Boy group INFINITE is well-known with their synchronized choreography. The leader of INFINITE, Kim Sunggyu, is the first to debut as a solo artist and also work with his childhood idol, Nell. Sunggyu released his first ever solo album, “Another Me” on November 19th.
On November 26th, 10asia, an online magazine, conducted an interview with INFINITE’s Sunggyu in celebration of his solo debut.
Q: You had your debut performance last Friday – it must have felt different from recording the album.
A: “I was extremely nervous. The day before the start of my solo promotions on KBS‘s ‘Music Bank‘, I was in Japan for our arena tour, and so my throat and voice were not in good condition. So when I grabbed the stand mic, I just focused on the song and tried to think about being comfortable. Given my bad condition at the time, I was disappointed about the performance.”
Q: It must feel so new being the first in INFINITE to debut as a solo artist. And take cool album jacket photos by yourself. (Laughs)
A: “I picked the jacket photo myself. While I’m not particularly good looking, it’s a kind of charm and unique character, so I think it’s about time I was more confident about my looks. (Laughs) In fact, our CEO gave me a call the day after the album was released and asked, ‘Your album is out; how do you feel?’ But I still couldn’t believe it really happened, so I told him that it felt the same. Something that was different was listening to the opinions of each member. Normally we all discuss our album together, but lately I’ve been hearing phrases that start like ‘Hyung, your album…’ which makes me think and feel, ‘Ah, so this is my album.’ I think solo promotions will be lonely. I didn’t feel lonely because all of the members came to visit during the shooting of the music video for ‘60 Seconds‘ but when I came back to Korea after the arena tour, it started to hit me.
Q: The album consists of rock and acoustic tracks. What’s it like to sing in a different style than in INFINITE songs?
A: “It wasn’t unfamiliar. I’ve loved rock since I was little, and I was in a school band in high school. More than anything, I wanted to become a singer because of Nell. So I had a lot more fun than I’ve had in a while. In songs like ‘I Need You’ and ‘Shine‘, which Nell gave me, I really like their style, so I even tried to add my own color to the songs. On the other hand, while recording ‘Only Tears’, I was more emotional, and I feel like the color I’ve developed from listening to Nell’s music came out then. When I listened to the recording, I noticed nuances similar to Nell’s Kim Jong Wan hyung and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, I see now.’ (Laughs)”
Q: More than anything, it must have been different to sing alone than when you’re a part of a team, having to carry a song all alone?
A: “When I sing in INFINITE, I take on more of the higher parts of the song, but now that I have to sing the entire song alone, I took on it more with the emotional aspects than the technical aspects. I needed to make a story to bring the whole song along. Although life is short, I took the experiences and memories closest to the song to express how I feel. Technically, I am working on tone and breathing, and I’m still not used to it. When I was recording this album, I worried the most about my personal input, emotionally.”
Q: While “60 Seconds” is enough time to fall in love, isn’t 60 seconds also enough time to go through a break up?
A: “’60 Seconds’ is definitely enough time for a person to end up liking someone. At the same time, I thought, ‘Isn’t 60 seconds enough time for someone to disappear from another person’s like?’. I’d been through a similar experience. In school, I really liked this girl, but she ended up quitting school for personal reasons. I never saw her again, I couldn’t get in contact with her, and I don’t know what she’s doing now. She vanished from my life in the blink of an eye. It surprised me how quickly she became someone who I couldn’t even contact. I don’t know what my fans will say after hearing this, but I mean it was one-sided, and she was a friend from school. (Laughs)”
Q: Did you have to think a lot about performing live with a band onstage?
A: “I got very close to the band members who perform with me, but being the youngest in the group took getting used to. I even avoid the band members sometimes, so that I don’t completely understand how Sungjong feels. (Laughs) When I sing, rather than trying to plan something out, I focus more on what I am trying to express. I sing like I usually do, but I try new styles as well. I work hard, so I don’t want to be embarrassed by myself.”
Q: What’s your standard for embarrassing yourself?
A: “Onstage, I do my best to enjoy myself. It’s selfish, so I hope a lot of people love me. (Laughs) I am going to work hard to earn a lot of love, and I’m confident because I’m going to show everything I’ve got onstage. But when it comes to albums and numbers and sales, I’m not as confident. I feel like I’ll get hurt if I focus too much on numbers. (Laughs) More than anything, the meaning this album gives to me is more important than being disappointed in things like that. Even if people don’t recognize it, I’m really happy that I have a new challenge. Just like having shoes that people don’t necessarily say are nice, but I’m happy just looking at.”
Q: What’s the responsibility like? Did you ever think that if your solo promotions don’t do well, it could hurt INFINITE, or did you think it was alright because you’re just using your name alone?
A: “The former was much bigger to me. The members like to joke around and they gave me a lot of pressure. For example, they would focus on album sales and rankings. My roommate Woohyun does it the most. Hoya, who will be part of INFINITE H, gave me pressure by saying, ‘Hyung, you have to show them all something’, and Sungyeol and L gave me encouragement. So when I’m with them, it gets a little hectic. (Laughs) Someone will be encouraging, someone will be objective. They joke, ‘Hyung, if there are bad results here…’ but they always tell me that they are proud of me. I hope that I won’t be embarrassed in front of my dongsengs.”
Q: What do you have to say about appearing on variety programs alone?
A: “I was always afraid when filming television programs with INFINITE because the pressure of being the team leader. I would think, ‘What if I mess up? I need to promote INFINITE.’ I tried hard not to just be like wallpaper in programs that many people watch. To be honest, in the past, Sungyeol, Sungjong, and L would go on shows and get edited out, so I would tell them, ‘Don’t you want to promote the team? There are people who risk their lives for shows and we should be apologetic if we don’t try our hardest. We should work harder to promote our team, just like with music or onstage.’ (Laughs) Even so, this time, there won’t be anyone to scold me, right? Anyways, I feel much less pressure now than I used to.”
Q: What is the most important aspect of juggling your busy schedule of team and solo promotions, and television shows?
A: “There’s something I would always say when members had individual activities: ‘While they’d be tired without a doubt, and while it can get difficult to take on both INFINITE’s schedules and individual schedules, a true professional doesn’t show that they’re tired. We should all think about it together. There are so many people who want to have promotions but can’t, and people who can’t debut, and people who can’t find their own goals. So let’s look back. If we think about our old selves, we really, truly wanted all of this.’ I feel the same way. Even though it’s a tight, busy schedule, it’s what I had always dreamed of, and I think it’s funny to get frustrated at people over it. I can handle it when I think optimistically.”
Q: You seem to have a strong sense of responsibility as a leader.
A: “I tend to get very nervous when I’m with the members, but I’ve gotten better now. When we debuted, I would have really exaggerated reactions, but now the members do everything well on their own. I used to purposefully make time to talk, but now, even without that time, they all think one more time about what I’ve said. Since I’ve been looser on them lately, I’ve been making small mistakes here and there. That’s when they say, ‘Hyung, what are you doing. That’s not it’ and I say, ‘Oh, sorry.’ (Laughs) Having solo promotions is my chance to let go of any pressures I have as a leader, because I only need to take care of myself. But I think being with the members is good too, so I said, ‘When you don’t have a schedule, come to me, I welcome you all.’ The general atmosphere was that they just wanted to rest. (Laughs)”
Q: Even with individual activities, INFINITE’s teamwork is still strong. What’s your secret?
A: “It’s simple. I can really say this confidently: the kids are all nice. They’re all thoughtful and considerate, which maintains our teamwork. Just being among guys makes us fight a lot, but it’s never enough for anyone to harbor bad feelings. We’re at the point where you fight and then make up naturally, just like you never fought in the first place. We’re friends, we’re family, and we’re advisors to each other.”
Q: Do you feel bad that you won’t be able to act as the leader as much during your solo promotions?
A: “I think the kids will like it if they hear less of the leader’s nagging. They might even feel like they have a little more freedom. (Laughs) I didn’t know, but apparently I really do scold a lot. They always say, ‘Ahh, okay, okay’ but later they’ll text me, ‘Hyung, thanks for the advice.’ We all have this kind of relationship so even if I might neglect them a little, they won’t be sad.”
Q: On the other hand, do you think you’ll feel bad if you see the other members getting by without you?
A: “There’s no way. There’s no way they’d be fine without me. (Laughs) It’s like losing a pillar. I’ve always been the ‘average’ of the team. Aside from looks. For example, when it comes to variety show skills, vocal abilities, dancing, etc. I bring up the members who aren’t so great, and I pull down the members who are. (Laughs) I bring together the structure, so it won’t exactly look good without me. And a team without a leader always has a few gaps somewhere. The members know this, and although there have been opinions expressed on having a separate leader, I’m going to stop this. I don’t want to think of a team without me. I felt this when L was shooting a drama, but it feels extremely empty even with one member missing. I say all of this, but what if they don’t even know I’m gone? What if they say, ‘It’s different from when L was gone. I don’t feel empty at all?’ What do I do. (Laughs)”
Article by Glenn & Alona
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