I sang along to them as much as I could understand from what they were saying. Also, I wanted to show my friends that I memorized the whole lyrics, so I sang the song on stages, like at the school’s singing festivals. I thought everyone would be just like, “Wow!” and praise me, but they actually didn’t accept it that much. On the contrary, they were just staring at me making faces as like, “What’s he singing? I don’t get it at all.” *laughs*
Ah, that’s sad, but I think you were different from your school friends considering that you must be the only one who was listening to the western music in your elementary school.
Yes, but the friends who were not accepting of that music are calling me now saying, “I should have listened to it with you.” *laughs*
And starting from then, your dorkiness (in a good way) has been defined. *laughs*
Back when I was younger, I loved to try new things that others don’t know about, which I thought was great. In fact the very first thing that I started was dancing. I loved to dance along with some music or some television show. We loved to run and jump around meaninglessly when we were young, right? Just the same as that, I thought it was fun when I was dancing. My mother saw that and got me to apply to a lot of auditions, which I was accepted to all of them.
So your mother was the first person to see your talent?
She said that I would dance in front of people even if there was only one or two people in the room. My mother told me that I enjoy entertaining people so much, she decided to put me in this entertainment industry. I think my mother was much greater than me. *laughs*
So, when was the first time you were on TV?
That was the time when I was 6 years old. It was the TV show playing some games with many children. In fact, back then, it was kind of not what I wanted to do, but my mother made me go. I liked to be on TV, but I wanted to hang out with my friends or eat some snacks when I had some free time. *laughs* I didn’t like that I had to wake up early every morning because of the work and my time hanging out with my friends became shorter. I started thinking that it was not the same anymore, but I’d tried my best to have fun with the time that I had.
What was your personality when you were little?
I was just a timid, quiet, and shy boy who was just following his mother’s back all the times, but the only place that I could be very confident was on stage, dancing. I changed into an active person when I joined my current company, when I was 12.
So from then, you began your own way?
I started to act the way I wanted things to go like giving my own ideas when I decided to live by this path of music. My mother first had wanted me to study for middle school, but after she accepted my very strong intentions for music, she began to support me the most.
But it took a little longer than you had expected to be able to debut?
I was a trainee for 6 years and spent my time participating in some of my sunbaes’ albums. I thought to myself that I should confidently challenged myself (when I finally debuted), without being weird or not being very uncomfortable.
So you must be very happy when you finally got to debut with the name Big Bang.
When I just debuted, it was a little more overwhelming than just being happy. Back then, the name “G-Dragon” was already well-known and also the announcement of the first idol boy group from YG, so there were a lot of expectations from us. Besides those expectations, there were, of course, some criticisms, but that only made our 5 members stronger and connected more tightly. We said, “We will show them much more than what they expected us to be, we are going to make our name, ‘Big Bang’ proud!”, and we worked harder everyday from then on.
Moreover, you’re the leader, so don’t you have more pressure because of that?
When we just made our group, I was desperately working to make the gap smaller between the older and younger members. But I think it’s not that hard to be a leader of Big Bang.
This is the group, which have all 5 members who have their own 5 different colors.
That’s what I love about us. They completely understand each of their parts/jobs, even when I only explain with little details, they know what they’re supposed to do already. Of course, there were some conflicts and fights until we come to a conclusion, in other words until we came to have this trust for one another.
What were the cause of the fights, for example?
For example, someone doesn’t like the way I eat meals or the way I fold up my laundry… *laughs* We all lived in an apartment together and living together was a bit... Thinking of it now, we fought a lot over things that weren’t that much of a big deal. We didn’t get a single thing solved and that only made the conflict worse and can harm us as a group. We realized that it’s just making us feel bad. So after that, there were completely no more fights.
Have you all fought over of having different ideas about Big Bang’s image and music style?
No, not at all. All 5 agree on the ideas of the music or the performances of Big Bang every single time. Of course, all 5 members have very different colors, different favorite artists, and different kinds of music, for we all have lived in very different ways, but naturally we all become the same color when we perform as a group, Big Bang. Thankfully, we can express our own things that we’ve been wanting to do on our solo activities. There is a proverb saying in Korea, “The more we fight, the closer we get to know each other”. As that being said, we fought a lot so we've come to know what the other thinks, we became more closer, and now we are just close as a family.
So it’s like a kind of communication to be closer to each other?
Eventually, I think our fights start when we have some misunderstandings between us. In fact, we don’t seem like it but all of the Big Bang members are afraid of strangers. Even today, we become tense when we first meet somebody or when we're strangely pretending to be cool or being serious. *laughs* But usually we like to make jokes and play around. We are really good at having fun.
So you are just the same as the normal boys in their 20′s?
Yes, but when I was an elementary school student, I think I didn’t really enjoy a single joke or playing tricks, so there were friends who were scared of me and some who cried because of me. *bitterly laugh* In fact, I changed schools like 4 or 5 times, so communication was an important part of getting along with my friends much faster and this is just me boasting but I made many friends every time I changed schools, so I have much more friends compared to others!
Wherever you go, you’re the popular one who was always being in the spotlight?
I’m not sure if I was the popular one, but I always lead my friends with confidence.
Being around with new surroundings, don’t that make you feel lonely? Don’t you have some frustrations about that?
Never. In fact, I enjoyed that. I don’t like to be stuck in one place originally. Same as now, my heart is pumping when I go somewhere I’m not aware of. Back then and also for now, I like to get to know something with my body rather than my brain.
Wow. Ah, going back to the previous conversation, are there any Big Bang members who are afraid of you?
Yes, maybe. *laughs* But when I first met Taeyang, I thought he was scary. He was just too different from me, and now we exchanged our characters/personality. I was a little introverted when I was young, but now Taeyang is the introverted one.
Now, we don’t have any conflicts because we spent our tough and good times since we were trainees together. We know what each other is thinking just by looking at each other’s faces. To define the word, “close friends”, for myself, I will say it’s the people who understand each other without saying any words. For me, all Big Bang members are my family, my close friends, the great ones, related ones who accept me and who I respect from the bottom of my heart.
Okay, then what do you think others think about you? You have a very stoic image of someone who don’t compromise with anything, like craving for perfection.
I hear some great appraisals and some positive responses, but I try to avoid the negativity. If I listen to the good feedbacks, I think I might be flattered.
Then what do you think your color is right now?
‘Plain’. Think about the canvas which is colored just as you color it differently every time. I dream to be a person like that and I am trying to be that kind of a person. I think I’m at the very middle of being a boy and an adult. I don’t have some complete roundness as a one person, but I think this sharpness that I have right now is not that bad.
It’s like when you’re on the stage doing performances, you're so fierce and have an uneasy presence that makes us feel like we can’t reach close to you, but during this interview you are just like a boy with that innocent, bright boyish smile, very friendly.
Definitely, the person that I am on and off the stage are two different people. When I’m back from the stage, I change to the real me. I don’t like to act like a celebrity. However, I think the most important thing is to bring the performance perfectly on the stage. In other words, I think it’s important to act like “being on the stage” to attract with some more qualified performances when I’m performing. I think I started to work very cautiously now because I had some bad experiences where I acted like a child and was told, “he is just a boy”. So I think I must check every single thing that I do and take responsibility for everything. I am not really aware that I am showing the “little boy figure” presence all the time, but even during this interview, I’m talking as if I’m rapping, or when I walk along the streets, my arms and legs move as if I’m dancing. *laugh* This has just became a habit. I’m just used to doing it.
The rhythm and music are just pervaded into your body. By the way, what did you feel like hearing all those cheers and screaming from the Japanese fans?
In fact, it was very weird. I was very surprised that there are many people who know us and I was so glad that all Japanese fans sang along with the songs we were singing even when it was in Korean. There were some restrictions, so we couldn’t really get to be that close to the fans like the live concerts in Korea. That was just so sad. The reason why I think having a close distance between the fans and us is really important is because when I was young, I was very glad that my favorite artist touched me on the stage. I think I will never forget that feeling in my life, so I want to make my fans feel the same as much as possible.
What do you want most at this time?
*laughs* Okay, then what is the most important thing in your life?
Probably my friends. I’m not afraid of anything because I have Big Bang when I’m doing my music. Not just Big Bang, I have many other friends, and they all make me feel very strong. Even when it comes to love, I make my relationship feel like we’re close friends. I have so many attractive people around me, maybe I’m being pulled by them.
Do you have any dream or ambition for Big Bang’s future and for yourself?
I don’t like to shoot and try all the huge things all at once. I want to grow up with my fans. After some years, maybe ten years, they might think “Big Bang was the best, I can't ever forget their songs.”, Just like when I first heard hip hop, I want our group to be the group that will always leave a great impression on a person.
For me, I want to always be stimulated. I don’t always want to aim to be number 1, but I don’t like to be number 2. If I had known that, I would never have started it in the first time. My goal in life is to always have the best result that I can accept. Anyways, I want to experience many new things, challenge myself into various styles of music, so that maybe in 10 years, I would find the most proper color for me. I want to make the kind of music that can make people dream, make people enjoy, or comfort people when they are sad.
Last message for the readers, please?
Thank you for reading this to the very end! I’m really glad that this could be a chance to tell you what we are thinking as Big Bang and also as myself more profoundly. But most of all, you will know us much completely at the live stages, so hopefully, I can meet you all at the next live concerts!
More interviews like this please! I loved everything he had to say about Big Bang