“It would be nice for it to be like WINNER‘s 2018 — no more, no less. Though they would bring about an overwhelming amount of love with anything they would work on last year, WINNER claims that there are still wings that have yet to be spread. And that’s the reason why we shouldn’t take our eyes off of WINNER‘s tomorrow.
[Note: ARENA = AR, Seungyoon = SY, Mino = MN, Jinwoo = JW, Seunghoon = SH]
AR: It’s really a contradictory feeling. A part of us hopes WINNERs new single would be similar to ‘REALLY REALLY’ but we know, at the same time, that if it did sound similar, we would subconsciously find ourselves saying, “This sounds too similar.” And yet, if the vibe is completely different, we’d say, “This is kind of unfamiliar.” So how must WINNER attune themselves to such responses? Would the true solution be, then, to create music that satisfies WINNER?
MH: You’ve got the exact answer. That’s precisely it
SY: That’s why we aim to create music that we’d find fun to sing along listen to. That’s our standard.
AR: Your newly announced single, ‘MILLIONS’, shows us the kind of refreshing, boyish vibes that we’ve come to look forward to from WINNER. Would you say this has become a signature of sorts unique to WINNER?
SY: REALLY REALLY holds a lot of significance for us. It was the song that allowed us to progress forward as WINNER. And since then, our team’s vibes have become bright and cheerful. When we debuted, we were working on more of a moderate, mature feeling. But from ‘REALLY REALLY’, we thought about continuing our path acting more like kids our age — in our 20s, cheerful, happy. And because of that, I think our music sort of naturally began to adapt with those kinds of feelings.
AR: It’s our first time meeting, and I feel a peaceful yet very positive energy from all four of you. Do you feel that the atmosphere of the team is following the kinds of songs you sing the most often nowadays?
MN: To be honest, it’ll feel different depending on the state of our condition. All of us are more true to our moods than you might think. (Laughs). When we work though, we try to bring up our energy more in order to maintain the fun.
JW: Well, all of our activities continue to be happy, so couldn’t that be a positive influence on our conditions?
AR: If we were to consider the relationship between the four members of WINNER like one of dating, it might be equivalent to a relationship that is approaching stabilization. It seems like your relationship with one another has progressed to a point where you all feel comfortable without needing to try as hard, and silence isn’t uncomfortable. Would you say this is a correct observation?
SY: You’ve observed perfectly. We could all sit still in silence and it wouldn’t be awkward. That’s actually even natural
SH: I guess you could say we’ve passed the honeymoon phase. Haha.
AR: Have you all fulfilled the state of knowing without explicitly saying anything to one another? Perhaps, because the depth of your judgement and understanding of one another has deepened?
SH: We nevertheless still try to make sure we have the conversations that are necessary. Maybe the timing in that exact moment isn’t right, but we will eventually bring it up and work it out, trying to find a plan for a solution. So far, no one’s holding grudges of any sort. We’ve done what we can to solve them all.
MN: We know too well that when that kind of stuff builds up, it only ends up turning into poison.
JW: If before, we used to keep our mouths shut about some things with the attitude of “whatever, let’s not bother saying it.” Now, our level of understanding has become so much deeper that we’re able to tolerate and understand even those kinds of matters.
AR: But if the four of you are to maintain a good, balanced relationship while continuing your careers, I think you must sufficiently share with one another a common goal or vision under the name of WINNER. After all, you wouldn’t be able to run forward together while thinking different things.
SH: The similarities and sharing always exist. Like winning awards, for example, or holding a concert with a bigger stage to meet with even more fans. If one is an idol dreaming of longevity, I think the goals are probably all similar, no?
MN: We frequently have a lot of conversations with each other along the lines of, ‘Let’s improve the quality. In order to do that, we must do this.‘
SY: We have the job we’ve always dreamed of. So at this point, I think the question at hand is whether or not we can become the best in this field. Doesn’t everyone in their youth dream at least once of becoming the best? I just see it as us having that promise and that mental attitude at the same time.
AR: Seeing your juniors appear on <YG Treasure Box> recently must’ve reminded you of the kind of mindset you promised yourself you would never forget when you first started out as WINNER. Some commonly call it as, ‘original intentions.’
SY: We actually recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with some of the boys on <YG Treasure Box>, and we personally watch them practice, too. In that time period [as a trainee], everything is in earnestness, and you’re dreaming a really huge dream. But once you debut and you promote for some time, you can hit a point where those goals you set for yourself can end up being adjusted to more ‘realistic’ standards There’s a moment when you realize, ‘Debuting doesn’t mean you quickly become the best.’ So seeing these boys recently had me asking myself whether or not I curtailed my goals without me even realizing. It sort of became a chance for me to begin trying to chase after an even bigger dream [than the one I had before].
AR: Isn’t there a sense of fear that grows with knowing more? You can’t help but end up thinking more, as well.
MN: Yes. We’re still earnest now but it’s different than before, because once you debut, you’re setting foot in this market, in this system. Like you said, as the years build up and the experiences increase, you get to know more. You find out the reality of the things you once dreamed about and saw as something that was simply ‘cool’. You experience what it’s like to feel hollow. You learn of the emptiness that comes after a show where you’ve just stood in front of a bunch of people. So of course, there are moments when things become difficult, but it’s from these moments that we learn to lean on one another. We lead and push each other to the best of our abilities. It also ends up becoming a driving force for our careers.
AR: Then on the other hand, as your years of experience increase, do you find certain parts of you that you feel you must get rid of?
SH: You end up eliminating some of your more unpolished sides. Hmm, so it’s kind of like this: Sometimes, there can be moments when you show your gloomy side, even if it’s for just a second. But because we want the general public to feel happiness watching us, we end up working to show a brighter, more positive side of us. You’re careful of your speech and actions, you control your expressions, stuff like that. I just think, maybe, as your experiences and years build post-debut, you experiment with ways to polish the raw parts of you.
SY: As you gain more experiences, you become more aware and there’s lots you gain. But you a so lose just as much, I think. Consequently, you come to to naturally accept those things, and you learn how to loosen up a bit.
MN: You just naturally become more relaxed.
AR: That’s why I think one must really put in the effort to create a balance between work and life. But it seems like the weight WINNER puts on their work is extremely high. What is the reason for why you all work with such fervor?
SY: It honestly might be because of me. My members follow my pace when it comes to my ambitions or passion. (Laughs)
MN: I think that that’s all the more possible because, unlike the boys on <YG Treasure Box>, we didn’t start out from a really young age, and we each got to spend our school days well. Many people tell us that we are doing well right now, but we are still far from reaching the goal that we’ve set for ourselves. We continue to work harder in order to fulfill more.
SH: Our members know that the more we work on something, the better the outcome we are able to produce.
JW: We’ve tasted the feeling of what its like to work hard and be rewarded with the return of that result.
MN: If you drink too much, you get a hangover in return. But if you work hard, good happenings will be returned. (Laughs)
SY: We started getting busy in 2017, and got even busier in 2018. Because of that, we were able to take part in more occasions and new experiences. Being able to participate in those kinds of experiences is our motivation. We know that the more we work, the more we will be presented with exciting happenings, so we can’t help but anticipate.
AR: Seems like everyone nowadays is living such intense lives in the midst of excitement of not only WINNER‘s music but pop music as well.
SY: It’s an era of rapidly changing trends, so if you lose grasp of it for even a moment it’s hard to catch up again. We already have so many artists now who are younger than us — just looking at YG alone we have the Treasure Box boys waiting for debut. If we don’t keep experimenting constantly, we might fall behind or straggle, and we really don’t want that, so we work extremely hard.
MN: At the same time, we don’t feel impetuousness. It’s our job to continuously create new music and trends, so we can’t stop.
JW: To the fans who love our music and give us strength, we want to show that we are continuously progressing. I think that’s the way we are able to reciprocate the love we receive.
AR: There’s a saying that goes, ‘No more, no less, may it always be like Chuseok [*Korean Thanksgiving Day].’ Does WINNER hope that it’ll be just like 2018 for them — no more, no less?
SY: We may or may not. We want to have the chance to spread some of the wings that we weren’t able to spread before, and we also want to expand the spheres of where we are active. We are gaining so much love from the public as WINNER, but we also wish to show more of each member’s individual domain. Just as MinHo’s solo album did well recently, I hope that 2019 will be a year where the rest of the members will have the chance to expand upon their individual scopes.
[behind cover story]
ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL
Just after finishing off 2018 in good spirits and beginning to prepare for 2019, we met WINNER. As mentioned in the interview, WINNER seems like lovers who are just now entering a point of stabilization. It looked good to see them brighten up the atmosphere without even trying or being forcibly loud and rowdy. Their relationship with one another was like a ‘Chocopie’, where you know it without having to say it. Having hit the fifth year since their debut, WINNER is a group who’s intimacy you can feel even in the way they sit still. But of course, when it came to the self photo booth, they brought out a whole year’s worth of hyper-ness that reflected the level of energy appropriate for youthful boys, and it reminded us of their true age. We could also, without a doubt, feel their hearts for one another throughout the duration of the photoshoot. Warm hearted and sturdy, these four boys are the cover stars of the February issue of <ARENA>. Like collecting dragon balls, we’ve gathered a preview of all four covers here for the reader who may struggle to find them all.