English translated interview and HD scanned images from January 2014 issue of Ceci Magazine, with Taeyeon as the cover girl.
When asked to choose who I wanted to meet from Girls’ Generation, my choice was always Taeyeon. Because her subtle, yet powerful voice was the strong first impression from a group called Girls’ Generation. 2014 makes 8 years for Girls’ Generation. They opened up a new chapter in the Korean music industry, and, rather than remaining in the generation they created, they wanted challenges. While none are teens anymore, they’re still relentless. They have been pulling in everything possible as Girls’ Generation’s territory and have been building up a large, solid fortress. When there is word about a comeback, it is said their next steps will decide Girls’ Generation’s future. However, no matter what the appearance of their comeback, nothing would be weird.
Among lively members who are overflowing with personality, Taeyeon always quietly stayed a step back. Doing what she likes by singing & sharing loving looks with her fans: it feels like that is how she spends her time. White skin almost transparent, baby-like smiling eyes, but she is a bit secretive. What might be in her heart? On the first day of raging sleet this winter, I met Taeyeon. She hesitated quite a bit, trying and trying not to show her feelings. However, I didn’t want to rush her. Because there had to be something valuable about her that didn’t need to be shown easily. 26 year-old Taeyeon is currently going through her most beautiful time right now.
CeCi: Compared to other members, you don’t have many individual activities. I hope this CeCi cover photoshoot is considered as a coveted item by fans.
Taeyeon: This is my first time as a solo cover model, so it’s really interesting. Each Girls’ Generation member has done their own versions of cover shoots, and we really didn’t know anything at the time. Since there have been many cases where members were cover models for separate magazines, I can tell how great this is.
CeCi: You haven’t done as many photoshoots as I thought.
Taeyeon: To be honest, there has been a time when getting my photo taken felt rather difficult. There have been a lot of times where I’ve declined photoshoot schedules because, for some reason, I didn’t have any self-confidence. However, I thought about when I would again be able to leave [a trace] of myself in my 20’s, if not now. I also thought about when else I would be able to show myself to mediums and fans when they want. In the past, I only wanted to sing songs I like the most. However, now, if it’s something that others can all take in and willingly enjoy, then I think it’s something I can do and feel that it is my job.
CeCi: At what point did you start accepting these jobs?
Taeyeon: The biggest reason I always do something is because of the fans. Under any circumstance, fans move me. At some point, I thought I had to show myself when they wanted. I thought of it as repayment for the love and as necessary work. I wasn’t able to think like that at first. It slowly became deeper while promoting, like while seeing our fans waiting for us at dawn to cheer us on, even in cold weather.
CeCi: The response for your OSTs, songs you are featured in, and other individual songs has always been hot. Fans probably really look forward to news about your solo activities.
Taeyeon: Of course, if given the opportunity, I want to! But that’s still a personal hope. A good opportunity should eventually come.
CeCi: If you were to do solo activities, what might be a good method or appearance?
Taeyeon: I’ve wanted to do a show in a small theater for a long time. Not too long ago, I went to sing a duet with at Kim Bumsoo’s small theater concert, and the small venue was nice. When the room is small, the person singing is in a much more comfortable position. To be honest, we can’t hear the audience’s shouting very well when we have concerts in large venues, like gymnasiums, because we have to use in-ear monitors. Because everyone can hear you singing even without a mic in a small theater, I want to sing while seeing fans from up close. Since the number of audience members will be limited, let’s have more concerts. Even two or three concerts in a week seems okay.
CeCi: I’m always curious when I see idol groups. You usually can’t receive a song you want 100% of the time, and it seems like it would feel like getting a big assignment whenever you receive a new song.
Taeyeon: It is kind of like that. I guess it’s like a feeling of wanting to put forth the best solution to the problem in front of our eyes. It’s just working hard with the voice and feelings that I have. It’s a group with many people, and because everyone’s individual colors are clear, it’s not a problem that can be controlled with one’s personal preference. At least at a concert, I tend to be able to sing to my heart’s content the songs that I want to sing. The energy a singer gets at concerts is really great!
CeCi: You always look like you have a thirst for singing on stage.
Taeyeon: I like singing the most, and there isn’t anything I’m just as good at. (laughs) It’s just me wanting to show something I’m good at.
CeCi: There are a lot of hit songs, like Gee, Tell Me You Wish, and Hoot, among others. Of them, is there a song that was like a “gift from God” for Girls’ Generation?
Taeyeon: The one that appealed strongly to the general public was Gee, and the one that we felt a change in the members was Tell Me Your Wish. From Kissing You to Gee, they were all cute, girl-like songs. On the other hand, Tell Me Your Wish was a lot more stylish and feminine, and the choreography itself had a sexy feel. Before this, there was a strong feel, but an upgraded maturity came about with Tell Me Your Wish. The choreography style put a distinction on our body line in a modest way, so I think it made it feel like that more.
CeCi: Through one interview, I saw you say, “In the past, I didn’t know you look prettier with a natural look, so I even paid attention to just a strand of hair.” Do you almost not have any obsessions when it comes to looks now?
Taeyeon: Compared to the past, yes. Of course, it would be good to look pretty in any photo. But, having thousands of photos of me being taken by fans in a day, I can’t look beautiful in all of them. How many photos of me with my eyes half closed, or with an ugly facial expression, might there be? Being greedy for looking perfect won’t make it so. I’ve been wanting to become a more honest and down-to-earth person lately.
CeCi: You’ve suddenly been sharing a lot of photos on SNS. Is this also your way of expressing that you want to honestly show yourself?
Taeyeon: I’ve been updating Instagram every day like school attendance. (laughs) It’s just me wanting to share things I saw and liked. I started using SNS first out of my members last spring. (CeCi: You started really late.) The members made a promise “to not use them”. With the many slips-of-the-tongue and mistakes made by public figures on SNS, we decided early on not to use it in order to be careful. After I started, other members started using Instagram and Twitter, amongst other things.
CeCi: You all promised not to do it, but was there something that caused that unwritten rule to break?
Taeyeon: To be completely honest, I started for the fans. I feel futile and empty when there aren’t activities, so I thought of how stifling it must be for fans who are forever waiting. I think it would be like walking without a destination. Our album always comes out later than scheduled, so I was sorry that the waiting is drawn out. Of course, I also had an uneasy heart, thinking that [fans] would turn their eyes to the new girl and boy groups that have been pouring out. (laughs) Thinking of the fans, I couldn’t not use SNS.
CeCi: There must be more things to pay attention to now, other than taking care of fans only in Korea.
Taeyeon: That’s also a big reason I started SNS. There are ways to meet overseas fans, but I felt sorry for not trying. Because the cultures are different, I also thought, “How happy do I have to look for them to feel how I feel?” I also became careful: for example, wondering if approaching someone first for a handshake expresses my friendliness or is a rude gesture. But from the stage, it all looks the same. The way they memorize and do Korean cheers, regardless of where we go in the world, is really fun, and I’m grateful.
CeCi: You also wrote words for your fans on SNS. That you feel affection from photos your fans take, and you said thanks.
Taeyeon: I really want to avoid having my disheveled appearance exposed on camera early in the morning at the airport. However, the sincerity from fans can be felt in their only trying to take pretty pictures. I’m quite thankful for those intentions. I leave comments when I feel sorry for getting on the plane in front of fans after avoiding cameras like I don’t like them.
CeCi: Taeyeon’s nails are pretty famous amongst fans. You posted photos of nail art that you did yourself on Instagram, and you seemed like a ‘homebody’.
Taeyeon: That’s right. I’m a homebody! (laughs) Fans who saw a photo of me after I got care from a nail shop mistook it as nail art I did myself, so I was gifted instruments. As I did it, there were times where it was looked pretty to the point where it seemed like I had some talent. I posted photos of proof through SNS on those days. It’s really fun!
CeCi: You normally have a lot of interest in skincare and makeup?
Taeyeon: I have a lot of products, and I tend to be quick with buying new products. Technically, I like makeup more than clothes! (CeCi: Is there an item you’re a ‘-holic’ for these days?) CC cream. It’s lighter than BB cream, and it gives my face a beautiful feel, more than having nothing on, so it’s really nice. It makes my skin look nice and moist.
CeCi: Girls’ Generation’s glue-like teamwork doesn’t seem exaggerated for some reason. Why do you think it is?
Taeyeon: First of all, you can’t ignore the power of time. Jessica, Sooyoung, Hyoyeon, and Yuri have been trainees together since elementary school, so they’ve been friends for over 12 years. Because of this, the feeling of being like sisters is stronger than that of being colleagues. We know each other really well, so we don’t do things we don’t like. Ah, there are times when we do things on purpose that another doesn’t like as a joke. (laughs) That we’re not as feminine as you think also plays a role. When we’re gathered together, we’re really like mischievous neighborhood kids.
CeCi: Who is the most playful?
Taeyeon: The one who is boyish, unlike how she looks, is Sunny. I’m not that girly either. Yoona is totally the ‘biggest kid’. Everyone’s really number 1 when it comes to being cheerful. (CeCi: Is the most feminine member, as expected, Seohyun?) Seohyun and Jessica!
CeCi: You said you all don’t do things that others don’t like. What would be one “this is strictly forbidden for this member” rule that you’d reveal?
Taeyeon: Tiffany can never look at a fish’s eye. Once, Sooyoung covered a fish’s eye with her chopsticks, went ‘ta-da’, and showed it to her. There was really an uproar in the restaurant.
CeCi: Recently, what was the topic in Girls’ Generation’s KakaoTalk room?
Taeyeon: As always, dog photos! Yuri, Sooyoung, Tiffany, Seohyun, and I have dogs, and if they make a cute facial expression or odd pose, we always take a picture and blindly post them. Oh, and someone recently asked, “Does anyone know any good makgeolli places?” (CeCi: Girls’ Generation and makgeolli…) I think it was because it was raining? (laughs)
CeCi: Do you have great expectations for the 30’s coming up, or nostalgia of the 20’s that are going past?
Taeyeon: I keep on wanting to feel something new. So I’m really, really curious about my 30’s. The feelings of a 24-year old, the feelings of a 25-year old, and the things you feel in autumn and winter are all different. So, rather than time that’s passed, I always think the times that are drawing near are all precious. Moving forward is more important.
CeCi: 2014, you’ve become 26 years old. What kind of time is Kim Taeyeon living in?
Taeyeon: Um… I think it’s a really important time. 23, 24, and 25 were all important, but I don’t really feel myself getting older. Oh! Recently, because the stylists and staff have all been younger than me, something that’s changed is me naturally talking to them like an unnie (older sister). Not too long ago, I called someone ‘Baby~’ without realizing it. (laughs) Oof, I was really surprised after saying it!
CeCi: 8 years since your debut. Shall we talk about how fast you’ve been moving forward and where exactly you see yourself?
Taeyeon: I’ve been moving well, but I’m not at the end yet. Whenever I look at my life, I mean. I think I’m still at a stage where I am preparing myself without knowing what I’m doing. As a singer, as a member of Girls’ Generation, I have so many things to do in the future. I have no intention of slowing down. But that doesn’t mean I want to speed up excessively, just to keep going at the current speed. I really like being natural. I want to go with the flow. (CeCi: Do you believe in destiny?) Somewhat. I tend to accept things easily.
CeCi: Easy-going, smart, easily feels lonely, audacious… These are the modifiers that come to mind when thinking of Taeyeon. What kind of modifier do you want to give yourself?
Taeyeon: A person ‘with a twist’. People think I have a cute and bright personality, but I’m actually not really ‘hyperactive’. Unless it’s a really fun occasion, there aren’t really any reasons for me to get in a ‘hyper’ mood. While I like doing my own nails or doodling with colored pencils by myself in my room, there’s a twist in me liking sports cars ‘too much’. I also like the smell of androgynous, men’s cologne more than women’s floral perfumes.
CeCi: You must like drives that are a little speedy.
Taeyeon: I like driving quite a bit. But I’m bad with directions. Isn’t this a twist as well? (laughs) So I like driving down the freeway when I go home to Jeonju the most, since I just need to go straight. I often go when I have time. I went not too long ago.
CeCi: There are so many surveys that you were number one in, from “celebrity I want to have as a junior at school” to “celebrity I want as a girlfriend”, and “celebrity I want as a friend”, amongst others! What kind of survey would you create to be number one in?
Taeyeon: “A celebrity I want to have in my favorites on KakaoTalk”. I wish I would become someone that people want to look for that often and become close with.
CeCi: From your trainee days, you probably got all the way here by either complimenting and patting yourself one the back, or by scolding yourself. Has Taeyeon changed during that long time?
Taeyeon: Of course! When it comes to work, I’ve become really naive. I feel like I’ve become simple to the point where I can feel it myself. In the past, I was really on the sensitive side when the singing sound or monitoring didn’t work well on stage. So I got mad easily, but I’ve been understanding of the site’s limits and acknowledge them. While it is like a textbook answer, I’ve gotten a relaxed mind, thinking, “I can do better next time.”
CeCi: Isn’t that what years of experience can do? What is your personality outside of work?
Taeyeon: I still have a lot of thoughts. But I think the way I face people has changed a lot. In the past, it was a bit burdensome meeting with people. It was difficult trying to keep a constant conversation while sitting in front of one another, so there were times where I would say I had plans when I didn’t and was alone. I don’t do that anymore. Chatting is fun and natural.
CeCi: According to you, what kind of person is a real adult?
Taeyeon: A considerate person. I think there are a lot of things in the word ‘considerate’. In a way, sensible actions and thoughts are like being considerate to the other person. I’ve been feeling like becoming an adult-like adult a lot lately. I will become a person who thinks deeply, is sensible, and considerate.
CeCi: Lastly, a word to Taeyeon in 2014!
Taeyeon: Become more simple. Also, gain the happy virus a bit more and put out energy!