ELLE Magazine - September Edition
Q. You participated as the July Artist of the Month in the YouTube channel, <Studio Choom>. Those are videos that only the real ‘dancers’ among K-POP artists film.
YEONJUN: It was a content that I really wanted to do. I remixed Harry Styles’s <Watermelon Sugar>, which is about a boy who dreams of being a rock star and becomes a star in his dreams, and <Blow>, sung by Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and Chris Stapleton. When I first saw the choreography, I fell into despair. Can I do it?
Q. In the behind practice video, you said a lot of inspirational quotes, like “There’s nothing you can’t do. If you can’t do it, make it work!” and “To be honest, it’s more fun because it isn’t easy. If it’s easy, it’s no fun.” It was interesting that Yeonjun, who was in 1st place for every monthly evaluation and was called “Big Hit’s Legendary Trainee,” found something difficult.
YEONJUN: The difficulty level was high, but it was also the fact that my stamina was lacking. My stamina isn’t that great, so in the beginning, after I danced it until the end once, it felt like I was out of my mind. Somehow, I made up for it through practice. The dancers who danced with me were well known as people who were really good at dancing. In the end, it was a really prideful experience for me.
Q. You actively participated in your 2nd full-length album, <The Chaos Chapter: FREZE>. What kind of an experience was that?
YEONJUN: I participated in the lyric writing process including writing my own rap for the song, <No Rules>. I think it helped me get a better understanding of the album so it was really fun. I thought about things like “It’d be nice if <What if I had been that PUMA> had trendy rap-like lyrics” or “It’d be nice if the song, <Frost> focuses on keywords such as ‘Destiny’ and ‘Belief’”. I touched up bits by referring to the whole direction of the album.
Q. You’re making a comeback with your album <The Chaos Chapter: FIGHT OR ESCAPE> soon. It’s also TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s first repackage album.
YEONJUN: It’s exciting since the fans also like the fact that the time between the release of the albums is just two months. I really like the concept as well. It’s a promotion period that I’m really looking forward to in various aspects.
Q. You were seen riding a skateboard in the concept clip. Did you practice diligently for it?
YEONJUN: I didn’t practice riding it specifically for the filming. I did try riding it at the filming location but I got familiar with it right away. It was really fun.
Q. Whenever you get an opportunity to do something you haven’t done before, such as making a cameo appearance in a drama or walking for the New York Fashion Week, you confidently say “I practiced very diligently for this.”
YEONJUN: I’m someone who thinks that there is a huge difference when you practice for something and when you don’t. For starters, if I don’t practice enough then I’m not confident. I have to have practiced it to a certain extent, to the best of my abilities, for me to gain confidence and express it the best I can. I’m someone who persistently practices the parts I think are lacking.
Q. Out of all of TXT’s videos, what’s something you’ve watched multiple times? It could be something that was particularly fun to film.
YEONJUN: Our concept trailer for <The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE>. It’s a concept where we fight and escape from the ice falling inside a shopping mall. The CG was really fun and the choreographies that were incorporated in between the fighting and escaping were really cool too. That’s why I’ve watched it multiple times.
Q. The title song of your repackage album, <LO$ER=LO♡ER> feels like such a smooth transition from the song you promoted before this, <0X1=LOVESONG>. Just like the connection between the title and lyrics of <New Rules> and <No Rules>, as well as the unique choice of words in the songs, TXT is a group whose concept and emotion is very distinct and clear. What is it like being an artist of a group that has such clear direction?
YEONJUN: Just like how each and every single person’s personality is important, I think the way a group expresses its uniqueness is also something very important. I really like the fact that our group has its own symbol and color. And the fact that it’s impactful to so many people. At first, I was worried as to whether this kind of direction would match my own color. But, as we went on with it, I realized that I have multiple colors to myself.
Q. You have songs like <PUMA> that really make your (Yeonjun’s) color stand out. Do you develop new interests while you go through the process of understanding a song or it’s concept?
YEONJUN: When it’s about a topic I don’t know much about, I do look it up. I really like watching movies. To the extent where I feel like I’m the happiest when I have a spoon of rice in my hand and I switch on Netflix. By always looking up things like this, they unknowingly build up and become a part of me. I think that really helps me when I have to use my imagination or when I have to understand a particular concept.
Q. Although your dance and rap are often highlighted, your vocal tone is really good and your high notes are outstanding. Do you think of these as contrasting charms?
YEONJUN: In my own way? (laughs) For high notes, it’s Taehyun and Huening Kai. The two maknaes are so reliable and do so well, so I think sometimes, when I ‘scream (the high notes) out loud’, people might think that’s impressive.
Q. When I look at one-take videos such as ‘The First Take’ or videos of you singing live, you look relatively less nervous. You even smile after your part is over.
YEONJUN: Those expressions probably just come out naturally without me realizing it. It can also mean a sense of relief, like “I did well, I’m glad.” Because of voice breaks during puberty, I really disliked singing when I was younger. It’s honestly quite fascinating that I’m signing diligently now.
Q. You don’t hide the fact that you like eye-catching and fancy things. I was really surprised looking at your outfit today (laughs)
YEONJUN: Music and fashion are both really great sources for me to express myself. Because, I can express myself naturally, in my own style. It relatively has no restrictions and you can do it freely.
Q. Was wanting to stand out one of the reasons you joined the dance club in middle school?
YEONJUN: You know how each grade dances at the school festival, right? My friends were like “Yeonjun dances really well”. Since I’m naturally a quiet person, I didn’t really think that I would hear things like this so the feeling of getting attention for the first time made me feel really great. As I received compliments, I naturally grew more interested. During our trainee days, we used to have a class called “visual monitoring” where we would mimic the gestures of international rappers such as Tyler the Creator and A$AP Rocky. That class really helped me a lot. It made me understand and love hip-hop culture in itself.
Q. They say that you’re quite the prankster when you’re off stage.
YEONJUN: I think I’m more like that because I’m with my members. I’ve also thought about how, now that I’m 23 years old, I should try showing a calmer and cooler side of myself. But I can’t seem to conceal my true personality. I think it's best to always just be your natural self. So, I want my actions to follow how I feel in that particular moment.
Q. You talk a lot about the importance of teamwork. Is there any particular member who makes you think ‘I know this person 100%’?
YEONJUN: I think that by now, we all know what the other person is thinking just by looking at each other...but I think it’s definitely Beomgyu. He’s kinda transparent (laughs)
Q. Was there a certain moment that you felt like you were truly being understood?
YEONJUN: We’re all the type of people who listen attentively when someone is talking candidly and think “It’s okay, that can happen.”. I was talking to Soobin, not too long ago and he warmly said “I absolutely understand that you feel that way. I’ve felt like that before too.” We feel understood and that understanding goes both ways.
Q. When you were younger, did you save up your allowance and buy something?
YEONJUN: When I was really young, I think I bought ttakji (folded paper disks) at a stationery store. Ah, this one time when I was a trainee, I saved up my allowance and bought my mother a coat as a birthday present. After my debut, I also gave my family members the most meaningful portion of my first income.
Q. If you take a look at your albums, you’re always the member who has the lost ‘Thanks to’ message. You don’t even miss mentioning your friends from Gumi Middle School and Bulgok High School.
YEONJUN: They’re friends I’m really grateful for so I also mentioned them in the repackage album, this time around (laughs). Every time we release an album, there are a lot of people who work really hard. Of course, we practice very diligently as well. But, as I write down the names of every single person who works hard for us and pulls all-nighters, to prepare our choreographies and songs during the preparatory period, the ‘Thanks to’ ends up being very long. I truly write it with full sincerity.
Q. Is Yeonjun the type of person who gets motivated by external factors? Or are you the type of person who works hard to match your own standard?
YEONJUN: Both. I definitely gain motivation when I look at other artists, who are good and debuted in the same time period as me or artists whose aims are the same as mine. On the outside, I appear as someone who is always full of confidence but on the inside, I’m someone who really pressurizes himself. Should I say I kinda gnaw at myself? I have a harsh side to myself.
Q. Then, you could probably let us know some methods that you’ve learned. What does Yeonjun want to say to people who are looking for ways to love themselves?
YEONJUN: I hope you never forget that we are all unique beings. I don’t know what you’re good at or what skill set you possess but I’m sure that each person has something like that. I hope you figure out what yours is, soon. I also used to have low self-esteem but I learned to love dance and gained confidence in myself. That’s how I naturally started loving myself.