SOOBIN, as always, speaks in a calm voice throughout. Whether he’s talking about the happiness that surrounds him, the challenges he faces, the pleasures of everyday life, or the major goals that guide the group, his voice is resolute but relaxed—spirited, but soft.
You kept talking about how you want to watch the new movie Concrete Utopia.
SOOBIN: I never ended up seeing it. It left theaters. (laughs) If someone in my friends’ group chat says, “There’s a movie I want to see,” then someone else asks who can go, and then anyone who can goes to see it. I’m really thankful to have friends who will come with me to see the movies I want to watch.
You took a trip with them recently, isn’t that right?
SOOBIN: I took an overnight trip with them to Gapyeong not that long ago. We had a cooking competition, then they asked me to teach them the dance for “Sugar Rush Ride.” So I showed them and then they spontaneously held a competition and asked me to be the judge. It was really fun and super cute. (laughs)
It sounds like your friends are very important to you.
SOOBIN: It’s fair to say they know me really well. They really love me and look out for me. Usually when they say something like, “Choi Soobin’s eating only this much? Something wrong?”—there really is something wrong. These days they’re so good at seeing through me. It’s almost annoying. (laughs) And if any of us goes too far, we apologize on the spot. And after we take a trip, we even say, I had such a great time thanks to you guys. You really made me happy. It’s always like that. I get carried away in that kind of environment which lets me say embarrassing things, and even though we bicker sometimes, it leads to self-improvement. I guess you could say I’ve become a kinder person overall and I’m capable of being a lot more open now. I really learned how to express myself.
I imagine that you get a lot of energy out of that whole process.
SOOBIN: I started going out way more this year. I was having a lot of personal doubts and feeling confused last year, so it wasn’t an easy time. So I went around looking for help, talked a lot to more experienced artists, and got some advice. I ended up getting really close to a lot of people. After that, I had more reasons to go out. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the same routine every day, so I really need that time these days.
How did you feel during the world tour? Judging by your vlogs from that time, it looks like you established your own little routine for after each concert.
SOOBIN: You hear from a lot of different artists that they sometimes feel empty when they get in after a concert. But not me. (laughs) After seeing all those people in big crowds, coming back, and having some alone time, it’s—I mean, that’s a really full day. I think it’s important to have time to be alone and reflect, and to enjoy your hobbies. I don’t really feel like I need to follow up something as special as a concert with something else exciting. I actually feel more comfortable just spending each day the way I’m used to spending it.
I’m surprised you cherish what’s already comfortable to you so much when you also want to try so many new activities.
SOOBIN: I guess you could say I have a personality like a flame. There’s so many things I want to do, but I also get tired of them pretty quickly. For a while I was learning swimming and boxing, then I had an interest in baking and thought about buying an oven, but I was over it quickly. I also bought a camera and then, after a month, never touched it again. (laughs) Anyway, I’m the kind of person who pretty much goes ahead and does things as soon as I want to do them. I never hesitate to start something and I’ll even skip sleep when I want to try something. I can’t stand when I don’t have a hobby to do. It’s tough for me if I can’t have a good time and break out of my routine with something new. I guess that explains my personality where I have to do whatever I want. I’m the kind of person who tries to enjoy what he wants when I want to because I never know when I might lose interest.
But you have far more endurance doing what you do than other people.
SOOBIN: I don’t think I could’ve put this much into any job other than this one. I can already see myself living a lazy life when I’m much older and retired (laughs) so I want to do everything I can while I can. There’s a lot of people who work to make us shine, especially in a line of work like this, so there’s no way I could just phone it in when they’re putting their all into it.
You must have devoted a lot of time and effort toward getting ready for this comeback. You mentioned several times on Weverse Live how excited you are for the new album.
SOOBIN: It’s about embracing and pushing your way through the pain and the hard times you come up against in the real world, so I felt like it’s something I can comprehend and express well. I was actually worried about the last album because I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to pull off the concept of the album, and that’s why I didn’t feel very confident. But the songs are a little bit more of an “easy listening” songs this time and the choreography’s fun, so I’m more confident this time. At first I thought the single “Chasing That Feeling” was basic, but after listening to it four or five times, I realized how catchy it was and started humming it to myself. It felt like the kind of song you’d never skip over in a playlist and one you can keep listening to over and over.
You also mentioned that the dance moves for “Chasing That Feeling” are more physically demanding than those for “Back for More” (TXT Ver.).
SOOBIN: Everyone would assume that “Back for More (TXT Ver.)” is more tough when you see it, but for me, “Chasing That Feeling” is actually more physically demanding. But I still love the choreography. I had so much fun with it when first learning it and I was full of excitement while dancing, but the dance coaches told me, “SOOBIN, you have to do this one with more tenderness. You’re too hyper right now. You need to tone down your emotions.” (laughs) We stretch our arms out really, really wide in the intro and do moves we’ve never done before, but it was a really good match for me and I had a lot of fun. I think the dance really captures that idea of following your passions and always pressing forward even when it’s sort of painful. I got to like the song more while practicing the choreography.
You said on Weverse Live that you have a favorite track off this album. Can you tell us which it is?
SOOBIN: It’s “Skipping Stones.” Singer-songwriter HANRORO wrote it, and I’m a big fan of her music. The song she gave us is so characteristic of her sound that it feels like a song she would’ve written for herself. I fell in love with it the very first time I heard it. It was fun getting to record a song of a style I listen to and sing all the time, which made the process laid-back. I like HANRORO’s music and voice, but I think it’s her all-Korean lyrics that are really beautiful. “The water that swallowed the scars will become calm someday / And it will have a wide embrace.” Time heals all wounds and I was so amazed how she managed to tie that in with the idea of skipping stones. It made me respect her even more.
You wrapped up your second world tour a little bit before the album came out. Did you enjoy yourself on tour? It seemed like you had a lot on your mind while trying to enjoy yourself on stage before that.
SOOBIN: I started to feel less nervous doing the world tour. Now I’m not even scared or nervous before a concert—I’m just excited. I think I’m more comfortable with it because I feel relaxed now. I’m still not totally loosened up, obviously (laughs) but I can’t force myself to be comfortable with everything. I’ll probably have to wait a little longer for that.
During the world tour, you also put on performances at major venues like Lollapalooza in Chicago and the MTV Video Music Awards.
SOOBIN: I was nervous for the VMAs for sure but it was still fun because there were a lot of people who have been superstars to me ever since I was young and it was amazing to see people with MOA light sticks even though it was an overseas awards show. It was so fun that I felt like I was dreaming. It was like, Am I even supposed to be here? I was extremely fortunate to be able to meet people like Bebe Rexha who were a major motivator for me. Moments like those feel like rewards for all the hard work I’ve put in and they’re a huge motivation. I’m very thankful and lucky.
It’s like you take that motivation and work hard to pay it forward to MOA.
SOOBIN: It’s even hard for me to grasp, for someone who used to be a fan myself. To me, it even feels like what fans are giving is just “pure love.” I was so amazed that they’re willing to come such a long distance for our concerts and you can see fans giving things to each other just because they all share a common interest. It’s not like the love between friends or between a couple—it’s something completely special that can’t ever be explained. I’ve been a fan before, too, but speaking as a singer, “the existence of fans is just pure love.” It’s amazing how unconditional their love can be.
It’s clear how much you love the fans when you talk to them on Weverse Live about somewhat sensitive subjects in a firm but kind manner.
SOOBIN: This is how I feel: Let’s all be gentle and share the love. That way, I can be closer with them and no one will be crossing any boundaries of what is acceptable. The reason I say that is, I’m trying to make it so that MOA and I can love each other more and without having to hold anything back. Sometimes I can ignore the uncomfortable stuff and just move on, but the reason I brought that up is because I wanted to make sure we don’t make each other feel uncomfortable and there’s no hard feelings. My point was to say, Let’s make sure we all feel comfortable, and let’s look out for one another and have nothing but love for each other. I try to be as gentle as possible when I say these things, of course.
You also referred to the other group members as “companions” last year in the video TXT Share House.
SOOBIN: We all went through a rough patch at one point last year together. I felt our companionship was particularly strong while we practiced for the year-end awards shows. We were having a lot of honest conversations about our innermost feelings. We weren’t in Korea that much at the time, so I think we relied on each other a lot.
I was surprised when I found out you get a bigger room during world tours because other members come see you. I thought you would want to have your own space.
SOOBIN: I’m not really bothered by them coming in. We each have our own rooms, but I’m actually thankful and feel good that they come to my room to talk to me because it makes me feel like they trust me and rely on me. And I get more excited and talkative than they do when they come in. (laughs) I’m happy when they come in and I always hope they do.
What do you tend to talk about in that situation?
SOOBIN: They mostly come to me when they’re facing some kind of difficulty, whether it’s personal or something related to the group, or when they just want to talk. And I’m usually the one who goes to the label as our representative when we want to propose an idea to them. But there were a lot of times on the most recent world tour where they came to me saying they wanted to hear what I had to say. “How are you feeling about the tour? No problems?” Stuff like that. I actually tend to keep any baggage to myself if sharing it isn’t going to solve anything. Sometimes the other members feel hurt by that though. (laughs) But I still usually unload when it’s something that can be solved together, of course. It’s not like I don’t like to talk. (laughs)
When YEONJUN and TAEHYUN were on SUCHWITA, they said that all the members agreed on one big goal for the group. Was it those conversations that led you to be able to agree on that goal?
SOOBIN: I’m not someone with any big goals—I just want to enjoy the small things in life. But we talked a lot last year about our members’ dreams, what makes us happy, and what our goals are. Not all five of us shared the same goals, but we got to talking about how some of us want to make it to the top of our field. So I thought, If that’s what makes you happy, and that’s your goal, then I’ll try my best for it, too—because it’s always been my goal for the other members to be happy. I figured, if that’s what will make them happiest, then I’ll work toward the same goal with them.
Why does the other members being happy make you happy?
SOOBIN: It’s not just them—my family, my friends, the staff … Nothing makes me happier than seeing them all happy. That’s why I hope our fans are happy, too. I think the people I care about being happy makes me really happy and is as important to me as my own happiness. At least for me.
Has your attitude toward work changed as the goals you’re focused on have shifted?
SOOBIN: I’m making a bigger, tangible effort. I feel like I’ve always done my best, right from when we debuted, but now it’s like I’m trying to be even better than my best. (laughs) I’m practicing harder, working harder when shooting—everything. I’ll work harder this year than last, and next year I’ll work even harder still.
But there will always be bumps along the road when working toward your goals. How do you keep yourself moving forward?
SOOBIN: It might not be the case for everyone in this field, but I think this work makes me really happy, way more than it brings me pain. I'm not the type to dwell on something painful for too long in the first place. It's not simple to get this much love and support, and the happiness it brings is too important for me to let go just because things get tough. It brings me so much joy that it's worth sticking with, no matter what I have to go through.
Unauthorized reproduction and distribution prohibited.