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Consisting of multi-national members from Japan, Korea, the U.S. and Canada, is the male dance and vocal group “NCT 127”, whose outstanding performance and ability of expressiveness, together with their heightened sensibility in music, have earned them acclamation the world over. This interview series showcases the individuality of each member through what they believe is their “own style”, delving into their approach on fashion to their methodology towards expressing themselves, as well as what their futures may hold, unraveling the group’s mystery from every angle all in the MEN’S NONNO way. With special contents, including pre-interview questions the members have each carefully responded to, online interviews connecting Tokyo and Seoul, and exclusive photographs provided by the members themselves, this interview series is certain to be a positive contrast to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Featured this time is the eldest member of NCT 127, TAEIL. Just as we thought he was telling jokes to soften the mood, he would grab the moment to speak seriously about his passion for songs and the group, generously showing us different sides to himself. We bring to you an English version together as well!
*For this interview, TAEIL spoke to us in his native language of Korean. The parts in which he spoke to us in Japanese are described as “(in Japanese)”.
TAEIL is “an adorable and easy-going big brother”?
TAEIL: I’m ready to go~! Can you hear me?
MEN’S NON-NO: Hello, TAEIL-san.
T: (In Japanese) “Helloー！”
MN: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule for us today.
T: Oh, don’t mention it. Thank you right back.
MN: Thank you for graciously answering the questionnaire and putting together some photographs. Including those, we look forward to hearing what you have to say.
T: (In Japanese) Same here!!
MN: Wow, you certainly do have a nice voice…! Well then, let’s get started with the interview. If you recall, there was a past article on the MEN’S NON-NO website, where the members of NCT spoke about their recommendations on the best places to visit in Seoul. As we read it, we realized that while the other members brought up places such as tourist attractions, you responded by saying, “the gigantic (Hongdae) game center and the Japanese ramen shop across from it”. YUTA-san laughed and said, “What a fanatic!” Even we chuckled at that part. Would you say that you are the mood-maker of the group, TAEIL-san?
T: Hahaha. I guess so. I see myself as a very casual person. I’m likely exactly the way people see me, and I think that it’s not that difficult to be around me. I mean, I myself like things that are fun. So, when I was asked that question, I was already thinking it would be great if the mood was a fun one, so I purposely answered game center and ramen shop (LOL). I like being unpretentious and also seeking out things that are unpretentious.
MN: That really shows through. Incidentally, what type of spots in Seoul do you like lately?
T: Right now, I recommend ‘home’.
The entire staff of NCT 127: (laughter)!
T: Since we are unable to go out due to the impact of COVID-19, my recommended spot in Seoul is ‘home’!
MN: Yes, without a doubt. That is so true.
MN: Not only is it difficult to go out, but it must also be difficult for all the members of NCT 127 to perform. That goes for your offline activities as well, right? When you are able to do the next concert, what are you looking forward to?
T：What I look forward to the most at our next concert is to perform the songs from our new release “LOVEHOLIC”, which we haven’t had a chance to do yet. I can’t wait to show you all. It’s exciting to think about how we will prepare the stage for our actual performances and how the fans will react.
MN: I pray that you are able to do a concert soon.
T: (In Japanese) Yes, I want to go to Japan!
MN: Now then, let’s look at each question you answered. We’ll start with the question, “What is the one thing that you can hold your head up high about?” You wrote,“How adorable I am”. Then, for “how you would particularly like to appeal to the readers of this series”, you wrote,“I hope the fans will hold high expectations on how adorable I will appear”. Please give us details on what you mean.
T: The reason for why I gave those responses… if I may say so myself, I feel like I’m an approachable big brother in the eyes of others, so I wrote ‘how adorable I am’ (LOL). And as I mentioned a little earlier, I think it’s fun for the other members and people in our vicinity to be around me. I’m sure they will think that I am nice, and so that’s why I responded in that way.
MN: TAEIL-san, we are told that you are the eldest member of NCT 127, so it must be wonderful for the younger members to be able to spend time with you without feeling any tension. In response to, “What kind of an adult do you want to become?”, you answered,“a broad-minded adult”, which we think links to this.
T: Yes, exactly! Thank you very much.
MN: Something else also caught our eyes. For “what makes up who you are”, you brought up your“hair, vocals and candor”, but the fact that you brought up ‘hair’ first was intriguing. Like, it comes before the vocals…?
T: Through all the performances I have participated in since my debut, I have dyed my hair different colors, tried out various haircuts and style arrangements, and have continued to challenge different hair styles. At the time of this question, my hair was pretty red. It’s different again now, but at the time, it was a distinctive color that had an impact, and it was an element that pretty much positioned who I am as a person. So, that’s why I wrote ‘hair’. (LOL)
MN: Mystery solved (LOL)! For this series, we like to ask about your commitment to style, including fashion and hair. So, we love that you have a heightened level of interest on things like that.
MN: Just having spoken a little bit with you, we can tell that you are a person who likes an enjoyable atmosphere, TAEIL-san.
T: I’m glad to hear that (LOL)! Easy-going is at the top of my list.
which is a big part of TAEIL’s life
MN: We’d like to dig deeper into the magnetism of TAEIL-san as a vocalist. Under the column for “self-intro to the readers of MEN’S NONNO”, you wrote,”This is TAEIL with a great singing voice”. On “What image of yourself do you want to present as a global artist”, you responded,“My cool singing voice”, which shows your confidence. Could you tell us about what triggered how vital singing has become for you?
T: Let’s see. I have loved music itself as well as singing since I was a child. So, whatever dreams I have had have always been surrounded by music. And so, I continued my lessons as a trainee through my agency, which lead to my debut. To be honest, finding myself as a vocalist, and having conviction as well as confidence towards singing… well, this all came a few years after my debut. Through the various experiences I gained and recording the different types of music and singing, I had the opportunity to come in contact with all kinds of genres that I had never challenged before, which helped me to grow even further. Through that time, I became confident that “it was singing that’s for me”. Let’s see… that was probably during year two after my debut.
MN: So, you seriously studied music during your three years of high school. You wrote,“The most memorable time in my teens is the time I spent in music school”. How did you deal with singing day in and day out?
T: It was a music school, so we as students all had a goal to get into a university that is related to music, and that atmosphere was everywhere among us. Each and every one of us worked diligently towards our specific field of study, and so it was an environment filled with passion. I remember how much I loved to learn about vocals, and I did have a bit of confidence, but it was just so much fun. I also participated in singing contests and eagerly took classes, while practicing and studying hard every single day.
MN: So, we can say that those intense days are one of the factors that have created the person you are today, TAEIL-san.
T: Yes, that’s right. That is a huge part of it.
MN: From your current perspective as a vocalist, TAEIL-san, could you please introduce a few songs that you feel are impressive among the “NCT 127” songs?
T: I particularly think that “Love Me Now” has a lasting impression. It is a favorite of mine of course for the vocal parts and the rap parts that show each member’s characteristic, but also for the rhythmical vocals, which is different from a ballad. I would also like you to listen to “Coming Home” by NCT U (another unit TAEIL is part of). Even though it is not an NCT 127 song, the tonality of the vocals and the matching with the visuals is incredibly well done. Another song I recommend, which is also from NCT U, is “Timeless”. From the moment we heard what we had recorded, we knew the tonality was perfect for us. I also thought it was really nice after listening to the final cut, and was very much satisfied. If you have interest in NCT 127, I hope that you will also listen to some of the other units as well.
As a super vocalist, what music would you say has had an influence on you?
MN: To “what has had an impact on your music”, you sent us a photograph of a keyboard. Is it yours?
T: In Japanese) Yes, it is! It’s not so much that the keyboard itself is special, but rather that the keyboard has a strong affiliation with music, and I can honestly say that it represents music as I see it within myself. I’ve also played music since I was a child, and I love to sing and play and be in touch with music. So, that is why I sent a photograph of my keyboards.
MN: You have also uploaded a cover song where you are singing and accompanying yourself, which is incredible. We’d like to introduce that as well.
T: Thank you very much.
MN: For “What has had an impact on you”, you also answered,“Stevie Wonder’s music. His vocals and funky style are so cool”. Stevie Wonder’s name also came up for the question, “What is the source of inspiration for your creative process?” You also wrote others, like“The Weeknd and Drake”. Do you mind if we ask you exactly how they have had an impact on you?
T: To being with, as far as Stevie Wonder is concerned, he was the artist that turned me on to the genre of pop music. He gave me the incentive to study and learn about pop music. So, listening to his music awakened my desire for pop music, and through him, I actually began studying pop music, which shows how vast an existence he is to me. There are a lot of artists that I like, but lately I’ve been into The Weeknd’s music and its shades. Drake’s music is the type of music I would like to create myself, but I think The Weeknd’s music and its tonality is more me.
MN: That’s probably something only you can tell.
What do you actually do in order to have fun in life?
MN: You filled out every question thoroughly, but of special interest was the response you had to the question, “Have you already found the real you?” We also had a discussion with YUTA-san about how vague and difficult a question it is. However, TAEIL-san, you were basically the only member who responded with a nearly certain response,“Not completely, but almost there”. If you don’t mind our asking, could you be more specific as to what that means?
T: First off, personally, I think that I have finally gotten to the point where I can somewhat see what direction I should take as a vocalist. To add, I am trying to make that into a reality without worrying about what other people think. In the past, I used to always think about what kind of life I should be living, and what kind of personality I am, reflecting on everything surrounding me, asking myself questions like “what kind of action should I take” and “what should I do when something like this happens”. But now, and this is also the reason why I wrote “I have been able to find myself”, I think that the best thing is to not worry about others… I mean, of course that is within the bounds of caring for others. So, in other words, to care for others without worrying about how they see me and to enjoy things in a way that is simple. I’m at a point in my life where I am actually trying to put this all into action. So, that’s why live performances are easy-going for me and really make me happy. By being this way, perhaps there are times where some people may feel constricted or uncomfortable, but… that’s how I want to live, so that’s where ‘but almost there’ comes from.
MN: So, TAEIL-san, you find it necessary to live your life as you are by caring for others, but at the same time, not overly being worried about how others see you. Could it be that having the confidence to support this answer could be linked to why you are starting to see your direction as a vocalist?
T: Of course, there are times when I lack the confidence. In fact, I don’t have much confidence in my personal life, but to be honest, I’m mainly always singing, so the symbolic times when ‘I don’t have confidence’, is when my singing just doesn’t quite cut it. In other words, when my singing isn’t going how I would like it to, my self-esteem drops and I wind up in my head, ‘Oh, I’m just not quite good enough after all”. I seriously start to think that I’m a failure and so I start rehearsing like crazy. Even if there isn’t an immediate rise in my ability, by rehearsing enough that I almost lose my voice, I feel much better, and I think it helps to regain my confidence. So, that’s what I do.
What do you find necessary in order to maintain a comfortable relationship with the other members?
MN: Since singing came up, let’s talk about the group’s activities. To the question, “Please tell us what is wonderful about your group”, you responded,“The way we are able to cover each other’s shortcomings, and by doing so, how our overall perfection level is heightened”. Could it be that a big part of you takes much pride in playing a key role with the vocals, TAEIL-san?
T: That is true. Of the entire group, I do want to perfect the vocals as much as possible. That’s why I always want to make the sound just as good, especially when it comes to the chorus parts of the music.
MN: In reverse, are there times when you feel like the other members are helping you?
T: There are so many different genres in the music of NCT 127. So, for example, because there are members that specialize in rap, I am able to cultivate new genres for myself, such as HIP HOP, and I think that is also why I have been able to expand my range of music. When we are able to respect each other in the way that we do, I think it makes it possible to show that the members actually enjoy spending time with one another, even when the variety shows reflect a realistic look at us, if you get what I mean. As members, I think all of that comes from the good relationships that we have.
MN: You also sent us a photo of you and JUNGWOO together.
T: JUNGWOO and I are really good friends, but this photo just came out of happenstance (LOL). We just happened to be together when we wanted to take a photo. I also took a photo with JOHNNY, but I didn’t like the way I looked in that one, so I just sent this one (smile).
MN: Thank you for being selective (smile). Have you had any memorable conversations with the members recently?
T: Conversations, hmm… what have we talked about (smile). Well, when I’m with the members, we rarely talk about anything serious or have serious conversations. We usually talk about the main issues of the time, and lately, we’ve been having a blast with the YouTube contents ‘가짜사나이（Editorial staff translation：偽物の男 [Imposter Man]）’. We watch videos and talk about this and that (LOL)”
MN: Is that so. That’s a first for us. Is it something like a reality show…? We’ll have to check It out.
T: Yes! Please do. It’s really interesting”
NCT 127 and how it has shown me “what the world is about”
MN: To the question, “How has NCT 127 had an impact on you?”, you wrote,“Experience about the world”. By ‘experience’, what exactly are you referring to?
T: The reason why I wrote ‘experience about the world’ is because, had I not been part of NCT 127 and if I had not been here, then I think everything that I have felt and experienced up to now would never have been. The reason why I added ‘about the world’, and not just ‘experience’, is exactly as it says. During the world tour last year, we went to different places around the world and came in contact with different cultures and learned a lot about the outside world. No doubt, it may not have been as deep as it could have been, but I did get a sense of value and culture from places that I never even knew existed. We were able to communicate and interact with our fans from all over the world, so it was truly an invaluable experience. That is what lead me to, ‘experience about the world’.
MN: You really do value what you have experienced as a member of NCT 127.
T: Yes. Because I am part of NCT 127, there have been so many things that I have encountered.
What do you consider to be the knack for being cool in fashion?
MN: Regarding fashion, you wrote,“I like it because it is a way for me to express myself”. What is it about yourself that you want to express?
T: To be ‘cool’ is very important to me. JOHNNY knows these words very well, but I find that a style or an atmosphere should present as “coordinated but not overly coordinated” and “dressed up but not overly dressed up”. That’s how cool should be.
MN: To the question, “When you think about your own fashion, what is the most important thing to you?”, you clearly wrote,“I like cool and casual, and easy-going styles”. Further, to the question, “Who do you admire when it comes to style?”, you wrote,“JOHNNY”.
T: Oh, that’s right. I like to style myself in a way that doesn’t make me feel pressured or be a burden on anybody else. Easy-going with a moderate style. I think that’s JOHHNY’s forte!
MN: In a previous interview , JOHNNY-san did talk about a similar aspect when it came to his style! So, is the outfit you are wearing in the photograph you sent us [editorial staff note:The main image at the beginning of this article] close to that sort of nuance for yourself, TAEIL-san?
T: I actually prefer something even more easy-going~!
MN: Uh, more easy-going (smile)?
T: I was a bit more attentive than usual for this one (LOL)
MN: Oh, my. Thank you so much.
T: A version with effort for the fans who are watching~ (LOL)
MN: So, you dressed up for the occasion. You also brought up“VANS Checkerboard Slip-Ons” as one of your favorite fashion items and even sent a photograph of you wearing them.
T: Yes. They are super simple, or should I say, unpretentious and simple, and at the same time, you can come out looking good in a cool way. I also like styles that incorporate an ‘OLD SKOOL’ feel.
MN: When asked, “How do you know when you’ve found that item you want?”, your response was,“During the process of looking through the different styles I like”. What is your top source of information, TAEIL-san?
T: I often get information from JOHNNY, by the way! Also, finding your own fashion and your own style… it can be like buying things you like one by one, and before you know it, you have a collection of things that are similar to each other, and that’s when it sparks. That’s how I came to figure mine out.
MN: Got it. That makes sense. It seems like you and JOHNNY are good pals. Listening to you, it seems like you also have similar tastes. However, in contrast, for “the next fashion you’d like to try”, you wrote,“Sexy”… Isn’t that quite a different approach from what you have been saying thus far?
T: Fashion without an inner layer.
The entire staff of NCT 127: (laughter)!
T: Like wearing a shirt on your bare body…
MN: Well, that’s a sudden twist to wildness…?
T: Yesss… that’s right; that’s right (LOL)
MN: Can’t tell if you’re joking or really mean it, but let’s move along (laughter). To the question, “What countries are deeply impressive when it comes to fashion?”, you responded“Korea and Japan. I felt that each country has a strong sense of uniqueness in style”.
T: First off, I myself am Korean, and Japan is nearby, so I have often been there. Both are very familiar to me, and that’s how I came to write that response. When visiting the busy shopping districts of Japan or Korea, I think you can clearly see the taste of each person’s fashion. I really think there is individuality in the styling of the outfits and that the characteristic of each outfit speaks out. Western Europe is really lovely too, of course, with its fine-looking style and sophistication, but when it comes to “uniqueness” I personally feel more of that individuality from Korea and Japan.
How do you recommend that we listen to your new album?
MN: we’d like to ask you about your new Japanese album “LOVEHOLIC”. Could you kindly tell us what we can expect and of course what to look out for as far as the vocals are concerned?
T: We actually just finished recording [editorial staff note: at the time of the interview]. We had ample time to comfortably work on each song, while also enjoying ourselves. The lead track is in the high range so it was hard to sing. I mean, it has been a long time since I felt that much difficulty when it comes to singing. But as a result, I know the completed album will be a very good one. You can expect nothing less than the best. I think it will be as intense and charismatic as we have frequently done in the past.
MN: You wrote in the questionnaire, “I like this album because it has some upbeat and cheerful songs on it”. On what occasions would you like everyone to listen to the songs?
T: I would say listen to the cheerful tunes during exciting circumstances. There are songs with beautiful lyrics and there are songs that are perfect for times when you are feeling good or even when you feel like you need to lift your spirits. Anyway, I’d say listen to it all the time.
MN: All the time! How confident of you. It must be a beautiful piece of work.
T: I also recommend listening to this album while washing the dishes~
MN: Washing dishes.
T: Because there’s not a single melody that will bore you (smile).
MN: I see. So, you mean it will lift our spirits while we are busy with the housework. That will be quite helpful (LOL). I’m sure your fans, TAEIL-san, will be listening to it while washing the dishes… We’ve also heard that the lead track is a love song. Is there something that you pay particular attention to when singing a love song?
T: I don’t really overthink the lyrics, even if it is a love song. This of course only applies to recording purposes. I think about the mood of the song. So, if it is a bright song, then it should be cheerful. If it is a cute song, then it should be loving. If it is a little heavy-hearted and gloomy, it should be a sort of sad song. When recording, I tackle the songs head on in a simple manner. Love songs come out the best when I think about the fans”
MN: How wonderful.
What is vital for you when it comes to your “own style”?
MN: We have enjoyed everything you have shared with us today. On a final note, could you share with us what you feel is “my own style” right now, TAEIL-san?
T: Let’s see… my own style is… “natural”… Wait, let’s make it “natural & relaxed!
MN: Message received. Well then, let’s end this interview with a brief message for the readers of this article.
T: Thank you deeply for reading what the members of NCT 127 have to say. Our Japanese album should be an exceptional one and thank you for your patience and anticipation. One last thing, please continue to watch over our fashion as well~!
MN: Thank you very much. TAEIL-san, you have made this such an enjoyable interview.
T: I had fun, too. Until the next timeー! Thank you very much!!
MN: What a great voice from start to end!
How do you want to spend your 20s?
I would like to spend it doing what I want to do, while also working hard at it.
Please tell us your motto
Look at oneself with calm and objective eyes
What item do you find you can’t help but buy even though you may have the same thing already?
Plain, black and white T-shirts
What dream would you like to achieve in your life other than music?
I would like to spend my old age with animals
Please tell us what you would like us to focus on in particular about yourself.
Please look at me genuinely and free from bias
MN: TAEIL-san makes the 5th member to join this series. It’s hard to believe we’re already over the hallway point and the playlist of songs is piling up. We ask each featured member to list up their favorite and recommended NCT 127 songs, as well as their latest favorite songs from other artists, to create an original playlist for MEN’S NON-NO. (By clicking the image above, you can actually jump to sites, such as Apple Music, Spotify, AWA, etc. So, please check it out!)
T: For the NCT 127 song that I recommend, can I choose a song from the new album?
NCT 127’s Japanese staff: That’s fine~
T: The NCT 127 song that I would like to include in the playlist is one from our new album “LOVEHOLIC”
MN: The album is still under wraps, so the readers will have to wait just a little while longer before we can actually add it to the playlist. By the time we get the songs from all 9 members, this song will have joined the ranks as well! Stay tuned to see what the song is like!
T: I appreciate it~! And from my recent favorite songs, I select “Spice Girl” by Aminé. It’s so cool and I completely recommend it to all of you.
MN: All the members have brought up different tastes in music and our playlist is becoming abundantly unique!
NCT 127 is a boy band with global reach, consisting of multi-national members and based in Seoul of South Korea. Their latest hit “NEO ZONE” has sold over one million copies and still rising. And now, Japan’s highly-anticipated 2nd Mini Album “LOVEHOLIC” will be released on February 17,2021! Expectations are heightened as they try their hand at a love song for the first time as the lead track. nct-jp.net The last HP link is as follows (same as listed)
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