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cr wansofanynim ll 바람막이 ll Tetsuya@SONEms
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Since the beginning of this year a K-POP boom has started. Girl groups, in particular, are having their major debuts one by one and more and more big names are arriving. One of these names is “SNSD”. The 9 member girl group debuted with NAYUTAWAVE RECORDS which is under Universal Music. In Korea, men and women of all ages know these girls, they’re the nation’s girl group. Up until now, they were supported in Japan by their passionate core fans.
On August 25th, these girls performed their Showcase Live at Ariake Coliseum where more than 20,000 fans were invited (through 3 performances). They have had virtually no exposure in Japanese media, but the DVD with the invitation enclosed was sold out. Just through the power of the net and word of mouth, these girls were able to attract customers. It’s possible when they have their major debut that their popularity will be better than the rest. Girls like KARA and 4Minute came first, but we wonder how the surviving girls will battle. The industry has noticed this.
SNSD’s characteristics are different from idols, they have singing skills and they dance in perfect order in their dance formations which has 9 people; a large number. In addition, another point is they have model-like figures. As a matter of fact, to show their value, many music companies wanted them and thus a battle on who got them happened. Before the K-POP boom there were rumors. Media who suspected the rumor rushed to S.M. Entertainment Japan for answers. However, before SNSD’s major debut SM did their best to keep SNSD’s information (regarding the debut) under a veil.
First Interview in Japan
This time, Nikkei Entertainment, a Japanese Magazine Media, are the first to take photos of the girls. We had an exceptionally long 2 hour interview. All SNSD members met at an unknown place and were able to share what was currently on their minds.
On a summer day where the sun’s rays were reflected in the afternoon, the 9 SNSD members met at a studio in Seoul’s exclusive residential district Gangnam. The girls who had finished getting their hair and make-up done at a salon, arrived in civilian clothes. Every member greeted us with a smiling face as they entered the studio. Though it was expected they would head back to the waiting room, the girls instead lined up in front of the reporters. The girls said in skilled, high-toned, Japanese “We’re SNSD. It’s nice to meet you.”
The same Korean company that created the stars BoA and DBSK, S.M. Entertainment, will bring in their 3rd star, these girls who have become popular. We ask how much they have studied Japanese artists and its market. S.M. Entertainment has said that SNSD will not be localized like BoA and DBSK. As expected, we wonder what SNSD has their eyes on in Japan.
— Tell us what was on your mind when you found out you would be debuting in Japan.
Taeyeon: I was filled with things like, “Finally, this time has come.” In 2001, when I was still in elementary school, I watched BoA, a senpai from my company, debut in Japan. [Note: Senpai is the same as sunbae/senior.] It was a good significance and had a large impact on me. She is skilled at dancing and singing and her Japanese is also fluent. My dream of, “I want to become someone like BoA” has came. SNSD’s trait in one word is “Energy”. We certainly want everyone in Japan to feel that force when the 9 of us stand on stage. Everyone, how was it?
Jessica: As SNSD, each and every member has individuality, so we have a unique lineup and maybe that makes us a complete girl group (that can do various things). I think that’s also unusual in Japan. So, I want people to definitely know of our charm.
Tiffany: I often use this metaphor. All of the SNSD members are like raw materials like grains, good quality fruits, or sweets. They’re delicious by themselves. However, when you cook all those ingredients together, you create a cake or dessert called “SNSD”. In that moment, it’s much more delicious. I want to be able to supply our fans with a wonderful flavor.
Yoona: That’s right. Teamwork is definitely our strength. If we don’t sing and dance together, then we aren’t successful. Up until now, teamwork has been a part of SNSD. If we show that to Japan, I believe everyone will certainly come to love us. I’m filled with a feeling of nervousness and excitement.
— Though you’re at the top in Korea, don’t you feel a little confused and pressure advancing overseas?
Sunny: We’re not. We embrace activity overseas. We can’t always show a new SNSD. Right now we have to part with what we possess and everyone understands that. We all like the new challenge. Rather than pressure, we feel the opposite. This is an opportunity that we’ve come across and we look forward to it. In a little while we will become absent from Korea. However, we’ll still be shown on the Korean media and you can find us on the net too. Everyone look at our Japan debut favorably and please cheer for us. It feels like we’re going to Japan with everyone. I’ll be happy if more people become SNSD fans in Japan.
Tiffany: In Japan, SMAP is popular and has been around for more than 10 years and is still going. I think that’s really amazing. There aren’t really any groups in Korea who have continuously been around for so long. SNSD has been around for 3 years now and I want to aim at being like SMAP.
— In places like Tokyo’s clubs, SNSD’s choreography can be seen at dance events. Powerful dancing, a distinctive characteristic of Hyoyeon, has also been noticed.
Hyoyeon: I’m happy people have been anticipating it. I surely think that Japanese fans who watch the dances with a discerning eye will also be able to train themselves to do it. I still want to challenge it more.
— Sooyoung, your Japanese is good. I think for this debut there are various activities that you are expected to do.
Sooyoung: (In Japanese) Yes, I feel a lot of pressure. Since I hate doing things that aren’t perfect, I don’t just want to communicate well in Japanese, I want to become more perfect and master it. In order to do this, after this, I’ll need to increase my use of terminology. Right now, the members study Japanese with me every day. It’s heartening and I’m thankful.
SNSD is a multi-talented group, and from the beginning we have had an aim to advance into overseas markets. Before our debut, we were prepared for overseas activities. At the heart of SNSD’s activities, if given the chance in Japan, I think it’s possible for us to do dramas, movies, MCing, and variety shows. We also came with those lessons before we debut.
Tiffany: Sooyoung has shown us various Japanese entertainment works. Starting with that, we have a bigger part of us that is interested in Japan. Besides, Sooyoung isn’t only skilled at Japanese, she also has the power to make people laugh when she talks. Like Sooyoung, I can also make people laugh, I want to become an amusing person.
Sooyoung: On the contrary, Tiffany’s family is from America, so I’m jealous that she can speak fluent English. I also have a dream that SNSD will do activities in America, so these days I’ve began studying English. Even though I should be doing my best at Japanese right now… (Haha)
— You’re on the edge of your Japan debut. Don’t your family and friends from where you’re from express worry and anxiety?
Taeyeon: My family said, “Finally!”, they were anticipating it. Originally, it’s my parents who wanted their daughter to focus on world activities.
Jessica: My family and friends know they won’t be able to see me as much when I go to Japan and they express how they will miss me, but mostly they just cheer me on.
Seohyun: My parents are very proud of us for advancing to Japan. They have cheered for me saying, “Do your best to become an artist in Japan that everyone certainly knows.”
Tiffany: People around me are warmly cheering. My fellow members, up until now our spirits keep lifting, we’re excited. We’re also doing our best with Japanese.
Yoona: Yeah, as expected we don’t have the language ability. I think if we’re even able to communicate more skillfully, we’ll get more self-confidence and be able to be even more skilled, but… BoA senpai and DBSK senpai were the first to persist in speaking Japanese. If it were proper for this interview, I would also do my best at speaking Japanese. Since I can’t right now, it’s really mortifying. Moreover, I heard that Japan has a lot of fans, but honestly we’re still overwhelmingly unknown, so first SNSD will begin preparing activities so they can get to know us.
Taeyeon: First, we have self-confidence, and right now it is important for SNSD to show that we’re cool. When we debuted in Korea, there were many girl groups that had a strong image or sexy image. We came out with a natural and relaxed image. We experienced love from people in elementary school to people of old age, regardless of gender. This time again, we’ll cross the border with energetic and powerful performances that are our forte. I believe that a more broad layer of people will come to love us.
Everyone: That’s right.
— Taeyeon, you hit SNSD’s concept right on the head and out of the group I get the feeling you are the one with the most charisma.
Yuri: That’s right. Taeyeon’s birthday is the earliest (Haha)
Taeyeon: Certainly, when we accomplish something as a team, I’m often the one out in the very front.
Hyoyeon: Taeyeon also has wonderful vocals. She has a transparent voice and when she sings we all clearly feel it.
— Do you want long promotions in Japan?
Yuri: Since we’ve worked hard to start our Japan activities, I would like to stay here as long as possible.
Hyoyeon: Yeah. I heard a lot that Japanese variety programs are interesting programs, so I would like to try and be on one.
Sooyoung: In Korea, fans are anticipating our return home after we succeed in Japan, so I want people in Japan to listen to our music as much as possible, I want to sing forever.
Seohyun: On the contrary, we can’t say that we will go home after trying a little and things don’t go smoothly.
Sunny: Right now, none of us are taking it lightly and saying, “We’ll only go to Japan for a little bit.” All 9 of us talk together about our worries and weak points. We back up each other so we can climb over this together. That’s why, right now we’re mostly anticipating this rather than being worried.
— You all really seem like a family and sisters. What is the secret to your united hearts/bond?
Yoona: Since we’re all humans, we all are individuals. Previously we disagreed on trivial things, but before our debut we came to know each other. We talk about things while they’re happening. For example, concerning choreography, even now we have opinions that collide with one another. But, if the individual has a good suggestion, we ask how we can make it SNSD-like, how do we put it together. We’ve grown accustom to operating like that.
Jessica: For example, we ask “How can we make this song look cool” and we discuss how it fits SNSD’s concept. We bounce ideas off one another, we’ve become really skilled at doing that.
Yoona: For simple things, we go with majority rules. Since there’s 9 of us, if you get 5 votes you win (Haha). Hyoyeon is the best at collecting votes. When we’re deciding on a menu what to eat and she knows she goes, “I want this! Everyone else, you also want this!” and decides for us. On dancing and singing practice start times she also goes, “Since I think O is a good time, everyone lets meet at O!” Everyone just goes, “Okay.” (Haha).
— What did you think when you heard you would be debuting in Korea as 9 members back in 2007?
Sooyoung: Before our debut we were all friends, so on the contrary, if we had to be in separate groups and battle one another I think that would have made us sad and lonely. We were anxious and when we heard we would be in a 9 member group, we were happy. Honestly, when we debuted we went to every broadcasting station and greeted them. Since there were 9 of us, the loudness of our voices differed. The staff members said nice things like, “Since there are 9 of you, you all have an amazing power.”
— Seohyun, since you’re the youngest, aren’t you nervous about the debut?
Seohyun: I’m not nervous at all.
Sooyoung: She receives a lot of love from the big sisters. It makes me jealous.
Seohyun: I’ve always wanted an older sister, so when I received 8 at once I was very happy.
— Do you guys fight at times?
Sooyoung: Of course. Mostly about trivial things (Haha). During those times, especially when someone doesn’t say “Sorry”, when we all get together to eat we make peace with one another. It feels just like a family.
— On August 25th you had your showcase live at Ariake Coliseum, but where do you want to put your next mark?
Tiffany: A country-wide tour! BoA senpai and DBSK senpai went all over Japan and it made be very jealous… I would like to have an enjoyable concert country-wide in front of lots of fans.
Sooyoung: Me too, we got to meet many people the other day at our showcase, and I want to meet even more local people.
Yoona: Well, sometime I want to perform at the Tokyo Dome.
Sooyoung: I’d like that too. And also Osaka Dome.
Tiffany: As for me, it’s still a really big dream, but I want to run towards the mark! I don’t know when that will be, but I want to do it in the shortest time possible.
Yuri: Aside from the capital, I want to visit other places. Small scale (performances) are also good, so I want to focus on our Lives. [Note: Lives here means concert, not their personal lives]
— Do you also want to make your mark at the “Japan Record Awards” and “Kohaku Utagassen”? [Note: Kohaku is a huge deal in Japan. It’s an annual singing contest held on New Year’s Eve where Japan’s top artists are INVITED to perform for either the red team or the white team.]
Hyoyeon: Honestly, I want that. But, perhaps we’ll leave other marks. Right now, I want a variety of challenges. Since I’m very greedy (Haha)
Translated by: Kanki@Soshified.com (thank you)
Source: Nikkei Entertainment Magazine