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A pleasant chat with WINNER “We’re thankful for everything”
Kim Kwan-myung

I met with WINNER. On the 3rd floor of the YG Building. Without beating around the bush, let’s go with the interview.

Q. Let’s talk about music first. Let’s start with “Empty”.

Song Minho: This song was a present from B.I and Bobby, who we competed against in TV. Because the keyword of this song is strong, we worked to focus on that emotion. While we recorded it, we tried to be as empty as possible. Instead of being more sad or trying to be on the verge of crying, we tried to be without any strength.

Q. Tell us about “Color Ring”, Kang Seungyoon.

Kang Seungyoon: This song has a feeling different from songs that come out these days. Even the topic of color rings (ringtones). I wanted to pull out the emotions from songs about ringtones [in the older generation] that I empathised with. The superficial theme of the song is about missing a past lover but this song is actually about regret. The song is about the regret of “If I had done that like this…”.

Q. “I’m Him” is good.

Song Minho: First of all, the title itself is strong. I made this song as strong as possible because this was my solo song, simultaneous with our debut, and I wanted to make it differently from Winner’s concept, also I wanted to fully appeal to the public. The song is amusing due to the metaphors in it.

Q. “I’m Confessing” has many fans.

Nam Taehyun: Personally, I like simplicity. I wanted to express myself with just a piano and my voice. I wanted my voice to be delivered well. You could say I recorded this in one take. That’s why I think my sincerity and originality is truly alive in this song. I rawly expressed the sounds of my breathing, the shushes in between my singing, and things like that.

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Q. This might be a cruel question. What did you think about B.I and Bobby’s activities as WIN Team B in “Show Me the Money 3”?

Song Minho: It’s not a cruel question (laughs). They are dongsaengs we like. While watching “SMTM”, I encouraged them a lot. I could see them lose a lot of weight during the show so I sympathised with them. I watched them every week on TV and they did really well. As a rapper, personally, I was more thankful. I was also proud of them. They did well in showing the feelings that I would’ve shown. I was proud of them for breaking the prejudice against idol rappers.

Kang Seungyoon: I felt pride as a viewer. Men are blind in their own cause. I was delighted to see them mature through the broadcast. I had goosebumps when B.I performed really well in the last round.

Q. How do you feel about the newly begun “Mix and Match”?

Song Minho: We know the feeling all too well so we worry a lot. But they are friends who do well.

Kang Seungyoon: Friends other than B.I and Bobby will improve a lot through this program. I hope they endure this difficult time and mature well with the name “iKon”.

Lee Seunghoon: (Imitating YG’s voice) I hope they endure this difficult time and mature well with the name “iKon”. (All laugh)

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Q. How bad is Seunghoon’s injury?

Lee Seunghoon: I fell during the concert in Singapore.

Song Minho: He fell hard. It was really dangerous.

Lee Seunghoon: I had my in-ears on and I was filming something while on a brightly lit stage and I fell 2 meters. It’s a relief it wasn’t worse.

Kang Seungyoon: This hyung came right back up the stage after falling so we didn’t know he was in pain. As soon as we were backstage he cried. I was thankful. He looked cool. He sang 2 songs while he was injured.

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Q. Kim Jinwoo, do you have any pressure as the eldest?

Kim Jinwoo: The kids grew up well by themselves. As of now, I haven’t reprimanded them or got mad at them. I think it would be best for them to stay as they are.

Q. Are you getting used to promoting in Japan?

Lee Seunghoon: We were on a Japan dome tour with Big Bang seniors. After we opened for them, I tried hard to remember the repertoire and their talks. There are no difficulties in recording songs and practicing but it is very difficult to talk in Japanese because we need to deal with it quickly. We sometimes talk in Japanese.

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Q. Let’s talk about the competition you have against this year’s rookies such as Got7 and Red Velvet.

Kang Seungyoon: I am a fan of Red Velvet. They’re too fresh.

Kim Jinwoo: You seem to have ulterior motives. (Laughs)

Kang Seungyoon: Because we promoted around the same time, we met each other a lot and I smiled at them automatically. I think their concept was really good. They have a similar basis as other girl groups from SM but they are refreshing.

Lee Seunghoon: We are close with Got7. We are really close with them.

Kang Seungyoon: I wish K-Pop became bigger through our competition against them.

Lee Seunghoon: (Imitating YG’s voice) To vitalise the K-pop market.. (All laugh)

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Q. Basically, the long-awaited album did well. You are starting your Japan tour on the 23rd.

Lee Seunghoon: Before the album was released, I worried a lot. I worried about having to show something that YG hadn’t shown before. I also worried about how to break the image of being the next Big Bang. Fortunately, the reaction was better than expected. I feel that people of a wide age range like our music unlike other idol groups where only young people like their music.

Nam Taehyun: I didn’t know that people would love us this much. I am grateful. We have packed schedules but as a group who have just debuted, it is a new experience. There are many things I learn and feel.

Kim Jinwoo: We have gone to many countries through the YG Family concerts. It’s difficult to fly for long hours but because it is such a new experience, I like it. I learn many things when I am with our seniors.

Kang Seungyoon: I’m thankful for the world tour and other gigs. We will do our best to express our more matured selves in our next album. I think this is the only way we can pay back all the love we are receiving.

Song Minho: Every day is a repetition of surprise and thankfulness. We can get carried away with all these things and all this love doesn’t let us settle down in reality. I make sure to have humility every day.

The interview that lasted for one hour was enjoyable. However Taehyun’s honest exposure that he cannot hear in his left ear, making it difficult to compose, which makes him more obsessed with sound and once even falling in too deep into the audio, making him forget about his duty as a singer. As a reporter, the talk was unexpectedly serious as they talked about Lee Seunghoon staying until the end of the encore despite his injury, the members’ surprise and gratefulness, and Song Minho’s gushing vehemence as a rapper. Above anything, their values and opinions on their songs in their album was solid and cool-headed. That’s right. WINNER has much more to show in the future.

Translated by @chrissy96_

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