“I put my honest feelings that I couldn't say into songs.”
Chuu, you’ve been doing a variety of activities. What do you really want to do? I have thought that you’ve been doing other activities to lay the groundwork to sing.
It’s not that I specifically partake in other activities in order to sing. The work in this area is fun, and matches my dispositions as well. When I sing, there is a different joy, and there are times where I am deeply moved. But with variety shows or photoshoots like today’s, these help raise my self-esteem.
Among all the activities you’ve done; web variety, YouTube, going on shows, even photoshoots, what was the happiest moment?
While album activities are the most precious and bring me the most joy, all the steps of preparing are fun. More so than the moment that explodes on release, the process of preparation, the tension of anxiously waiting for the joy that comes when people like it; that's a thrill for me, and I'm happy maintaining that tense state. I'm quite tense.
It’d be nice to hear about your goal too. A short-term one.
Since the album is coming out soon, the short-term goal is to make the fans as well as first-time listeners of my album to keep listening to my music, and to make them curious about my next steps. Thinking a bit bigger, I’d like to go up on an awards ceremony stage as a soloist.
Chuu’s vocal skill is what surprised me upon listening to the album. You were this great of a singer?
I don’t think I’ve had many chances to let people hear my singing. I’ve sung on live broadcasts and OSTs and such, but I’ve never really shone brightly with my own music in front of the public. So on this album, I prepared carefully in genres that I like and have wanted to attempt, and I aimed to show my colors to the public. I think all these songs are my style and express me well, so I hope you’ll look forward to it.
What’s something you wanted to make sure goes into the album?
I think the messaging aspect was big. “Howl” is a song that contains my honest feelings that I’ve wanted to speak but couldn’t. I might not look it, but with my personality, I can’t express my problems or inner feelings to others well. This song let me unpack and show my inner feelings that I’ve wanted to pour out at some point, but also wanted to ignore because of awkwardness. I’ve been comforted a lot by this song too. And I’ve unknowingly gotten emotional while singing “Howl”. Like the lyric “my little hero”, I hope it can be a comfort and hope to many people.
It’s your first album. I’m sure hopes are high, and it could be a turning point too.
The songs I prepared are really good, and I feel certain that anyone who listens to them would like it. So there’s no anxiety, and I hope you will listen comfortably. Please look forward to the next album too. I want to be a Chuu who can make you expectant.
It’s an album assembled from shards that suit your image.
I think there will be a lot of things that are inside of me, but the public doesn’t know much about yet. It’s my first solo album filled with my voice, so I hope you’ll pay a lot of attention to the voice. People have seen me mostly on variety or ads, so many don’t know how I sound when I sing. When you listen to “Howl”, you’ll hear my unique tone in the medium-low register, and I think you’re going to be startled. And I’ve also changed up my style, too. Bleached my hair for the first time, and vibe-wise you’ll also see this hefty, rebellious side of me that you haven’t before.
Seeing from the outside, Chuu makes me wonder how your sense of identity can be so tough.
I don’t know either, actually. I think it’s because I don’t take external criticism deeply. If there’s a problem, I just look for ways to resolve it myself, and I don’t really try to tell anyone else. So I don’t exactly know how good I am at bouncing things off, how tough I am. In my work, the joy is much greater, so I’ve almost never thought of it as something hard.
One’s twenties are anxious and turbulent times, with new experiences. Aren’t there many friends who struggle with finding a direction for their activities, or get swayed by assessments about them?
That’s true. And sometimes assessments of my performances do loom large. Everyone has a different way of receiving that. I think that the path to overcome that kind of hardship is to reflect on yourself and arrive at an understanding, rather than relying on others, and I think it makes you tougher. Just like a wound healing. So while I can console a friend who’s facing a tough situation, and of course I can also receive comfort in that process, in the end I think the most important thing is to recover yourself.
Some people lack faith in themselves. What would you tell them to teach them how to not be swayed?
Here’s what I’d say. At your age, it’s nothing strange to be swayed. And it’s not a bad thing to enjoy that process. You can’t hope to be happy and safe every single day. Once you’ve overcome that difficult moment, and when you’re looking back someday, I think those things won’t feel so big anymore. And you’ll feel that those events helped your current mindset and thoughts to take root. I try to stare straight and overcome my difficult moments, rather than avoid them. Would I not learn more from that experience, then?
How could we give people positive energy, like Chuu does?
I think I’m not heavily swayed even when I feel weaker. It’s best not to think thoughts that cause you to hurt. Because those things become poison. I try to only tell myself good things. Try to keep my mind disciplined, only see good things, only eat good things. I found my own method in that way. You have to make time to invest in yourself, too. And the most important thing is to not blame yourself.
Where do you think you are right now, compared to your plans?
I’m still at the start line. I had this big worry. It’s true that people think of me as cute and give me affection, but what I wanted to do originally was to become famous by singing. I’m grateful for the attention I receive now, but I want to become famous through my album and become more loved that way. I believe that that moment is going to come. And that’s why I think this is just the start.
You’re saying that you’ve built a good foundation up until now, right?
I used to worry that people might no longer seek me out. Because popularity is something that comes and goes in a flash. I had anxiety too, but my prime has not arrived yet, and I can create something going forward. I’m always going to feel that something is lacking, going to do my best in my future albums, going to work hard to be more loved.
Listening to your music makes me curious about Chuu’s sensibilities. What influences you and inspires you and makes you respond?
My emotional sensibility comes out of comfort. That can be sad, or happy. My emotions are like waves. Sometimes loud, sometimes tranquil like the morning sea. I think these varied emotions helped my singing. Also, I like funny things that I can laugh with. I look up variety show compilations and “Legendary Running Man” and things like that. I’m a person who seeks out amusement.
What’s the most important value in Chuu’s life?
First is happiness. And I need mental calmness. The second most important thing is to protect and love myself. The strength to bounce off the hits that come from outside. That’s important. And third is the joy that comes from work. Without that, it just feels like time is passing. Feeling joy from work brings happiness, and calms my mind. Ultimately, what’s most important is what I do and where I find happiness and joy.