JongHyun, Taemin and Key – Interview in GQ (Translated)

JongHyun Interview:

What type of person do you see yourself as?
Me? I don’t lie. Really. I’m objective. And I’m blood type AB.. (opens eyes wide) Why do you ask?

I was just asking. Do you watch your own performances objectively as well?
Um. I try not to watch them calculatedly. First off because the stage is created through practice, something about it is systematic in a general sense, so I think that I have to show myself enjoying it. If I think that it is so difficult right now, then I do it with difficulty. If I think that I really can’t do this, it all shows on my expression. I mainly monitor those things.

If there is something lacking about SHINee’s stages, I think that perhaps your lackingness is lacking. Maybe with the song and choreography, everything is too tightly fitted and dense.
I think I know what you’re saying. Naturalness is the most difficult point. I can’t help but feel burden each time I stand on stage.

On the flip side, you must have developed a sense of freedom and ease now as well? Does the song you hum day to day change with the weather?
The thing I think of most importantly, and so what I concentrate on polishing the most, is emotion. If the weather is like what it is today where it feels like the curtain is drawn, then I’m most true to that. But I forget quickly. It felt like this yesterday too but even if the situation is the same tomorrow it approaches with a fresh feel so there comes to be tens of thousands of expressions. Today I keep humming Wheesung hyung’s songs.

In order to do something precisely your schedule must be too crowded. It seems like you may sometimes feel that you’re trapped.
I am trapped. However it’s not like that every day. Today’s weather is the type I particularly like so I think I am feeling more this way. A bit melancholy. I resolve that ‘Today I should raise my spirits like this’ and seek liberation. I think a lot about my trainee days. Rather than missing it..

Time passes by fairly but ultimately it’s different for everyone. How have you changed since your trainee days?
I’ve walked the road I’ve wanted to ever since I was young. I did everything the way I wanted to. I joined a band, transferred to a music school from my high school, dropped out and received my GED, then debuted, I’ve lived the way I wanted to. I’ve walked the road the way I imagined it. I think I will continue to that in the future.

It seems like you have a life that just continues to flow. Do you like it?
I think that I’ve walked through it decently, but I don’t necessarily like it. I don’t like it.

Where does the difference start?
You know, it’s like this. If I only look at myself I can’t really tell but when I look at the person next to me I feel regretful. In a notable example, I didn’t feel disappointed at all not being able to take my high school graduation exams. But when Minho took his I suddenly felt sad. Like a fingernail’s worth? It could just be a minor feeling of complaint. Since I’m still young.

You’re still young?
Yes. That is really my shield. Saying that I’m still young, I do a lot of things I shouldn’t.

At a young age you have accomplished a lot. With “Lucifer,” what more do you want to accomplish?
I want to hear that these kids are really good. And I did hear that. We did hear that during “Juliette” as well, but “Lucifer” is much more difficult than “Juliette.” The performance in itself. I think that if it wasn’t us, it wouldn’t be doable. This is confidence. When we first received the song I thought, how will we do this? But as we practiced I saw that we were doing it. I think that as we do this, it’s how we grow.

As the team’s main vocal?
Um, I concentrated a lot on pronunciation. Not on whether the pronunciation is good or bad but on the issue of whether the pronunciation suites the song. Because I think that if I sing a song with a bit of a ‘rolling’ pronunciation and people go “What is this kid doing?” then I’ve sang it wrong. I sang “Replay” with that feeling and I heard that I did well and so I think I gained confidence. With “Love Like Oxygen” I felt a slight sense of burden. So I did go a little overboard but personally I liked that feel. If you listen to it a certain way isn’t it very funny? I sang the Korean lyrics with stresses and emphasis like in English. I wanted to give off the feel of Michael Jackson in that song. In “Ring Ding Dong” we went down to bass, a thick sound, I gave off a rough sound a lot. When we came to “Lucifer” I thought to throw that away, I wanted to lose that a bit and go with something more refreshing so I put in effort to do that but I don’t think that came across well.

In comparison to that sort of careful effort, isn’t SHINee’s boundary a bit confined?
Um, in regards to SHINee’s fandom I definitely have a greed for more. Though I don’t feel dissatisfaction or have a prejudice towards being an idol. My greed is the people who liked the music from before the year 2000. I mean that I want to receive recognition from the people who say that music nowadays isn’t even music.

What do you think about SHINee’s lyrics? There are times when I figure, oh, that’s just how it must be, but then I wonder, what does that mean?
That’s very difficult. I think that when mass appeal and artistry meet the very best music comes forth, but there’s a bit of a contradiction. It’s akin to liking hook songs but criticizing them at the same time. SHINee does commercial music. It is commercial music. It means that we have to do music that people listen to. As we do that we offer attractions and earn revenue. We have to make people hum along to our music. There is so much music, and the issue comes down to who will imprint it first. And with that momentum, to make people listen to it one more time, to make them look for it one more time.

That must mean that what’s important is if you can persuade people with it, whether it be a hook song or not. Whether it’s “butterfly butterfly” or “ring di gi di gi ding ding dong.” It’s the fate of singers to convince the listeners to accept it, thinking that it’s worth it. Even if you take the stage alone.
Yes. Even if I’m alone on stage I’m going to sing. If I’m in a really good mood I could sing “Let’s Ride a Horse” without accompanying music. If I feel like I could die from sadness then I could sing Wheesung’s “Hell.”

Don’t you have any impatience in regards to going solo?
I don’t have the greed to fill a song with my vocal. Because, I don’t know. For me particularly, when I listen to or make the music of the team called SHINee, I think that ultimately SHINee is me and I am SHINee.

Looking at it as an objective person, what kind of team is SHINee?
A fun team. I think we are a dynamic team. Rather than a feel of, they do well, they’re impressive, it’s like a “there isn’t a kid like this anywhere else” sort of feel? A team where five kids like that are gathered together? There are so many people who sing better than I do.

What do you want to steal and from whom?
Wheesung hyung’s sensitivity and emotion. It sometimes seems like he and I are similar in that respect, but he’s so much deeper. Also Naul shi’s vocalization, and Jungyeop hyung’s interpretation, if that could all be combined together…

You may become a monster.. Um, the meaning of being twenty years old to a man?
An age when you should do everything you want.

Do you do that?
I can’t. I can’t because I’m busy.

But, what does it mean to be busy. It’s not like you don’t have time to eat? Isn’t every person in the world busy nowadays?
Because it’s like that, that’s why people go crazy. For three months I exercised really diligently. I did so without skipping a single day. But after beginning promotions I couldn’t exercise even once for about a month and a half. About that much? Not just exercise, but composition, piano, harmonics study, I keep going, if only I had time for it all, and as I think that regret piles up. Because with my personality I’m the type to pester myself, so I’m living thinking that it’s destiny.

Right now at this point, what is the type of good music that SHINee could do?
Well. They’re quite at odds with each other. What I want to do and what SHINee has to do. I think it would be good if we did ballads.

Are you preparing?
For now I have to rest. It’s my own personal thought, but when you debut as a singer your skills don’t grow. Since you’re so busy your condition continues to go downwards, and because in that state you can’t practice as you hope for your throat to return you have to take a break, but your schedule doesn’t stop. And then when a period of empty space does come around, you set yourself to work hard to raise yourself back up a little bit again, it’s like that. I think right now is a period where I should rest.

You said your dream is to be a composer?
Yes, even now I’m writing songs. Alone at home. Recently I learned harmonics and a music program, it’s really like a new world. I thought of going to music school as the first turning point in my life. Lately as I compose songs I feel that it’s the second turning point. It’s much stronger than when I entered SM.

If I come to pay more attention to you while watching SHINee, why do you think that would that be?
Because I’m short? Or because there’s one guy who stands out like he can’t be seen.

Is that what you view your role to be?
Rather than that, I think that if you see me it’s due to the performance. I try to explode on stage. When energy that was bundled together overflows it explodes. I want to become like that. I hope that is the moment when people will remember me.

If you become that sort of person, people would have no choice but to watch. But I think that perhaps throughout the entire interview you’ve only said proper things.
I know. It’s the third year since SHINee’s debut but until now we haven’t had any rumors. Something has to explode for it to be fun.

Key’s Partial Interview:

Because you’re at this teenage age, I’m sure that there has been some instances where SHINee has fought and been jealous.

Over time because of jealousy, you do come to hate that person. There are situations that I don’t like. A tame example would be if someone has prettier clothes? But I can’t hate the member because of that. It’s only, a “Oh, I want to wear pretty clothes too” kind of level.

Isn’t it like a brotherly feeling now?

They are not family and they are not my closest friends. There’s no way I could explain them. “Member” is the best word for them.

That’s why I am getting this cool and distanced feeling.

If we become too close like family, I feel like there will be a problem. You will begin to think about your relationship instead of the person. We only meet for work so the we have only a work relationship is the best description. I’m not being cool and distant.

Taemin’s Partial Interview:

Do you have a member you’re close to?

Because it’s been over five years since I’ve known the other five members, I’ve seen everything and know their personalities. Because we all know each other so well, there is no such thing as being close or not close. This isn’t just me and the other members probably feel the same way. Everyone has one or two points that match. Key hyung and I like similar animations. I watch soccer with Minho hung. I have all sorts of talks with Onew hung. It’s because Onew hyung is the leader and I am the maknae.

Fans typically call you the cute “maknae.” You’re now 18, what do you think about being called cute?

When I heard that I was cute, it was very ackward. Truthfully, when I heard that my hyungs were called cool, I wanted to hear that I was cool too. Right now, being called cute is not a good thing. Honestly, I don’t like being called that. It feels like I still have two years left. Hyungs could now be dangerous. Haha. Recently, I went to register for my citizen’s id and it felt nostalgic. When I was a trainee, I watched Jonghyun hyung get his and thought it was interesting. I suppose I’m a little less cute now…

The artists you admire are all solo artists, did you ever want to debut solo?

I absolutely wanted to debut as a solo artist. But, when I was a trainee and practiced with everyone, I felt a lot of anxiety. THat’s when I thought that working with others could be good too. Even now, the members match so well, group activities are so much fun. Of course, if I get the chance, I have the ambition to release a solo album.

I’m sure there is one really stubborn member in the group…

Um…Occasionally when we eat, we all have different opinions. When that happens, Key goes, “Let’s eat there, there, there, there” and everyone thinks, “Oh, Key’s stubbornness can’t be helped. We have to understand.” Of course we it’s all in good fun. Key has a very strong personality.

Source: MTV K (
credit: smtownjjang