[ARTICLE] Jaejoong Junhyung Zico "Idol? Artist? There’s no need to label"
Jaejoong (JJ): I’ve worn something that looks young today since I might look old next to these friends…
Junhyung (JH) and Zico: Our faces don’t exactly look that young anyway.. /laughs
With the three just sitting together, it looked like they were one group.
JJ: With 1 vocal and 2 rappers, we could make a group right here. Jaejoong Yong Junhyung, Jiho .. The initials already make JYJ hahaha
The similarity between the trio is that they are ‘Idol composers’. Not at the standard of touching up the melody and raising their names onto the credits page, but composition, lyrics, they are able to produce their own albums, give other singers their songs. These are the trio that have been acknowledged by the music industry as ‘Composer-Idols’.
According to the Korea Music Copyright Association Jaejoong has 37, Junhyung has 60 and Zico has 46 songs in which they have participated in lyrics and composition.
Zico: Just being here right now is amazing in itself. When I was in 6th grade, I remember performing DBSK’s “The way U R” and in middle school, ‘Rising sun’ for talent shows. When I went to study in China, DBSK would always do great releasing SUPER MEGA HIT SONGS.
JH: Recently, feeling depressed, I was drinking by myself at 3AM and I called JJ hyung. He said he was also drinking alone and came to me. Hyung is someone who will understand me even when I don’t say anything so I feel like we have similar emotions.
JJ: There are a lot of times when JH looks sad.. so when I meet him and he smiles, then it’s good to see.
Zico: I feel like hyungs are people who enjoy the feeling of being sad.
◇ The reason why you started composing…
JJ: Since we were always singing, I wanted to make a song which held our message and sing it. At first it was hald curiosity half fun. The first thing that got me interested was the arrangements. Since an arrangement of a song can totally change the feel of the song.
JH: The composer hyungs would be composing on their computers next to me and felt like they were enjoying some kind of game instead. I said I wanted to do it 2 so hyungs said that I should write lyrics first. After the lyrics I wanted to make the melody then end up making the track.
Zico: As a rapper, I wanted to become a high technician. I didn’t even dream of being a composer. But the company didn’t have a deserving producer, so I decided to do it myself. At that time, I didn’t even have the MIDI programme and I was using tracks made by others. I attended a hagwon* (*academy/cram school/ educational institute) with my own money and with the help of LOGIC and CUBASE, I learnt how to use the arranging programmes. I found out I knew the direction of music beforehand when giving the composers a track to work on. But I became greedy and starting with BLOCK B’s first album Nillili Mambo, I started to make the title tracks too.
◇ The first copyright fees being a couple hundred dollars.. It would probably be fun to compose together
The trio evaluated the other musical strengths together.
JH: Zico is a friend who can rap properly and his ideas for hooks of songs are so excellent that it’s enough to make one jealous.
Zico: My music is stimulating but there are a lot of gaps, whereas JJ hyung’s songs & melodies are simple & yet the final sound is distinct. It’s stable and is taken to singing. Also, when it comes to composing, the words are very important. JH hyung’s lyrics are all drawn inside his head and their delicacy is quite amazing.
It’s not just me but other younger brothers who do ambient music also like their music and rap style. It’s because of their difference in skills and sensibility.
The idea of the possibility of collaborating in the future comes into the talk.
JJ: I would totally welcome it and would be honoured.
JH: One person could make the track and then the three of us could gather to do the melody and rap making or we could all just make the track. I think it would be a lot of fun.
When told that they were ‘idols who were well off turned into producers, they just look at each other & showed an expression hard to read.
Zico: Before I debuted with BLOCK B, I was active within the indie music scene at 18 years old. The first copyright fee I received was $150. Compared to that it has increased now so I’m thankful to that.
The talk leans towards the plagiarism controversies which occurred a lot last year.
JH: Since the melody floating in my head can go in, the unconscious mind is extremely scary. The people around monitor and censor the songs. But there might be a melody similar to mine which has already been published on the other side of the world. So is it even possible to make a perfectly complete new song?
JJ: Rather than paying attention to plagiarism, I pay attention to the way the impression of my inspiration is revealed. However if the song has similar melodies, rhythm and everything else the same, then doubts are to be made.Because it isn’t easy to collapse a triple threat.
◇ The boundaries between an Idol and an Artist… “The prejudice in existence is a pity”
The talk flowed towards the reality of being an idol. An idol is considered mainstream and is often admired but also becomes the subject of criticism. Especially as soon as one is given a title of an ‘idol’, their musical ability is underestimated. This is the reason why companies are now encouraging their artists to participate in composition in order to make an image of a musician.
In that sense, this trio is standing right on the boundary of an idol and an artist.
Zico: Idol, artist.. I feel like these words have been separated from their original meaning & have been made into a word only to be used by us. Since it’s an idol, wearing sunglasses or being a topic of evaluation is a pity. Members with excellent singing and rapping abilities, there are many friends who can make good songs if there were an easy environment. It’s only because their competence is overshadowed.
JH nodded to Zico’s words. JH: No matter what image you see idols / artists in, we are still thankful but we don’t want to be labelled. We can only work hard on producing good music until it is recognised. We cannot inject it forcefully into the general public.
JJ: Companies wanting to foster stars, debut singers as idols. They would say that if they want to be successful as musicians then choose a different route. So there isn’t a big reason to find it a pity.
JH: Rather than a music producer who leads the company, with a concept of a music producer, I feel like I can draw a future.
Zico agreed with JH whereas JJ: I think we’ll know the more we age /laughs
As the interview ended, the three were really hungry with sounds rumbling from their bellies so they headed to a samgyuppsal place near by. When the meat arrived, Zico said “Let’s cook~” to which Jaejoong said “How cute” and took and picture of him with his phone.
(T/N: Usually the youngest is expected to cook the meat when it comes to the table + small things like pouring drinks)
JJ: I really like grilling the meat so I guess I’ll take the tongs off of Zico today! Haha~
Trans by: SimpletonJun@BBINTL