Singer and actor T.O.P (Choi Seung-hyun) [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
10: What kind of music did you listen to?
T.O.P: I listened only to classical music for six months while shooting "71-Into the Fire". I listened to a lot of Labelle. And I've been listening to Nine Inch Nails recently. I switch back and forth. (laugh)
10: Labelle is so elegant that women usually like it more.
T.O.P: There's a very feminine side to me. I'll write manly lyrics, those that will suit my voice but I think I also understand women's sentimentality to a certain point too. I think such aspects influence my rapping and acting too.
10: What's the difference between rapping and acting?
T.O.P: When I'm with Big Bang, I show who I am as TOP but when I'm acting, I think I show who I am as 24-year-old Choi Seung-hyun. Of course, both are me and both enjoy music. But I think TOP is an imaginary character who I had been picturing in my mind. He's another me that is not quite me. On the other hand, I am myself while doing this interview and a lot of the me you see right now is reflected into my acting .
10: Now that I think of it, I think there were many times you were acting as your imaginary character on stage. Especially when you do featurings for female singers like Gummy or Uhm Jung-hwa.
T.O.P: I'm a rapper and I believe rappers are people who deliver messages. That's why it's important that I am remembered in many people's minds so I try to deliver my emotions and messages through certain expressions. With "I'm Sorry", I imagined myself as a boy who has been hurt emotionally and with "DISCO" I tried to show an imaginary being like the robot Jude Law acted as in his film.
10: I think that's how differently you rap depending on the situation you're in. Your voice changes a lot too between the Korean and Japanese songs, just like the style of songs change. The song "Tell Me Goodbye" that you recently released in Japan left a strong impression in particular. The rap is more melodical so that it suits Japanese tastes and you cry in the music video while rapping. It's as if the actor TOP and TOP in Japan has been added onto the normal you.
T.O.P: I was supposed to just lip-sync that part, not act it out. But I think I hadn't been able to free myself of my character Oh Jang-beom from "71-Into the Fire" because it had been less than a week since I had wrapped up filming it. I think I just cried, without knowing what it's about or what character I'm supposed to be. That's why the music video director asked me why I cried. (laugh)
10: I think your acting has influenced your music, and your music your acting.
T.O.P: I think so. I think I apply who I am as a rapper and an actor while trying to learn to act at 24, putting in the effort to develop a style of my own, and trying not to waste my time. I think I'm learning to do what only I can do rather than do what other people know how to do.
Singer and actor T.O.P (Choi Seung-hyun) [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
10: Doesn't that mean the thoughts that you have at a certain point will be that much more projected into your rap?
T.O.P: I'm a rapper so I don't want to do anything that isn't meaningful, even when it comes to acting. As a rapper or as an actor, I want to become someone who delivers certain messages. That was why I was able to take on "71-Into the Fire" too. I spent a lonely childhood and it wasn't because of the situation I was in but I just had a lot of complex thoughts. I felt lost for a while too. Oh Jang-beom from "71-Into the Fire" reminded me of my teens. I think that's why I was able to do it.
10: When I look at your lyrics, it seems you constantly have concerns but that you're thinking about how to overcome your present state.
T.O.P: I'm always asking myself questions. I think I had complicated thoughts in my teens. I spent a lot of time sitting at my desk to write lyrics. That's why when I write lyrics, I don't like becoming a storyteller who lays out a detailed picture for the listener. For example, talking about where I am right now and where my love is going to. (laugh)
I prefer to write what the listener can sympathize with, yet leave out a certain amount of my thoughts so that everyone can think their individual thoughts. And more than anything, it's important that it seems sincere.
10: I think that's why it becomes so important to know who you are. I understand that your grandfather had emphasized the important of meditating. Do you have time to meditate these days being so busy?
T.O.P: I haven't been able to recently. That's why I actually feel like I don't know who I am. I think I still haven't freed myself from Oh Jang-beom either. I think it may be because I don't have much acting experience. I felt that I threw myself into the role but I haven't been able to bring myself out from it yet. I had wanted to go on a trip after filming the movie although I don't have time to but I think I've been able to sort out my thoughts about myself while doing music.
10: I think you'd be able to discover who you are again by making music. What style of music do you want to make these days?
T.O.P: I've written lyrics since I've been 11-years-old and I've liked hip-hop. And honestly, I've grown a bit sick of it too because I've liked hip-hop up till now. (laugh) That's how much I've been listening to it. That's why I think it would be an issue of conscience to do just ordinary hip-hop music (laugh) so I've been trying to make music that is as refreshing as possible, containing fusion elements.
10: You work on a very tight and busy schedule but on the other hand, I think you would make music that is reflective.
T.O.P: That's why I think I'd make very difficult music. The head of my agency text messaged me one day and said my music moves too fast (for the public's taste). (laugh) That's what I'm worried about. People in this industry are so emotional that once they start to fall into another world, it's hard to come out of it. I think a smart person is someone who can separate his own world from what can be relayed to other people. I do my music to be shared with the public so I can't get lost in my own world. I sometimes think that my own world and communication with the public clashes.
10: Then what will your solo album be like?
T.O.P: I want to have a larger perspective and make an album in which each song is different from the others. I also hope I will be able to communicate with the public with them while writing unique lyrics. I think that the more attachment I have to the album, the more responsibility I feel for it. My agency's head told me that I don't need to do music that has mass appeal because what I do becomes that. I think it's neither good or bad to hear that (laugh) but then wouldn't that mean I should be able to do what I want to do and release an album when I want to? (laugh)
10: Last question. If you could write lyrics for a rap right now, what would you write?
T.O.P: A very sweet melody with sweet lyrics. (laugh) I think such lyrics will help me discover who I am.
Big Bang member T.O.P (Choi Seung-hyun) [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
Big Bang member T.O.P (Choi Seung-hyun) who starred in film "71-Into the Fire" poses during an interview with 10Asia.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok two@
Photographer : Chae ki-won ten@
Editor : Lee Ji-Hye seven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@
<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>
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