Updated: Jun 3
Nov 12th on Naver NOW
0:00 - 6:06
<Opening song: 'Writing You'>
"Every second he was on stage, his explosive presence was felt."
This is a sentence from an article about today's guest and when I read it, it stopped me in my tracks. Among those listening - and there are so many today - who know our guest, no one will object to that sentence.
"Musicians we trust (믿고 듣는다)" or "Performers we trust (믿고 본다)" are now hackneyed phrases but when used for this person, they become fact. He's back with a red hot album. A musician we trust in, XIA - I'd like to welcome Junsu-nim.
6:07 - 8:18
JS: Hello, this is Kim Junsu.
ZT: Wooo~ *clapping*
ZT: Ahh.. Hyung-nim, nice to meet you.
JS: I'm so happy to meet you
ZT: When we met just now, I couldn't look him in the eye and say hello *giggle* Thank you so much. Thank you so much for coming on my show.
JS: I'm the one who's grateful to you.
ZT: What made you come to a place like this?
JS: *Laughing* Thank you for bringing me on. I'm a fan of your music and alway wanted to meet you, so I'm killing two birds with a stone.
ZT: Thank you. Thank you for bringing coffee, too. A lot of people are disappointed that today's show isn't visual radio.. Our show hasn't been on that long, we've only done 35 shows so far but today we have, hands down, the most comments we've ever received.
JS: Oh, really?
ZT: There are so many that I can't even read.
JS: Thank you *laugh*
ZT: Welcome to the show everyone. I'm so honored. When the producers sent me a list of potential guests to choose from, you were the first one I picked and I wasn't even sure it would be possible. I really wanted to meet you.
JS: Ah, thank you.
ZT: I heard this isn't your first time on Naver NOW
JS: No, this is my 3rd time. I went on Heize's Diary and, just yesterday, I did Monsta X Minhyuk's Vogueship show. Today is my 3rd time.
ZT: I also heard you like traditional radio shows. Were the other ones all visual radio?
JS: Yes! I think today's the first time for audio radio.
ZT: To give you an idea of what our show is like, think of the radio shows of the 80s and 90s.
JS: I like that
ZT: Take yourself back to a time when a camera wasn't broadcasting everything in real time, and I think you'll be able to enjoy the show.
[Nickname 1: Talk Fairy]
8:19 - 12:49
ZT: So.. one of the nicknames your fans gave you is "talk fairy"?
JS: *laughs shyly*
ZT: I just found out today. If you go on Youtube and type in "Xia Junsu Concerts are Funnier than Most [Variety Shows]", you'll find out why. [To Junsu] You must already know about this though.
JS: I think it's limited to concerts. Because at concerts, it's just me and my fans... I actually had no idea I'd be the type to
entertain people that way.. But when I'm with my fans.. My fans are also really funny..
ZT: You're comfortable with each other
JS: ..so it happens naturally. Only at concerts. I don't think I'd be funny on a show like this.. *laughs*
ZT: It's not the right vibe here, huh
JS: With fans, I can talk more freely and even share my innermost feelings
ZT: I'm so curious to see what your concerts are like! But live performances are hard to come by these days..
ZT: You must miss it
JS: Uh.. Luckily, the musicals I've been doing ran until August.. I was fortunate. After that, I was supposed to begin my pop solo activities but.. Yeah, it's sad because concerts have disappeared, although online concerts are beginning to take their place. But live concerts where audience and artist can interact directly are still the best.. for both the artist and the audience. So I'm a bit sad about that. The feeling of actually being there with them is beyond words.
ZT: I've personally never been to a musical so it's hard to imagine what they're like
JS: You should go see one
ZT: I really want to. I'll book a ticket next time.
JS: I'll invite you! Please come see one.
ZT: Thank you. I should explain what the name of my show 'SAP' means. It's derived from the word 'sapjil(삽질)' * literal meaning: shoveling / used as slang to mean 'wilding'
JS: Doesn't sapjil mean to do something foolish?
ZT: It does. But we also grow from the foolish things we do
JS: Ah! That's true
ZT: My show is about sharing stories of 'sapjil' [the wild and foolish things we do in life], what we learn from them and how we move on. Here, we're all about being earnest. Earlier, I warned Junsu that we don't play a lot of music and talk a lot.
JS: I love to talk.
ZT: I hope the listeners will understand the tone of the show is a bit serious. I can compare it to conducting a magazine interview..
JS: That's right!
ZT: .. we just happen to be simultaneously airing the interview, too.
JS: Got it. The only difference is that it's been broadcasted live.
ZT: Right. So please enjoy. I want to ask.. what's the most recent 'sapjil' you've begun? Let's start with a light topic. Do you have any new hobbies?
JS: I've been pretty much a homebody since 2 years ago but these days, things being as they are, I'm a bigger homebody than I ever was. Except for when I'm working, I'm always at home.
ZT: But you like being at home?
JS: Well.. it's half forced, half willingly. The world has made me this way, hahaha. But I don't dislike being at home. It's just that, on really sunny days, I wish I could go out. Otherwise, I try to stay at home
ZT: There's not much one can do at home though
JS: Right, right. I mean, for a month or two I had a lot of stuff to do and kept productive but as it drags on.. yeah, I need to seek out activities.
ZT: Like 'Cast Away'. Have you seen the movie, where he's stranded on an island..
JS: I don't think I have
ZT: You'll totally relate if you see it
JS: Oh really? Is it similar to the situation these days?
ZT: Yes, he names a volleyball and makes it his friend.
[Nickname 2: Plant Keeper]
12:50 - 15:04
ZT: Anyway, you must have at least one hobby
JS: I just.. go for walks. I take walks.
ZT: That, you can do.
JS: I can't go far but I walk around my home. I've come to like taking walks. Going anywhere else right now is tricky and I wouldn't even know where to go. I just walk endlessly then come back home.
ZT: Your fans are calling you "the plant keeper" in the comments
JS: Ah, haha
ZT: Do you grow plants?
JS: Yes, I have cacti at home. I like tropical plants, too..
JS: .. I have them at home, too.
ZT: I'd love to see them. Do you have a favorite plant?
JS: Ahhh, I don't know the name of the plant though..
ZT: Which one of them is your best friend?
JS: I have a bunch of little ones on my window sill - little cacti plants displayed in a row. Fortunately all of them are healthy and growing nicely.
ZT: So you like cacti..
JS: Yes, I like plants that remind me of exotic places like the desert or.. ones that look like they don't grow in Korea. Tropical plants, cacti..
ZT: The fans seem to know the name. They're calling it "Pipi"?
JS: .. Ahhh, Pappi! Yes, I named one of them Pappi.
JS: There's this plant.. I don't know what it's called but one of the cacti plants started growing an arm. First a leaf sprouted then another sprouted from there.. there are now 6, all linked together. It was about to topple over to the right, so I put a wood support under it.
ZT: I think you may need to change the pot.
JS: I wondered if I had to cut it off but I just couldn't.. so I put a lever under it and now the arm is growing skywards.
ZT: That is a special little friend you have there.
JS: I know. It's strange how it only sprouts on one side.
ZT: Why does it grow so fast?
JS: I don't know.
ZT: We'll continue the plant talk again some time *laugh*
JS: Yes, yes *laugh*
[Album talk & YT comments]
15:05 - 23:02
ZT: I'm sure you have incredible sapjil stories about your 2nd mini album 'Pit a Pat', too.
JS: Uh, yes.. haha.. sapjil..
ZT: I want to talk about your album now. The word sapjil doesn't really have a positive nuance, does it?
JS: Yes.. how about use 'challenges' intead?
ZT: But on our show, we don't use sapjil with negative connotations.
JS: It seems so.
ZT: We use it as a positive word. Let's get started then. The response to the teaser has been very hot. I have here a few comments from the teaser video. Why don't you take a look and read out the ones that strike you.
JS: Me? uh...
ZT: Take your time. We're not a fast-paced show.
JS: "I got so excited watching our Junsu's teaser, I punched the wall in my 1-room apt. and turned it into a studio. " Haha, this one's funny. (T/N it's funny in Korean.. T - T)
ZT: How do they come up with these lines?
JS: Right? They're so smart.
ZT: The 1-room became a studio.
JS: I guess so because there are no walls anymore.
ZT: Incredible. Any other ones?
JS: "The lyrics and melody are very catchy. His voice has permanently lodged itself in my brain hihi."
ZT: That was simple yet positive. (reads next comment v. animatedly) "Ah! I can't even count how many times I've rewatched the teaser! Is he human or fairy?! If the teaser's this good, how great will the full MV be, my heart is about to burst! I'm on my way to the gym right to boost my cardiovascular system!'
JS: Zion.T-nim.. Were you acting just now? (laugh)
ZT: I tried to give it the [rapper] Outsider feel. There are lot of long comments but personally I liked the 1-room one.
JS: It was witty.
ZT: I have so many things I want to ask about your process when you work on an album. To get satisfactory results, don't you have to be incredibly thorough and hands-on throughout the entire process?
JS: Yes, yes.
ZT: How did you proceed this time?
JS: On this album, I only produced the last track, 'When It Snows.' Before I decided on 'Pit A Pat' or even whether I'd do a dance song or a ballad as the title track, I had received 30 songs in advance. They're sent in anonymously, without the songwriter's name..
ZT: Like a blind test?
JS: Yes, I listen and select songs blindly. That's my usual process and it was the same this time. After I had a selection of good songs, I focused on the problem of whether to make a dance song or a ballad the title track. I wanted to go with a ballad, especially considering the seasonal timing, but then again the album had been a long time coming. After 2 years in the military, I had spent another 2 years doing musicals, so it was a total of 4 years since my last album. To come out with a ballad after the long wait seemed a bit lacking; my fans also really like my dance songs and I wanted to quench their thirst. Once I decided on a dance song, 'Pit A Pat' felt like the best one because it was bright and energetic, a song that could cheer people up in these times.
ZT: You've kindly explained your selection process in detail and I'm sure the fans found it heartwarming.
JS: [Laughs shyly] Yes.. I hope so.
ZT: The fact that you catered to their needs, when you could've been like 'I want to do a ballad!'
JS: The truth is, that's how I proceeded until now. To a certain extent, it's important to keep in mind what the fans want. But as an artist, one must not always follow that. Of course, this doesn't mean not to follow them as a rule but you have to be firm about what you believe in. In fact, 'Pit A Pat' was the balance I found between what I want and what I thought the fans wanted; it was the result of compromise. I had also wanted to try a song like 'Pit A Pat.'
ZT: If you had gone with a ballad title, which one would it have been?
JS: I think all 4 songs are well-made enough to qualify as title tracks.
ZT: Yes, I think you said this is the beginning.
JS: I thought track no. 2, 'Days', would go well with spring. 'Pit A Pat' felt good for summer because it's energetic. 'Writing You' was fall and the last track 'When It Snows' was winter. I wanted to capture the sense of all seasons. Right now it's closer to fall, so I would have gone with 'Writing You.' If it was spring, it would have been 'Days.'
ZT: There are so many people who love Junsu sunbae-nim's ballads.
JS: Are there? (laugh)
ZT: There are so many. And they way you included different kinds of ballads in the album shows how meticulous you are.
JS: Thank you.
ZT: Everyone is saying thank you [in the comments]. Can you tell us a little about the song 'Writing You'?
JS: Well.. as the lyrics say, it's about looking back on the past and how the tears you cry spell out the person you're missing. In a way, it's the most typical.. the most Kim Junsu style of ballads, if I may say so myself. At the same time, there is a certain restraint and poise to it.
ZT: You self-deprecatingly said 'typical' but these intense emotional ballads are becoming rarer these days.
JS: Nowadays, songs with those extreme high notes or vocal gymnastics are not so much in fashion as ones that are easy to sing and listen to. I like this kind of music, too, and actually you're at the top of that game right now. I am also influenced by your music.
ZT: Thank you.
JS: But in terms of trends, it has changed.
ZT: Which is why I welcome your ballads so much. Your music was a welcome change.
JS: Thank you.
ZT: We could talk for hours just about ballads but listening to the music made me want to go to your concert and listen to them in person.
JS: Ah.. thank you.
[ On 'When It Snows']
23:03 - 27:31
ZT: Did you write any songs on this album?
JS: The last track, 'When It Snows.' I actually wrote this when I was in the military.
ZT: *Sigh of recognition that all Korean men who have served make lol*
JS: I wrote it a year before being discharged. The thing is, the snow you see in the military..
ZT: It's really different, huh? (laugh)
JS: Have you served?
ZT: Yes, I have.
JS: Doesn't snow feel very bittersweet in the military?
JS: Not only do we have to sweep it..
ZT: We do.. It's just pretty-looking trash.
JS: Snow in the military is very bittersweet. And the thought occurred to me, 'I used to love it when it snowed. All my fans and my friends should be looking at this same snow. But why does it feel so bittersweet to me here?' So I wrote a song looking back on the days before the military. I had also listened to Zion.T-shi and Lee Moonsae sunbae-nim's collaboration song called 'Snow.' Now that I think about it, I had listened to that song, too.
ZT: It snowed a lot that year.
JS: That's right!
ZT: It really snowed a lot.
JS: Right, there was a lot of snow that year. I really liked your song and I also felt a bit inspired by the snow. I wrote my song with a songwriter who was my senior..
JS: We were in the Promotions Unit.
ZT: You had a songwriter as a senior ranker!
JS: Yes, yes. He's called CHKmate and he's written a lot of songs for idols, too.
ZT: What a coincidence. I think we all get a bit emotional at the year's end. When you listen to music and it's snowing, you get a little sentimental.
JS: Yes.. although, and I don't think I've ever said this before, I used to hate it when it rained because I loved sports and I couldn't play soccer when it rained. I didn't play soccer every day but I wanted to be able to play whenever I could. So I would always be sad when it snowed, ever since I was a kid. I also liked looking at the sky and if it was a sunny day, that would put me in a good mood; a cloudy or rainy day would get me down. But I liked rainy days in the military. On clear days, it would only make me want to go out to and take a walk, get something good to eat etc. But if it rains, no one can go out anyway, so I was like 'Nice!' Know what I mean? You feel less bitter. Hahahah!
ZT: When you're trapped inside and the weather's sunny..
JS: It killed me.
ZT: .. you think 'Why's it so nice when I can't even go outside?'
JS: 'Why's the weather so nice? I'm jealous.' But when it's rainy or a typhoon's coming - I shouldn't feel this way but - I went 'Nice!'
ZT: 'Cause you can't go out anyway
JS: I can't enjoy anything anyway, so it's like 'Nice.' Haha, I know I shouldn't think this way.
ZT: So you seem to be very outgoing.
ZT: You like outdoor activities..
JS: I do.
ZT: All the comments are reacting to your 'I'm jealous' remark.
JS: I'm sorry.
ZT: The funny thing is, most guests become apologetic about sharing their military stories.
ZT: Because most people hate listening to them. [T/N In Korea, girls hate it when guys tell their "war stories" from the military. 1, they're always exaggerated. 2, they're hard to relate to. 3, they're repetitive and essentially the same from guy to guy] But the comments here are saying "Oppa's military stories are the best."
ZT: I think it's because they've been waiting for you.
JS: Ah, I guess so.
ZT: Because they bore that time together with you.
ZT: It must hit them differently.
JS: Heheh, right..
ZT: It's great.
[How a 'XIA' song is made]
27:32 - 32:29
ZT: I'm curious about your work process. I've begun to piece together what kind of person Junsu hyung-nim is while we've been talking. You've been writing your own songs for a long time now, so you must have quite an arsenal of songs.
JS: I always thought the kind of dance music I wanted to do wasn't out there. I was writing music since my DBSK days but I put a lot of care into my first endeavors [as a solo artist]. But after a while, I thought I could be boxing myself in with my own style. To escape this, I looked to other songwriters and limited my input to a few suggestions here and there. In terms of song-writing, I'll jot down or record a melody when it comes to me but I don't work with "machines" [the technical aspect] anymore. I used to do the arrangements, too, though.
JS: But not these days..
ZT: You're more into collaborative work.
JS: Yes, that's the direction I'd like to take.
ZT: What was interesting to me was the fact that you receive, probably more than, 30 songs and blind test them. You said casually that it's always been the way you worked.
ZT: That was very refreshing to me. I felt it was very fair.
JS: The funny thing is, the 2nd and 3rd track are by the same songwriter. He had only submitted those 2 songs but I ended up choosing them among all the blind submissions.
ZT: After the fact?
JS: Yes, I found out after the fact. What's even funnier is that songwriter had been someone I had known a long time ago through gaming. I remember he said he was a songwriter back then and I took him out to eat.
ZT: How does that happen?
JS: He was already a successful songwriter when he wrote these songs for me. He's known for his ballads.
ZT: It's so funny how you can meet like that.
JS: Plus, I sang a webtoon OST recently and he was the songwriter for that, too. In this case, I wasn't the one who chose the song - it was chosen by the webtoon company - but we met again.
ZT: It was meant to be.
JS: Yes, they all turned out to be the same person. It's amazing how that happened.
ZT: Purely by coincidence.
JS: Some people jokingly ask if I work with him because we're friends but I only found out he was the songwriter on the day of recording. He was like 'Hyung.." and at first I didn't recognize him because he had lost so much weight. Then I was like 'Huh??' I was shocked.
ZT: I think he must've been looking up to you all those years he was working as a songwriter.
JS: He did say back then that it was his dream to write a song for me. I told him he could still give me a song and he told me he wanted to wait until he felt confident enough.
ZT: He must be so proud.
JS: He had risen as a hot shot ballad writer while I was enlisted but I had no idea. I first saw him on the day I recorded the song and was completely taken by surprise.
ZT: I don't know if he's listening right now but it looks like he's ticked one thing off his bucket list. Congratulations.
JS: I was so happy to see him again and felt proud of him.
ZT: You've already worked on 3 songs together then?
JS: Yes, yes. Without even knowing it.
ZT: It's time we listen to the song Junsu-shi put the most amount of care into. His sapjil song.
JS: In this case, I think sapjil is the right word to describe it. It was from my first album in Korea and a song I wrote and produced. I've written a few songs but this is the one I worked hardest on. It was my first solo after all, so I couldn't help but do a little sapjil on this one. I was involved in everything about this song, including the music video.
ZT: I think it'll be fun.
JS: It's called 'Tarantallegra'.
ZT: We'll be back after this song.
36:50 - 37:48
ZT: We were looking at the chat room while the song was playing, but it was too fast to read. If we compare it to cars, they are a sports car.
JS: All I saw in the comments was 'Hey! Hey!' [People singing along to 'Taran'] Hahahaha.
ZT: They pass by before I can read any. It's gonna be hard but can you read a few comments? You'll need high visual acuity for this.
JS: "Hey! Hey!" and "Kyaaa"
ZT: They don't even look like words but more like pictures.
JS: There's a lot of onomatopoeia.
ZT: "Kyaaa," "ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ," "👍👍👍", "❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️".. that's all I can make out with my normal eyesight.
JS: You can't stop the comments for a moment either.
ZT: There are technical limitations. I'm sorry. I'll ask our writer to make note of any comments that stand out.
[Keyword Talk: Musicals]
A look back: career overview
37:49 - 41:59
ZT: Let's jump deep into our sapjil talk now. We chose some keywords to bring out stories from Singer XIA and actor Kim Junsu. The first keyword is 'musicals.' This year is your 10th year in musical theatre.
JS: Yes, that's right.
ZT: My God..
JS: It's my 10th anniversary.
ZT: That's 10 years just in musicals.
JS: Yes, yes. I was surprised, too, at the fact it's been 10 years already.
ZT: A lot of pop singers do musical theatre now but the situation must have been very different when you started out.
JS: Yes, that's true. Nowadays, many singers or idols branch out, for example, good-looking members will do dramas, films or commercials. It was still the same back then but not for musicals.
ZT: It was particularly difficult..
JS: Yes. Now, the good singers [from idol groups] venture into musicals like idols branch out to dramas; it's become more normalized.
ZT: "Venture"is easier said than done, as you said before, if you were given the choice to go back 10 years and do it all again, you wouldn't be able to.
JS: To be exact, I wasn't only talking about musicals. It's been over 15 years since my debut and - I'm cautious about saying this because I don't want to come off as ungrateful but - even if I am guaranteed the success I have today, if I were to go back 15 years and go through everything I had been through again, I don't think I'll be able to. Even if success is guaranteed. I.. Back then, I didn't know what lied ahead. It was about dealing with one immediate hurdle, then the next one and the next, after which I find myself here. Somewhere along the way, I realized I had no other options. It's like when you're climbing a mountain and you know when you've come too far to go back down. That's how I felt through the years. So even if I'm guaranteed I'll make it to the summit, if I have to go through everything again, I don't think I can. Honestly. But I have no regrets. I'm proud that I made it here and I'm proud of how hard I worked. But if you tell me to go back, I'm not confident I can.
ZT: That's how arduous it was.
JS: It was physically but also psychologically.
ZT: I'm suddenly feeling a strange emotion. Normally, people live to be successful.
JS: The thing is.. Well, I feel really cautious saying this because I don't want to sound ungrateful. It's not like I'm going to live without working. But the thought did cross my mind that I'd like to live an ordinary life and enjoy the things I wasn't able to; to live without such tremendous pressure and responsibility and only enjoy however much I am able to earn without the huge responsibility.
ZT: When I think about it, since the day you started working in this industry to your current position, you seem to have been always showing the way for others.
JS: Unintentionally, by circumstance, that was the case. In the end, I am proud of everything. What allowed me to make it here is really, really all thanks to my fans. They were the reason I didn't let myself be worn down. In the end, I am thankful and will continue to be so.
On life as an idol & junior idols
42:00 - 45:01
ZT: I know you have your fans and many colleagues you can depend on, but you must have those moments when you need a real shoulder to lean against. We're going off script here but while listening to you speak, I can't help but wonder what kind of weight you are shouldering.
JS: I can't say it's just me. Or even just celebrities. Everyone has a responsibility they must bear. But.. I've lived my whole life feeling nervous and pressured and worrying. And facing challenges. These were the keywords of my life. While I think it's fortunate I did well and I feel proud of it, if you ask me to bear that pressure again from the beginning, that's a different story. Would I be able endure it again? Back then, I was working on 2-3 hours of sleep. Will I be able to do that again? Looking back now, I think it's amazing that I did. These days, I have just one work thing a day and that's hard enough, especially since it's been a while. Back then, it wasn't about one work thing a day.. it was one day off work a year. How did I do that? Plus, work always lasted late into the night.
ZT: That sounds inhuman.
JS: When I go to the salon these days, I see idols completely knocked out while they're getting their makeup done. They remind me of my old self and I really want to cheer them on. 'Please hang in there.' I always cheer them on. When we see idols out of it during makeup, we call it 'cleaning the corpse' LOL It's inside lingo because they lie there like they're dead.
ZT: They're just lying there.
JS: They almost look dead and I feel like I'm looking at myself from the past.
ZT: That's how hard their schedules are and how necessary those moments of sleep are. I only heard about it, how it's almost too hard for a person to bear. Even at my busiest, I've never experienced anything like it so I'm just going by what I heard.
JS: So when I see them, I sincerely cheer them on in my heart, 'Please hang in there.'
ZT: The best way you can get that message and energy across would be to continue working..
JS: On days when I catch myself thinking 'This is too hard,' I look at them and reprimand myself, 'Junsu-ya, get a grip. Don't be ungrateful.' That's where I'm at now haha.
ZT: You're both grateful to your past self and are using that to egg on your current self.
JS: Yes, yes. I think that's kind of where I'm at now.
First start in musicals
45:02 - 53:01
ZT: In the meantime, you were the first person ever to sell out Sejong Center; won the newcomer and audience choice awards; won the best actor award. Behind this unprecedented career path, there must have been tremendous effort. All this might sound like old news to you since it's already been 10 years.
JS: A lot of time has passed..
ZT: Also, the style of singing for musicals is different from pop singing. And you never acted before. I'm curious how you felt when you first started out.
JS: Mmm.. I don't know if you'll know this but I had gone through a major change in my life back then. And I was on hiatus for about a year. My first project coming out of it was not an album or as a singer but a musical. I had agonized over this decision. I would have been worried whether the public or fans would accept me; or if I'd be able to make it; even if I were coming back with something I had always done. So I was all the more fearful because I would be reappearing before fans after a year with something I was trying my hand at for the first time. 'Would I be good at it?' And back then, idols weren't welcomed in musical theatre. 'Will I be able to communicate and work alongside musical actors?' I had all these different concerns. But.. In the end, I made my theatre debut with the musical 'Mozart!'
ZT: A huge production.
JS: There's a number from that musical called, 'Golden Star' and I was really moved by the lyrics. I thought to myself, 'I have no idea if I'll pull this off but if I get to sing this in front of an audience, that would be a great consolation to me' and mustered up the courage. In hindsight, I think it was a good decision.
ZT: That's amazing. Wow.. It's nice hearing this anecdote about one song giving you courage.
JS: Yes (laugh)
ZT: I can't imagine. During that one year, you met this musical and probably immersed yourself completely in it. That energy has to be different.. because the Junsu back then is different from the present Junsu.
JS: Yes. It's like this.. Back then, it was the only thing I had. I was desperate. It would have been nice if I had an array of options and chose the one I wanted to do the most. But back then, this was the only thing I had. That's why it was scary but once I chose to do it, I wanted to do it well.
ZT: You put everything into it.
JS: I poured all I had into it. I don't know if that resulted into all rave reviews but at least I was consoled while I was performing. And doing musicals allowed me to receive awards, something I thought would never again happen in my life. I had doubted whether I would ever go to an awards ceremony again, but it was musical awards ceremonies that offered consolation. And when I so gratefully received a best actor's award, it allowed me to live a second life. I am so thankful for that. It's the reason I am determined to give back to the musical theatre community and do musicals for the rest of my life.
ZT: It became a great breakthrough and motivation for you.
ZT: Wow, I can't believe I'm hearing these stories. I'm so glad I did this show with you.
JS: Hahaha. I'm the one who's thankful.
ZT: We mentioned singing styles and I'm curious because it's different.
JS: Yes, for musicals.
ZT: Tell us more in detail.
JS: Even different singers have.. It's like this. Back then, there was a certain standard. Basically, musical actors had to have a classical or at least popera-ish vocal style. That was the basic mold for musical theatre. Things have changed a lot now. Just like different vocal styles are loved in pop music - for instance, people love the mellow sound of Zion.T while also respecting other diverse voices - musical theatre has also changed. But back then.. But even putting that aside, I was different because I had only sung pop music. The difference being, while it doesn't sound cool to over-enunciate in pop music, diction is very important in musicals. In musicals, lyrics are essentially lines put to a melody so communicating lyrics correctly is key; this hasn't changed. In terms of singing style, I can illustrate it in a simple way: with pop songs you can do this [makes throaty sound - 51:12] but not in musicals, at least not in the ones I've done. Maybe you can if it's a jazz musical. [Attempts some kind of riff?] These types of sounds can sound out of place in a musical. These were things I was mindful of in the beginning. [Going back to original point] Now, styles have diversified in musicals. There are even hip-hop-based musicals and ones with jazz or R&B music. So it's difficult to standardize a style now.
ZT: It's become more lenient.
JS: Yes. I think that's part of the reason why musicals have become more mainstream now.
ZT: I love it, too. I love going to musicals. Here's a comment: "I have a new dream and motivation thanks to the path Xia Junsu-nim chose. I really thank you for the choice you made 10 years ago."
JS: Thank you.
ZT: A lot of people are thanking you for sharing such personal stories.
JS: Thank you haha.
ZT: "You are our pride. Thank you."
JS: Aigo. I'm thankful to you for asking me these questions.
ZT: Shockingly, we haven't even gotten through half the script but it's already been 50 minutes.
ZT: We don't have much time left so I might need to skip over some questions.
ZT: I didn't expect time to fly like this. To be honest, I was really nervous about meeting you today.
JS: Why why?
ZT: I was really nervous.
More musical talk
53:02 - 58:08
ZT: I had so many questions but.. here's what I'll do. I'll pick the ones I wanted to ask the most and try to speed things up.
JS: Got it.
ZT: Uh.. oh, this one: If there's one production or scene that you did the most sapjil on, what would it be?
JS: A scene?
ZT: Yes. I really wanted to ask this.
JS: A scene from a musical?
ZT: Yes. For example, a scene you found particularly difficult or complicated. Has there been a scene like that? Or a musical, it doesn't matter which.
ZT: For instance, if a costume was uncomfortable.
JS: There are many but.. I did a musical called 'December' and I guess I did the most sapjil in that one. It was the biggest challenge for me because up to that point, I had only done song-through musicals and this was closer to a play. 'December' required more traditional acting than singing, especially since director Jang Jin [famous theatre/film director] demanded more refined acting. That was when I learned a lot about acting and even gained confidence in it. So I remember that one well. I always put a lot of thought into the roles I do, but I had never wrestled with one like I did for 'December.' It was a musical of personal growth for me.
ZT: This makes me think that your progress wasn't a gradual process of self-development but rather giant leaps made from one big production to another because it would have been disaster had you not made them.
JS: I don't think I'll be able to do it now. When I said earlier that I couldn't do it over again, it includes how each decision had been agonizing and how I spent nights up wrestling with the consequences once I made a choice. After the fact, I'm proud and happy about them but they are also painful memories. On the other hand, I think I felt alive during those days. I have a lot of mixed emotions about them.
ZT: I think it might also become a bit addictive.
JS: I need to shake off that addiction hahaha.
ZT: The tension of a live performance. One break in the flow and..
JS: Memorizing an entire book's length of words and reciting them without a single mistake not just once but every night for an entire run. Plus keeping in top physical shape. The enormous pressure that entails.
ZT: Keeping yourself in shape for the season must be tremendous work.
JS: If it's a 3-month run, people think 'Oh, so you can take it easy on days you don't have a show' but..
ZT: That's not the case at all.
JS: Even days off are still work days for me. If I have a show the next day, I have to spend the day managing my physical-mental state.
ZT: I can't imagine living like that.
JS: When I do musicals, I try to keep my schedule clear of anything else.
ZT: Time is really flying. You'll have noticed that we have so much to talk about and I've already skipped over 2 questions.
ZT: I have to skip some questions because after we listen to a song, it's time to answer questions from our listeners and I think this will be important to you as well as to Junsu-shi. Why don't we listen to the song first. Are you okay with that? Okay. We'll go to the song and if you guys will leave questions, we'll answer them after playing the song. This is a recommendation from Junsu - would you mind introducing it?
JS: My song rec is Mika's 'Happy Ending'
ZT: We're not over yet so please leave you questions to Junsu.
Rapid fire Q&A
62:44 - 80:04
ZT: So many people have left questions in the chat room. I think we can make an entire book out of just the comments here.
ZT: There are so many questions. And many of them are good questions so I think they'll make up for the questions I skipped over earlier. I'll pick the questions and you can answer.
ZT: "Oppa, can you give us a spoiler from your next musical i.e. what genre is it?"
JS: My next musical?
ZT: Yes. Is it possible?
JS: It's a secret. Hahahaha.
ZT: Of course. He does big productions so even the genre will give it away. It has to be a secret. It's a corporate secret. Next question:
"Which song do you love most from this album and why?"
JS: I want to say it's 'Pit A Pat' because it's the title track.
ZT: Ah, okay okay
JS: Heh. Please listen to it.
ZT: That was such a simple answer.
JS: Yes, haha.
ZT: Okay, please listen to 'Pit A Pat.' Next question: "What will you do for Christmas?"
JS: I dunno yet. Which month is Christmas..?
ZT: December. That's how busy you are, huh?
JS: I guess.. I'll be working on something?
ZT: You'll still be working?
JS: Yes, yes. I should be.
ZT: Are you not big on holidays or anniversaries?
JS: I guess not..
ZT: They're not that important to you?
JS: Sometimes friends will throw me a birthday party but I don't consider it that important. I mean, it comes around every year so..
ZT: That's true.
ZT: And time passes so quickly.
"Describe a day in your life."
JS: Well re