입력 : 2017.11.22 16:00
“The story of us coming up here from the bottom is our music itself”
Exclusive interview with ‘BTS’(Bang Tan Sonyeondan)
By Dong-cheol Kang
Meeting with successful celebrities is almost impossible, especially when it comes to meeting with a Korean idol group already on spotlight such as ‘BTS’ (Bang Tan Sonyeondan). BTS has successfully finished their debut stage in American Music Awards (AMA) on November 19th in Los Angeles (LA). BTS had a full schedule in LA, to name a few, an interview with a Japanese broadcasting corporation plus the photo shoot with the American fashion magazine ‘Vogue.’ Despite the tight schedule, BTS was able to meet for an exclusive interview with the Korean newspaper ‘The Chosun Ilbo’ in LA right after their debut stage. Since the interview with The Chosun Ilbo was an exclusive one, BTS was careful in responding to the interview questions. Below are some of the interview Q&A with BTS.
Debut on the most American major awards stage…”We were respected as axis of the AMA show”
Q: How do you feel being on stage and performing at AMA?
RM: Everything is surreal(Laugh)
Q. The answer sounds like a standard response(Laugh). AMA is well known as the most American and as one of the major awards along with Grammys and the Billboard. A singer having the presence and the invitation to perform at the AMA must be meaningful. I am sure there’s something more to it than “feeling unreal.” What else can you share with us?
J-Hope: I’ve grown up watching the AMA on television. To be able to perform at the AMA especially in front of all our fans here, it definitely was an unbelievable experience. It was a great honor to be here and it’ll be great to have another chance to perform here at the AMA, in front of our fans. I’d like to thank our fans again for the continuous love and support.
RM: As you’ve mentioned, AMA is the most American yet one of the major awards. I also agree that AMA has a great reputation. We definitely felt throughout the process that AMA has put a great thought and consideration in inviting us to perform on stage, not just introducing as ‘some strange kids from Asia.’ AMA made us feel like we were part of the award in many ways such as having the ‘The Chainsmokers’ introduce us and in terms of the order of performance being 16th out of 17 performers, performing right before Diana Ross, who won AMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Many details that were prepared by the AMA made us feel welcomed and we really felt that AMA prepared a lot for us, taking time in getting to know us as well as showing respect to us as artists.
Twitter followers doubled within the span of six months…Ten million exceeded already
What was impressive during this interview was that BTS always referred to their fans as our 'Dearest Fans'. Being an idol group is hard without any fans. So maybe the expression 'Dearest Fan' is the way BTS has succeeded in receiving continuous love from their fans.
Q: Starting with the Billboard award last May and now presence at AMAs shows that BTS is continuously on a sudden rise. How do you feel?
Jin: We very first won a first place from 'Mnet Asian Music Award' last year in Korea. We all hugged and cried. I still cannot believe one year has not yet passed since that day. Over the year, we won a billboard award and performed on the AMAs stage. We debuted four years ago, but so many have happened during the past four years. These events such as winning the billboard award and performing on the AMAs happened so fast.
RM: Twitter is our main social media platform. Twitter is very easy for us to use. We had five million followers six months ago, but now we have over ten million followers(21th Dec, BTS has around ten point three million followers, which is the greatest number of followers in Twitter's Korea accounts). We have used social media for five years, and the followers became doubled suddenly within the span of less than six months. Also, 'Billboard Hot 100 chart' is the chart every artists in the world dreams of.(BTS's song 'DNA', released last September as title track of the new album, entered the chart as 85th out of 100th. It is the second time to enter the chart as a Korean song after Psy's Gangnam Style). To be debuted on AMAs is the honor that everything is surreal and behind all this is 100% due to our fans who made it possible. We have never seen such fandom before(Laugh).
Q: BTS has a lot of characteristics. And, one of them is that you pick a topic and create a series off of the topic such as 'School Trilogy' or the 'Series of youth'. In the process, the growth history of each member of BTS became the core content. This correlates into the meaning that BTS's growth history is equivalent to BTS's content for songs. Do BTS think that these growth history matches with your real life? And if yes, how much match of it match with your real life?
Sugar: I cannot tell our song's lyrics were 100% from our experiences. But our experiences are a very well embedded in the songs. We released many songs such as 'Jump'(Laugh). I think it means that we tried to tell our generation's story through our songs.
RM: Our debut song was 'No more dream'. If you listen this song, then you realize the lyric (Hey, what is your dream?) keeps repeating throughout the song. At that time, my friends were about twenty years old and most of my friends were ones with no dreams. I was very angry and frustrated to see these friends because I just could not understand why they didn’t have any dreams. I tried to portray my emotion through the lyrics. Like this, our lyrics tell the life of teenagers and now my peers. It makes them to be easy to listen and feel the same way our songs. It appeared to us that the situation became a bit difficult when we released the song 'Danger'. However, when we released song 'I need you', we got so many fans. I heard that the singer follows the title of the song (Laugh).
Q: BTS's fans are spreading all over the world. Which country has the most passionate and avid fans, except Korea?
Sugar: Brazil! They have ten times the energy of the AMAs fans yesterday. I could feel that the ground was ringing when we started our performance. They followed our song from beginning to end. When we met Brazil fans for the first time, that shock was very incredible and unforgettable.
RM: Samba, festival, passion. These are very real. They did a flash mob (more than a certain number of people perform in groups) with more than hundred people at the same time. I think it’s the first time we felt, we could be eaten by the passion of our fans.
V: Brazil fans also dance as if they are on stage, performing. We were amazed and excited to see them from the stage.
Jin: It feels like watching the festival (Laugh)
Keeping in mind trend, sound and messages altogether
Q: BTS members compose your own music. When you compose, what is the most important thing that you keep in mind? Trend? Sound? Lyrics?
Sugar: I can’t give up one over the other but I can surely say that I do consider all three things at the same time. I think that trend, sound, and messages are all very important when we compose. We spend a lot of time together with producers when we compose. We do compose a lot. We are ‘off’ in terms of our schedule, when we do compose, which our agency is also very understanding about. So agency only offers very important schedule activities to us when we do compose. It keeps us focused solely on compositions (Laugh). Agency knows and values the importance of composition.
RM: Over twenty or thirty people come together to compose a title song. They need to think in various aspects such as vocal part distribution, the identity of the song, question the trendiness of the song, a choreography to go along with, and so forth. Agency knows the importance of composition thus why they help us to focus on when we need it.
Q: What do you think a reason why you have succeeded?
J-hope: There are basic things to be succeeded. It could be music. It could be performance. People who listen the music, and watch the music could be crazy to our music. The most important thing is our fans who believe and follow us. Our fans made us to be won from the awards such as AMA. Our fans' enthusiasm made us to be succeeded.
RM: Maybe, there is a question about how we got so many fans. I think that BTS is kind of 'Gift set'. We all have music, performance, costume, music videos, social media contents. These things made various entrances that attracted people to be fans of BTS. A fan could be fan of our performance. A fan could be fan of our music. We have succeeded because we made all contents.
Sugar: Team's harmony is the most important thing to be idol group. If team becomes well, then members become well too. It is not easy for all seven members think in the same way at the same time, but we do think that in the same way. And I think it is our strength to be succeeded.
RM: Sometimes, I wanted to use social media as a personal account. But I gave it up to use personal account because I knew that synergy was great when we use group account together.
J-Hope: Using the group account helped us to won a billboard(Laugh)
The key to success; active use of social media…Only one account shared, no personal account
Q: Some people said that using social media is one of the reasons why you have succeeded. I was wondering what did you think about it when made a video content such as 'BTS Bomb'
Jin: 'BTS Bomb' is the case that we take videos of our lives and upload them without any editing. When we take the videos, we try to do funny things. But we just upload the videos without any editing. Upload videos every week with editing is really hard to do. So we tried to upload videos about small things. However, it seems that fans usually like to upload our everyday life.
Sugar: In the past, I did not like social media very much. When I started social media, I was afraid there might be a lot more risky. But as do social media, I think that show my natural look to fans is the most important thing. Because Cool, cute and handsome looks could be seen on TV or other media, but fans seem to be curious about the rest. 'BTS Bomb' is closely related to our daily life and shows the stage behind. We friended with social media. We do not doing social media as work, we just upload whenever we want. And the upload cycle is fast. Maybe this is why fans like our social media account.
Jimin: Fans say that we use social media usually, but in fact, all members use only one account. So it seems like we often use social media(Laugn). The advantage of using one account together. It makes us to use it often.
Sugar: If we use one account, we can be looked like a team many times.
RM: These days, eveyone seems to do social media a lot. I think it is natural to give the impression that we upload is not 'for work', but 'because we want to upload it.' to fans.
V: We uploaded over one million posts on Twitter since we debut. So far, over one hundread songs have been released. Sometimes I look at the songs and melodies that we released, it makes me regreful and ashamed. But at the time, I sincerely sang songs, so it was cool enough.
Q: Is there any burden exposing too much privacy to social media?
Jungkook: I have never thought about it.
Sugar: If there is a something that we do not want to upload, then we talk about it and we will not upload it(Laugh)
RM: There are a few such burdens for me. I'm a bit worried about defenseless appearance(Laugh).
Sugar: Fans like that defenseless appearance(Laugh).
Q: Do you have any personal accounts for social media? It seems like there is no personal accounts?
Sugar: No, We share one account.
‘Kalgunmu’ famous for its strenuousness…“Most of our songs are tough to dance”
Q: Among the idols, BTS is especially famous for its 'Hard' Kalgunmu(Dancing with perfect synchronizing not even slight difference). What was the most difficult dance do you think?
RM: 'Danger', but honestly I don't dance oftenly so I don't much know(Laugh)
V: Everything was tough. Everytime when dance comes out, it is no way(Laugh)
J-Hope: If I need to pick only one thing, then I pick 'Blood tear'. The song needs a lot of energy to dance on the stage. Also, the pose has a high difficulty.
Jimin: Every members seems to be different. In my case, I had a really hard time with 'MIC Drop'. There are so many part that needed to do dance while singing. I think there will be some personal difference.
V: Please add 'We Are BTS pt2'(Laugh). But I think most of our songs are tough to dance(Laugh)
Q: It would be uncomfortable question. It was pointed out that the lyrics contained female abhorrence. What did you think about that?
Sugar: I studied a lot. I think that there is a part that we have to think about and to be surely changed about the prejudice and the problem which is surely in society. I think I can judge what is right or wrong by studying too much. Whatever it is, if there is discrimination and prejudice in our songs, it is wrong. I agree to fix it and change it. We also study a lot, talk a lot and talk a lot. I think we can fix that point and change it.
RM: The most controversial things came from what I wrote. I thought 'I was so ignorant'. I wanted to study a lot. Since then, I have been taking examinations for professors and students at universities and colleges after I wrote lyrics. After that, I've learned that when you are talking about a specific sexuality, you should not put it all together and tell it to be like this.
Q: Is that the reason why you start UNICEF campaign to eradicate school violence?
RM: We have a musical orientation. I think the problem of violence is the closest part to younger friends. The campaign name is Love myself. I personally think that it is meaningful that this word is sent to the society a lot. Love myself could be the first step to eradicate school violence.
Sugar: As we begin our campaign, we want to talk as we grow and influence as we grow. I think it is a good campaign, and I think it will go in that direction. Members unanimously agreed to join the campaign.
Q: BTS seems to have a lot of interest in social issues. I heard that BTS often read newspapers. Did that help with music activities?
Sugar: Fans also talk about what happens in the society, so it seems that we should know about it too.
RM: Anyways, the identity we have from the time of debut is telling us our stories through music. The story of our age. So we could know the social phenomenon surrounding them by talking about their peers. If you do not know about social phenomena in general, you can not write lyrics that contain such content.
Q: What do you get when you live as an idol and what you lose?
Sugar: What I have gained is experiences that people of this age group can not easily have. Lost seems to have lost its being normal. It seems to me that ordinary things to others have become something strange and special to us. I had a lot of worries and worries too. I do not think it's problem of good or bad.
Jin: Got a lot of fans love, but lost friends. Because I'm busy.
“Non of us thinks 'I am doing carry hard this group'”
Q: What do you think is the difference between BTS and other Korean idol groups?
Sugar: We are proud of our stage. I love the stage so much that I think many people would like to have a look at our stage, and I am confident about the stage. I think there is a difference in history and authenticity that we have accumulated over many years since debut. I do not think there are any groups that have come this world to the same position like us
RM: It is like coexistence with narrative. The narrative is in our music and world view of music. The story of youth and school only we talked about. It is my youth, my school, and my mom and sister. The story of our peers is music. These narratives and stories are in our music. And tell the music that 'we came up here from the bottom'. The fans are proud of that, and so are we. Coexistence is the background in which we make narratives. It starts with one of the members not creating a personal social media account. You can go for a solo, and each member is different. But we each know exactly what direction we need to go. There is no schedule puncture or practice. We came here because we came together for a group brand called BTS.
Sugar: We are all going together. There is no member in our group who thinks 'I am doing carry hard this group'. We think that BTS is important, and think only of BTS.
RM: I am not that good at dancing, but I am so eager to do dance because I want to help the group. Not for me. I just think that I want to fit to my group.
Q: Fianl question, what are the goals of each member?
Jin: I want to be happy. I do not have a huge goal. I wish I could laugh and have a happy life like now.
Jimin: I want to do well what I am doing now. I want to hear that 'you are doing well' from fans in the part where I am doing. I wish I could grow up to be able to think 'It is really cool today' when I saw myself.
J-Hope: I want to release mixtape. I'm ready now. I want to release it as soon as possible. It's not just a few mixtape, but an album level. I think 'RM and Sugar also released mixtape, I want to make music with my colors'. I have to communicate with American and other foreign fans, so I want to study foreign languages hard.
Jungkook: I want to do many things this year and next year. I want to write songs and dance well and to speak foreign languages well. The final goal is not to be lazy and lazy to do what I want to do, but to become a practitioner.
V: I want to add various charms and various fields as an actor. I want to study more pictures and take good pictures. As a singer, I want to become a more wonderful person as a member of BTS. I want to be a great activity person in many fields.
Sugar: The final goal is that when I quit the music, I think that I want to leave when people applaud, but I hope the leave will come to me slowly. I've been playing music for quite some time, but I hope it will be longer than the time I've been doing so far. I do not know if it will be possible in reality, but I think that I want to leave at the time that people applaud.
RM: Love myself is my dream. I do not know if I can do it until I die(Laugh)