'A Conversation With BTS' at the GRAMMY Museum: 15 Things We Learned
By Meredith B. Kile
BTS's visit to the GRAMMY Museum on Tuesday was, in the words of Jungkook, "lit!"
The K-pop supergroup, who kicked off the North American leg of their worldwide Love Yourself tour with four sold-out shows at Los Angeles' Staples Center last week, took some time out from their busy tour schedule for an intimate sit-down with Artistic Director Scott Goldman at the legendary GRAMMY Museum in downtown L.A.
Jungkook, along with fellow members RM, J-Hope, Suga, V, Jimin and Jin, sat down in front of a small group of fans to answer questions on everything from their creative process to their current musical influences, giving fans an inside look at one of the biggest boy bands in the world.
Here are some things we learned from "A Conversation with BTS:"
1. The group is "more confident" during this visit to the U.S.
While this certainly isn't their first trip stateside, BTS told Goldman that these performances feel different for them, on the heels of their latest chart-topping album, Love Yourself: Answer.
“We were a lot more confident...much more involved in planning,” J-Hope noted, saying the group's involvement makes this tour even more fun and meaningful.
2. Their success on the charts has only made them more aware of their creative responsibilities.
Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer both debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200, making BTS the first K-pop group to do so. But the success hasn't gone to their heads.
“It shows us where we are, and makes us think about our responsibilities to ourselves and our fans in the music that we’re making," Jungkook explained.
3. They have an incredible connection with their fans.
“The fans gave us the wings that allow us to be where we are,” V gushed. “That’s why we have that special relationship.”
4. And there's a special appreciation for their American admirers.
“You can feel their heat, their energy… they know how to play," RM said of the U.S. faction of their massive fanbase, known as ARMY, who turned out in a big way for the Staples Center shows.
The group also raved about how awesome it is to have non-Korean fans singing along with their Korean songs. “We can tell that they try really hard to learn the lyrics… that’s really meaningful to us,” Suga noted.
BTS on New Album 'Love Yourself: Tear' (FULL INTERVIEW)
5. Their Big Hit Entertainment slogan, "Music & Artist for Healing," has a special meaning for them.
“That was a promise that we made right before our debut in 2013," Suga said of the motto, which displays at the top of the group's music videos. "We promised two things: We have to talk about what’s inside us, and we want to be helpful to the world.”
“We doubt ourselves,” RM admitted. “Sometimes we want to live, sometimes we want to die. The slogan is to talk about what’s inside and be a help to our friends and the world.”
6. And they feel it's important to sing about the issues affecting young people around the world.
“When I was young, music was a way to escape and reassure,” Suga recalled, noting that the group hopes to fill a need for “sound, healthy” music for today’s young listeners. "All around the world, people face these struggles. That's why we sing these songs."
7. As the group grows up, their musical style, as well as the content of their lyrics, has evolved.
"Five years ago, we were talking about school for three albums. Then we talked about youth for three albums. Then folks grew up," RM said of the group's evolution towards the current Love Yourself cycle. “Our attitude towards life changed... The story the world needed most was love.”
8. BTS worried about spreading the Love Yourself saga across several albums.
RM noted that the concept of Love Yourself -- which spans three albums: Her, Tear, and Answer, as well as the short film, Love Yourself: Wonder -- was something of a risky move, given the ever-evolving music industry.
“But we took the risk, and it paid off,” he added, for the group and for their fans, whose messages to the band in the wake of the Love Yourself albums have been full of positivity and healing.
“Somebody said love is an ability," RM added. "People, and young people especially, just fall in love with no substance. But if somebody doesn’t love themselves, they can’t love others.”
9. Every song on each BTS album is one piece of the puzzle.
Suga explained that many of the songs on the Love Yourself albums are meant to be taken as part of the whole, contributing to the larger story arc and concept, while Jin noted that the albums' title songs and videos are chosen and shaped to reflect the “color and flavor” of the albums as a whole, as well as the key message.
10. They've always wanted to be their own kind of group.
“When we started out, we started singing about our own thoughts, experiences and feelings,” Suga recalled.
“We want to be a method of help for the world," RM agreed. "We want to use our hopes and inspirations to help the world.”
11. And their production process is a truly collaborative effort.
7 Times BTS Dominated 2017: How They Went From K-Pop Boy Band to Global Superstars
Suga likened BTS' production process to a "year-round song camp," noting that their creative efforts are not just limited to their songs, but expand out to music videos, choreography and style. The group works together to create their lyrics and melodies -- and process feedback from Big Hit boss "Mr. Bang," Bang Si-hyuk -- and said that they consider their production team to be colleagues and equal partners in the ongoing creative process.
“If there was a barrier, we wouldn’t be able to make the music we do,” Suga noted.
“We all have to do our roles, and we try to work together as much as we can,” J-Hope added. “Our participation in the process makes it more sincere and meaningful.”
12. However, there's still some healthy competition.
RM said that the group's members and production team are constantly challenging each other throughout the creative process, with everyone sharing the same ultimate goal: to create the best possible final product. Jimin added that the "evolution" of a song can continue throughout the recording process, while Suga noted that the group's "mutual respect" allows them to work together to listen and make changes to improve a song.
"We're pretty level-headed and open,” J-Hope agreed when asked about what happens when creative differences arise in the group. "We’ll just say it." And if there’s any choreography that’s too hard, he joked, they’ll definitely make it known. “We’re not getting any younger!”
13. They have thoughts on K-pop as a "genre."
Suga explained that he doesn't like to categorize K-pop as merely a genre of music, rather as an “integration of content,” including the Korean makeup, clothing and style that have made unique influences in other countries.
14. But they don't limit themselves when it comes to musical influences.
When it comes to what they're listening to now, Jungkook said he tries “not to categorize” his influences and preferences, noting that he listens to a lot of K-pop and American pop, but also tries to study as many genres as possible over a broad spectrum.
15. And the group certainly loved their time at the GRAMMY Museum.
When Goldman asked how they enjoyed their tour of the historic music exhibits, Jungkook only had one word for the experience: "Lit!"