'korean style is about moving fast' — g-dragon discusses the sound of korea's future
i-D met the millennial Michael Jackson right after his private Chanel concert to celebrate the opening of the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition in Séoul.
G-Dragon wears all clothing Chanel
This article was originally published by i-D France.
G Dragon's music is the sound of South Korea's future. And probably our future too. At the age of six, he was already flexing his starry muscles in a band called Little Roora, before deciding to stay in the shadows for a few years and humbly learn his craft by observing how the big pop stars do things and interning his way through a series of record labels. Today, G Dragon appears like a new musical oracle, relevant across the world, and a star way beyond his native land. His fluid masculinity, borderless pop, and self-confidence on stage have brought him to the forefront of his genre.
In a world where everything is moving at top speed and everyone is embarking, headfirst, on a full throttle race to the top, well it doesn't leave the typical careers with much life expectancy. Yet G Dragon always seems one step ahead, and is dragging our whole generation along for the ride.
Like his generation, he is versatile and open, and approaches music the same was he does style — his fashion brand Peaceminusone is another way for him to define his vision of the world. In 2015 in Seoul, Karl Lagerfeld predicted that the world would soon be obsessed with South Korea. And G Dragon of course. Since then, the star hasn't left Chanel's radar, and last week he performed at the inauguration of the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition in Seoul. The perfect occasion for i-D to discover what the future's going to look like with him in it!
Hi G Dragon! You wear Chanel, you just performed for them in Seoul, what does Chanel mean to you?
Chanel is Chanel. It's not a brand. There's nothing like Chanel in the world. No matter where you go, people know about it. You can't explain Chanel. It's a verb.
Your show was for an intimate crowd. How was that compared to the stadiums you're used to?
To be honest I prefer doing smaller shows. It's more fun. Being on stage is different each time. The energy is never the same, people are different, the vibe changes all the time.
How do you feel before going on stage?
I'm pretty chill and cool. To be honest, I'm so used to it. I started music when I was six. I was nineteen, Korean age, when Big Bang started. If I'm not mistaken it should be seventeen for you guys.
Age is different in Korea?
Yeah! It's actually the only country in the world that works that way. Ask our President! I don't know why, I wish I knew why. So today I'm 28 years old. But in Korea, I'm already 30. I know, it sucks…
You're something of a superstar in Asia and you're pretty huge in western countries too. How does it feel to be such an icon?
It's an honor to hear that! You know, that's the thing about the 21st century: everyone is connected and the world keeps moving all the time. It looks so special but it's so natural at the same time. If I post something new, everyone in the world will know what I'm doing right now, at the same exact moment. In the same way that I'm connected to people, I feel like social media now so intrinsically links fashion to music, art to pop, etc.
You had an exhibition in Paris with your brand, Peaceminusone. Do you define yourself as a designer?
I don't consider myself as a designer but as an artist — an artist... with a lot of clothes. My brand is not just a fashion brand. Two or three years ago, I supported young and emerging Korean artists with an exhibition that took place at the Seoul Museum of Art. I wanted people to know that Korean artists do great things.
Korean fashion is getting bigger each season and a lot of people are talking about it as a new phenomenon. Do you feel the same way?
It's getting bigger, but it's not only fashion. The whole Korean market is getting bigger: may it be fashion, music, or K-pop — whatever. It's a culture as a whole, and I'm part of it.
Did you anticipate this shift when you started making music?
I wasn't trying to be famous when I started making music. I mean, that wasn't the first thing I wanted. But of course, I see more and more people getting interested in Korean culture, and I'm so proud about it. I'm honored in a way. I love my country so I'm more than happy to see it shine. It's getting really fast, there's a good and a bad side in it but I try to take the best of it. I still want to try new things so I can learn about them and then teach those things to younger people.
How would you describe Korean style?
When I was young, I was fascinated by Japanese culture, style, and the way of life. I loved Chinese movies too. What I'm trying to say is that we used to learn from different Asian countries. Even from America and Europe. And trust me: Korean people learn so fast. The most important thing is to keep learning, otherwise you're just copying. So if you want to be an artist, just make things your own. Basically, Korean style is about moving fast. Europe was once fascinated by Japan, but today a lot of eyes are on Korea. It's not about minimalism or aesthetic anymore, it's the Korean energy we admire.
Where does this energy come from?
You know what, it's because we have a hungry mind. We already have the fame and recognition but we still want more and more. We are still hungry. Korean people, including me, want to go faster and faster. In music, in fashion, in art, too. One shot one kill: that's my mentality.
What is the whole purpose of making music?
That's a really big question. I don't really have an answer so I'll talk about my new album, Kwon Ji Yong — my real name. It's a new step forward in my life as I turn 30. That's why I decided to name my tour Act III M.O.T.T.E. It's the third act of my career. And M.O.T.T.E is about where I come from. I'm getting back to my roots with this album. We all live in a digital world, but I put my album on USB and on each USB, we used a hand-drawn red strike to represent DNA. I did some of them myself.
If you could make a wish, what would it be?
For me you mean? The cover of i-D!
Text Tess Lochanski
Photography Yoong Jang