The object of BEOMGYU’s affection, and that which he wrestles most passionately with, is himself.
You said you retested your MBTI a few months ago and this time you got I[ntroverted].
BEOMGYU: I’m still mostly like I was whenever I’m around the other members, but my personality has changed a lot since debuting. It used to be that, if I had time off, I would go out no matter what, whether to see friends or go shopping by myself, but ever since I debuted I can count on one hand how many times I’ve gone out to see friends. I used to really look forward to meeting new people; now I feel a little awkward in those situations. I have a perpetually public-facing job so now I like spending my personal time quietly on my own. I think I like that sense of absence. (laughs)
I feel like you have the opposite energy, too. You create a fun atmosphere when the situation calls for it, like when shooting variety shows.
BEOMGYU: If I’m set to film a variety show for three hours, for example, I privately make up my mind to act crazy during that time and absolutely nail it. I can feel that I’m losing my energy while filming lately. But still, I’ve enjoyed variety shows ever since I was little, and I want to be entertaining, so I try not to hold back. I really like watching 2 Days & 1 Night and if you watch the people on it, they really go all out. They make their own stuff throughout, inventing their own rules, like, “Whoever loses should jump into freezing water.” I think that’s when I understood that, when it comes to variety shows, the more all-out you go, the more fun it is.
Since you’re so notable for your energy on your own variety shows, do you feel a sense of responsibility when you do other shows?
BEOMGYU: A little bit, maybe. The other members are pretty shy and feel some amount of pressure when it comes to variety shows. TAEHYUN used to always say, “I’m really grateful you’re there to carry us on variety shows. I’ll go along with what you’re doing. I trust you.” That eventually made me feel responsible, which made me feel like I had to be the one to carry the show no matter what. (laughs) Now I think about how I need to keep the other members’ energy up while having fun myself, too. I’m always looking at the plan whenever doing a show and thinking, Hmm, so that’s the vibe they’re going for; I should do this or that—because I know you have to put in an effort for every part.
What was it like getting ready for the year-end performances? In the behind-the-scenes footage for 2022 MMA you were so passionate that you personally asked for a reshoot of the prerecorded parts.
BEOMGYU: We really put every last ounce of ourselves for every awards ceremony. We absolutely had to put on a good show this time because we were working on it even when we were in the middle of touring. It was like a war zone. But there’s so many different variables at awards ceremonies that you never know how it’s going to turn out, even if you prepare 200%. So, I think we have to try again if we have a chance whenever we look different performing than we have in mind or there’s a part we mess up. All of us are really ambitious about our performances, so even if I feel satisfied with where we’re at, if someone else isn’t quite satisfied, I don’t make a stink. We just say, Sure, let’s do that again, and follow along. Because we know we all have to find no problems with the performance for it to be perfect.
I bet you really wish you could’ve done the part where you use a lighter to set a rose on fire and throw it back.
BEOMGYU: I thought that was the best part, actually. I was supposed to take the rose and the lighter out all in under five seconds, but the rose got all crushed in my clothes so it wouldn’t come out. I had to improvise to save the moment, so I just stared at the lighter and pretended to throw it away. I was half losing my mind (laughs) but I just thought, If you don’t have teeth, use your gums, and did that. It was too bad, but more people than usual told me it was a good performance. It made me feel better to think the performance was decent after all the passion we put into practicing for it.
People said that they can tell how carefully you study when they saw your cover of V’s performance for “DNA” by BTS at 2022 SBS Gayo Daejeon. It was also well-received for how incredibly well you adapted it to suit you specifically.
BEOMGYU: Heheh. (laughs) I’m always really determined to do a good job when I cover their songs. I really wanted it to be good this time, too, so I watched videos of their performance so, so many times when I was practicing. I can’t do it like they can, but I still wanted to do it as closely as possible, so I kept thinking about his attitude, starting with emulating his facial expressions, and what they wanted to express through the song. I was inwardly proud because the response after was really good.
You tend to put a particular amount of effort into the way you express yourself on stage. Did the way you study come about as a result of all your experience?
BEOMGYU: I try not to forget how I first felt when I heard a song. I base my studying on the things that come to mind when I first heard a song or saw the rough choreography—things like how certain parts should be expressed or the parts I really want to bring to life. And I usually get better at things while shooting music videos. When it’s captured on camera, I check how it looks and think, Oh, maybe it would look better if I did it like this? And make lots of adjustments myself.
Can you use “Sugar Rush Ride,” the lead single off your new album, as an example?
BEOMGYU: For this song, it’s really all about attitude. I felt like I had to be sort of a sexy, crazy guy. (laughs) For example, for the part that goes, “Come here more, let’s play more,” I had a really serious vibe at first. But, I mean, when we shot it, I tried acting more like a crazy guy. (laughs) I added a sweet-and-salty feel by laughing my head off then pulling a straight face right at the end while I make a beckoning motion with my hand, and people really seemed to like that a lot better, so I made some adjustments. I’m trying different things like that to come up with a decent final version. And the vocals were harder than I imagined. The part that goes “saenggak-eun” in the intro aren’t low enough to sing easily and aren’t high enough to use my chest, so it’s a really ambiguous pitch for me. The pronunciation of “saeng” and “gak” is vague, so when you sing them together, it feels like they get caught in your throat. That was a bit challenging, and “gimme gimme more” is just three words long but I had to make my voice lower and rougher than I expected so I could sound sexy, and I had to make the ending sound like it’s spreading out. I had to think carefully about how to bring out the emotions in detail.
What were you trying to express through the lyrics you wrote for “Happy Fools” (feat. Coi Leray)?
BEOMGYU: I wrote the part in the first and second pre-chorus that goes, “I’m like a butterfly / A honeybee who’s always working.” I’ve been that kind of butterfly before, too. (laughs) There was a difficult period after I debuted where every day felt the same—like running on a hamster wheel. That’s the feeling I was writing about—the feeling of going to work every day and the Sun already being down whenever I got off and the feeling of wanting to see the sunset. Ants and bees work nonstop, so I thought about how many things they might be missing in life, not knowing how beautiful the sunset is or how nice and cool the breeze was.
Your idea of happiness changes every year. What does happiness mean to you at the moment?
BEOMGYU: That’s hard for me again lately, actually. I used to try and look for happiness around me in easy ways, but lately, rather than chasing some vague idea of happiness, I’ve felt it’s important to deal with the situations immediately facing me and do so wisely. It’s possible for negative emotions to creep in when you’re busy like this and there’s less time to sleep and there’s limits on how you can deal with the stress. I always end up regretting it later on if I let those emotions take over me. But if you get a grip on those passing emotions and overcome them, time keeps passing anyway, and you don’t have to pay any mind to unnecessary things as a result. I feel more relaxed lately after practicing that.
It sounds like you’re learning to control yourself rather than being pushed and pulled by what’s around you.
BEOMGYU: Exactly. Haha. (laughs) So these days it feels like I’m spiritually enlightened. (laughs) I managed to let go of a lot of emotions, and rather than holding onto my immediate thoughts or concerns I’m living for one thing: wanting to do a good job on promoting this album with the other members—just being healthy and having a good time while doing what we want, without worrying about what other people think. That’s how I want to do things.
SOOBIN said recently that it must be fun to live the way you do.
BEOMGYU: I think I live a fun life thanks to the other members, though. I’m always having fun and feeling strong, even when I’m mentally and physically tired, thanks to them. I can rely on them so much that it makes me think I would’ve had a really hard time if I had been a solo artist rather than in a group. I feel like we’re really family now.
Given how often you share specific details of your life with your family when you were a kid in Daegu, it seems like your past memories play a big part in how you maintain your current level of happiness.
BEOMGYU: Music might be the only way to revive memories of the past, don’t you think? I can listen to some music that’s tied to a memory and, no matter how bad I’m feeling, that memory comes back to me and I feel happier for a bit. It’s weird, but when I listen to my cover of “Wonder” now, all my thoughts, worries and feelings from that time come back to me and it actually brings me comfort. It’s calm and sad songs rather than upbeat ones that make me feel like I’m being empathized with so I can slowly break out of feeling like I need to be comforted.
I guess your dad knew that and that’s why he made you a playlist called WHEN COOKEY SLEEP.
BEOMGYU: I share a streaming account with my dad and he makes playlists for me now and then. He continuously adds music to playlists that he’s categorized, like songs that are good for sleeping or that I have liked ever since I was little. He never said it directly, but it made me feel he’s always watching over me without having to say a word and he’s always been there for me.
hy do you so carefully choose to cover songs like “Wonder” and “you!” that reflect your tastes and sentiments?
BEOMGYU: The only thing that lets me fill up a whole song with my voice and express myself completely in video is a cover song, and that’s why I wanted to express myself in that way. I wanted to show people what kind of voice I have and I felt that genre would showcase my voice best. We make the songs on our albums as a group, so we have to sing in a way that harmonizes with the idea behind each song and with all the other members. My cover songs are a slight rebellion against that limitation. (laughs) With “Wonder” I wanted to show a side of me that was different from the bright me everyone knows, while “you!” was about expressing how thankful I am for certain people. I thought MOA would really like it if I could shoot “you!” in Japan, and I was lucky enough to be able to film it in Tokyo.
I feel like you’re someone who knows what he wants, what’s happening around him and understands himself really well.
BEOMGYU: I reflect a lot on myself—how I feel at a given moment, and even what I can do if I feel personally underwhelmed about something regarding an album we made. I think that’s possible because I continuously look back on those seemingly insignificant thoughts and feelings instead of overlooking them.
What made you think during the world tour that you’re “nothing without MOA”?
BEOMGYU: I couldn’t be a part of all the performances during the tour because I wasn’t feeling well. I really revealed my vulnerable side to MOA. But they cheered for me all the same when I got back on stage, they smiled with us when we sang happy songs, cried with us when we sang sad songs, and seeing that filled me with so much strength. I could feel that they were understanding of me no matter what was happening with me and that they love me. So partway through when I had to leave the stage I thought about how the people there had been waiting just for that day, and I decided I had to at least try to make it to the end of the performance even if I felt like I reached my limit and had to get off again, and went back on stage. Most importantly, I didn’t want to give up on myself and admit defeat.
You also said that only made you more certain why you do the work you do and made you love it that much more.
BEOMGYU: I was actually a little more accustomed to MOA not being there because of the pandemic stretching on and on so long. Spending that time together laughing and crying made me think I shouldn’t assign any particular meaning to the past three years when we couldn’t see MOA. I picked up a paper airplane at the last concert that said, “I was having a hard time and feeling sick but I’m better now thanks to you guys.” It was really, really comforting to me because it was the exact same thing I felt. That I’m no different from anybody else and can still be such a big source of strength to someone, and that I can get strength from this many people—I felt that’s the sense of meaning that exists between singers and fans. That’s when that idea really solidified for me: I have to put even more effort into my singing and dancing for these people.
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