[bnt interview] ‘Love And Fall’ Bobby’s Fourth Survival
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[by Kim Young Jae] Bobby’s first solo album is a chance.
Singer Bobby’s contact with the public was in the summer of 2013. He struggled on the survival program led by YG Entertainment and broadcasted on Mnet, ‘Win: Who Is Next’, in order to debut as the rapper of the team.
The viewers saw Bobby who faced the camera in 2011 in order to become YG Entertainment’s trainee. “My family is a bit poor. Both of my parents work. However my older brother also works. I’m diligently becoming a star so my family will have strength. I want to walk on this path of life. This is the figure [of someone] that will become a cool star. Please nurture me.” Watching the video with the volume raised the judge panel said that “(he’s) admirable”. Bobby was an admirable trainee that hoped to succeed for his family.
Almost 6 years have passed. We met Bobby at a café on Wausan-ro Mapo-gu, Seoul under the blazing autumn sunlight. His first survival 6 years ago, his second survival through Mnet ‘Show Me the Money 3’, and then he became iKON’s Bobby after his third survival on ‘Mix & Match’. And on the day of the interview on the 14th, his released his solo album, ‘Love And Fall’.
Most albums’ titles are placed as big as the artist’s name on the cover. However Bobby’s physical album that only shows Bobby’s image as he closed his eyes while the waves enveloped the shore caught the attention of the reporter.
“Releasing a solo full length album is a big achievement as a singer. It’s a big opportunity and a good opportunity. At that time I thought that I couldn’t release the album like this. If I could return to the past I would say to the younger me, ‘You’re going to turn out well so work hard.’ I had slumps through this process and difficult stages of improvement. I think even though it hasn’t been that long, because of that process I was able to get to where I am now.”
Bobby said he was happy that he could release a full length album full of the things he wanted to show. As if heating up their engine, people start up their music life by flowing into the music industry through singles and mini albums.
However, Bobby completely put his name into a full length album and started his solo career. Bobby registered his name on all of the tracks of the album of ‘Love and Fall’ as the lyricst and co-composer.
“I wrote ‘Runaway’ for the first time in 2015. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself while making songs since then, more than thinking ‘I have to do this’, I worked hard and enjoyed making songs as if it was my hobby. In order to be recognized by (Yang Hyun Seok) CEO, I persistently sent songs. I’d write a song a month and if there were a lot I’d have 3 or 4. I think it was bothering the CEO so he let me release a full length album. (laughs)”
He explained the direction of his album, “Usually I don’t like to listen to my songs before I sleep. I want to show cool, rough, and tough images.” Also, Bobby hoped for a singer to do music together with at the end of the day. “The most important point is that ‘it’s a song that I could listen to before I sleep’. I want to hear an evaluation that, ‘He also has this type of image. He also has a sensible side? His voice isn’t coarse’.”
Why before sleeping? “I’m a person that is sensitive before I sleep. I think a lot before I sleep too. Whether it be about my image on stage or about some situation. That naturally connects to my dreams. I’m sensitive so I turn of all the lights. In that situation if I can listen and fall asleep to my song that means it is a good and relaxing song.” His words made the reporter laugh. Bobby sheepishly said that he will listen to his songs and sleep in the future.
Bobby’s album put out double title songs ‘Runaway’ and ‘I Love You’. The most memorable song during the process was ‘Runaway’. “I wrote the song 2 years ago. I had trouble finding my steps and I was lacking a lot vocally. So it was really hard. I have to let people hear it better, I have to sing better, because of those parts I edited it a lot so it’s a song with a lot of difficult memories.
The following is a part of the lyrics of ‘Runaway’. ‘In the mirror / It’s not the me I used to know / I want to chase after my dreams / But responsibility weighs down on my shoulders / If you see my swaying / please take me away, far away / I wanna runaway’. In addition a few days before Bobby released the album, he introduced the song, “I expressed the feelings of someone who is exhausted from chasing their dreams and wants to run away to somewhere.”
“I took the subject of runaway and wrote a song. It happened when I was 20. People the same age as me were going around having fun and would always send me pictures. I received messages like ‘We’re having fun like this but what’s up?’ Because I felt that I couldn’t have fun with them I remember sympathizing with running away. To be honest I feel the same way now. We can’t be together, and it’s sad that can’t make memories like that together. But what’s better than running away is music. I wanted to focus on music so I’ve worked hard like this so I don’t have disappointed or sad feelings like the past anymore.”
We asked if he’s ever run away before. Bobby replied “convenience store”. The reporter burst out in laughter. “Going to the convenience store without reporting it is running away. It may sound heavy to hear ‘report’ but recently if I report where I’m then I can go anywhere. However there were times where it was bothersome, so I’ve gone to the convenience store to look for my cellphone or get food when I was hungry without reporting before. Buying ramyun or onigiri is my biggest run away.” He’s a brutal rapper on stage but he’s also an idol under the management of a company. There must be pros and cons. It could be stifling but Bobby said he didn’t care.
CEO Yang Hyun Seok is stingy with compliments. When we asked Bobby about what evaluations he received from the company head about his songs, he replied, “(Yang Hyun Seok) CEO is originally a person that doesn’t compliment people. It’s hard to hear compliments.” In addition, “He couldn’t listen to it directly but allowing me to release a solo album in itself is a huge compliment. I think him giving this opportunity in itself is a compliment that I am grateful for. It was hard to choose a title song but the CEO gave a lot of advice. I’m thankful that he spoke when I was worried.”
In the music industry, the distribution channel isn’t CDs but streaming. The advantage of streaming is that you can listen to the songs you want to listen to. The public first listens to the title song of the new work of an artist, and then the featuring track with a famous artist. The listener will choose two songs first. The reason for an album is for the tracks to be complete. When the streaming is put up, it will be edited out by musicians and they oppose the trend. Listening to a few tracks or listening to all of the tracks from the 1st one, which is right? There is no way to find the correct answer. It is popular music and a majority of the choice is up to the public.
Thus we asked him. Out of the 10 tracks that Bobby devoted himself to, was there a track that he wanted music fans to listen to that wasn’t a title track? His answer was ‘Firework’.
“There’s a reason why I like ‘Firework’. During ‘My Type’, I sang but ‘Firework’ is the first song I wrote that focused on my vocals. The beat of the song and the mood of ‘Firework’ are heavy. However ‘Firework’ is somehow also a romantic and easy to listen to song. Even though it’s a strong song it’s like that. Thus I definitely hope people will listen to ‘Firework’.”
Bobby’s point of contact with the public was through ‘Win: Who is Next?’ but the opportunity for him to become imprinted in memory of the public was ‘Show Me the Money 3’. He held the hands of hip-hop label Illionaire Records’ rapper Dok2 and The Quiett and became the champion of the show. He had tracks such as ‘Ga’ to ‘YGGR#Hiphhop’ to ‘L4L (Lookin’ For Luv’, to ‘Bounce’. Someone said that “he’s riding on the shoulders of ‘YG’” and there were boundaries to his participation but in the end Bobby led the show. Even if it wasn’t fully Bobby, the viewership in that season was 3 times that of previous seasons. However we were curious as to why his album didn’t include Dok2 and The Quiett who were part of his roots in the entertainment industry.
Bobby said, “I didn’t ask for Dok2 hyeong or The Quiett hyeong’s advice. I simply needed cold-hearted ears, and when I need cold-hearted help I ask for (Song) Minho hyeong’s opinion. He said things like ‘This isn’t good’ or ‘I like that’ which was a big help.” In the 5th track of Bobby’s new album ‘Love and Fall’ titled ‘Up’ the duo MOBB gathers again. It is a track that they regrettably couldn’t put in the past album.
If you are a music fan that expects Bobby’s image of running around stage like it’s a playground, then this album may seem out of place. It’s music contradictory to people’s hopes. Isn’t he worried? “More than worried I’m in expectation. I’m presenting a different image from the one that I always show I’m in expectation of that. I put in a lot of effort to write songs that are romantic, lyrical and good to listen to at night. I am in anticipation as I wanted to show this and I’m also happy.”
The musical exterior of Bobby’s solo debut is the center of interest. iKON that Bobby is part of released a new single in May, ‘New Kids: Begin’. The double title songs ‘Bling Bling’ and ‘B-Day’ received low reviews and they faced a painful crisis. Amongst this the fandom iKONIC declared a boycott against YG Entertainment in August. Enforcing excessive schedules, poor domestic promotional activities, and continual changes of promotional activities were reasons that the fandom mentioned for the boycott.
Firstly, Bobby acknowledged the current situation and aimed to rebound, “It is true that we didn’t receive good evaluations. It was evidence that we were lacking so we strengthened our resolution to work harder. Each one of the iKON members wanted to show a better image quickly so we didn’t differentiate night and day while we worked hard. I think it was motivation. We worked hard to rise to a higher place.” Also about the fan boycott, “I think it’s a sign of our thirst (to succeed). We were lacking so we couldn’t come out before them. I think they are scolding us and we will work harder. I want to tell them that we will come up with a truly cool image so please wait a little longer.” He asked for fans to wait.
About iKON’s comeback, he said, “We want to comeback even if it was tomorrow. The goal we want to get a hold of is, the wish we have is, ‘let’s come out this year before fall passes’.”
The promotional activities of ‘Love and Fall’ is the decision set about 4 months after iKON’s poor results. “I really didn’t feel any pressure to release an album after that period. I hope to have good results but I’m thankful just to be able to show the image I wanted to and I think of it as a big opportunity. I’m thankful for the opportunity. Because of that I don’t feel burdensome.” A man that was thankful for the opportunity was in front of our eyes.
Bobby is a member of iKON and the winner of ‘Show Me the Money 3’. When the public recollects him, they cannot deviate from that. Then, is he satisfied with that? What type of singer does he want to be remembered as? “I haven’t really thought about it. The reason why I haven’t thought about what type of singer I want to be is because I just want to make a lot of music. I want to try reggae, rock, funk, disco, I want to try it all. I want to be an artist that can do it all well, I want to be marked as a singer who can digest all things well including hip-hop.” He hoped for the future.
Actually Bobby that passed over his wish to be able to digest all genres well to the reporter went to the next stage. At the mention of showing his singing, he wished for all genres saying, “I want to widen my spectrum.”
The answers were parallel to the questions but somehow the reproduction of the answers for the second time through Bobby’s mouth made it known to the world. Rock may be unfamiliar to Bobby but widening his spectrum is something that has a high possibility of coming to agreement with the public. Somebody may worry that music’s depth may become thin but he is a man who has gone through survival no less than 3 times. And his fourth survival as a solo artist is ahead of him. Bobby who wants to do a lot of music. We will watch over Bobby to see if his ambition can become a weapon for him and serve him to become a show’s champion once again.
Meanwhile Bobby has started full scale promotional activities after his first solo full length album ‘Love and Fall’ release on the 14th at 6pm with two title songs ‘I Love You and ‘Runaway’. (photo by YG Entertainment)