An Interview with Shinee
The SM Entertainment building in the trendy neighborhood of Apgujeong was rather less than impressive, considering this was supposedly the K-pop version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The drab, faded yellow exterior could easily escape one's attention, and it was hard to believe that behind these walls, some of the hottest bubblegum pop acts were being carefully primped and trained for public consumption.
At promptly 3PM, I was shuffled in to a large practice room, complete with widescreen TV, a few stylists, and five boys who were dressed to the nines and, if I'm not mistaken, wearing base and eyeliner. Something made me feel like this was not to be a live interview, but rather a well-rehearsed promotional commercial.
My list of questions had already been censored by their manager. His reason for cutting out my query into how the band dealt with anti-fans (which he told me with a completely straight face), was that Shinee didn't have any anti-fans…so I knew going in that I wouldn’t be allowed to pull off something like Martin Bashir’s exposé of Michael Jackson’s personal life. Still, the band's ability to reel off rat-a-tat answers, doused with just the right mix of humility and "Awe, shucks, I'm just glad to be here" charm, made my jaw hit the floor.
Shinee masterfully deployed all the responses necessary for a successful interview in which you learn absolutely nothing about the interviewees: It took hard work to get here – check.
We all get along – check.
My favorite singer, who has also served as an inspiration, is [fill-in-the-blank with appropriate SM star] – check. (One member managed to roll off three groups from SM's roster in his answer.)
An obligatory nod to a recently deceased American pop icon as an incredible artist – check.
These kids were clearly pros.
The most penetrating moment of the interview came when I asked them for the good and bad points of being a K-pop star. At first, they couldn't think of any bad points. Later, one member said he missed his parents and liked to call them. Another member then stated that the worst thing was not being able to call his parents enough. A murmur of agreement rippled through the group. I looked down to see that my hand was writing, "boys next door love their parents," happily independent of my brain.
I was given thirty minutes to do the interview. Thanks to Shinee's efficiency, we finished in twelve.
I had earlier suggested to management that we should try shooting video of the interview (hence the makeup). Shinee's manager agreed, but when I later asked for a few candid shots of the members, he turned me down. At that point, I realized that in this stage play called "An Interview with Shinee," I, too, was playing a role and it sure as hell wasn't journalist. I had become a part of SM Entertainment, if only for a half hour, and my character's name was Staff. I was there to promote Shinee, plain and simple, and while I may have first dismissed the members as little boys, that day they showed me who was really boss.
A Breather With...Choice37
- So how's Korea? Are you missing home/LA, or you having too much fun overseas?
Korea is amazing. Living in Southern Cali is great but i rather live there when i retire. A Metropolis is more of a fit for me and i get alot more work done now. Not home sick yet, but i crave proper burrito every once in a while."
- Other than the obvious differences, what are some similarities that the music scene over there share with the scene here?
Boy bands make alot of money.
The money is made by the major labels.
The underground hates on the major labels.
and the cycle continues.
- Is there anything that pleasantly suprised you, while in Korea?
you don't tip in korea & you can get any type of food delivered to your spot. (example: Mcdonalds straight to your door step)
- So, i know you got that M-Audio Torq Xponent "Advanced DJ Performance/Production System" (haha)...how advanced is it? you using that thing a lot? or just playing with it in the comforts of your place?...what other types of djs/artists would you recommend this piece of equipment to?
i don't use it that much. it's good because it's light weight and you can travel with it. it's bad because the jog wheel isn't properly responsive. it's good for house & trance rather than hip hop. i heard that vestax came out with a portable midi dj system. i might need to check that out but i haven't been spinning much lately because of work.
- Talking about equipment, what's the one piece of hardware/software, that's the hype in Korea?
At the studio i work at, they have the miko (timbaland edition). Alot of folks got that. it's got some fresh sounds but i'd rather have an original mini moog for that money.
- I've been to your studio numerous times, (very nice by the way), what's a piece of equipment you just wasted your money on?...what's the cheapest piece of hardware/software you find yourself using all the time? and what's a piece of equipment you've always wanted, but never got a chance on getting?
the presonus faderport is a currently behind my monitor. i use it as a paper weight aswell. so it's pretty useless. the isotope vinyl is cool and that's a plug in you get free online. I always wanted to get a mini moog but never found one for a reasonable price or in good condition. someday though.
- So what's up with your U.S. album? any chance we're gonna see it drop in the next couple of months?
At the moment it's on hold. I started work at a major label in korea and it's been a blessing and a curse. Hopefully i'll have time to wrap it up by feb 2009 and release it soon after.
- We all know you got some dope hip hop/jazzy/funky beats, but are you working on something new, like outside the mold?
I started work with a mainstream label in korea. that's all i got to say.
- stop being so secretive about your music...ha. i know that's not a question, but are you the type of artist, that likes keep all his ish on the downlow?
Not really. I enjoy building with other artists/producers. It's always a blessing chop it up and get inspired.
- i guess more on the personal side, you hooking up with any fly honeys over in korea?...(ha. you don't have to give a serious answer)
ha. korean women are beautiful and there's alot of them here. i can't front on 'em. and yes.
- lastly, other thank your U.S. album, what's coming up? beattape? mixtape? you on the cover of Korea's "Source" magazine with tattoos and gold chains?
more music and hopefully on a bigger stage. stay tuned ya'll. God bless!
source + source
shinee is a korean boy band on sm entertainment. i guess they forgot that the western media will call them out on their shit unlike korea.
choice37 is a korean-american producer/composer/whatever currently working for yg entertainment who is responsible for the songs "boy" and "butterfly" off g-dragon's album and hopefully more songs in the future. he also has an ep already out called "diligence" full of downtempo urban jams that everyone needs to check out right now. he's so sweet!
this is my last non-gd kpop post i promise :)