I recently wrote about BTS’s MTV Unplugged takeover, in which I pretty much gushed about the band with their impressive showcase. I thought that I might as well let the gush become a torrent and so today in the blog, I’m discussing the series of interviews that BTS did which was recently streamed in a video called “BE-hind Story” on the bands channel BANGTANTV. The video- which is just over an hour and ten minutes- features all seven members of the bands interviewing one another one at a time and it is a surprisingly intimate and insightful look at the creative process of the members during their time working on the album BE– and also their various solo projects- as well as a little bit of a look at who they are as people as they chat about their work. You almost forget that these are massive global superstars when you see them talking so openly in a private setting. Almost but not quite.
Let’s take a little look at each member’s interview.
Jin- Interviewed by Jungkook
Let’s start off with my personal bias (as much as a bias as he can be when I love them all so much) Kim Seokjin, known better by his BTS name Jin. Whilst Jin is the eldest of the group at 28 years old, he is known for being a jokester and making terrible dad jokes. He does crack one or two in his interview with BTS’s baby- 23 year old Jungkook- but we get to see a more introspective Jin here. He openly discusses his feelings of depression and his “less happy side” – which led to his solo song “Abyss” released in December 2020- as well as how he feels that his vocals are not “outstanding”, “powerful” or “emotional”. He clearly has many doubts his vocal ability and although he does use the word “clean” to describe them, I get the feeling that he believes he is not as talented or as strong vocally as the other BTS members. Music is much like visual art in that it is often subjective but I truly believe that Jin really does have a lot of talent and- as Jungkook also mentions in the extended interview with Jin- I believe he has one of the best vocal ranges of the group, able to go both high and low with his voice. A great example of this is in the BTS song “Dionysus” where he hits crazily high and surprisingly low notes. Jin also refers to himself as a straightforward person, which is why he wants to be honest about what his talents are and also why he feels he can’t write emotional or poetic lyrics.
All in all, I actually felt a little sad after watching Jin’s interview. Beneath that worldwide handsome, confident exterior seems to be a man who- whilst aware of how successful he is- doesn’t quite have confidence in his abilities as a performer. He puts himself down and undermines his talents so much during this interview and it is hard not to feel for him. He has such a great voice and it is sad that he is so underrated at times. He has had some great solo songs like “Epiphany”, “Moon”, “Awake” and “Abyss” but also amazing covers like his version of the song “Mom” and one of my personal favourites “Autumn Outside The Post Office”. He is such a talented guy and whilst some self-deprecation is good for everyone, I truly hope he doesn’t believe himself to be less talented than his fellow members. We love you Jin and all we want is for you to love you too. Keep being amazing.
Jungkook- Interviewed by j-hope
What struck me most about Jungkook’s interview is how much he has grown up. As the youngest of the group, he is often considered the baby (I literally referred to him as such above) and he can often be seen joking around with the other younger members Jimin and V. However, this interview not only shows how much he has grown but it also showed how artistic he is and how being a creator is truly is calling. He speaks of how he often has ideas but lacks the “data” to express them, which is something that any person with a creative outlet can relate too- with his ultimate goal being an “artist who creates imaginary scenarios and situations with imaginary characters to tell different stories”. He could obviously continue doing this with his music but this goal could be achieved via several different avenues, such as painting or writing. Jungkook is known for being able to pick up most things he tries quite easily- earning the nickname “golden maknae”- so who knows what artistic and imaginative endeavour could be in his future?
He and j-hope go on to discuss the well-known solo song from Jungkook-“Euphoria”-which Jungkook considers is the best that showcases his voice. However, he also mentions how it was a tough song to record as his voice was “somewhat in between my baby-like voice of the past and my current stable voice.” I think this shows just how much Jungkook has struggled to separate himself from his younger self and his image as the baby of BTS, even in his vocal performances. Having grown up in the spotlight, it must be hard for an audience to detach themselves from that childlike image (he was 15 when they debuted and so was still very much a child). Whilst “Euphoria” was hard for him, I would have to agree that it is one of the breakout songs that showed off his vocal developments as well as his growth into a young man rather than a cute boy. I mean, he is still a cute boy but you know what I mean. I think we can all agree with j-hope towards the end of the interview when he says, “Hey, you’re all grown up”. I’m not crying, I swear.
j-hope- Interviewed by V
As much as all of the members do a great job, I absolutely love V as an interviewer. He is so kind, courteous and attentive. But we’re talking about j-hope right now so let’s move on. A fair amount of j-hope’s interview focused on the song he wrote for BE– “Dis-ease”. His creative process was an interesting and relatable one. j-hope mentions that he was in desperate need of a break- and the pandemic made that possible for him- but he wasn’t comfortable when he wasn’t creating, “I felt like I had to do something…I felt like I had to create music or dance. These psychological pressures came to me naturally”. I think this is incredibly relatable for a lot of us who perhaps found ourselves with more free time after the pandemic shut down the world. Whether it is due to changing to working from home, losing a job or just not being able to go out and socialise anymore, we were all struggling to adjust to the changes that the pandemic brought. I was personally put into a worrying position of no longer having a job and so- in between job hunting- would often find myself drawing to occupy my time much like j-hope describes he did with his music and dance when he was suddenly given an unexpected break.
He goes on to say that he had the thought that this constant need to be engaging in his creative outlets as a “psychological occupational disease”, leading to the conception of the song and the idea of “breaking the disease” and “moving on with life”. j-hope also discusses how he went about recording the song by himself- as they have the option to have the producers help or to do it alone- and how this helped him improve as an artist, making him more attentive and decisive. RM and Jimin helped out with the song- with Jimin writing and singing the bridge whilst j-hope edited it and RM providing lyrics. I think their splitting up parts of various songs is one of the most interesting elements of their creative process that I have learnt from these interviews. There is evidently a lot of teamwork behind their music, with various members helping out if and when needed as well as producers and songwriters. j-hope is clearly a huge talent when it comes to rapping, dancing and producing, even though he admits that he only became well versed in music through his dancing. V finishes the interview with a super sweet sentiment to j-hope, “you talked about being modest but personally, if I had your skills I’d be showing off and proud of myself.” He is absolutely right of course. I too would be doing the same if I had even an ounce of creative talent that my boy Jung Hoseok -a.k.a j-hope- has. But seriously Kim Taehyung, who gave you the right to be that adorable? How dare you? The audacity.
Jimin- Interviewed by Jin
Jimin’s interview surprised me a little as I didn’t know that he was as involved with the song writing process as much as he is. I knew he was a great signer and a phenomenal dancer and whilst I was aware that they have all written parts of some of their music, I didn’t know to just what extent. That’s another great take way from these interviews, finding out how passionate and just how much personal effort that each member of BTS puts into their work. Jimin discusses how he went about writing the bridge for j-hope’s “Dis-ease” as well as his process for producing the solo Christmas song he released last December called “Christmas Love”. I love his story for his bridge on “Dis-ease”. After overhearing Jimin humming a tune to himself, the producer wanted to use the melody they could hear Jimin singing to himself. This eventually became the bridge for the song.
Kim Namjoon (RM) came to his rescue with “Christmas Love” as Jimin had the melody but no lyrics. Jimin discusses how he only had five days left to complete the song and how he was reluctant to ask for help from his fellow members as they were all burned out. However, RM contacted him and sent him the lyrics for the first verse of the song. Not wanting to waste RM’s help, Jimin states that he “started at 9 and kept working until about 4 in the morning without sleeping…I wrote all of the lyrics for the chorus, bridge and the second verse.” This shows how great of a friend and artist RM is but I think it also demonstrates Jimin’s perseverance as an artist as well as his appreciation of RM’s help. “Christmas Love” is actually a great Christmas song too; its hugely impressive knowing that it was written so quickly as it was. Another interesting part of Jimin’s interview is Jin’s questioning in regards to Jimin’s vocals on the BE headline song “Life Goes On”. I didn’t know this was a thing but apparently some people thought his part was being sung by a woman. Apparently, this was the plan for the song, but Jimin’s vocals were chosen instead as they “weren’t in a position to find a (female) voice immediately). I’m so glad that they made the choice to use Jimin’s vocals as he has such a sweet and soothing voice with plenty of feeling. The moral of the story here is clearly to never underestimate Park Jimin.
RM- Interviewed by Jimin
I want to take a moment to appreciate the little conversation that Jimin and RM have about the one member of the group before their interview:
“How was the session before this?”
“”His inexperience was obvious to be honest”
“Who was it?”
“We have this youngest member…”
“No, not the real youngest”,
“Oh, Seokjin. That’s a shame”
“I’d have to agree”
I’m dying. Moving on.
RM is the leader of BTS and the only member fluent in English so there is clearly a lot of pressure on him to lead them well, particularly as they continue to skyrocket to popularity across the world. Much like j-hope, RM discusses his feelings of needing to create during the pandemic in the aftermath of their cancelled world tour, “it felt like I was doing the only thing I could do…there was a lot I wanted to say but I didn’t know how to say it.” This feeling of needing to express emotions through a medium or outlet of some kind may not be anything new, but it was something that increased significantly for many people after the pandemic and during the lockdowns. This reasoning makes me remember that at the end of the day, these guys are still just people. People who struggled when the world began to fall apart around them, so they did the only thing they could. They created more music, leading to BE.
RM gives a bit of an insight into his song writing process in his interview too, stating that “I make better songs when I have the keyword or the lyrics ready”, which is interesting when considering other members different methods of song writing. What I did notice in RM’s interview is Jimin’s reaction to a comment that RM makes, suggesting that he only contributes a little, “What you mean by little? You play a very big role”. The other interviews all hint to RM’s strong contributions to the group too, not only with his English skills but also with his song writing and composing. He seems to be an essential link that holds the group together (although I would argue that they are all essential anyway) and each member thoroughly appreciates him. Kim Namjoon deserves more love for all the work he has done to make BTS who they are today quite frankly. Oh and by the way, RM literally admits to driving his friend’s cars despite not having a license. That is a crime, sir.
SUGA- Interviewed by RM
I feel a relatable kinship with Min Yoongi (known by his stage name SUGA) due to his constant state of fatigue, his super pale skin and his habit of locking himself in his room. Unfortunately, I haven’t got any kind of musical talent like he does but I feel like we would get along. His interview kind of validated my theory on this when he was immediately asked by RM what motivates him to write his songs. His answer is pretty blunt, “I don’t really write songs because I think I should. When I’m too bored, I just think that there’s nothing to do but write songs…I literally have nothing to do…I can’t just play games the whole time.” Like I said, relatable. I’m not even kidding. People will often talk about their grand reasoning’s behind why they do certain things- which is absolutely fine. But I feel like I am similar to SUGA in that I embark on my various creative outlets often because I’m just bored. I write when I’m bored. I draw when I’m bored. I play video games when I’m bored but will turn to art or writing when I feel like I’m being too lazy and should do something a little more constructive to pass my time. Not that I don’t love doing these things or don’t enjoy them. But I don’t always have a sense of purpose behind my past times. I don’t think most of us do. Min Yoongi tells it like it is.
In his interview, he also plays some of the guide track- a term in music to describe the rough, first draft reference for a song- for “Telepathy” from BE (it was in a different key-much lower- but I kind of like it. I especially like Yoongi’s deeper vocals with the guide version) and discussed how band member Jungkook originally wanted to add humming to the track. SUGA explains that he did try this out and quite liked it but subsequently turned it down as he had wanted a short and snappy tune but the humming made it four minutes long. Again, it is interesting to get this kind of personal insight into the record from these interviews including little titbits like this. SUGA ends the interview by saying he wants to make songs of different genres, do more singing and learn to play more instruments so that he can create more versatile music and keep doing so for a long time to come. I- for one- am one hundred percent here for that. In conclusion, SUGA is my spirit animal. Way more talented than me but still my sleepy, pale skinned spirit animal.
V- Interviewed by SUGA
Finally, we get Kim Taehyung- who goes by the stage name V (fun fact: there isn’t actually a character for “V” in Korean. In Korea, “V” is known as 뷔which translates to “Bwi” as this is the closest to “V” in Hangul- the Korean alphabet. The more you know). As with j-hope’s interview, a lot of this interview was focused on one song. This time around, the song in question is the one that V produced and wrote from the BE album: “Blue & Grey”. A sombre yet moving pop ballad, “Blue &Grey” is a brilliant song and V gives some interesting insight into its development. He states that “Blue & Grey…is an expression of my feelings…the reason I used the words “Blue & Grey” was because I wanted to overcome it.” I often get the feeling that V is a person who is very much in touch with his emotions (I don’t know him personally so of course this is only speculation from my perception) and this song reflects that well. It is a very pretty yet solemn tune with a theme of yearning for a time when there were other colours to be seen in the world other than just blue and grey. I personally love it and it is one of my favourite BTS songs in general, proving that V has writing and producing skills on top of his vocals and dancing abilities. “Blue & Grey” has got a great line in English- “Where is my angel?”- which opens the song but interestingly enough, V reveals that although he wrote the song in Korean, he did so with the intention of it being entirely in English- with the help of a friend and producer who translated it for him- to use on his personal mixtape in a manner which is reminiscent of Jungkook’s song “Stay”. He changed the lyrics to fit Korean when BigHit Entertainment liked the song as it was. I’m actually really glad this was the final decision as I think the song flows spectacularly well in Korean- despite having English parts here and there.
Another interesting piece of info comes from when discussing whose lyrics were chosen to go into the song, with SUGA’s winning a place in the song over RM’s. Like I have said, these insights are pretty thought-provoking. It makes me wonder what kinds of conflicts occur within the group with these situations. These are all talented songwriters so choosing whose lyrics or melodies stay and whose go must be hard. Let’s be honest, there’s got to be some ego’s here and there as well which is sure to stoke some flames. V defends his choice of SUGA’s lyrics over RM’s, stating that “I wanted to honestly convey my emotions for the melody…I still remember the one sentence you (SUGA) gave me …Don’t say you’re fine, cause you’re not…that one sentence really represented my thoughts”. It is nice to hear how the two were on the same wave length (a depressing wavelength, but the same one nonetheless) but it makes me intrigued to hear what RM’s take on the song was. V’s interview is very sincere, sweet and even a little self-deprecating-like Jin- as he refers to himself as having a “narrow spectrum” (can we appreciate SUGA’s decisive “no, you’re not” after V says this? Min Yoongi spitting straight facts). Much like the other BTS members, he clearly has a lot of passion for what he does. He even mentions us members of the BTS ARMY, saying that it makes him feel good when we enjoy his music and that he wants to keep doing nice things for us. It is a great feeling to be part of a fan base where the artists in question genuinely care for their fans. SUGA concludes the interview rather professionally (he has got to be my favourite interviewer after V. He is such a pro, like he has done this a million times before. Or maybe he is just sleepy again. Perhaps both?) saying that the next music that the band will be presenting may well be V’s own mixtape, which has been on the cards for a while now but continuously postponed. If any of the songs V has worked on before are any indication as to how his mixtape will go, I’m very excited for it.
So there you have it! I’m not going to lie, this was only meant to be a short blog post but it turned into an in depth analysis of each members interview. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings somewhat! If you’re relatively new to BTS’s music- or only know certain songs- I wanted to end with my personal favourite solo songs/covers from each member to highlight how strong each of them are as artists alone as well as together. Hope you enjoy!