Q. It feels like Xiah Junsu’s aura is out of TVXQ’s orbit.
Q. You look free. It felt like you weren’t decorating yourself.(T/N: the interviewer means he doesn’t decorate himself when he’s singing) Is that Xiah Junsu’s sensitivity?
-When I’m singing live, I ad-lib a lot. Like this ‘nononohowoohoh.’
But because we’re a team, we all be careful not to break that frame. It’s the difficult part, yet the most important part.
Q. When you sing, do you sing your own song?
-I sing, thinking the audience.
Q. Which side do you give more weight to, singing your own song, or singing what the audience wants? That is a sort of a conflict.
-Right. But I don’t calculate when I sing. I don’t think of the theories. It changes regarding my mood or my condition on that day. I let it flow naturally. When I was performing ‘Jumun(Mirotic)’ live for the first time, I even thought when should I breathe.
Now, I just breathe when I have to breathe. It’s best to sing almost perfectly same as the recorded version, but that would ruin the charm of singing live.
Q. Is your sense of identity as a singer your voice?
-If I have to choose, 50 singing, 50 dancing. I can’t say I like singing better. I’ve been dancing ever since I was a trainee. Somehow my image ended up..
Q. You became the ‘Born to Sing’
-That’s just what fans call me. Please forget about that. I have the same amount of passion for dancing.
Q. If you had to completely give one of your talents to a devil, what would you give up? Your voice? singing ability? sensibility? technique?
-Technique. I don’t really need it. There are priorities of singing.
Q. Which one is the first priority?
-Sensitivity. Whether someone sings well or not, that could be a difference between styles.
The most important part is how sincerely you sing with the voice you’re born with. I still have a long way to go, but that’s the attitude I have.
Q. Who stimulates Xiah Junsu?
-I get angry when I listen to Brian McKnight’s songs. He just sings so well.
Q. There was a fan who compared Stevie Wonder, Kim Bumsu with Xiah Junsu. “Who sings better?”
The fan said, “I liked Xiah Junsu the best. He was the only one who made me shed tears.”
-Haha. I’m embarrassed. It must have been a compliment about whose singing touched her the most, not who sang better. First of all, I’m embarrassed at even speaking those names myself. I’m overwhelmingly honored just to be compared with Stevie Wonder and Kim Bumsu-ssi.
Q. I heard you accomplished everything you wished for in 2008.
-Everything I wished for was fulfilled. I achieved beyond my goal. To be honest, We’ve been compared a lot as we released the latest album.
Q. With other groups?
-I heard people saying “TVXQ is past their peak.” That’s what the comments said too.
The gap of an year and seven months was longer than i thought. It felt like it was longer. When we were making a comeback in the past, it was just a ‘comback.’
This time, I thought ‘can we do well?’ Many things changed, including the fandom, music, culture. On top of that, I frequently heard people saying “Will TVXQ do well in Korea too?” Because we topped in Japan.
Q. There were a lot of people who thought it would fail. (T/N: TVXQ’s comeback in Korea)
-Yes But I don’t focus on whether we success or not.
I wasn’t confident about that part. It’s not like we would succeed in appealing to the public by simply doing well. We should get the time and trend right. It depends on the public whether the song gets popular or not. For the 6 years since my debut, I didn’t have time nor need to think about it. I judged that the public lost their senses of who we were while TVXQ was gone for an year and seven months. So we pledged to just show “We are still TVXQ.” That was one thing we were confident and sure about.
Q. It’s a comfortable thought.
-We had to think like that. The pressure was no joke. I can say this since it’s all passed. It was much worse last year. (T/N: talking about the pressure and anxiety)
Q. I went to your fansite yesterday. It was kind of a paradise. They were enjoying happiness within Xiah Junsu. And truly. How does it feel to be a person that can make other people happy?
-Good songs, good performances. That’s the only way I can repay.
It’s hard to think like ‘If I do this, this will happen.’ Because I’m a singer, songs and performances are all I got.
Q. At the beginning, did you start trusting your voice?
-My starting point was Kangta hyung. Even now, I’m not nervous when I see stars.
I was like that since I was young. I don’t get nervous at all even when I see really popular actresses.
Q. Even Kim Taehee? Jun Jihyun? Or Monica Bellucci?
-I know pretty people are pretty. It’s just that each person has merits. (T/N: the literal translation for this is “it’s just like, I like this person because of this part” but it’s confusing so I translated liberally)
Q. Did you stuck Kangta’s picture on your pencil case?
-My pencil case? Ahh, I wasn’t that much of a fan. I stuck it on my desk.
Q. It’s the same.
-Even now I get nervous when I see Kangta hyung. I’m still surprised when I realize myself talking with him casually. It’s true that I’ve become a singer because of Kangta hyung.
Q. I know what you ate for lunch yesterday. Pizza.
-Yes. How did you know?
Q. A ‘Saseng’ fan told me. You had a vacation from January 1st to 10th. Is that a vacation without a interference of the company?
-The company doesn’t interfere. The ‘Seseng’ fans do. I really don’t like it. I think they are too selfish. They say they have a right to do that because they are fans, but intruding our private time. All of it…(taken away) I don’t want to lose that vacation.
Q. Is it exactly 10 days in a year?
-Yes, the full vacation is for 10 days. But they wait infront of my home, follow me around, it’s hard to give them a slip and this bothers me when I go anywhere. I know it’s a part I should put up with as a entertainer. I might be asking for too much. But I want to meet fans only at the stage.
Q. Do you think you can become accustomed to that kind of fandom when you continue your life as an idol?
-I can become accustomed. Becoming accustomed, means becoming immune. But I would feel sorry for myself being used to it. So I try not to be used to it. That’s a lot of tension. If we become accustomed, we would be the ones miserable.
Q. You seem to have a peaceful, strong ego. Is that why you like the ocean?
-I like palm trees. It makes me comfortable. A palm tree gives me the feeling ‘I’m in a foreign country.’ For a vacation, I choose resorts over cities. I like the ocean and the warmth. I like having the thought ‘I’m taking a rest.’ Palm trees, sunlight. I have such a big fantasy about it.
Q. Idols are often looked down on for the fact they are idols.
I always listen to music but I didn’t get an answer when I thought ‘Where would I be the happiest to listen TVXQ’s music?’
-I understand. Our songs were focused on performances most of the time. It might have been hard while walking.(T/N: listening to TVXQ’s music and feel happy while walking)
Q. Do you have a sense of identity as an idol?
-Yes, I do. But the judgement depends on the public. And we’ve come too far to change that. Being an idol isn’t bad. The attitude Korea has towards idols is bad.
Q. Why do you think Korea thinks so poorly of idols?
-I don’t know. Justin Timberlake and Beyonce are also idols, but people don’t think they are bad singers. But they think Korean idols can’t sing well. Because the way public regards idols is so poor, a lot of bands try to look like ‘artists’ instead of aiming for idols.
Q. What about TVXQ?
-If I could hope for more, I want to change the image of idols, not the fact TVXQ is an idol.
I want to shatter the prejudice that idols lack talent. TVXQ is an idol.
Q. Is that one of your goals?
-No. Either being called as an idol or not, that’s up to the public.
Q. Will TVXQ be able to do it? How do you think about it?
-There isn’t a standard like ‘if you succeed this, you’re talented.’ I just don’t settle for present.
Q. That’s a path of an aritst.
-It’s hard to satisfy all areas 100% as an idol. We have antis because we are popular, and we started out as idols.
(At this moment, the chicken Xiah Junsu ordered for arrived)
Q. The chicken is here.
-Chicken, my favorite. I like all kinds of food made with chicken. I usually like seasoned chicken better. This one is delicious even though it’s fried chicken. It’s crunchy.
Q. You don’t seem to mind how you look like on TV.
Q. Isn’t it tough?
-I can’t say it’s not tough. But there things I gain and lose.
That’s not only for entertainers, but same for any fields. It gets tough when I try to gain something by force that I’m not able to gain.
It’s a greed. If you’re too strong, you break easily. (T/N: it’s a Korean proverb. Means when too solid, it will easily break. Sometimes being flexible can be stronger.)
Because there are things I have, I give up on others. I’m so happy and grateful being loved as a singer, as Xiah Junsu from TVXQ.
However I don’t think I would choose to be an entertainer if I were born again. I’ve been thinking this since 2 years ago. Because I tried it once, there’s a part of me that wants to live a normal life, and I’m not sure I can do it again. (T/N: the literal translation is ‘I’m not confident about it’) For singing, I want to sing comfortably while I live a normal life.
Q. What does the interveiw with GQ mean to you?
-To be honest, I don’t read magazines. I’m not interested in fashion. Yoochun hyung(T/N: seems like the interviewer made a mistake here!) is the one that likes fashion.
Q. Do you think GQ is a fashion magazine?
-I know <GQ> is popular. I mean it.
Q. Don’t you want to ride nice cars? Like Porsche?
-I’m not interested in cars either. I have the curiosity men naturally have when they drive, but I don’t like luxury items either. When I’m buying clothes, I’m annoyed at even trying clothes on. As an entertainer, I’m really ‘not the type.’
Q. You are really a person that has no reasons to read a magazine. When something lures Xiah Junsu, what kind of things would shake you up?
-I think I would be shaken if a owner of a pro soccer team asks me ‘why don’t you try playin soccer?’ I will definitely be shaken if I recieve a recruitment offer from Manchester United. If I were born again, I will be a soccer player. I have four pairs of soccer shoes and six soccer uniforms in my trunk. I carry it around so I can play soccer whenever I can. Soccer is almost the only thing I can change for music.
Q. If everyone let you go, where are you going to go?
Q. Why are you so obsessed with BoraBora Island? You said that not once or twice.
-I made myself a promise to go there once again before I die. *sigh* I can’t even express the peacefulness.
It’s a old interview from 2008, but as it is considered to be one of his best interviews, I translated it again. There will be parts different from other translations, since I found some minor mistakes in former translations. (Not saying mine is perfect.) I tried to not to damage the original text. Please, enjoy:)
Credits: GQ magazine
Translated by With Junsu