[INTERVIEW] ZE:A – 1000 Days Soaring Into the Sun

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“Like a phoenix set my wings on fire, like a phoenix heat up with my strong heart. I can feel it in this city tonight, we’re gonna get you with the fire burn.”

ZE:A, also known as the “Children of Empire,” have been cementing their position as idol stars through four singles, two studio albums and two Japanese singles. It just took about 1000 days to be where they are with “nine different colors from nine different members.”

The boys are no more perceived as rookies here but they still insist they have more to present and more places to rock.

Kstar10 sat down with the eight ambitious members Kevin, Kwang Hee, Hyung Sik, Hee Cheol, Tae Heon, Min Woo, Siwan and Dong Jun, in their waiting room at Mnet’s live music show “M! CountDown” on September 27.

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How do you feel about getting ready for the final televised performance of “Phoenix”?
Dong Jun: I feel like something’s missing. We’ve been promoting our album for about three months from “Aftermath” to “Phoenix,” and it feels like we’ll have an aftermath for performing three to four days a week. Putting all those activities to an end all of a sudden will be awkward.

Min Woo: I always feel sad before the last performance of our releases. Our goal for this album’s promo is to make people know us better through “SPECTACULAR.” But we were inches away from achieving the initial goal. While preparing for the next record, I think we should brainstorm more ideas to fill in the missing parts. We concerts coming up, mostly in Asia, as soon as wrapping up activities for “Phoenix.” Since K-pop is such a huge thing right now, we get quite busy with overseas activities when done with local ones. Dong Jun, Siwan and Kwang Hee are busy for their individual schedules as well.

Is Jun Young getting back on the tour from the temporary break due to his ankle injury?
Dong Jun: He’s likely to join the concert.

Hyung Sik: He has gotten much better but still feels hard on dancing. He used to use a pair of crutches but now he only needs one crutch.

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Which member goes best with “Phoenix”?
Hyung Sik: Many people say that Kevin is the one who gets spotlighted the most. They say he is good-looking and hot.

Dong Jun: The whole concept over “Phoenix” is literally made just for Kevin. He got the part where he could show his sexiness and singing skills at the same time. Adding to that, he had quite a proportion to sing in the tune. He is my mom’s favorite member as well. (laugh)

Kevin has been cast in the Korean musical “Gwanghwamun Love Song” opening in Japan. What is Hyung Sik’s advice for him since you’ve already been on stage for the musical “Temptation of Wolves” ?
Hyung Sik: To tell you the truth, that one is the first and the only musical I’ve played in my life. (laugh) You know, I literally practiced to death. Because all the other cast members are actors, I had to practice much more than they do. My advice is this: practice it to death.

Dong Jun: Kevin has done some acting in musicals when he was in Australia, so he won’t have any problem. I’m not worried about him at all.

You guys mentioned it earlier on TV shows that you are on your way to find ZE:A’s own color. Do you think you have found it?

Kevin: We are still looking for it. (laugh) From our debut song “Mazeltov” to the latest tune “Phoenix,” “Aftereffect” is the song that have made us get closer to the general audience. A lot of our fans also sing along to the tune at events or concerts, whereas our past songs were a little bit hard to sing along. So it is our assignment to bring more songs like “Aftereffect.” I’d like to color the group’s image with tunes like that.

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Most of ZE:A members are on Twitter but Dong Jun and Kevin are not. Is there any special reason for not doing it?
Hyung Sik: I bet that’s a matter of scarcity, like ‘I won’t do what all the others do.’

Dong Jun: Partly yes, but I’m more careful with it because someone once told me it’s easy to make a mistake when becoming too emotional on the SNS. So I prefer the official fan cafe to Twitter.

Kevin: Because other members are so into it, I don’t find a reason why I should do it. I can use Hyung Sik’s Twitter to post something. If there comes a time when I feel like I need one, I’ll make my Twitter account.

For members who use Twitter, do you remember any special posts or messages that have cheered you up? What do you feel when you get mentioned with those messages?

Min Woo: Above all, I appreciate our fans’ interest in small stuffs we post on Twitter. Even when I tweet something casually, they always concern about it and tell me to cheer up. That really helps us a lot. It makes me feel I am not alone but so many people are looking at me out there.
If we don’t have that, we’ll be just heading home without any inspiration or feeling after work. We often check comments on online music communitys but that’ll be the only means to communicate with fans if there was no Twitter. The website allows us interact easy and fast. I really like that I can check fans’ reponses right after the concert so I can be aware of how they felt and what kind of songs they liked. That’s why I’ve become so into it.

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Which member saw the biggest growth in any categories–vocals, dance, humor–since making your debut?
Kevin: We can’t beat Kwang Hee in humor. We admit that Kwang Hee gets spotlights everywhere he goes and other older celebrities adore him very much.

Hee Cheol: It’s like no matter how well we do on TV talk shows, the game is over once Kwang Hee opens his mouth. You know, he is ‘the star’ on TV shows these days. Even my friends watch “We Got Married.”

When do you feel good to being a celebrity?
Hee Cheol: It’s when my parents feel proud of me. When our family members watch TV together and I am on it, I can see that they’re really happy.
Kevin: What inspires me the most and makes me happy is when I sing in front of many fans and hear them crying my name. Actually that’s the biggest motivation for singers. So I feel that I should do the best for my job.

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Out of 100, how would you rate the group’s music career so far?
Kevin: 90 points.

Hee Cheol: 30 points. Once I became a singer I realized there is a long way to go. that’s why I can’t give the numbers that big.

Any last comments?
Kevin: Our local promotion is over but we visited China for the first time a few days ago and now plan to launch more activities there including concerts and showcases. We also plan to reach other countries as well, since there are still a lot of our fans we haven’t met. Please wait for our better music and performances..

Lucia Hong (luciahong@asiae.co.kr) contributed to this article.

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