Baek A-yeon takes a look at her album ‘Dear Me’: Now in her mid-20s, the former ‘K-pop Star’ contestant wants to show her mature side

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Baek A-yeon takes a look at her album ‘Dear Me’: Now in her mid-20s, the former ‘K-pop Star’ contestant wants to show her mature side


Singer Baek A-yeon has returned with a new album titled “Dear Me.” [JYP ENTERTAINMENT]

After a year and a half out of the spotlight, singer Baek A-yeon has returned with her latest album “Dear Me.”

Known for her sweet and mellow voice on hits like “Shouldn’t Have,” (2015) “So-so” (2016) and “Sweet Lies,” (2017) Baek has earned the title, “Queen of the Music Charts.”

Even before her official debut as a singer in 2012, Baek was already a well-known figure, thanks to her appearance on the first season of the popular SBS music audition program “K-pop Star” (2011-12). Though she did not win the competition, Baek left a strong impression with her sentimental songs.

While all of her previous songs have been released in May, Baek decided to drop “Dear Me” this winter in order to spend more time working on the record and also because of her tight schedule.

“This May, I performed at Disney in Concert,” Baek said during an interview with Ilgan Sports, an affiliate with the Korea JoongAng Daily, prior to the release of the record on Wednesday. “After ending a short-term relationship, I worked really hard on new songs. I tried writing my own music and repeatedly revised the songs in order to deliver the message I hope to give.”

Baek implied that her new songs will offer comfort to listeners who are going through stress and pressure.

“I worked on ‘Dear Me’ while thinking about the words I had wished to tell myself,” she added.

The following are edited excerpts from the interview.

Q.How do you feel about returning to music after a short break?

. I feel very nervous. [But,] I am also very happy because I have returned with [an album of] ballads, which is a genre I like.

You have usually released new songs in May. Why did you decide to release music during the winter this time around?

I started working on this album during the second half of last year. I thought the mood of my songs do not really match the spring, so decided to delay the release until the winter. Up until this album, I had performed melancholic mid-tempo tracks, but I personally prefer ballads.

Why have you not released ballads before?

It has been seven years since I debuted. Now that I am in my mid-20s, I think I have become more capable of expressing my emotions. I prepared this music with the aim of showing that I have become much more mature.

What kind of song is “Sorry to Myself?”

Even without listening to the lyrics, people can immediately know what kind of song it will be. When I first recorded [the song], I paid a lot of attention to my technique because it has lots of high notes. But during the second and the third recordings, I started to concentrate more on delivering the emotion of the lyrics. I thought the song would not be true if the emotions were not there.

Did singer-producer Park Jin-young give you any advice as the head of your entertainment agency?

He put in a lot of effort on the title track. After listening to the first version of the recording, he said “[The lyrics of the song] are the words you tell yourself when you feel exhausted after crying every tear you have. But you still seem to have enough energy to cry some more.” So I ended up recording three or four more times. After sitting down and taking out all the energy in my body, I was able to sing a lot better.

What do you think enabled you to put more emotion into the song?

There was an incident that made me feel like I needed some rest. I dated someone for a short while. It was difficult for me to get over the breakup, but it helped me concentrate while singing (laughs). I had this pressure to be nice and kind to everyone, but when dating, I expressed a lot of negative feelings. Through the experience, I learned that I should not push myself too hard and just feel more comfortable.

How would you describe a mature grown-up?

I used to think that [a true grown-up] should be able to deal with all the feelings and emotions that she or he is experiencing. However, I now want to be the kind of a person who is able to be honest and rely on others [upon confronting difficulties]. Conversely, it is also important to have the ability to be considerate of others by allowing them to rely on me.

There is a lot of competition on the charts in November. Are you concerned?

I gave up on thinking about where my song ranks on the music charts. From a fan’s point of view, I think it is better because they can listen to a diverse range of songs. And for me, I usually feel lonely as a solo artist, but I think it would be fun being able to hang around girl groups like Twice.


'컴백' 백아연 ”짧은 연애로 큰 깨달음 얻었죠”

가수 백아연이 1년 6개월만에 컴백한다. 2015년 5월 '이럴거면 그러지말지', 2016년 5월 '쏘쏘'에 이어 지난해 5월 '달콤한 빈말'에 이르기까지 매년 5월 히트곡을 발표해 오며 '5월의 여왕' 수식어를 얻었던 그는 이번엔 겨울 컴백을 확정했다.

"올해 5월에는 디즈니인콘서트 무대에 올랐다"며 공백기에도 바쁘게 움직였다는 백아연은 특히 신보 작업에 공을 들였다고 말했다. "짧은 연애를 끝내고 곡작업을 열심히 했다. 작곡도 해보고 수정녹음도 반복해 가면서 내가 전하고 싶은 메세지를 담아내고자 노력했다. 나에게 하고 싶은 말을 엮어 앨범 '디어 미'를 만들었다"며 여성들의 공감을 자극할 힐링송을 예고했다.

-오랜만에 컴백하는 소감은.
"굉장히 떨린다. 좋아하는 발라드 장르로 앨범을 만들어 컴백하는 거라 기분이 좋다."

-5월이 아닌 겨울에 컴백하는 이유가 있다면.
"이번 앨범은 지난해 하반기부터 준비했다. 5월 감성과는 맞지 않아 겨울에 컴백하게 됐다. 그동안 미디움 템포의 말랑한 노래를 불렀는데 개인적인 취향은 발라드다. 그래서 타이틀곡 '마음아 미안해'와 같은 노래를 너무나 하고 싶었다."

-애절한 발라드를 그동안 들고 나오지 않은 이유가 있나.
"데뷔 7년차가 됐고 26세가 됐다. 20대 중반이 되니까 감정을 더욱 잘 표현할 수 있게 된 것 같다. '좀더 성숙해졌고, 그만큼 컸습니다'라는 걸 보여드리기 위해 준비했다."

-'마음아 미안해'는 어떤 곡인가.
"가사 내용을 보지 않아도 제목만으로도 내가 무슨 가사를 부를지 알 수 있는 노래다. 첫 녹음할 때는 고음역대가 많아 테크닉에만 집중했는데 두 세번 녹음하면서 감정에 더욱 힘을 주게 됐다. 감정이 없으면 진짜가 아니라는 생각이 들었다."

-박진영 프로듀서 조언이 있다면.
"타이틀곡에 신경을 많이 써주셨다. 첫 버전을 들어보시고는 '다 울고 힘이 없을 때 내가 하는 혼잣말인데 아직도 울 힘이 남아있는 것 같다'고 해서 세 네번 더 녹음했다. 앉아서 몸에 힘을 다 풀고 녹음했더니 잘 됐다."

-감정이 더 실릴 수 있었던 이유가 있나.
"힐링이 필요한 일이 있긴 했다. 짧은 연애를 했는데 가장 나답게 연애했다. 헤어져서 힘들었지만 노래를 부를 땐 집중이 잘 되더라(웃음). 나는 모든 사람에게 다정해야 한다는 강박으로 사람들을 대했는데, 이번 연애할 때는 투정도 부려보고, 불쾌한 기분도 바로 이야기해가면서 만났다. 연애하고 느낀 거지만, 스스로 너무 괴롭히지 말고 편하게 할 필요가 있다고 생각했다."

-이상적인 어른의 모습이 있다면.
"예전에는 어떤 일이나 감정이나 모두 스스로 감내하고 혼자 책임져야 한다고 생각했다. 그런데 요즘엔 할 말을 하고, 기댈 때는 기대도 보는 사람이고 싶다. 반대로 다른 사람이 기댈 수 있게 배려할 수 있는 마음도 중요하다."

-11월 컴백 대전인데다가 트와이스와 유빈과 겹쳤는데 걱정되진 않나.
"차트에 대한 생각은 내려놓았다. 팬 분들 입장에선 다양한 음악을 동시에 들을 수 있어 좋을 것 같다. 또 나는 솔로라서 혼자 음악방송 다닐 때 외롭기도 했는데 트와이스 친구들이 있어 재미있을 것 같다."

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