Live Review: SHINee Key “THE MOMENT: SHINee Key & BRIDGE SHIP HOUSE” – COEX Artium, Seoul (26.08.16)

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On August 26, SHINee member Key joined COEX Artium’s talk show series ‘THE MOMENT” by introducing his recent collaboration with Japanese illustrator Bridge Ship House. While Key opened the show by introducing the ways he plans his life goals, Bridge Ship House was invited and introduced her new work and collaboration with SM Entertainment in the second half of the talk. Key explained that he wanted to talk about “the ways we dream and plan life goals”:

“I think it is important to talk about values that we pursue in the process of realizing our dreams and goals. I believe the most important thing is to maintain sincerity to your profession. For instance, a singer must sing well, although it is not easy to realize this simple truth. Looking back, I think I have forced my audience to digest my music, styles, and other things that I liked. But when you think about my job (as a popular musician), you know that there should be a story that people wish to hear from me. But I think I’ve neglected people’s desire for a long time. I became aware of this only recently when I worked with designer Ko Taeyong.”

Key also mentioned that until recently he had pursued collaborations only with mainstream artists, although he soon realized that this was a prejudice when he starred in the new play, “Save the Green Planet.” While many dissuaded him from joining a small play, Key had a firm belief that he could learn acting much more by joining this work, and eventually his starring resulted in a numerous casting calls from the theater industry. Moreover, it also resulted in an economic gain to the theater, which is unusual for new Korean plays.

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One of the projects that Key continues to carry on is his collaboration with designers and illustrators for SHINee Tours. During the talk, Key gave a presentation of 6 costume sets, which were part of his costume directing in the 2016 SHINee Arena Concert Tour. The primary goal of his costume directing was a well-balanced combination of SHINee’s identity as a group, each member’s individualities, Key’s collaborative work with designers, and unconventional ideas about concert costumes. For each costume set, Key designated a “main member.” For example, Key chose Onew as the main member for the classic suit style, because Onew’s appearance fitted well to the (Broadway musical) “Chicago” – like classic image. Meanwhile, Key selected Minho as the main member for the double denim fashion because Minho was the tallest one and was thus looked better than other members in denim.

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The second half of the talk addressed a conversation with Japanese illustrator Bridge Ship House, one of the three artists who worked with SM Entertainment for the SHINEE WORLD V concert (the other two were Andy Rementer and Seong Lib). When Key first saw Bridge Ship House’s work, he wasn’t sure how she would express SHINee with four eyes—which was a signature of her illustrations—but he soon decided to work with her based on the belief that they will communicate well with each other.

Bridge Ship House confessed that she originally thought SHINee were mass-produced, commercialized idols who follow the company’s commands and instructions, although she realized that it was not the case after studying the group. Then she had a strong desire to work with SHINee because thy were all “idiosyncratic and lovely.” She also confessed that until the first meeting, she still thought of Key as a typical “idol,” but once she met him, she realized that he was “very thoughtful, insightful, well-organized, yet considerate” person who works so well with others. In the end, she was deeply touched by how much Key thought of his fans throughout the collaboration process.

Meanwhile, when Key saw the first draft of the SHINEE WORLD V poster by Bridge Ship House, he found it somewhat “unstable,” so he asked her if SM Entertainment requested her to draw it in a certain way. Eventually he found out that the company sent her a reference video for color and tone—thus not a correct reference video—although Bridge House Ship already finished her first draft based on the reference. While Key requested a new draft again and asked her to focus more on her own drawing style, he also asked her to remove fantasy elements and to show more of ordinary sides of SHINee members. Eventually the poster turned out as a room in which SHINee members are preparing the concert.

For individual characters, Key requested Bridge Ship House to express them in the most direct way, so that fans and the members themselves could recognize each of them at a glance (for instance, Key with a key, Jonghyun with a dinosaur, and Minho with a soccer ball). Bridge Ship House explained that Taemin was the easiest one to draw because he was extraordinarily good at dancing. Because Taemin was strict with dancing, she thought, he would be more laid-back in other parts. Meanwhile the most difficult member to draw was Onew, because she was confused if he was behaving naturally or was acting as an idol:

“I realized that Onew was a bit different from other members when I watched the LINE broadcast. In the show, each member was supposed to pick ‘fun’ SHINee songs, but Onew picked a ballad at the end. I think he was already making a set list for a concert on his own. Maybe that was why he thought, ‘this ballad song should fit well as an ending song for our concert.’ But in fact they were supposed to choose a ‘fun’ song, so it had nothing to do with a concert that was happening in his own world. So I thought Onew is a person who draws various things in his mind when you give him one thing. Maybe that’s why he’s the leader. (Key: Right, sometimes he goes too far. We always tell him to go with us, but he goes too far all the time…)”

Bridge Ship House also explained that Onew looked lovely when his behaviors were lost in translation. This is expressed in the poster as the Onew character tries to make the alphabet letter V, yet a tilted V, with his legs.

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Bridge Ship House stressed that the most important thing in the collaboration process was to work with each other on equal terms. In other words, it was important for her to listen to Key’s ideas but also to suggest her ideas to Key. She lastly appreciated SM Entertainment and SHINee for offering this collaboration and expressed her satisfaction of the result.

At the end of the talk, Key went back to the idea of setting up plans for one’s life goals and confessed how long it took for him to prove himself in the industry:

“There are still a lot things to do and I have a dream of making more people know about me… You know, it was fine for me not to put too much effort on this talk, because no one is sure if I’ll do it again or not in the future. But I’m a responsible person and I wanted to build my identity in every single work I do, so I did my best while preparing this show. Because I did my best, I was able to do this twice. Whatever I do, I don’t want to do it absentmindedly. Because I decided to do all these things, I cannot blame anyone even when I’m exhausted. Whatever I do in the future, I will be responsible for them and will build my identity through them, so please look forward to it… I think, finally, things are getting smooth and comfortable. Now I finally feel like I can do things well. It’s only a beginning to me, so please look forward to my upcoming projects. Thank you, and I love you.”

Posters 1, 2 & 4 courtesy of SM Entertainment. Photo 3 by Stephanie Choi.