Whereas a few of historical past’s best artists have a definite search for followers to recall immediately, many musical greats are shape-shifting chameleons, discovering totally different appears to be like, types and eras all through their careers.
TEN falls strictly within the latter class, with the Thailand-born K-pop star utilizing his songs and music movies to specific the totally different inventive ideas, characters, and, at occasions, confusion inside his thoughts.
After attempting out shouty punk-pop with “Paint Me Bare,” festival-ready EDM on “New Heroes,” and the hypnotic “Dream in a Dream” with fusions of conventional East-Asian devices, TEN has paired sultry R&B sound with vigorous group choreography. His new single “Birthday” dropped as a part of the NCT LAB challenge below Ok-pop super-label SM Leisure to highlight the totally different members in its ever-expanding NCT boy-band challenge that at present boasts 23 members.
Whereas TEN has already confirmed his celebrity standing as part of teams like WayV and NCT U, in addition to considered one of seven members in SM’s Ok-pop supergroup SuperM that hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, TEN refuses to take a seat comfortably as an artist.
“I get bored simply and the viewers will get tired of me doing the identical factor,” the singer says throughout a Zoom name from Seoul. “So I hold discovering what sort of stuff I haven’t completed but.”
Wrapped in a flannel shirt for this giggly Billboard interview, TEN’s bubbly warmness strays removed from the seductive, slithering soloist rocking chains and veils all through the “Birthday” video. Whilst TEN speaks with a lightness, there may be compelling duality in his seriousness in accepting who he’s whereas concurrently desirous to stage up in his work. Even when the star admits he’s misplaced inspiration, there’s nonetheless a guiding pressure pushing TEN into new, inventive areas.
Learn extra from TEN on all of the vocal, thematic and dance parts behind “Birthday” and what else is on the way in which.
Billboard: Congratulations on the brand new tune. “Birthday” is your fourth solo single, what’s the distinction this time in comparison with previous releases?
TEN: This tune has no reference to my previous singles or no matter you see in “Paint Me Bare” or “New Hero.” They’re totally different in style, type, make-up, and choreography. Even the usage of my vocals modified. I’m probably not eager about doing the identical factor over once more, like this deep and powerful vocal that’s on the similar time very tender. In case you take heed to the verses, I’m utilizing a decrease register after which a excessive falsetto on the refrain. I wish to present the distinction between sturdy and tender.
I’m glad you introduced that up as a result of it was an excellent vocal efficiency and one thing we haven’t heard from you earlier than. Was it a problem or did you understand how to strategy it?
I did discover recording the vocals very difficult as a result of R&B is totally different, you already know? “Paint Me Bare” is a pop tune so that you simply hit the melody, which is easier than R&B as a result of whenever you sing R&B you might want to have that delay and draw issues out. At first, I used to be singing it much like “Birthday,” however I assumed, “This isn’t how I need it to sound.” So, we re-recorded after I listened to extra R&B songs to see how they experience the rhythm. And I used to be attempting too onerous at first, however the subsequent session was simply chill; I simply felt the lyrics, listened, and laid again.
There are lots of NCT members and a number of SM Leisure artists, however it looks as if we will all the time look ahead to a TEN single every year. Do these alternatives come since you all the time attempt to present one thing new?
I hold discovering new ideas by watching films, taking a look at tattoo photos from Instagram, different artists’ photoshoots, vogue exhibits. In case you see luxurious manufacturers’ vogue exhibits, they’ve their very own idea and every year it modifications. I’m into that. I’ll say, “Okay, I like this sort of stuff so let me hold it to myself, take a look at different stuff and blend it collectively.”
Do you save a number of issues on Instagram?
I take a number of screenshots on my telephone! I used to be even watching an animation lately and was like, “Okay, I like this idea, let me do it like this man right here, then let me use this shade as an outfit…”
How a lot of your inspirations got here out in “Birthday”?
I used to be very fortunate at the moment with all of the those that assist me make “Birthday.” They actually requested for my opinions, “What sort of stuff do you wish to symbolize? How do you wish to specific your self?” I selected all 4 outfits. There’s the go well with as a result of I wish to present a mature aspect of me. One other one had the chain on my chest, a vital look; I want one look that may be very attractive. The opposite one is an outfit the place I put on a hat and there’s a black sheet overlaying my face. It’s a conventional, flowy type of outfit as a result of I don’t wish to solely present mature sides.
I needed to point out the fluid aspect of me too. It was very onerous to search out a number of references at the moment, it took me per week to search out every thing that I needed, however I despatched it to my stylist and video directing staff. They simply say, “Okay, allow us to determine every thing out for you.” We had a number of speaking occurring through the making.
Inform me concerning the choreography.
This one is principally by my buddies Bada Lee and Jrick [Baek]. They actually helped make my imaginative and prescient come to life. I instructed them how there are a number of Ok-pop teams on the market with choreography that has a signature transfer. However for this one, I didn’t need it to be like that, I needed it to be like art work. I need followers to see little sparkles within the choreography and say, “Oh, I like that second.”
Do you have got a favourite second all through the entire video?
Nicely, the primary verse may be very difficult for me. You’ll be able to see the complete choreography within the dance video and within the first verse there are such a lot of B-boy-like strikes. I bought bruises throughout my physique, it’s very onerous. However what was finest about that’s that I used to be working with my dancer buddies on strikes I can’t do alone. We’re all in touch as they pull me up, I kick out, there’s like a wave—it’s not simply me doing the work however we’re all linked as a staff.
Like “Birthday” or “Paint Me Bare,” your songs are assured of their parts of sexuality. It’s not raunchy however very free and open. How do you put together your mindset in these sorts of performances?
Wow, nicely, I don’t actually take into consideration that a lot. It’s like, “Okay, I wish to put on these garments.” It’s simply me. That is my physique and that is how I wish to specific it. Carrying too many garments generally in dancing can block your physique line. I don’t wish to really feel like I’m not assured with my physique so I used to be like, “Let’s simply do it.” That’s why I don’t actually do health or attempt to construct muscle for sure garments. I’m skinny in order that’s simply me. I don’t must construct it as much as impress another person.
You wish to present your pure self.
Sure, however perhaps a bit of train for my stomach fats. [Laughs] Just a bit!
Oh, come on! Don’t fear about that. It sounds that you simply’ve discovered confidence in your personal physique which is nice as a result of many battle with that.
It’s like, everybody has a attraction, however I’m nonetheless attempting to learn to use mine. I additionally take into consideration being seductive, proper? In music movies, you possibly can attempt every thing—you possibly can’t actually do this in actual life however there’s no proper and mistaken within the music video. It’s simply, “Let’s attempt.”
It’s your alternative to attempt issues as a result of everybody is aware of TEN’s persona as very bubbly. However on stage, you grow to be very totally different.
Thanks. It simply speaks to a unique character of myself and the fitting time for me to specific myself. I can’t do it at any time.
You talked about you don’t wish to be too coated up when dancing. I used to be questioning concerning the hat and veil look. Was it troublesome to grasp that look?
The veil was not the issue, however the hat stored falling off whereas dancing. I needed to repair my hat on a regular basis, however it’s enjoyable to bop with a hat like that. I felt like I’m a thriller man and nobody is aware of me.
Outfits may help individuals to really feel extra assured. A distinct outfit helps you symbolize your self and your persona in another way. It helped me grow to be that character. Each outfit has its personal purpose that I select it, and I like each outfit, however this time the hat outfit is what I actually loved sporting. It actually helped me embrace the idea. “Birthday” has a really sturdy drum and bass sound, however that outfit type of helped to melt it down and grow to be a bit extra mysterious.
After “Birthday,” followers had been saying they need a full album from you. Would that be one thing you’d be eager about?
Sure, I’d. I like working as a staff, however I additionally wish to do my solo stuff as a result of you possibly can put in your ideas and persona. Regardless that I generally didn’t write my tune, I can take a look at the demos and say, “Okay. I wish to do this or attempt that.” And whenever you learn the lyrics, it’s like performing. You’re attempting to vary your self for that tune as you’re employed on it. It’s like, a tune may be very groovy or hip-hop or—can I say swag?—swag.
I can merely work on the tune course of and it’s going to be a number of enjoyable. As a gaggle it’s additionally enjoyable, however it’s totally different. As a staff, you place within the factor of your self however you’re nonetheless attempting to be in movement along with your staff. Each are enjoyable for me to work so I’ve to do each.
Talking of your groups, do you have got any teasers about what’s coming with WayV and NCT?
Proper now, WayV is making ready for his or her new comeback. And I can’t spoil something about NCT but. If I spoiled it, Mark will ship me a textual content, “Hyung! Bro. What did you simply say?!”
We are able to’t have Mark upset with us. However as we glance to the tip of the yr, are there any methods you need individuals to recollect you in 2022?
Proper now, I’m simply specializing in myself. To be sincere, I don’t know what occurred to me however I want extra motivation proper now. I must encourage myself. After I filmed “Birthday,” I misplaced observe of one thing that I don’t even know so I’m type of figuring that out. I wish to enhance myself in singing and dancing so I can get to do extra distinctive ideas and higher songs when it comes to a unique style.
If I don’t observe for that, it’s going to be more durable for me to do totally different sorts of stuff. So, that’s my objective for this yr to enhance myself and work out stuff that I’d been excited about these days. The method for “Birthday” helped me to focus once more and be extra inventive with my work. It was like a gas that helped hold my engine shifting.
That’s very sincere. Many struggled with motivation through the pandemic, for instance. Have you learnt what occurred? Or do you have got recommendation on how you can recover from the hump?
I believe everybody has that second in life. So, I don’t actually give it some thought that a lot, I simply must determine it out. I don’t know what it’s and I don’t know if I’d be capable to give useful recommendation to those that may be feeling down as a result of realistically everybody has their very own issues or confusion that solely they will relate to.
However for me, I sit down, breathe slowly and discuss to myself by asking myself questions in an effort to break down the scenario into small fractions and higher perceive. That does assist me determine issues out more often than not! Generally I’ve these moments however it’s taking place to me, like, now. So, let me determine it out after which I can inform you subsequent time.