Monday, September 17, 2018

Official Interview with BIG BROTHER

English translation: Marchneko-chan @yachan19870804

Universal Music Japan’s TEAM H special site posted an interview with BIG BROTHER where he discusses the creative process of the album and the feelings and emotions he and JKS wanted to convey with its songs.

On September 5th TEAM H released their 5th album “Mature” for the first time in about 2 years. The finished work is exactly “mature” and perfect for TEAM H’s first album to be presented to the world after Jang Keun Suk and BIG BROTHER turned 30. In their more deepened lyrics and expressive singing we can feel a charm that is only possible in adult men, but to them “maturity” never means “stability” or “ultimate goal.” They are still “evolving” and seem to keep pursuing the light far ahead.

I interviewed BIG BROTHER the executive producer of this album by email and asked him to tell us about the production process of the album as well as his thoughts he put into it. Not only he talked about his musical intention and gave a message to Team H fans but also he answered my questions with numerous words where we can feel his trust in Keun Suk and their mature relationship: these two have been walking together since their school days and will soon mark the 10th anniversary of the team’s formation. (interview and text: Tae Omae)

Q: When and how did you start making TEAM H’s 5th original album “Mature”?

BIG BROTHER: We kept thinking we really had to make our new album. Every time I saw Keun Suk, we said “What should we do with our next album?” by way of greeting. Right after deciding to make it at the beginning of 2018, we started to develop its concept. Because this year is a very meaningful year to us, we discussed more than ever before to determine the direction of our new work. Though Keun Suk and I usually work in different fields and have different personalities from each other, we have many common worries and came to the same conclusions in some parts. So, we could decide on the final direction of the album and I started to make tracks.

Q: After listening to your album “Mature” all the way through, I had an impression that it is totally different from “Monologue” your last album. Aggressive sounds are characteristic of your last work, whereas I can feel sensitive, delicate sounds and beautiful melodies in your new album, which makes me think it’s adult-like, in other words, it’s exactly a “Mature” work. Will you tell me about why and how you chose “Mature” as the overall concept for the album?

BIG BROTHER: Actually, it’s TEAM H’s first album that Keun Suk and I released after we turned 30. But it’s not like we first decided “Mature” was the concept for the album and then started making the album with concrete intentions to embody the concept. It’s rather kind of like we made songs simply according to the emotions we want to express and then the collection of those songs turned out to be “Mature.” Hoping to express emotions of men around our age as honestly as possible, I relaxed and created music on the subject of feelings we want to convey.

Q: I felt not only the sounds but also the lyrics depicted profound, delicate and complicated feelings. Compared with your last album, are there any points you tried to change intentionally? Please tell me about the points you considered important when you wrote the lyrics.

BIG BROTHER: I tried not to use flowery language as much as possible. I just wanted to write the lyrics with words ordinarily people use in a common situation. I thought those words could convey feelings more honestly.

Q: I can feel the maturity in the album. On the other hand, I can also sense a strong spirit of inquiry such as “We still want to open up new worlds,” and “We want to turn an anxiety into a thriller and keep evolving.” To TEAM H, “Mature” is not an ultimate goal but a form in the intermediate phase of evolution?

BIG BROTHER: Yes. I can say the songs in this album are not expressions of “completed emotions.” In other words we don’t mean to pursue final forms such as 
complete maturity or perfection. Can I say “Mature” is a word which expresses the emotions we are feeling now and represents instability intensively? It is, so to speak, “a process of being mature”.... If we can manage to overcome these difficult moments and change for the better, “Mature” can be described as “evolving,” I would say.

Q: I feel in every song that both of you have become more expressive in your singing. Not only singing techniques but also your maturity as a person may be reflected in it. What do you think about this? Was there anything in particular that you were keeping in mind for recording vocals?

BIG BROTHER: When we were recording vocals, I kept saying “Just relax!” If I can call TEAM H’s vocals in the last album “energetic,” the key word for this new album is “expressing emotions.” So, we tried not to project our voice or sing artificially and gave priority to expressing emotions as candidly as possible.

Q: I would say “Falling Down” sounds like a song about the relationship of trust between you and Jang Keun Suk. You two have been performing together for about 10 years since you formed TEAM H. BIG BROTHER, what is Jang Keun Suk to you? And how has your relationship with him changed over a long period of time?

BIG BROTHER: As Keun Suk and I started working when we were very young, we didn’t have many friends around the same age. In the first half of our twenties, while sharing our school life together at university, we hung out together wherever and whenever. Now that we have had a long time together, we trust each other and in some ways we rely on each other. While making this album, we, just the two of us, went drinking together for the first time and talked about various things in our everyday lives. At that time I felt Keun Suk was like family to me.

Q: I heard that Jang Keun Suk supervised the production of this album as a visual director, from designing the album images, directing the music videos to creating a costume concept. What kind of opinions did you two exchange about these?

BIG BROTHER: Basically Keun Suk talked to me about everything. Having said that, as we had already shared the worldview of the album, some of the ideas Keun Suk, the visual director, gave me were exactly what I wanted. Therefore, I could trust him and leave it to him. The same thing can be said about me. Every time I finished writing a song, I always talked to him. I’m sure he felt the same as me. While working on this album, I could see Keun Suk’s various aspects. He is more than just an actor. He is a guy of great talent.

Q: The music video for “Summer Time - Japanese Version -” is unique. In the video you two keep walking separately on a bridge over the Han River, underground and other places. I heard the scene where you two pass each other and appear together on the same screen only once shows the two who have complete opposite personalities express their “pains” and “sorrows” in different manners but they still “live together.” If there was something which impressed you when you filmed the video, please talk about it.

BIG BROTHER: The concert for the music video was road movie, so we tried to film as plainly as we could. We didn’t have to act. We just kept walking around various places. We had a hard time visiting so many places just for two days. In the past Keun and I danced together, rode a motorbike together, and I DJ’d for our music videos but this time I had many scenes in which I was filmed alone... I felt lonely. Sometimes I learned “This place had this specific meaning...” only after we finished filming the scene and I read the director’s intention Keun Suk wrote. What he wrote spoke to me that he had worried a great deal about producing “Mature.”

Q: What kind of message do you want to convey to your fans through this album?

BIG BROTHER: I hope they will take this album as something like our daily rather than the album which delivers some kind of message. We put the emotions we are feeling now, at this time of our lives, into music as frankly as possible. I would be very happy if you think something like “Oh, I see... Those two had these kinds of feelings and thoughts.”

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