Which direction would she like to take with her music? She listed blues, rock and soul. “As of today, I want to finish my life like a rocker. Not like the strong rocker that some peole would think about, but I want to do things the way I picture in my mind what the rock image is.”
– The name of your album is “Spero Spere” which means “the hope to survive” in Latin. What is the meaning behind this?
▶ It’s a very famous Latin expression that is often used. I discovered it on a great occasion. It’s easy to pronounce, so the meaning was good that way. There were no more than 5 tracks, but this expression suits each one of them. I wanted to say that if we care for one another, there is still hope for us. There are regrettable losses like the suicide of a mother and her two daugthers. We must show interest. Lately, the young generation shows no confidence. They don’t take on challenges. Even if your world shatters, you must get up and try again, but I think they don’t even try. I wanted to say “I’m at this age and I’m okay “.
– The name of your album is about hope, but your title song is about sadness.
▶ It’s a difference in perspective. When I first listened to the song, I was overwhelmed. The lyrics are “harsh”, so there might be people who feel the song through a sad perspective.
– Is there a political message?
▶ Being a part of society is about having an image, so it shows. I can’t say I don’t have one. Just like everyone else, I felt empty and nothing more but panic for some time. However, pulling myself together is even harder. Haha.
– Is there a reason for you to choose “My Heart Beats” as your title track?
▶ It’s a misunderstanding if you think I chose this song because Yoon Il Sang composed it. Because he’s the one who made my hit song “I Have A Lover”? I’m not this kind of person. I received songs from many people and I just chose a good song. I don’t work by deciding first what my title track will be. Music has a life on its own. Things can be very different according to the musicians and the people you work with. Among all the songs, it’s the one made by Yoon Il Sang that expressed the most the Lee Eun Mee’s style.
– Do you have any anecdote?
▶ At first, Yoon Il Sang called the song “My Heart Cries”. During the completion phase, we faced each other after a long time and he said “nuna, what would you say if you were the one speaking?”. So just there, it took 30 minutes to change the song into “My Heart Beats”. We thought about the lyrics and everything was solved quite fast when everything clicked in our heads. We got a song full of hope from a sad story. So, yes it was a sad song first (laugh).
– Why did you release the album one day early?
▶ By luck, I’m from the generation when they made LP, tapes, CDs. Now, it’s all about digital tracks. There wasn’t this overflow of data in the past like there is today. It was the time when you owned music. Back then, as someone who was starting in the music industry, having a physical album was good. Going to the music store after waiting for a long time and asking if the album was out was a good feeling. This meaning is gone and now it’s about selling first.
– Be it analog music or digital music, you experienced it all.
▶ It’s an advantage. However, digital music is so clean-cut that it can be tiring. The dynamic between the sounds can’t be heard. That’s why I want to do analog music. We all go inside the recording booth and we record in one take. This is what I began to do and the recording itself is fun. The harmony is created in one place. The work is done in a digital way, but it’s mixed with this particular analog sound.
– When did you start to do this?
▶ Since “I Have A Lover”. The song “Happy Blues” on this album was done in one take. It’s always the one recommended by audio fans because they find fun elements to this music (laugh). I do ask sometimes which system they prefer, so this time I released the physical album before the digital one and I wanted to know what the music fans’ reaction would be.
– Have you thought about releasing the LP version too?
4 or 5 years ago, I was crazy about LPs, so I made some research. Haha. There was no place where they produced them at that time. There was this famous grandfather and I realized that this place was close. He started again now. I do want to release an LP.
– Is there something different from your previous album?
▶ I hope it’s some easy music to listen to. When we arranged the songs, I told myself not to make some polished, smooth, full-sound music. I wondered about what we could with the small empty space. I felt like there was something lacking at 1.5%. I wanted to make my music perfect when these parts were filled with the lingering feeling of those who listen to them. I worked by making everything simple from the vocal to the instruments organization.
– How many songs did you gather while working on this album?
▶ It’s been quite some time since I started working on this album, so I gathered up to 80 songs. I chose many songs because I was looking for the songs that can express myself. There’s one song left now. I did record it. I’m thinking about putting it in my next album. It came out in a different way from what I was thinking, so I’m thinking about changing the arrangement.
– How did you participate to this album?
▶ There’s nothing I didn’t give my insight about. The jacket design, the tracks, the inside, which picture for which song. Even the size of the characters, I was involved in everything.
– There’s no Thanks To in this album.
▶ I’m not good at writing those (laugh). I can’t really act almighty. I know about the people giving the coloring to a new album through the songs. When my staff gives its colorings through my songs, I call them and thank them from afar. I’m shy. Haha.
– Your hair seems very white. Didn’t you dye them?
▶ I realized there was a misunderstanding that I had my hair white on purpose. I dyed and had a perm for 15 years, so my scalp can no longer endure it. (This color is natural so) I just accept it. Only my mum hates it. She says “just dye it, please” (laugh). Because I was making the album, my hair turned even a little bit whiter. I will go on stage with this hairstyle.
– You started your singing career as a guest member of Sinchon Blues in 1989. (It wasn’t your official debut as a solo singer but) it has been 25 years now. Congratulations.
▶ I’m hanging there. Haha.
– Patty Kim retired not long ago and her music life lasted for 50 years. Can we expect to see you for another 25 years?
▶ A song goes out to the world and had a life on its own and this isn’t mine. I think that the final output doesn’t belong to me. It’s up to the people who listen to the music and who love it. However, I do have some greed. I want to finish my life as an artist in a natural way. I don’t know how my final performance will be, but I want to give my all so I have no regret and I can tell myself “you did well and came all the way here”. I’m human too, so I have no confidence to say I won’t be emotional (laugh).
– As a veteran singer, what do you think of the music industry of today?
▶ There’s one thing I find unfortunate. The Korean music industry developed itself at a large scale in a very short time. On the contrary, there was no guarantee for diversity. The situation is biased. Of course, I think it’s also because the supply is here to satisfy the demand. However, musicians encounter many limitations when they try to do something different. It’s sad. I think the most unfortunate thing is to see good musicians disappear.
– Is your hit song “I Have A Lover” special?
▶ It is. Because of this song, I was able to stand again while trying my hands at different songs. It was fun. Music became interesting again. It’s a song very special to me.
– It was the number 1 song that was sung the most in noraebangs. Have you already been to a noraebang and sung?
▶ I don’t sing it. I don’t really go to noraebangs. Singing on stage is tiring. Haha. I sing because I have to if I receive money for my song. The money must be sent to my account. Haha. [t/n: I don’t know if the translation conveys the joke, but it is a joke]
– What do you think of your own music?
▶ My music is still lacking. There are many things I want to do and many things are still missing. However, my albums can show where I stand today. When I make music, I think about what can express what I feel in the best way. According to that, I think about the feelings I want to convey well.
– The nickname “Barefoot Diva” sticks with you. There are people who already know why, but can you explain it again.
▶ 10 years ago, I had to perform 22 times in the span of 11 days at a small theater. It was a trick of my manager to reduce a little the rent financial burden (laugh). However, five days passed and my voice stopped coming out. I was sitting in my dressing room and getting ready. I was looking at my reflection in the mirror and it didn’t look like me. I thought about what had me feel this burden and it was “greed”. That’s why I made everything comfortable for me. I got rid of everything and I even took off my shoes. I’m barefoot when I’m recording a song, so I thought I should try to get the same feeling. For the first time of my life, I felt free on stage. I decided to sing barefoot from now on.
– Do you like this nickname?
▶ I’m confident to say it’s the best nickname in the world. When you say “diva”, it’s also the way to call the best female singers. Having a nickname to express who I am, it can be burdensome. I feel a big pressure to show something that would be worth this nickname. Isn’t it like some kind of expectation? It’s a great and cool nickname, but I don’t want be complacent about it. It’s something I want to feel a bit more freedom about.
Original article: starnews