1st Look Magazine Cover Story: Rule The Nation
G-Dragon is suggesting a new standard in the Korean pop music industry. His thoughts on fashion, music, musicians and K-wave. His thoughts are bigger and broader than expected.
The era of dance artists and idol groups started in the 1990s. Despite its short history, the people who changed the trend of their time will always be there. People like Seo Taiji & Boys, Deuce, and H.O.T set some standards through their music and dance before. Isn’t G-Dragon someone who can succeed this kind of legacy? This enfant terrible
, who is the leader of Big Bang and also a solo musician himself, is only 24 years old. Of course, his beginning was not too different from other idol stars. Being selected at an early age, he was raised as a star going through the stage of a so-called “trainee.” However, G-Dragon did not simply constrain himself with singing and dancing, he is now working as an idea bank and a producer who controls fashion, attitude, choreography, stage design, album art work, not to mention the music composing. This is why we cannot just call him and Big Bang a mere idol group.
“YG made all things possible — the environment, the way people work and everything. Family-ship is really strong here. We are all like brothers, so we are really not “working” but “playing” together. When we work with the intention of producing a hit song and a very popular music, it never works out well. Rather, when we work while hanging out with a drink or playing games and suddenly come up with an idea, that’s when the song really works well. Even during holidays I would come to the office and hang out with my brothers, working and hanging out with them. I think this is the reason why I can work more than others and make good music.”
However, these days, G-Dragon is mentioned more as a fashion icon than as a musician. Some even parody his bold and adventurous fashion style. We should acknowledge that G-Dragon has a part in the popularity of Jung Hyung-don, who insists the “no mercy” fashion sense to be his unique style and challenges GD, or the web-based cartoon “Fashion King,” that constantly mocks fashion.
“I find it fun. Infinity Challenge is indeed my favorite program as a common viewer. I found out about Fashion King from my fans but I haven’t read them yet. I’m sure it’s also fun since the title is Fashion King. I think it is really nice as a celebrity to be mentioned continuously without having to be involved.”
He, who is passionate not only about music but also about fashion, is now planning a new project.
“Whenever I go travel abroad, I go to stylish shops and meet wonderful friends. However, in contrast, I cannot think of a place in Korea that people from other countries should come check out. I want to make a cool and stylish space with friends who I think are really cool and stylish. Not a mere business that sells clothes and various items, but a cultural place where you’d go to see, feel and learn Korea’s street style. A place where everything is gorgeous, from the styles of employees to the interior, music, products. A place that is totally worth visiting. I am preparing for this project slowly, waiting for the right time.”
Aside from fashion, what he is really plugged into these days is his second solo album.
“I am preparing for my solo album, but because of lots of Japanese events and commercial schedules, it is getting delayed a little.”
His first solo album, Heartbreaker is indeed an album that showed the essence of G-Dragon. From beginning to end, from outside to inside, we could feel that he poured all his energy to make it as “his album” wholeheartedly.
That is probably when we started seeing G-Dragon as a producer and a musician, not just an idol singer.
“I consider my albums as my diary. Something that can remind you of your thoughts, your way of thinking and your energy at the time you made it. Therefore, every album has a special place in my heart. However, now that I listen to them, the songs sound very childish and embarrassing. It feels like I merely “exploded” my energy prematurely. This album will be a lot more mature.”
Also, his solo album will be hip-hop based, which is his musical root. It will be different from his previous one that was more of a mixture of various genres and styles.
“I personally think that all the good music is already out. Now the key is how to mix them well to make it your own. Because of this, artists in and outside of Korea are trying different music instead of separating genres. This album will have lots of hip-hop elements. I had slow-tempo tracks and pop-style tracks in my previous album but this time, every music will be hip-hop based. You will think, “oh, it’s hip-hop” as soon as you listen to it.”
Meanings of words change as the society changes. In old days “musicians” can survive just by writing songs, showing great singing skills or focusing on music, but the situation has changed. Nowadays, if you want to label yourself as a “musician”, you need to control your fashion, performance, visual elements and make them your own. This corresponds with GD’s desire of wanting to be a “new standard.”
“The reason why I wanted to become a singer was because singers looked really cool back then. No other reason, it was just because they looked really cool. I thought, “wow, I just want to live like them.” Even now, their music and performances are really cool. However, these days, there are no more musicians who are as cool as them. This is why I want to show the best answer to people. I’d be thrilled if I become the standard in terms of good music — that will make you decide what is good and what is not — among the overflowing singers these days. Yes, you can say that is my dream.”
In the young age when you are supposed to be busy with just building yourself up, it is astonishing that he sees the music industry as a whole and tries to find his place in it. However, his mature thinking does not stop there. His duty is even heavier now that K-pop and K-fashion are getting attention from all over the world, much recognized as “K-wave.”
“In Korea’s current state, whatever you do will work and people are going to pay attention to it. Rather than considering it as a temporary “wave,” we should grow this so that our Korean music can have its voice in the world. If all the musicians can work together to show good music and grow the music industry well, we can make a market that is as big as Japan’s, and even further, we might be able to lead the world’s music market. We are now given a really good opportunity and I am so worried that we might blow it.”
This is why he’s working on his solo album in a slow pace. He wants to produce good music and to be a standard, and because he wants to pull Korean popular music a step higher, he has lots of thoughts and worries. Nobody asked or forced him to do it, but why is he carrying this enormous and heavy responsibility on his shoulder? An enthusiastic cheer-up for GD, who is stepping forward one by one each time with the heavy load.
Translated by KAYLI for bigbangupdates.com
Thanks Kayli for offering to translate! Appreciate it a lot! ♡
NOTE: This interview was done BEFORE the marijuana issue broke out.