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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


We can only describe it as a surprising happening. The phenomenon that EXO recently showed was one that was unpredictable from a rookie who debuted just over one year ago. ‘Growl,’ which was released over a month ago is still in the top 5 on music charts and their first album <XOXO> and repackage album sales combined together surpassed way over 700 thousand albums. Debuting with ‘MAMA’ in April 2014, after having a hiatus of around one year, they passed ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and can now say they were a success by certainly stamping the name EXO with ‘Growl.’ And during the time of debut the 12 members that were split into EXO-K, Korean promotions team, and EXO-M, Chinese promotions team, have become one like their cheer, “WE ARE ONE” and showed a performance on the next level. In order to ask them how they were able to grow in such a fast time, <IZE> met EXO. EXO interviews that will be revealed throughout four days, the second day, we prepared the way EXO practices together and the back story to their appearance on <Immortal Song.> On top of that, you can also meet Suho and Baekhyun, Chen and Lay’s detailed stories.

Team Practices’ Value

How did you practice for the performance of ‘Growl.’ There must be members who are specialized in rap and vocals since the beginning.

Sehun: For dance, during our trainee period, in the basic class we started learning from bounce and riding the rhythm and starting from the next level, we learned dances that were more and more harder. Because at that time we were individually judged, we needed to match the balance between the skills of a person who dances well and the skills of a person who does not dance well. That is why if we become one team, we try to hold onto someone who dances really well and tries to be in the spot light too much, and try to help someone who is lacking to be better.

Kai: Even after debut, we learned in the aspects that we individually lacking in and taught in the areas that we were good in. Suppose Chanyeolie hyung felt himself that he was lacking in his dance skills, he will go to a member that dances well and ask how he should practice. And because it was a whole practice, we tried to match the choreography angle the same.

Chen: While promoting ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and ‘Growl,’ I ended up using the same room as Kai and after finishing the day’s practice, before we slept, we talked a lot. They were conversations like ‘today it was like this, tomorrow I should do it like this.’ Although he’s a dongsaeng, I had a lot of things I could learn from him. When we practice, because Kai always matches to my level and teaches me how to dance, it was easy to take it in. After listening, the next practice I would do it the way Kai had told me and add gestures. And even then if it wasn’t working, Kai would fix it again.

You must have felt the value of practicing as a team.

Luhan: The meaning was really big. If I was practicing by myself, my skills will exceed slowly, but if in front of friends that dance well, I learn a lot of good things and learn quicker.

Chen: Before I came into the company, I never touched the thing called dance and my training period was short as well. But seeing as how I debuted in a performance group, in the beginning it was really hard. However the members would come hand practice with me whether it be early in the morning or even late at night, and soon I was able to follow these friends. No matter how hard something is, I think we can do everything when with the members. I think that me being bale to dance on stage like this now is all thanks to the members.

When practicing, is there a rule that is autonomously decided.

Sehun: There is not something that we decided on. It is not an atmosphere where we force one to practice. Because we all live together in the dorm and move together, there is no way there can be a member late to practice.

Xiumin: For now, it’s when we do it, let’s do it right.

Baekhyun: Because everyone works hard there is nothing like ‘today let’s do over four hours.’ If amongst the twelve members, one member doesn’t want to practice, we consider that person and let them go to the dorm and for those who want to practice more do it individually. But even then, I think basically we do over eight hours of practice a day. It’s because we must prepare perfectly so that we can show a different side.

Chen: Especially because our hiatus time after ‘MAMA’ was long, we prepared very hard amongst ourselves as well.

In a situation where everyone is tired to the point that they’re going to faint, who is the member that endures till the end.

Baekhyun: If we feel like we’re going to die, then we all rest together. Because we can’t be tired tomorrow because we practiced one more hour today.

Lay: When I see it, I think everyone endures it well. When we really feel like we’re going to die, if we order hamburgers once, then we all gather strength again. (laughter) Once I thought, ‘why is it that when we order hamburgers, we gather strength,’ and I think it’s because when we eat, we gain weight, and then because we have to exercise, we practice harder. And if atmosphere maker Baekhyun makes a hwaiting atmosphere, we all gather strength together.

Immortal Song

Does Baekhyun have a know-how on how to make the atmosphere better during a situation where everyone is tired.

Baekhyun: For instance, if someone got a move wrong, I make everyone laugh by expressing that more ridiculously. It’s not like I say something funny and make the atmosphere better. (laughter)

A member that is in charge of that type of role, for your first appearance on <Immortal Song> you went with just Chen, and because you had to be more serious, it must have been nerve wracking.

Baekhyun: If you look at it in one way, because it was the first performance where we were singing in front of many people representing EXO, it was burdensome. Maybe it was because of that, I’m not the type that gets really nervous on stage but I was really nervous then.

Chen: While singing I saw Baekhyun’s hand and it was shaking hard. (laughter) After that, the next time we appeared, we went with a lot of members, and for sure I was able to tell that the difference between when with the members and without was big.

Were the other members who went on able to adjust to it pretty quickly.

D.O: Originally when I stand on stage, I get more nervous than the other members. And because Jeon Youngrok sunbae was in front of of us on <Immortal Song,> I was so nervous I don’t even know if I sang.

Kai: On that program, the session is all live. But we weren’t able to match the song and dance to it because of the situation status. Our turn was the ending performance but because we went in late, the guitarist played for a longer time. (laughter) If we had matched it before hand or if we had more experience, we would have been able to deal with a situation like that better but because we were nervous and on top of that unable to prepare a lot, we were slightly taken aback. Although it could have been better, we worked hard.

Promoting in China

Even then, I think the fact that you guys were able to appear on a program like that, EXO-K and EXO-M promoting together, was something meaningful. Originally Chen and Xiumin debuted in EXO-M but isn’t it hard promoting in an unfamiliar place.

Chen: When the company asked me, “we’re going to have a Chinese and Korean team, what do you think?’ I first answered without any hesitance that I wanted to go into the Chinese team. Of course my parents worried a lot. Because I didn’t even discuss with them and I just said it because I wanted to. But, after debuting and going to China for the first time till now, I think that I made a really good choice. Although there is a language wall between the Chinese fans and I, with just the fact that I can let them hear my song, I am happy. Sometimes fans ask me why I didn’t promote in Korea but either way, EXO is one team. Just because I debuted with EXO-M doesn’t mean I can’t meet with Korean fans and because I can go around with the other members like this, I don’t have anything I feel lacking.

Even then, was there not something that was hard to adjust to.

Xiumin: It was the language aspect. Even if walking the street and I look at the signs, it’s in Chinese and because even the people talk in Chinese, I can’t understand. Because I didn’t go after I learned Chinese perfectly. However now because I adjusted well, the ear that listens and the eyes that see have been pierced through a lot. If I see a sign in Chinese, I end up going, “Uh, I know that!” Should I say that instead, when I go to China I feel a sense of closeness.

When you were tired, the other EXO-M members must have been of support.

Xiumin: It was a relief that the Chinese friends can speak Korean well. Ah, but there were pros and cons. Because they are good at Korean, even when we went to China we communicated smoothly and my Chinese skills didn’t not improve. (laughter)

Tao: To be honest, even during our promotions in China, so we don’t forget, we talked to the hyungs in Korean.

Xiumin: In the end, we received and gave help to one another.

EXO-K members also officially started Chinese promotions starting this year but did you come to agree to these two people’s problems.

Baekhyun: Chinese is especially hard. The intonation is all different and for most people, if they don’t live in China for a long time or study for a long time, it’s hard but the fact that these two promoted until now is really tremendous. When recording the album, because we had to record in Chinese without knowing anything, it was hard.

Chen: These friends are good as well. Although I don’t think it’s better than my skills from debut. (laughter)
We can only describe it as a surprising happening. The phenomenon that EXO recently showed was one that was unpredicted from a rookie who debuted just over one year ago. ‘Growl,’ which was released over a month ago is still in the top 5 on music charts and their first album <XOXO> and repackage album sales combined together surpassed way over 700 thousand albums. Debuting with ‘MAMA’ in April 2014, after having a hiatus of around one year, they passed ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and can now say they were a success by certainly stamping the name EXO with ‘Growl.’ And during the time of debut the 12 members that were split into EXO-K, Korean promotions team, and EXO-M, Chinese promotions team, have become one like their cheer, “WE ARE ONE” and showed a performance on the next level. In order to ask them how they were able to grow in such a fast time, <IZE> met EXO. Starting today, EXO interviews that will be revealed throughout four days, the first day is the story of how ‘Growl’ was prepared for and Xiumin, Luhan, Tao, and Sehun’s individual minor yet exciting stories.

'Wolf and Beauty' vs 'Growl'
You guys received a lot of popularity with ‘Growl,’ do you guys realize it.

Suho: I went to the dermatologist and a male student recognized me in the elevator. I realized it a little bit then.

Chen: Also when we went to the Han River to exercise, grandmothers asked us if we were EXO. (laughter)

Baekhyun: And people who ride bicycles turn their music on and go around, but hearing our music it’s amazing.

Kris: I felt it when we went on Idol Star Athletics. A lot of fans came and even though we filmed till 2AM in the morning, they stayed till the end.

Xiumin: They all had vigor. Really, not lying, starting from the beginning to end, they stayed in the same spot and cheered for us. Even from far away they would see if they could see us. Even if there were hundred something celebrities all wearing the same thing, if we did a bit of a movement, from the fans there was a huge cheering sound going “Wah~.” Thanks to them, I gathered a lot of strength.

Kai: I think it’s because of the hair color. (laughter) They cheered for us really loud. I also conducted the fans myself and when I clap, they would clap along as well, and when I scream, they would all scream together
Not long after ‘Wolf and Beauty’ ended, you guys came back with ‘Growl,’ but how long did you guys practice.

Chanyeol: We prepared for ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and ‘Growl’ together. At around the same time we received both songs’ choreography so we started practicing. The song last November, choreography, starting from this year February until comeback, we practiced for about three months.

Aren’t both ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and ‘Growl’ songs that express a wolf’s image. How did you guys feel that the the wolf’s feeling from the two songs were different.

Lay: In my opinion, ‘Wolf and Beauty’ is a charismatic wolf and ‘Growl’ wolf is a slightly joking feeling? It seems like a cool wolf. (laughter)

Baekhyun: Should I say it’s a wolf that you dislike but can’t dislike.

Chanyeol: If ‘Wolf and Beauty’ is a wolf that has a harsh feeling like a beast, I think that ‘Growl’ is a bit gentle and sophisticated wolf.

D.O: I think that the latter is somewhat close to the Wolf Boy.

The two song choreographies are a totally different style, thanks to it it must have felt like you were fulfilling a quest while doing one after the other.

Kai: Since my trainee period, I usually danced to urban style. That is why seeing the choreography for ‘Growl’ I felt rather than it being hard, that “we could do this while really enjoying ourselves on stage.” We also did it fun while practicing. In ‘MAMA’ or ‘Wolf and Beauty,’ the songs were not only very strong but on stage not only dancing, we needed expressions more. In ‘MAMA’ earnestness, in ‘Wolf and Beauty’ because they said we needed to really express ourselves as wolves, we listened to the song a lot. I think we either decided ‘at this time we should do this expression’ or just listen to it as it came out.

Baekhyun: If in ‘Wolf and Beauty’ the point was group dance, ‘Growl’ is a funky and a dance with groove. And also because the music video was taken in one take, isn’t the angle a bit different. I was really happy that we were able to show our own music video that can differentiate us from different teams. I thought ‘will we be able to do well this time around?’ but because really a lot of people loved us, thank you.

How to express a wolf

For the music video there are two Korean versions, two Chinese version, and a total of four version. Wasn’t it confusing when doing the choreography.

Chanyeol: Even while practicing we compared those parts. We didn’t practice just one version constantly but we mixed up the one take version, Chinese version, performance version, etc. all together so we don’t get it confused. So that when someone says ‘this!’ the choreography for that version will come out right away.

How was the vocal recording. There is R&B vocal mixed in, but it is a song that is not soft but needs to have a rebellious feeling alive.

Kai: If you look at the story of ‘Growl,’ it is a warning to the other person. That is why we sang or rapped as if we’re really warning someone. (showing the gestures he does on stage) Like the lyrics, “I’m warning you in cause you don’t know,” I think I sang it while imagining that I was telling the person in front of me to be careful.

Then I think practicing expression acting would also be important.

Baekhyun: Before we filmed ‘Wolf and Beauty,” we watched things like <Animal’s Kingdom.> We researched how a wolf lays and with what feeling it looks up to the sky and howls, etc. We watched a lot and even while copying, we tried to express ourselves as close as we could to a wolf. We tried to show things like a wolf’s charisma.

Sehun: I was the same but not all the members watched the video, only a few. (laughter)

Chanyeol: And we also saw each other’s expressions that we make on stage.

D.O: In Suho hyung’s case, he asks how he is shown a lot while we practice, and the rest would practice gestures, expressions, etc. on their own so they did well. That is why I don’t think we said anything about who does it better. We just expressed it as to how we wanted. Of course if there was a member with a weird expression, we would have told him, but there was nothing like that.

Do you also have a time when you monitor the performances together.

Kai: We always gather together and watch it again after the music broadcast finishes. To be honest, after we debuted, the first week, we were awkward and because we didn’t know the camera well, we talked about that aspect a lot but as time passed, everyone got used to it. These days we monitor regarding the lacking aspects and confirm the parts that each member did good by saying “Wow, you did that well!”

Performance and Acting

In the one take version, the camera passes by quickly only showing the twelve members very briefly but I’m curious as to how each member tried to appeal themselves during that time.

Luhan: I wanted to show a very sexy side but even if I tried to be sexy, the fans just said I was cute. I don’t think I can do anything about it

Tao: (Luhan hyung) is a bit manly inside. However, he is not sexy. (laughter)

Luhan: I don’t really know what being sexy is. I think Kai is sexy.

Xiumin: I think that goes in hand in hand with your appearance. Appearance wise, rather than myself or Luhan, doesn’t Tao seem sexy.

Tao: I am jealous of Luhan hyung’s cute appearance.

Xiumin: However, you are not cute. Only the way you act is cute. (laughter)

Tao: I know. (laughter)

Xiumin: In my case, there is a bit of the choreography where I steal a hat so I wanted to give the feeling of a rascal. Because I look so much like a rascal, I think I did a good job. (laughter) Although it is different from my real personality.

Luhan: No, I think it’s similar.

Xiumin: I seem like a rascal?

Luhan: Yeah. You have a lot of joking feeling. You’re really funny.

Xiumin: I’m do that only to you. Because I cherish Luhan.

How was it for the other members.

Kris: In the first performance of ‘Wolf and Beauty,’ I did something like a wink but I gave up because it was hard. For ‘Growl,’ I confirmed where the camera would come in from and only stared hard at that. But I tried my best to be as different from the other members and I tried to show a different image than from ‘MAMA’ or ‘Wolf and Beauty.’ There were times I messed up but I think the thing that I have showed up till now were okay.

Baekhyun: In my case, I had the concept of a man who sees only one girl and is nervous but want to make her his. Because each member had their own image and range, the people who watched felt if and the members’ colors showed well.

In the end, acting is also included in expression during your performance.

Suho: Isn’t the choreography itself one that a complex feeling that has both the cute and sexy feeling. The lyrics are a feeling that is appealing its strength. That is why while doing a cute choreography, I would smile, and when there were lyrics like “you just stay like that while looking at me,” I thought a lot to try to be sexy. I tried to grab two rabbits but I don’t know if I did a good job.

Baekhyun: I think the acting that we say generally and the acting during a performance are the same context. When looking at Seo Inguk sunbae or Apink’s Jung Eunji sunbae, who acted in tvN <Reply 1997>, as much as they act a gesture and expression on stage, it was cool in the drama as well.

Is there a member by any chance that acts on stage without any burden.

Suho: I am the style to do it with a lot of burden but even though it’s a serious and fierce choreography, I am try my best to enjoy the fact that I am up on stage.

Baekhyun: There is a gesture that Kai and I do at the part of “it’s dark in front of my eyes.” I think it’s really fun how we change it each time to how we like without any burden. The fans also like it.

Can you guys attempt those things because you have gotten used to the stage since debut.

Baekhyun: When we did ‘MAMA,’ we were too nervous. That is why, if during debut times we did exactly what our teacher taught us to do, now we try to express gesture by adding how we feel on the stage on top of that. At the same time as we find ease, we are able to show our ease

We can only describe it as a surprising happening. The phenomenon that EXO recently showed was one that was unpredicted from a rookie who debuted just over one year ago. ‘Growl,’ which was released over a month ago is still in the top 5 on music charts and their first album <XOXO> and repackage album sales combined together surpassed way over 700 thousand albums. Debuting with ‘MAMA’ in April 2014, after having a hiatus of around one year, they passed ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and can now say they were a success by certainly stamping the name EXO with ‘Growl.’ And during the time of debut the 12 members that were split into EXO-K, Korean promotions team, and EXO-M, Chinese promotions team, have become one like their cheer, “WE ARE ONE” and showed a performance on the next level. In order to ask them how they were able to grow in such a fast time, <IZE> met EXO. EXO interviews that will be revealed throughout four days, the last is stories about EXO’s time, trainee period, and goals. With this sorry heart, let’s run by looking at Kai and D.O, Kris and Chanyeol’s sesame-like story.

Free Time

When you guys have free time, what do you usually do in the dorm.

Chanyeol: I shared a room with Tao in the past, and this friend does one man minor roles for fun. He acts like talking like this and then moving over a bit and then talking like that, and then he changes into a different character saying, “Ah, where is this place?”

Xiumin: He doesn’t do that when he’s by himself. When the members are just still or look bored he jokes around. It’s a type of aegyo but, I wish he didn’t do that. The person watching is uncomfortable. (laughter)

Tao: Hahahaha. Hyung does it with me too! We do it in the dorm together all the time? If I go, “Xiumin, let’s do it together,” you go “Uh, okay.”

Xiumin: Then I was bored too.

Tao: There is a fun act that we do together. Let’s show them. (laughter)

Xiumin: What is there to show. It’s always just shooting the gun and dying from a gunshot.

I also heard that you split into EXO-M and EXO-K team to play basketball.

Xiumin: Overall, EXO-M members are friends that liked to exercise since young. As predicted, we played basketball a lot and like it so our stamina is a bit higher. Even if you look objectively, our positions are split perfectly. The tallest Kris is center and fast Luhan is kind of like a guard feel. He’s really good at doing 3-pointer shots. Because Tao is strong, he is the power forward and Lay is also a forward feeling but he’s a bit different than Tao. Because I’m not good at basketball, I am the ball boy. (laughter)

Sehun: I want to first clap for EXO-M’s basketball skills. Kris hyung has skills of an athlete and the rest of the members are all good too. EXO-K members all really can’t play. (laughter) Because the level difference is so bad, we try not to play basketball. The fact that we played a game was when we were trainees.

Trainee Period

Whether it be long or short, you guys all had a trainee period but what influence did that time give to you.

Suho: When you go through the trainee period during your adolescence, you become more cautious and you tend to save your words. Because you have to compete with other friends and in order to achieve the dream of a singer, you end up living a working lifestyle kind of life. Not that I had another job but doesn’t social life always make one tense and give the burden of having to complete something. Because I endured that since young, I think there is a part of me where I’m a little careful in everything I do.

Baekhyun: On the other hand, if you have a long trainee period, your mental strength because really strong. Compared to people who had short trainee periods, I don’t think they go through slumps because of small things. Earlier this year, I went through a slight slump because of singing. It was because I didn’t know how I was supposed to sing. Because I already debuted and I have to show right away, I fell into worries on ‘what should I do.’ However, Suho hyung is not like that and is always maintains his composure. I think because his will power is strong, he can endure not going through slumps. Of course there are bad points too. Hyung’s personality is the complete opposite from me, because we’re stuck in formality, I want to break that.

How are your two personalities different.

Baekhyun: Hyung is the type that seeks practical rules and I am the type that seeks expediency. For example, if there was a math problem and someone taught me how to solve it, I always found an expedience. (laughter) I am the type that thinks a lot about ‘what do I have to do in order to find a faster way to solve this, what can I do to memorize this faster.’ Once when we were showering together, Suho hyung told me that because of me he became softer. I as predicted looked at hyung and thought, ‘a person can be that serious.’ Originally, I was a person that was like a feather that could soar through the sky but thanks to hyung I think I changed a bit.

How were the other members’ trainee periods.

Sehun: I was casted in sixth grade and officially started my trainee period in my second year of middle school. Because it was when I was really young, at first I was a bit confused and starting from my first year of high school I thought ‘I can’t do it like this.’ Because the other people’s dreams are solid and stuff. Starting from then I did dance practice a bit more.

Xiumin: I followed a friend to the audition and luckily passed and joined the company. At that time I was a high school third year preparing for the college entrance exam and because I wouldn’t be debuting right away but would have to go through a trainee period, I thought a lot. But because the only place to trust was the company, I think I just constantly faithfully practiced.

EXO’s Goals

How do you think it’d feel if you suddenly went to an ordinary young man from this situation.

Kris: Because I dreamed of being a basketball player before, to be honest I can be a basketball player again. However if I had to spend my life as a normal person, I don’t think I’d be able to accept that. Most likely everyone will be like that. Because in a foreign country, 4-5 years ago I came to Korea and tried really hard while practicing. If I suddenly lost this job, I think I’d be sad and taken aback.

Sehun: If I were to be honest, I think because there is freedom, there are some good aspects. However, I don’t want to go back. (bashfully laughs) Because I am EXO.

You debuted and now because you officially started gaining popularity, you guys started to get busy. For a while now you guys will be living a life like this, what are the things that you think everyone should keep no matter how hard they are.

Lay: It’s something we do even now but, it’s to not forget to say “thank you” when someone does something for another.

Chen: Proper man of his word. Because even if we really grow older and quit the job as an idol, if we were to show that we’re proper men of our word, we can leave a good image for people.

Baekhyun: I want to make a promise amongst the members. Even if we have a lot of free time, to only go home, to only meet male friends, or to only exercise. To be honest, I don’t think it’s a time for us to be having fun yet. That is my thought but… till thirty five? I wish that no one forgot the ‘person that they wanted to be’ when we debuted because we were so lost in pleasure. I hope no one forgets their own goals. Because of one thing like that, I can’t see EXO falling apart.

Suho: For me, it’s to love EXO members. Not excluding a single person.

Baekhyun: Suho hyung will guide us all towards a good direction. Because he’s always a proper person.

Then what is EXO’s goal overall.

Lay: Right now, rather than a member individually being popular or showing, I think EXO being more known is more urgent. Our Suho, leader said this once, “Fifty million people in Korea recognizing EXO is our goal.” I think we still have a long way to go.

How many people do you think recognize EXO now.

Suho: I think for teens it is nine out of then and for twenties it is six out of ten. (laughter)

Lastly, if you were to define EXO with one word.

Kris: For me, EXO is a pizza. Each member is a pizza slice because all twelve members must be there for us to be one.

D.O: If only one is missing, then it is not perfect.

source: Ize
translation cr; nahbit @ exok-trans

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