She has topped music charts in both Korea and Japan. She made her debut in the U.S. and took on the challenge of making it onto the Billboard charts and was recently cast in a Hollywood dance pic which will be produced by the makers of the film "Step Up." It took her ten years to achieve all these accomplishments. And BoA is now twenty-four years old. In that respect, "Hurricane Venus," BoA's first record release in Korea in five years, carries more meaning than it being just a new album. What kind of music does this singer, who has achieved almost everything she can achieve commercially and is now reaching her peak as a singer and dancer, want to make? Below are excerpts from a press conference with BoA, held on August 4.
Q: You have come to celebrate the tenth year of your career at a young age. How do you feel looking back on it?
BoA: Honestly, it's not like I have a certain feeling. I did this and that and ten years passed by, I don't know how. But I thought about what I did during the past ten years, and I realized I really did do a lot of things. (laugh). I put out a lot of albums, I went to Japan and the U.S. I feel like I constantly learned [foreign] languages for ten years. (laugh) But there are more days lying ahead than days that have passed by. I will be thirty-five at my twentieth anniversary, and that is not much older than how old Lee Hyori is now (laugh) so I want to work harder at being a dance singer.
Q: The sixth album is also the first record you will be releasing in Korea in your twenties. What do you think has changed from your teenage years?
BoA: I unveiled the ballad track "The Person Next To Me" in advance, and I wanted to let people know that I too could sing ballads that women could relate to. Reaching my mid-twenties, I think I'm able to broaden on the scope of music that I do than when I was in my teens. And I am trying to understand the song first rather than just trying to sing it well no matter what. In the past, I used to have an obsession about having to sing well and that I had to do it well, but now I think about how I can perform songs in a way that I am being myself the most. Being a professional singer for ten years, it is important to take on a challenge and try new things but it is also important to do a good job. I think it is best that I do what I can do well at and use my weapon, which is performing, so that people like watching me perform.
Q: Many singers are making a comeback to the local music scene these days. Is there a reason you chose to make your comeback at this time?
BoA: August 25 will be my tenth anniversary. I thought about setting the date to August 25 as well, but the album was already finished and rather than putting too much meaning on the date, I just put it out because it was my sixth studio album.
BoA: I will do Twitter very often instead. (laugh) I don't think I am the type of person who can create a fun atmosphere on variety shows. I think what the public wants from me is a good performance rather than becoming friendly through variety shows, so I want to keep giving good stage performances first.
Q: How do you feel about the K-pop music scene these days? You must practically be regarded a veteran when you go on shows like "Music Central." (laugh)
BoA: [Korean hip-hop group DJ DOC] DOC is there too. (laugh) I think it has really improved a lot. While I was recording in Korea, I watched television during breaks and I felt that it has improved by a mile. The quality of music programs have gone up and I think I can show better performances than five years ago. But I didn't know that the time for dry rehearsals got pulled up. I think I might have to stay up almost all night and go to rehearsal. (laugh)
Q: Back when you were promoting "My Name" and "Girls On Top," there were no female singers who showed a powerful performance like you did. But nowadays a lot of girl groups come out as strong women. What do you think about that?
BoA: I think it is amazing. And there is a lot more bodily exposure too. (laugh) Back when I used to wear short cut-off tops, people would tell me to cover it up. So this time I thought about taking my wardrobe to the extreme. (laugh)
Q: How are you going to perform "Hurricane Venus" on stage?
BoA: There will only be male dancers on stage. There is no reason for me to stick to having only female dancers just because I am a female singer, and I think a different appeal comes out when you combine femininity and masculinity. The choreography is complicated, as always. (laugh) It is unbelievably complicated that I think I might end up doing a circus act soon. (laugh) But image-wise, I grew out my hair and stuff, so it is more feminine than in the past.
Q: I heard that you came up with the title for the title track.
BoA: After I received the song, I felt like I needed a word that was strong and there were a lot of articles which had titles like 'explosive storm.' So I thought about storms, tornadoes and hurricanes and looked them up on the Internet. I found out that people used to name hurricanes by girls names because they wanted hurricanes to quiet down. And another article had the title that was something like 'goddess force' so I came up with Venus, but the company thought it was a little childish. (laugh) So I explained that it is a bit childish but it has an origin of its own, that it is an intense song and I was able to convince them somehow.. (laugh) And that became the title.
Q: It seems like you participated more on this album than you did on your previous ones. It even carries two tracks that were written by you.
BoA: I hadn't originally planned on writing a song. But once, I had finished touring in Japan and had nothing to do and no one play with so I bought a computer and a songwriting program. I had no agenda at the time and I just started making beats which it was fun. So I just kept on writing and out came a song. I actually thought the company wouldn't put it on the album but they told me the song is "better than expected." So I was like, what do they mean by better than expected? (laugh) For the track "Let Me," everyone knows that I love dancing so I wrote about the desire for dancing in the format of a battle. "Day By Day" is a pop ballad that has very dark lyrics. When I was working on it, I felt similar to how I had felt when writing the lyrics in Japan for a song called 'moon & sunrise' and I wanted to express things like joy, sorrow, hope and solitude.
Q: Do you have plans to take part in producing, by any chance?
BoA: I don't think I have the talent to be a producer. I think I have to learn a lot more about songwriting as well. I think that a singer needs to do better in what she can do best -- like singing and performing.
Q: But I think you have reflected a lot of your opinions on the album. You worked with Jinu, Kim Dong-ryul and Kim Jong-wan of rock group Nell, and this is something we had not seen on your Korean albums before.
BoA: In Japan, I was able to collaborate with many people but I didn't have such opportunities in Korea. I was curious what color would be created when one artist met another artist. I was also a big fan of Kim Dong-ryul's ballads and songs by Nell. They are both full of sensitivity but their styles are incredibly different, so I felt like we would be able to come up with a refreshing kind of music.
Q: It was also interesting how you displayed various fashion styles in the music video for 'Game.' It was something that was hard to see you do in Korea before.
BoA: I said that this music video had to be fashionable no matter what. And I wanted it to be cool but also include a little humor. I like Edie Sedgwick so I asked the staff to make me into her style, but I don't know if that has been reflected well in the video.
Q: Such transformation appears to have been influenced by your work in the U.S. What do you think you gained from your activities in the U.S.?
BoA: Putting the professional outcome aside, it was just tremendously beneficial to me. I was having a very tough time around 2006 to 2007. I was extremely exhausted because I kept on living the same life over and over again. But I got a refreshing shock while making the U.S. album and I gained a new joy about music again. I think working in the U.S. had a huge influence on my sixth album.
Q: Why were you having a tough time?
BoA: My yearly schedule was like this; I would work on an album around the year-end, put out an album at the start of the year, do a tour and come back to Korea, work on another album and release it, then go to Japan again, attend award ceremonies in Japan and in Korea, go back and forth and that is how one year would end. I lived like that for four years and I told the staff to stop making me sing. I like singing but I would just record songs, perform and a year would go by. The job of a singer has no input, just an output. I can't go somewhere to learn something so I had this strong feeling that I was being depleted. A lot of people expected something new from me but I had nothing new to give. Although I wanted to work hard and do a better job, I had nothing to do and that was very difficult. That is when the talk of going to the U.S. came up and I began to have interest and passion about my work again.
Q: What would you have done if you hadn't gone over to the U.S.?
BoA: First, I wanted to take a break and play (laugh) and I wanted to go study abroad. Even though I often went overseas, all I did was work and had no time to look around. It was like, that place had a nice airport? (laugh) Then when I was working in the U.S., I gained an interest in new styles of music and while having a good time dancing with choreographers in the U.S., I started thinking that there is still a lot that I have not seen and do not know about. So I don't think I will be giving up this line of work easily. (laugh)
Q: It seems that your U.S. debut has influenced your dancing, in particular. Your style of dancing before and after U.S. is different.
BoA: In Japan or Korea, I did a lot of feminine dance movies but I personally think that I am good at doing masculine dances. I like hip-hop too. And the choreographer for "Eat You Up" is very good at that and we love Michael Jackson so much. (laugh) With people like that, they created the exact kind of choreography that I wanted to do. You don't really have time for lessons when you are working as a singer, but it felt like I was getting lessons during the choreography time.
Q: How did your Hollywood movie project come about?
BoA: Personally, I am a huge fan of the film "Step Up." That film made me re-think about street dancing and I gained passion for dancing. When I heard that the writer of that film offered me a role, I was very surprised. There has been a lot of talk over the years that I would start acting, but I wasn't up for it because my original job is being a singer and I was worried that once I started to act, it would look like acting was my full-time job. But I like that this movie is a dance film. As a singer, there is no opportunity to leave behind my dancing as a work of its own. But being able to express a two-hour movie with dancing, I think that, in itself, will be of great help to my career.
Q: Don't you want to keep acting, by any chance?
BoA: So far I don't have a huge interest in other areas. I have just been making music and I want to keep doing that for as long as possible. My album is about to come out so I have to do a good job with this. (laugh) Personally, I am the type of person who gets bored doing just one thing and Sir Lee Soo-man well knows that. So whenever he thinks that this kid might be feeling bored, he would say, "Let's go the U.S.~" or throw something new at me. I think that is why I was able to have fun working for the past ten years without breaking into other fields. I hope that we can maintain this relationship in the future and he will make me do something when I start to get sick of something. (laugh).
Q: In ten years and by your mid-twenties, you have achieved everything that most singers cannot do in their lifetime. Right now, what makes you keep pursuing music?
BoA: I know, I think I have truly done a lot of things. (laugh) They told me that the number of songs that has been released in my name is around 400, including the remixes. They said I made one song a week, and I thought I really work a lot. But there is a lot to do in the future. Musical styles can always change and it is my goal, more than anything, to keep making music and just enjoy it. Rather than saying what specific type of music I want to do, I think about how I can maintain my place well because it is harder to maintain than to climb to a certain position. Like how can I make myself stronger physically so I that can perform better live. When I was a teenager, I never got sick, I was strong and had a lot of energy even when I didn't get much sleep. But when you are in your twenties, you meet people for drinks (laugh) and your body gets tired. So I think I have to take good care of myself for the next ten years in order to keep dancing and singing.
Q: How long do you plan to keep dancing?
BoA: As long as my joints allow it. (laugh) Actually, I have had a lot of injuries on my feet, wrists and had shoulder dislocations. A while ago, I was even diagnosed with having a herniated disk around my waist. But I can't hold myself back with my body on stage, so I work out more. I do muscle workouts that hold the bones together and do rehabilitation therapy. (laugh)
Q: You seem to have almost no time for personal life. What do you do when you have free time?
BoA: I love watching movies. There is a saying amongst fans that one should go to a movie theater if he wants to see me. (laugh) But even though I am very busy working, I am the type who needs to play hard in order to work hard as well. When I have free time, I watch a lot of movies, drink alcohol and hang out with friends so that I can work harder. I think I have always kept a good balance between work and rest.
Q: It must have been hard for you to go out because you debuted at a young age and everybody would recognize you.
BoA: People don't recognize me that well. (laugh) Because they are used to seeing me in stage make-up. (laugh) Once I even got approached by a casting agent on the street. I was walking down the street with some of my staff to look for a stage costume, and this person who worked for some fashion magazine came up and asked if I was a model. And I was like, didn't she see my shoes because it is dark? (laugh) I told her I was a celebrity and she kept on asking who I was. (laugh) I couldn't tell her I was BoA so I just told her, "I'm a B-list celebrity but I'm not a model" and ran off. (laugh) After I left, she asked my staff people who I was and when they told her I was BoA, she reportedly said, "That is what BoA looks like?" (laugh) I felt good because that means she thought I looked good.
Q: What kind of person do you want to date?
BoA: I think it would be fine if he just likes me. I think it would be so great to have a friend I can talk and relate to, but it is hard because I spend a lot of time overseas.
Q: Since you are busy working, you would need a wife rather than a husband. (laugh)
BoA: That is so true. Someone who would cook for me. (laugh) I am good at washing the dishes though. I really can't cook and I could never make breakfast every morning. I think it would be nice to have a man who is like a wife and takes good care of me.
Q: When was your happiest moment during the past ten years?
BoA: When I won the grand prize for "No.1." I made my debut at the age of thirteen so I wondered if I could dare win something like a grand prize, so I was very happy that I won. It felt good to reach No.1 on the Oricon chart too but I didn't really feel it at the time. They said I made No.1 and that I had sold a million albums but I had no way to check if I really did. (laugh) So it didn't really hit me. But when you win a grand prize, they hand you the award and I think it meant a whole lot to me at a young age.
Q: What kind of reviews do you want to receive after you are done promoting the album?
BoA: Responses like 'Wow, that is BoA all right'? (laugh) I think I have done as many different things as I could both performance-wise and music-wise. I would like a lot of people to enjoy the album in many different ways.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok two@
Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@
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