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Taeyang talks about his first solo single in six years, 'Vibe' with Jimin

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Taeyang is officially back in the game after a six-year hiatus with his new single ‘Vibe’ featuring BTS’s Jimin – watch the music video below and read on for NME’s interview with the K-pop star about this new chapter in his career, working with Jimin, and what lies ahead for him.

In addition to his work with Big Bang – who made an early comeback last year with their single ‘Still Life’ – Taeyang has made a name for himself as a soloist since 2008, when he released his first EP ‘Hot’, which contained his hit single ” Just look at me.” Since then, his solo career has been filled with hits including ‘Wedding Dress’ and ‘Ringa Linga’ to name a few. Prior to ‘Vibe’, his last solo release was 2017’s ‘White Night’.

‘Vibe’, out today (January 13), carries elements of retro, R&B and New Jack Swing – genres Taeyang has always loved. His introduction was especially inspired by the R&B of the late ’90s and early ’00s, he says. NME. Watch the music video for ‘Vibe’ below:

‘Vibe’ was released on The Black Label, the YG Entertainment affiliate Taeyang was signed to after parting ways with YG in late 2022. A new label is just one of the ways Taeyang is entering a new era this year – one he says he is embarking on with humility, honesty and choshimor a “beginner’s mind”.

“I wanted to go back to my core values ​​when I started my career, both in music and in life, and be more down to earth because the last six years have made me think more about relationships with people and life, not just about the music,” Taeyang says NME via a call from Seoul a few hours before launch day. “I really had this heart of rebuilding and going back to basics and starting from scratch. I see this moment as the second chapter of my life, a big turning point where I can start again.

“I’m a little nervous but at the same time very excited about the release. Overall, I’m happy to finally be able to meet the fans after a long wait.”

The lessons Taeyang took from his six-year break from music also manifested themselves in the positive and upbeat message of ‘Vibe’. “I really believe that a vibe, a good vibe, comes from the love that forms from the relationship you have with someone or the things you love and the harmony between them. And that’s what came out of my time away.”

‘Vibe’ was first created two years ago by Teddy Park, acclaimed and prolific songwriter and co-founder of The Black Label, who also made a passing and surprising suggestion to Taeyang about collaborating with Jimin.

“I didn’t think it was possible because we didn’t know each other at the time. So I was actually surprised, because it occurred to me like, ‘Wow, I never thought of that,'” says Taeyang of the prospect of working with Jimin. “But since last year, there have been some events and private meetings where I was able to meet the BTS members and get to know Jimin naturally. From there, we started talking about music and we both agreed we wanted to collaborate and it was pretty smooth sailing after that.”

“The song that was released for Jimin was actually not ‘Vibe’. It was another track,” reveals Taeyang. “And when I first invited Jimin into the studio, Teddy called me right before I played it and said, ‘I don’t think the song will be what music, ‘Vibe’ will be much better and people will love it.’ And Teddy was right. Teddy is always right!” he laughs.

“But back then, I had so many songs! I was writing three times a week. ‘Vibe’ just had the backbone with incomplete songwriting and none of the lyrics there, but just nonsense. And I didn’t want to show the song to Jimin in that state. So I apologized to Jimin for not listening to any tracks that day and invited him back for another day. And within a week, Teddy and I had composed and written the track and then invited Jimin.”

taeyang
Taeyang. Credit: The Black Label

Those familiar with Taeyang’s work will know that so far he has only collaborated with artists on his label and its affiliates. (Although he emphasizes NME, “I don’t normally collaborate based on work, it just has to happen naturally.”) But Taeyang says that after teaming up with Jimin, he has become more open to future collaborations for an upcoming project. “There will be an album in the future,” he jokes. “And I look forward to collaborating with other artists on my next project.”

Does Taeyang, a second-generation star whose influence on the current crop of young K-pop artists is clear, feel any pressure promoting a fourth-generation scene?

“I would be lying if I said there was no pressure!” he responds with a small smile. “But I think there has to be some kind of pressure going back to that scene and wanting to show fans and everyone a reborn image of Taeyang.”

Taeyang is also adapting to the myriad different ways that K-pop artists promote themselves today. “I never thought I would do dance challenges because my life is a challenge,” he laughs. “Each day is a challenge!”

And at the end of the day, what does Taeyang consider a ‘vibe’?

“I think people imagine [vibing as] going to parties, dancing or making music and improvising. But really, my real ‘vibe’ doesn’t come from any of that, but from my everyday life. When I look out the window, enjoying nature while listening to the trees whispering in the wind, or when I see the sky and it’s a beautiful sunset, I feel calm, relaxed. And to me that’s what a vibe is. And my true happiness comes from my son. My baby. When he laughs, it brings me the ultimate joy.”

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