Hi everyone! I translated the interview BoA did recently with Vogue Korea. It was a great interview, and kind of re-enforces what she's been saying on Keyword #BoA. If taken out of here, please credit. I actually shared this on my twitter as well (my username is readybutterfly). Hope you enjoy!
If one were to look up the word, “BoA,” in the dictionary, one would want to see the following interpretations. “Eternity,” “Star,” “A person who dances and sings.” Even if the same amount of time the public has known her passes by once more, the interpretations would not change.
I have watched Keyword #BoA the past few weeks, and you feel much more familiar.
- Even the people around me said they feel more closer to me. So I feel I made the right choice in doing this. I especially think the younger generation feels better acquainted with me. In the elevator, one would suddenly tell me, “Unni, I really like you!” I’m always just drinking alcohol and stuff so I wondered if the program would be well-received, but the reaction has been okay so far so that’s a relief.
You are about to release a mini album.
- The mini album is new to me. I’ve made various musical attempts with this album. There is music with a clear melody and killing part, but also music with a mid-lower tone and hip hop beats. My vocal tone matched well with hip hop more than I thought. Honestly, I’m a vocalist who suits mid-lower tones rather than higher tones, but I haven’t been able to make that part of me stand out thus far. Rap was… difficult (laughs). When I was singing live, I thought I was going to die from being out of breath. Honestly, it’s closer to talking rather than rapping.
It was refreshing when you revealed about your lifestyle on TV that you start your day at 2 PM, leave at 6 PM sharp, watch the news, and go to sleep.
- Firstly, I really don’t like working late into the night. I go by working when others are working, and resting when others are resting. The reason I don’t like being awake so late into the night or sleeping late is because that gives me time to think more about work. I hate becoming depressed from sleeping late. My job is just a singer, and I’m human as well. I don’t like that my life has to falter because of the nature of my job. I think that having a healthy mentality to do work is also a way to become healthy in general. Because I’ve lived in this way for quite some time, I can’t sleep in either. I always wake up at the same time no matter what time I sleep. This is why my dancers have a difficult time of it. They say it’s hard to start dancing in the early hours. That’s why I’ve pushed it back quite a bit to 2 PM. Before, I started my days at noon.
Whether it’s at a broadcast station or movie set, etc., the schedule runs very tightly. Occasionally, these settings are pretty irrational, but have you tried to speak up to change this kind of production style?
- You mean like for me to take the initiative here? I’m of the belief to not be the cause of an inconvenience to others so I always try to be earlier than the appointed time. If I’m there and ready by the set time, there shouldn’t be any reason for delays. It’s really weird that just because someone is a celebrity is a reason for it to just be accepted they are going to be late to a scheduled activity. Previously, I was working for such a long time at Japan then came to Korea to do a photoshoot, and I was there on time, but no one was there. Thirty minutes later, the editor in charge arrived and told me they thought naturally, I would be late, so they came late as well. Ever since then, it’s been spread among the magazine industry that, “BoA is always on time so get there earlier!” (laughs)
Is there something you do everyday as a rule?
- Going to sleep. Honestly, there isn’t anything special. If I have time, I exercise, and if it’s a time when I have to sing a lot, I constantly do vocal exercises. Honestly, aren’t vocal exercises kind of a boring activity? I can’t do this everyday, but I do them when I need to.
There is a rumor that you are the artist who uses the practice rooms the longest.
- Not true. I am of the mind to work and finish quickly. There aren’t enough practice rooms, so the order becomes backed up one by one. I focus on using the practice room in a short, but deep amount of time. I really don’t like playing around in the practice room.
What was the most time-consuming task in this album?
- There really was a lot to do. There were tracks to choose, choreography to review, lyrics to write, and mixing to confirm. The staff members really consult with me about every aspect. Maybe they are worried if they don’t pass things by me. If I look back, I think this started during production for my sixth album, “Hurricane Venus,” in 2010. Then with “Only One,” when I wrote and composed the song, there was even more talk about the music. I went through the most trouble during “Kiss My Lips,” the album in which I participated in producing all of the songs. At the time, I truly lived with earphones on.
It must have been more worthwhile with you having been part of all aspects.
- Of course, I’m very proud. Mixing is like the final process in fashion design rather than composing or not composing. The clothes have to come out beautiful, but the feeling can change drastically depending on how they’re worked on. When you listen to the mixing, the sound that you thought was good does not come out and sometimes the vocal tone does not match. My affection and understanding really grows when I am sharing these types of stories with the sound engineers.
After you participated in composing, writing the lyrics, and producing your 8th album, I thought you were going to be walking the path of a singer-songwriter, but it does not seem you were weighed down by this attempt. I am curious to know of your thoughts on the creating process of songs that aren’t released anywhere else in the world.
- Is one an artist solely by writing music? We are the type of artists who receive music and interpret that music. Writing music is good, but one cannot always write good music. I’m having so much fun working as a performer, I don’t want to not like my job because I’m weighed down by having to write music. After releasing the self-produced “Kiss My Lips,” my inspiration for writing music hit rock bottom. I was pretty much not going outside for a whole year, writing music at the time. Once, I went into my room and didn’t come out for 12 hours so my mom came in to check on me. After trying this out once, I felt I needed something new to excite me. I wanted to work again as a vocalist. These days, I want to start writing music so I go on my computer to start working on bits and pieces.
Once you start the creation process, you have to prepare to lose objectivity - I wonder if you never lose sight of objectivity.
- I’m such a rational person, I envy those who are more sensitive. There is art in those who have good sensitivity. I think I’d be very good at secretarial work. (laughs) I’d be very meticulous.
When do you think your rational personality is most helpful?
- When I have to make decisions. The most difficult thing in the world to do is making a choice. I have a way of making myself accountable for good or bad decisions. If something doesn’t go well, I’m good at acknowledging it and making this into a learning experience. Then I won’t make the same mistake. Of course I also go through periods of trial and error.
In “Keyword #BoA,” during the mini album conference, one of the staff members questioned, “Why BoA, at this moment, all of a sudden?”
- Honestly, can I not be part of the fight among the fandom? I don’t even have that much of a fandom. I have to release good music and think about the next step. I’ve worked for so long, it is part of the staff’s responsibility to have to question whether or not there is curiosity about me at all now and think and plan about how to get closer to the younger listeners. I’ve had a clear look at the situation and was glad when I heard the idiom that staff not working equates to a first button not exactly fitting into its hole. It’s time that merely releasing music online and doing the very common promotion on broadcast stations is not enough and I needed a new strategy. That’s why I honestly released “Nega Dola” with a light heart. Rather than having this release be a do or die situation, I wanted it to say that a person named BoA is still active, still releasing good music and creating good performances. This was important. Good music will always be recognized eventually.
The music industry has changed quite a lot in the last 19 years. The way people have listened to music as well as how musicians released their music has also changed.
- I think I’ve come the way the water has flowed. When my management company asked if it wasn’t time to release a full album, I kept jabbing back that a mini album might be a better idea. If there is good music, I will also release as singles. We’re in the era of listening on our mobile phones anyway, shouldn’t we release music so people can listen to it easily? Speaking of, mobile phones have become so smart, don’t you feel like a dummy sometimes? I can’t remember the last time I memorized phone numbers. That’s why I’ve been trying to read physical books and poems these days. The scent of paper brings its own kind of comfort.
Because of smartphones, sometimes I can’t think of specific words. I feel like this is a worldwide disease.
- I agree. I really don’t like people who say, “You know about that - you know.” (laughs) If you don’t clearly say what it is, it’s frustrating. Even on Kakaotalk (Korean version of Whatsapp), I write a lengthy message so one can see it in one go, but there are people who always write multiple texts. Young folks do this, but for my close younger friends, I tell them, “Read some books.” (laughs) I also really don’t like when people spell things incorrectly. I think I just really love our language. Spacing between words is still a problem for me. I still get some of this mixed up.
What do you think about guys who mess up spelling?
- I must be from an older generation. I am not attracted to men who don’t have basic common sense. (laughs) Recently, I was discussing Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” piece, and I couldn’t remember what type of painting it was. My older brother was able to explain it to me right away, and I thought of how cool he was. (laughs) This is why I thought people like smart men and watch the show, “The Dictionary of Useless Knowledge.”
Don’t you think you’re putting too much stock into knowledge as a quality?
- By any chance, are you married? (Interviewer is) That’s why you can talk like that! I’m envious. Married folks are always saying getting married is crazy, but I want to at least get married once even if it weren’t too last. (laughs)
What about marriage looks good?
- There is someone who can take my side. There are those who say it is another’s side which is why we call them husband. (the two syllables of husband in Korean is Nam-pyeon, and if you separate those you get Nam = different person and Pyeon = side) Most of my friends aren’t interested in marriage, but this is something we talk about amongst ourselves often. If we can’t get married, let’s make a Silver Town and have blind dates. We would get a land of 1,000 pyeong (pyeong is 36 square feet in Korea, so think of this as 36,000 square feet of lang lol) and build a house of 50 pyeong for each of the ten accepted couples. The remaining 500 pyeong can be used for a screen golf field, karaoke, and bar. (laughs)
You’ve constantly wrote songs, but there is a progressive woman at the core. I’ve thought of you as a kind of character. When you’re writing lyrics, what genre of story are you going for?
- I write many love songs. There isn’t anything as realistic as the emotion of love. It’s something that one can sympathize with most and remember lost memories. Songs are the quickest time machine. Aren’t there moments when you hear an older song, and you remember a specific scene and person? If I have to pick songs in which I like the lyrics, I would pick, “Only One” and “Love and Hate.” I’m releasing a song called, “Recollection,” and I had such a fun time writing the lyrics. Any girl would have experienced something like this song. You meet an ex-boyfriend by chance, but he has become completely okay. “Ah, I should’ve done better for you,” is the type of situation I mean. (laughs)
Are you the type to be really interested in others?
- I love listening and getting inspiration. That’s why some may ask if that’s why I love going out for drinks, but honestly, I don’t remember much afterwards. I am of the mind that what happens during a drinking party stays there. If one makes a mistake during a drinking party, it’s just a drinking party, so I don’t like arguing about whatever happens. I’ve looked at results from a study where people were asked what happened during a drinking party. Everyone drank different amounts, and they hung around for four hours. The next day, they were all asked what happened during the drinking party, and not one person talked of the same incidents. Memories always change inside oneself.
You have great form when you’re playing golf. You use your body very well.
- I have good reaction time. But as much as I have learned quickly, I also forget quickly. My short-term memory is great, but my long-term memory isn’t. The same goes about people.
People talk of your dancing like, “It’s so clean there isn’t anything superfluous” or ”Timing is impeccable,” etc. Is there a specific direction you take with your dancing?
- I tend to go with whatever the song is. Should I say it’s like going with what is trendy for that type of music? I usually watch dancers’ videos on Instagram, and every time I watch them I am in awe. The same goes for music and iTunes. If I leave it on, I can comfortably listen to what is currently popular. I try not to miss the current trends.
Action stars have said that once they reach their 30s, they feel a definite limit to their bodies. How about a dance singer?
- There are many places that hurt. These days, it’s been difficult because my hip joints aren’t great. That’s why I am clearly sparing myself at times these days. The old saying that age spares no one is quite right. How can one maintain movements of one in their teens? I have to just work on the dance moves that I am capable of interpreting.
Are you competitive?
- I am, but I also give up pretty quickly. If something isn’t going to work out, it isn’t going to work out. I’ll just work on what I’m good at, there’s no reason to specifically try to win it over if I can’t, and there isn’t really anyone to beat anyway. My style is to just clear whatever is in front of me. I’ve passed these personal goals and a career has emerged, and I’ve received good results. I don’t think I’ve lived trying to really achieve anything specific.
There is an image that was created for you but also one that you have developed on your own at the same time. You were part of a production process to specifically advance into a foreign market and were pretty much the primary example for this, but I think it was also very possible because you are BoA.
- Honestly, in the beginning, I often heard comments that I was a singer that was created, a product. I think it can also be credited as one’s capability that they were able to execute based on that plan. I really don’t like talking about idol singers as “products.” It’s because of their efforts that their training worked out. Even if you send children to the same cram school, you get thousands of different results. Grateful to the management company, but you have to also consider that the trainees’ efforts made it possible. I hope people consider how much they’ve had to concentrate on not becoming drained and working toward upgrading themselves.
When has your management team let you take your own direction?
- I still get much help. The difference is that previously, they would say, “This is the song,” but now it’s more like, “What do you think of this?” It’s inevitable that a person’s judgement can become muddled so they ask the experts around them as well as staff.
I would think that you set up a standard for yourself and worked towards perfection of that standard. What is your standard for satisfaction?
- Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been 100% satisfied with an album release. There’s always some regret. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to be 100% satisfied with a release before I die. I think it’s also because of the little percentages of regret that I have that I can’t let go of this work. There is regret every time, but I take that regret and work on it on the next album.
I saw on a video clip that you muttered, “There isn’t a hairstyle that I haven’t tried.” For you, I feel like “originality” is a never-ending cycle.
- Thankfully, fashion trends are always changing. I always worry about what trends work well with what songs. Honestly, my clothes on stage don’t change much. There is a style that works for each individual, and you try to match the trend to your own style.
What kind of fashion style do you like?
- I don’t wear much of ladies’ apparel. I don’t really have anywhere specific to wear these types of clothes to either. That’s why I’m always just in jeans, sneakers, and a hat. I really only buy practical clothes, but recently, I bought a Balenciaga hat in all different colors. This is because you can always use a hat wherever you go. A while ago, I was wearing a hat that I’ve worn consistently for ten years and my manager Unni told me if I wore it one more time, she is going to rip it up. (laughs) People probably thought it was a hat that came out to look vintage, but it’s actually because I wore it so often that it became that way. That’s why I’ve always worn different baseball caps, but starting last year, I kept wearing the Balenciaga hats, and this time they came out without a logo on them. The brim of the hat is much deeper this year than last year so I love it more! However it’s so expensive.
Only one who has worn them know the difference.
- Yes. And these days, I don’t like looking too thin, so I don’t wear skinny jeans much. Since I can’t wear heels, I spend money on sneakers. (laughs) Before, I wore heels and danced so much, I’ve gotten joint pains. Since I have to wear heels when I’m working, I am of the mind to rest my feet in normal situations. But thankfully, I’ve also gotten rid of my complex with regards to my height. I was born small, what am I going to do?
As an idol, the concepts of “purity” and “sexiness” have never really crossed through each other at the same time. It feels like there isn’t a concept that has been buried. Was this something you constantly, intentionally seeked? How many different attempts were made and piled to have these kinds of results?
- I think I’ve just worked on matching the song. Also “sexy” doesn’t quite match with my body. As for purity, the person I am isn’t very pure… I can’t act pretty. That’s why I hate it when I have to do lipsync. Because I feel like I have to act pretty, but I can’t do it. Maybe since I can’t do it, I don’t? (laughs)
What’s a mood that makes you feel comfortable?
- I feel comfortable when the atmosphere is playful. It’s my real personality too. I am playful with others too.
It seems that’s why you said, “Nega Dola” is a comfortable genre?
- It’s because we made its specialty as “Girls’ Hip Hop.” It’s the type of dance style I’m best at as well. I felt great because I was able to dance to that type for the first time in a while.
Which word between “Artist” and “Performer” do you think fits your description?
- Honestly, I have no concern over those monikers and think it is dependent on the person who is watching. I’ve come this far with, “The person who is able to express this song well on stage.”
It’s probably similar for child actors, but you have been in front of the public since you were young, and this life can be comparable to the Truman Show. Have you regretted choosing this life?
- All of Korea has watched me grow up. Sometimes, it’s frightening to think that they will see me have a baby, get married, become a grandmother. My life is being recorded, and it’s so easy to find moments from when I was younger. However, how many people can say they’ve experienced this? I think of it all gratefully and how it’s even fun now.
Looking ahead, you have a tour in Japan in March.
- We are going with a concept called “BoA the Live.” It’s going to be performances with a band and my voice, but the scale is very small. It’s been a while since I’ve been active in Japan so I want to spend a good time with my fans in a closer setting. Last year, during the Billboard shows, it was just me with the piano, guitar, and percussion, but this time, we are having additional drum and bass for this tour. The Billboard shows were fun, but there was quite some pressure for me vocally. However the simplicity of the sound was quite different for me, so it was also a very satisfying performance.
Among the comments section, I’ve seen a lot of the famous saying, “BoA Unni, do all that you want to do!” It feels like there is much implied here from the public. What does BoA want to do at this moment?
- I want to do everything. If a good script comes my way, I want to act as well. However for now, I still want to focus on working as a singer. Because I am a singer.