EXO’s Baekhyun Shares His Bold Attitude Towards Work, Music, And Hobbies As He Enters His 30s
The artist turned 30 in Korea this year, and he had a lot to say about opening Pandora’s box of possibilities for the next decade. From his insights as a solo artist to philosophy on music and aspirations for his thirties, Baekhyun shared his most recent and relevant thoughts.
In the first chapter of his interview, Baekhyun commented on his experience going solo. He said, “Last year, I took part in the May issue of W Korea. It feels like it was yesterday. What kind of feedback did I receive on the pictorial? Let’s see. ‘Your collarbones are pretty?’ It was back when I felt like I was alone in many things, such as doing a photo shoot alone, instead of doing everything with the members. But now, I’ve released two solo albums, and I’m quite used to it all because I’m planning to release my third album soon too.”
Baekhyun admitted that he remained just as busy last year because he wanted to overcome the situation and be there for his fans as much as possible. He explained, “The reason why I sang four drama OSTs was because I thought that was a way of letting people hear my voice. So you could feel like I’m there with you when you watch dramas and Netflix.”
In 2020, his second mini album “Delight” hit the incredible milestone of becoming a “million seller.” He was the first solo artist in 19 years to surpass this record. He is the second artist to earn the “million seller” title both as a solo and as a group following Seo Taiji of Seo Taiji and Boys. On this, he commented, “In the time that I gained from not being able to go on tour, I practiced a lot. ‘Delight’ is an album that allowed me to think, ‘You’re doing well, just keep up the pace and keep working hard.'”
Given that most concerts were cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020, it only comes naturally that the most common topics of conversation among EXO members was wanting to perform, missing spending time together, and the like. Baekhyun took to watching concert videos to help satiate his longings. He shared that he realized how big of a part fans play in making concerts as amazing as they are.
He added, “Now that it has been 10 years since EXO debuted, we often discuss which direction we should take in the music we do. Naturally, the members that have interest in writing music and listen to a variety of genres like Chanyeol and D.O. share a lot. One thing that I like when thinking about Kai and Sehun, especially Sehun, is that they didn’t share a lot of opinions on music in the beginning. But from a certain point onwards, they gave their ideas, played their music, and gained an opinion. When I see that, I definitely feel like time has passed and the members have more affection towards their jobs as singers. Even if time passes, I think the members will be nice and gentle.”
Baekhyun also had a lot to say about music, which he thinks is a puzzle that can’t be solved in a lifetime. He explained that you can never expect which song will do well or what trends will come up. An interesting story he shared was how Lee Soo Man of SM Entertainment commented on his initial recording of “UN Village” saying, “If you want to listen to your music 10, 20 years in the future, you need to fix it a bit.” To this, Baekhyun responded that the song was in line with the trends of the time and that it would be easier for people to relate to it. Baekhyun shared, “Lee Soo Man then said that if that’s what I want, I should go ahead, but as a person that has been doing music for a long time, music you can listen to after years have passed is different. And that he hopes Baekhyun leaves a record like that.” After considering it, Baekhyun re-recorded the song.
An additional insight Baekhyun made is that because the public is constantly exposed to music, people that aren’t in the music industry themselves still gain the ability to differentiate the quality between different music. He shared, “So in order to win over the listeners with tastes that are ever-growing, the most important thing to keep in mind from the beginning is how well the song is made. That’s how a song that can ‘last a long time’ is made.”
The artist has been making increased efforts to hone his vocal skills the past two years, and he credits that to his insecurities. He explained, “Think of a popular item. When time passes and all its weaknesses are exposed, the buffer is dissolved and you’re left with a product that has returned to its original value. Before, I was scared that I would end up like that. I’m popular as a member of EXO, but I’m actually not a person who sings that well so what can I do? The fans expect this much, but what if I can’t meet those expectations? So for a long time, I turned to my own research and studying.”
Now that Baekhyun has entered his thirties, it seems that he is more comfortable with sharing who he really is. He shared, “My weakness? My laziness.” He added, “The funny thing is, if I don’t do something because I’m feeling lazy, that comfort lasts just three minutes. After that, I keep thinking about it. So I end up having to do it. When it’s cold out, there are times I feel lazy to go back and forth from the practice room. But I just go out. Then on my way home from practice, I feel good because I think, ‘I still lived a productive day.’ But if there’s a need for me to leave the house, I make sure I schedule everything so that I can take care of all of it in one go. It’s unacceptable to have to come back home and leave again.”
Another item on the list is to compete in an amateur eSports competition. Regarding his hobby, he shared, “You see on the internet, ‘Don’t date a guy that likes League of Legends.’ But, isn’t it much more wholesome to play games indoors than to go out and drink with friends? Gaming is fun in itself, and it also builds camaraderie among your friends. People with the same goal build their teamwork together, and it’s a simple task with no risk. It’s not like you’re trying to open a business with your friends, either.”
Wrapping up the interview, Baekhyun commented, “I hope I try new things in my thirties. When you reach your thirties, some people say, ‘Wow, already?’ while others say, ‘There’s still a long way to go.’ For me, I feel like it’s just the beginning. I’m going to stay as a person that can sing for a long, long time by honing my skills and taking care of my health. Please look forward to me, Baekhyun, in my thirties.”