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Songs like ‘Tell Me’, ‘Nobody’ & ‘So Hot’ were nationwide viral syndromes that elevated WG to “Korea’s girlgroup.” With her bright smile & friendly demeanor, main vocalist Yeeun was always in the forefront. She has now resurfaced with a solo identity.
Beginning with her first MV trailer, Yeeun’s solo [status] has attracted everyone’s attention. “In the trailer, I darted outside naked into rainy weather, like a crazy lunatic. Indeed, making this album was quite crazy. The agency felt it was too powerful & thus not good, but I was very insistent in my demands. Be it the MV trailers, the 7 album tracks, the title song’s MV concept, choreography, album cover, promotional headings, etc. the project was almost entirely done according to my input.”
Every track in the album has a specific meaning. ‘Iron Girl’ is a wholly narrative song. Yeeun on ‘Iron Girl’: “‘Iron Girl’ was inspired by Iron Man. The movie had left a deep impression on me. Iron Man is also a common man. As an artist, I have also pondered about ‘What is my talent, what can I do.’ When I saw Iron Man in the movie going ‘I’m finished, my clothes are torn, I can’t do anything” & then “Never mind, I can technology to create something”, I realized that ‘I must also create for myself.’ As a singer, I must also write for myself.”
The closing track ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ was written by Yeeun for a deceased WG fan. Yeeun was teary-eyed as she mentioned this. “She was a fan whom we [WG] were acquainted with the whole time. She came to our shows & fansigns. Her academic results were very good, she had always topped her school cohort until early last year. Nice personality, very cheerful. She fell ill with a brain tumor & died during the day of the college entrance exams. We [WG] had gone to the hospital to see her, but there was nothing else we could do. The news was a shock; there was no chance for a final farewell. It was my first encounter with a younger friend who passed away. She hadn’t even reached adult age before she died. It was devastating. I was in grief for about a month, then wrote this song. Whenever I listen to the tune, my heart always aches.”
Asked about her health, Yeeun replied: “This promotion will have combined modern dance routines, so my weight can’t be too heavy. Also, I developed obsessive-compulsive disorder while making the album, was always thinking “no flaws must appear”. I lost about 6kg while doing pirates & modern dance exercises, eating chicken breast and so on. I felt really fat when I was doing musicals prior, to be honest. Right now, I’m about 49kg.”
Talking about her solo opportunity, Yeeun said: “Around the end of 2012, PD-nim told me he’s allowing me to prepare my solo venture. But I wasn’t confident then, & felt very distressed. Despite the distress, I still worked hard to find suitable concepts. Then in 2013, PD said it would be excellent if I could come up with my own lyrics & music for the album. All the included songs are my own creations, which were then completed after conferring with the agency. Upon returning from New York, there was a 30-minute meeting with the agency staff. PD-min became immediately alarmed, because the album lacked mass appeal & the music was too dark. In truth, I’d thought myself that there was little mass appeal.
She then said: “Although I made an effort towards mass appeal, my current songwriting ability has not yet reached the level of creating successful commercial music. If WG’s music had captivated people of all ages & gender, then my music are made for like-minded people on the same wavelength as me. PD-min also felt: catching two rabbits is good, but if you have to give up one, then choose mass appeal or music integrity? For those who want mass-appeal songs, I shall work hard on my future second & third albums.
"Even though ‘Ain’t Nobody’ was finally chosen as the title song, PD-nim had initially recommended the 4th track instead. But I was not obedient (laughs). It was like World War III had broken out with PD-nim. I wanted this album to be long-lasting in attracting listeners, in sampling different things. That’s why I had set out with no end-product in mind, nothing (music-, chart-related) during the creation process. Obviously, the agency has other considerations, perhaps along the lines of how to chart around the Top 10 (laughs). I even said: ‘I will bear responsibility. If it really turns out to be a mess, I shall work hard to earn it all back.’ Indeed, the agency felt it will be hard to release a second album if the first one did not fare well. PD even suggested dropping 2 songs & replacing them with something more mass appeal. But I did not want that. He wrote [me] a 11-page letter for the first time in his life, but I still managed to convince him in the end."
As for a sexy concept, Yeeun felt that “debuting with on a sexy concept is too much a burden. I am not a sexy type, nor am I pretty or nubile. I can’t use sexiness as a trump card. In essence, a sexy-concept stage will distract everyone from listening to my music. That is not what I want.”
The vastly-experienced Yeeun has her own view of life. “I went to Africa earlier this year. While there, I finally understood a little of what ‘One doesn’t know one can die anytime’ meant. Lions, cheetahs, crocodiles, these animals appeared casually around you. Yet the aboriginal children were running about barefoot. Seeing this, I thought: ‘Just playing like that, in such a dangerous place?’ I was shocked. But one local told me that it’s the animals who fear humans, & not humans who fear animals. Hearing these words, I suddenly realized I have always underestimated what being alive meant. I am part of the mighty human race, yet have so underestimated myself, cringing whenever the world pointed its finger. It’s the wrong way to live. I feel I am able to overcome any difficulty. If I have 3 months to live, is commercial success more important, or making an album that is true to myself? I made up my mind on the spot. If perchance I’m to die tomorrow, then what else is there to be afraid of (laughs).”
"When WG first debuted, we were high school students, who suddenly reached the apex, & everyone recognized us. But in actuality, it was a very confusing time. It is only now that I can claim to have a little better understanding of myself, to have prepared myself for life & for music. That’s why I say any bad results (for the album) won’t matter to me. I already have the self-confidence. Losing one’s self-identity after debuting is very common. It’s very important to balance between being asked to do something & what one really wants to do. I must forget the stuff that makes me emotionally true."
The newly-debut solo Yeeun is already contemplating the future. “Compared to when we went to America, Kpop today has become more globalized. When we went over 5 years ago, everyone was not familiar with South Korea. These days, PSY oppa has launched a boom there. If I can have another chance to crack America, I think I will like the challenge again. The next album? I can’t quite say where the juncture is right now, but recently I came up with a new vision for it. Looks like I gotta start preparing for (vs. Park Jin Young PD-nim) World War IV (laughs).”
During the 1 hour & 20 minute session, Yeeun was indefatigable in earnestly telling us her story. “A lot of people think we were just dressed up in JYP clothes, with nothing inside.” No longer protected, & no more “Park Jin Young’s kid”, the Yeeun of today walks her own path, with her own attributes as a solo singer.
K-sources: BS funE, OBS, Etoday, Yonhapnews, Newsis, Starnews, Tvdaily, Newsen, Xportsnews