I’m sure you know Mr Han is the president of FnC Music. As he’s the producer of YAB OSTs, there’s this long interview in the Japanese guidebook. I read the full Chinese translation of it. And below is my English translation based on that. Sorry that I only translated Yonghwa/CNBLUE related Q & A’s.
Q: How did FnC Music artists Lee Hongki and Jung Yonghwa get the chance to do this drama?
Director Hung had seen the fashion brand CF by FTIsland and he found their band image matching that of A.N.JELL very much. He said, “Let’s meet.” I took Hongki along when we first met. He said, “I want the role of Shinwoo be played by a band kid too.” At that time, CNBLUE was having indie activities in Japan and it’s not long before they’d debut in Korea, so I suggested his meeting them too. He asked, “When will they come to Korea?” For the audition, I had them come to Korea for one day. He met with Yonghwa. Yonghwa played the guitar and sing at the audition. Seeing his performance, Director Hung thought Yonghwa was perfect for the role of Shinwoo.
Q: How did you feel about the audition result?
Actually even before the audition, I thought Yonghwa really suited the image of Shinwoo. Yonghwa is a vocalist who plays the guitar and he gives the impression that he’s quite mature.
Q: So it was decided Hongki and Yonghwa would participate in the drama, what were your thoughts then?
Of course I was happy. He was just a newbie but got a great role. Yonghwa wasn’t at the top of the list during the casting process and so I was surprised. On the other hand, without Yonghwa, the other CNBLUE members had a hard time with their Japan activities at that time. (Laughs)
Q: Tell us a project which you really chased with time doing.
Yonghwa sang ‘Because I’m a Fool’ in the drama. I was to have him cover a song by foreign artists. But I couldn’t settle the copyright thing in time, I just wrote a ‘confession’ song myself. I started writing it at 2am the night before the scheduled filming. As Yonghwa would have to film the singing within an hour, I had doubts if he could memorize the lyrics and guitar chords. I actually recorded the guitar accompaniment on a CD to be used for the filming. But it happened the CD player broke down. So I had Yonghwa listened to the song on the set. He had to overcome the great difficulty of memorizing the melody as well as the lyrics within a short time for the filming. Anyway, he pulled it off.
Q: Hongki and Yonghwa’s music sense in the drama and OST?
The two are basically born singers. Of course they did very well. Hongki is in FTIsland, which music style resembles that of A.N.JELL much. But Yonghwa’s style doesn’t goes with that of A.N.JELL, so he didn’t sing in the OST at all. He just did the rap part in ‘Promise’.
Q: How do Hongki and Yonghwa go along with you, the producer of FTIsland and CNBLUE?
Hongki is a moody person; he is often affected by people around him (Laughs). If he isn’t in a good condition, he can’t even show 10% of his ability. At times like this, recording has to stop. I can see he works by pure talent. He debuted early and has a carefree personality, so he can be his own self even in front of me, a totally difficult-to-get-along person. As for Yonghwa, he’s still kind of nervous, feeling uneasy in front of me. A few days ago, we had recording for the first Korean full album, I said to him, “When you were doing the debut album, you couldn’t use your voice very well actually, but you’ve improved a lot now.” He smiled. I think he feels more comfortable in front of me now.
Q: CNBLUE is quite popular now. When did you start training them?
Right after FTIsland debuted. We planned to have another band with a style totally different from that of FTIsland. We began with a music style in mind to pick suitable band members. Jonghyun’s tender loving feel can be a great support to Yonghwa’s rhythmic style. If I say FTIsland is a band of strong vocal lead and melodic style, CNBLUE is a very modern band of strong rhythms.
Q: What was Yonghwa like during his trainee days?
Actually, he skipped lessons most among all. But he was the most serious one after debut. All CNBLUE boys are honest hard workers. Of course they have born talent, but they surely gained the present abilities more by working hard. When Yonghwa first came, he was the oldest among them and he often had this puzzle: “Can I get along with members younger than me? Can I be really good in the band?” Maybe he really had a bad time, he once said, “It seems I’m not doing well at all in CNBLUE.” Hearing that, I had a staff member go tell him: “There’s absolutely nothing unsuitable about your being a member of CNBLUE, please try harder and see how things go!” Even now I say this to that staff member from time to time, “If we hadn’t stopped him from leaving, Yonghwa would be living a very ordinary life in Busan now!” (Laughs)
Q: Why did you send both bands to Japan?
Up till now, Korea’s music market isn’t that big. There are little opportunities for indie band performance. The condition in Japan is much better however. And in Korean, FTIsland and CNBLUE are ‘hand syncing’ during performance and have been so misunderstood. We have actually predicted criticisms along that line. If circumstances allow, we let them play their instruments live. They do the instrument parts all by themselves recording the albums too. We were worried that they’d just be criticized without their growth being seen as budding bands and would therefore disappear in the music scene too soon. That’s why we say: “Go to Japan and perform a lot. Be more like a band before you come back.” Still there’s this kind of comment: “CNBLUE actually has a talent agency, can they be considered an indie band?” But we just helped them with their basic living essentials there. They carried their own instruments around, traveled by trains, living exactly like any other indie bands. To the boys, the criticisms targeted at them by people having no knowledge of their history hurt them most. But I think they wouldn’t survive anyway if they couldn’t stand such prejudiced comments.
Q: How would you like to see the two bands to grow?
Both are star groups recognized in both Korea and Japan now. I hope they can still be recognized as bands even if they have solo activities or appear as actors. Now there are many idol groups entering the Japan music market. But they aren’t all idols, some have strong focus on music and can thus gain some status.
Because of FTIsland and CNBLUE, many new singers have become very interested in instruments and are planning to debut as bands. To get into the mass, these boys have got to make those criticisms resulted from ignorance vanish. That requires their working even harder and to be recognized overseas is a must for that.
Japanese into Korean translation by yurerukaz
Korean into Chinese translation by SonoTriste @ CodeNameBurning
Chinese into English translation by klaritia
PS This is an indirect translation of an indirect translation! Any translation mistakes are mine.