“I started the album end of Feb last year for about three weeks and then had to stop for about 5 months when I went to do a movie. I came back to it in July and finished writing it in December. For a while before all I thought about it was stressing about what it was going to be. It gave me a chance to completely step away from it for a bit and have a real break. By the end of the movie, because we were swimming so much I just wanted to write songs…I think we wrote about 70 songs - we did 50 songs and ideas in Jamaica and that’s including like little ideas. Well full songs, I say there are 30 songs probably. One of the songs on the album, I wrote a few years ago.”
On his album
“I was with the guys who I was writing it with and we just wanted to make what we wanted to listen to and that has been the most fun part for me about making the whole album. In the least weird way possible, it’s my favourite album to listen to at the moment… I hope we did a good job but I really like the album so I hope people like it. I think if you put out something that you don’t stand behind and really love, then if it doesn’t go well then you could regret not doing what you wanted to do. Whereas if nothing happens with it, I love it you know so I think that’s what you should do. I think that’s been my favourite part to the overall thing is listening to the album and making all the changes – it has been fun to watch over it all.”
Writing in Jamaica
“I just wanted to not be somewhere that I’d get distracted. It was 360 of writing, you’d go home for dinner, write at the house then go back to the studio. I liked being away from everything and doing it like that.”
About his debut single
“It’s a bit weird, I feel like I’ve been hibernating for so long now and you hear it in the safety of the studio and now it’s time to give birth … it’s the song (debut single) I’m most proud of writing.”
About making it on his own
“I’ve been hibernating trying to get it all ready, that’s been fun, but I like this bit as well. I think it’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be good. It’s not like I’m travelling on my own now, I have a band and everything and they’re amazing.”
“I played him (Sheeran) a few songs after the album was finished. He didn’t say that he didn’t like any, but he did like one song that isn’t on the album. So I did have a bit of a minute of like hmmm no but…”
“I’ve spoken to her a little bit, she knows one of the guys that I wrote it with (his music) a lot. But I don’t think so much advice, I just like how she does stuff. I think she leads by example, she’s the biggest, she’s amazing, she’s the best so she should be the biggest. The thing with her is she’s a different thing, she’s just good at it, I like how she does everything, it looks very nice. For my 21st she gave me one of her albums 21 and said, ‘I did some pretty cool stuff when I was 21, good luck’ and I was like, 'geez’.”
“I haven’t dated in a long time really because I went away to do the movie then did the album so I haven’t in a while. I have a couple of candles left still though.
Whether dating when famous is hard
“I don’t know, maybe. I feel like with all of the stuff how people date now, with all online stuff, I feel like you can do that (Google) with anyone really if you’re looking at someone’s profile before seeing them. It’s kinda the same… No, I used to (research dates), then I said I’m not going to do that anymore, it’s impossible to go in without a perception of someone and you’ve never met them and I started feeling like that was wrong and weird. I think I snore, and also I quite like routine, so I don’t know if I’m incredibly spontaneous.”
Cutting his hair for Dunkirk
“I felt very naked for a while. I was like yeah, I’ve gotta shave my hair off. It wasn’t a hard decision, it got made into a wig.”
Why he rarely tweets
“I don’t like saying something for the sake of it.”
Life at home and work
“The first time I went home not wearing trainers, I was in a pair of boots. Someone said, ‘What the bloody hell are they?’ I like to separate working and being at home with family.”
“It’s easier in the way that I like to separate stuff from working and being at home with family and stuff. When you separate it it’s easier to see it for what it is. When you let it become everything and that’s your whole life, then it’s easy to get a bit lost in it. I’m lucky, I have amazing friends and my family’s amazing so I think they make it easier to keep the separation between the two which makes it easier for me.”
Being nervous about playing his music to others
“I think it’s nerve-racking in that I’ve only played it to like 10 people in a room. I try and not be there if I’m playing it…”
His mother and step-father’s reactions to the album
“I played the album to them the first time and there’s one song that’s got a vocal effect on it, the whole album finished then my stepdad said: ‘I’ve one question, where did you get the duck from, how did you get a duck in the studio?’ I was like: ‘That was me, thanks’. My Mum liked it which was handy. She cried a couple of times which was good, I think that was good.”
“I think it’s hard to not have influencers from what you grew up listening on. I think everyone reacts differently to different types of music. I had a good range between my mum and dad… my dad listened to Fleetwood, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Queen. My mum was like Norah Jones and Savage Garden. There are a lot of melodies there.”
Being starstruck by other celebrities
“I remember the first time we went to an awards show in the US, we met Will Smith. It was a brief meeting – he was nice and very tall.”
Addressing the rumour about getting a sheep placenta facial
“No I’ve never had a sheep placenta facial.”
Rumours about Hobama
“I’m not allowed to talk about that.”
Rumour on taking his dates on helicopter rides
“No I’ve never done that,” Harry says, with Grimmy responding: “Not even with Barack?”
“No,“ Harry says. “It was his helicopter, haha.”
Talking about Chris Martin
“He’s lovely isn’t he? He is good at telling you to take care of yourself. I think he makes sure you are alright and is very zen. I think he is a pretty wonderful man.”
On Ronnie Wood
“Big fan, I love Ronnie Wood – I think I met him at a dinner party a few years ago and went to a couple of Stones shows…I think he is the nicest.”
Interviewing Paul McCartney for his Another Man issue
“It was amazing – his voice sounds like a song.”
Loving scented candles
“I mean I think everyone loves scented candles. But I usually take one from home if I’m travelling.”
About sprouts being the new kale
“I went two days ago. I got some spinach, eggs, OJ, milk, turkey and some brussels sprouts. Hmm what else did I buy…oh some Crème Eggs. I like putting sprouts in a curry and I like sauteing them. I think they are going to be the new kale. I met [someone] and I asked her what she did and she said ‘I’m the PR lady for Kale’ and I was like ‘good job then.”
Talking about his four nipples
“Still got them, managed to keep them. Maybe I just hide them in limited edition albums, like golden tickets. I’ll hold onto them.”
“Best trait I don’t know, it’s weird to pick your best, shall we go with the nipples thing.”
On where not to ask him for a selfie
“I think in toilets is the weirdest one. It’s happened a couple of times… When someone tries to shake your hand right after having a wee, ‘I might wash my hands first’.”
About Liam’s son and being a potential godfather
“I spoke to Liam and he’s loving it. He said it’s going really well and everyone’s great. So I’m very happy for him. I think it’s a roll of the dice, there are a lot of people Liam has in mind. I’m not going to add any extra pressure. If it came my way I would be honoured.”
“i think i’m falling for you” : a playlist for wlw who are in love with their friend
falling for you - the 1975 // just like heaven - the cure // can’t help falling in love with you - haley reinhart // night and day - ella fitzgerald // the nearness of you - norah jones // there she goes - sixpence none the richer // sleepover - hayley kiyoko // accidentally in love - the crows // there’s too much love - belle and Sebastian // my girl - the temptations // kiss me - sixpence none the richer // friends - ed sheeran
draw your swords - angus and julia stone
dust to dust - the civil wars
high horses - the swell season
holocene - bon iver
landfill - daughter
little lion man - mumford and sons
poison and wine - the civil wars
all the wild horses - ray lamontagne
dreams - fleetwood mac
words - gregory alan isakov
follow you down to the red oak tree - james vincent mcmorrow
slow it down - the lumineers
down in the valley - the head and the heart
colors - amos lee and norah jones
anymore - ethan thompson
Hit Korean boy band BTS is ready to take over Anaheim
Rap Monster, one of the seven guys in the South Korean boy
band BTS, says it was only at the end of 2016 that he and the others
realized how huge their band had become around the world.
“Somebody in the company sent me a message: ‘You got No. 26
on Billboard OMG congratulations,’” says Mr. Monster, the 22-year-old
rapper born Kim Nam-joon, by phone from Chicago where BTS was set to
play on Thursday before hitting Honda Center for a pair of sold-out
shows on Saturday and Sunday.
“At first I thought, 'Ha ha, your humor isn’t really very
good,’” says Rap Monster, the leader of the group and its primary
songwriter. “We didn’t believe it.”
But as more messages started to ping onto their phones he
says the BTS boys realized it was no joke: Their sophomore album,
“Wings,” entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 26 after its October
release, making it the highest chart position for any K-pop act – not
to mention one that sings primarily in Korean – and offering a bit of
foreshadowing for Billboard naming the record the best K-pop album of
Since then things have only gotten sunnier for Rap Monster,
Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook. In February, “Wings” was
re-released in a new edition as “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and the
combined editions have since sold nearly 1.5 million copies worldwide.
Music videos for “Spring Day” and “Not Today” were released a week apart
last month as well and exploded on YouTube where they’ve currently
racked up 59.2 million and 60.1 million views respectively.
“When we heard that and really got that, I was saying, 'OK,
this is going to be a whole other world,’” Rap Monster says of the
significance of the Billboard chart success and all that followed. “And I
feel like we should do something more, and dream something more.”
This past week they’ve taken a step toward something more,
playing their first headlining and sold-out arena dates in the United
States, after previously having mostly played on multi-artist billings
at KCON conventions held here.
“So many people just to see BTS was really an honor,” Rap
Monster says of the opening pair of shows at the Prudential Center in
Newark, N.J. “It feels dreamy these days.”
Not, mind you, that it’s been anything like an overnight success or an easy road for him and the other BTS members.
He grew up a top student in his school who loved American
rappers such as Eminem and Nas, performing even as he attended high
school and eventually catching the attention of BTS future manager Bang
Si-hyuk at BigHit Entertainment in South Korea. And though he says he
gave up on music when he was 16, lacking confidence in where he was
headed, he says Bang encouraged him to stay strong, believe in himself,
and sign on as the first to join BTS, even though at the time he wasn’t
sure who or what it would end up incorporating.
“I was not aware of the other members,” Rap Monster says.
“But I like the company and I respect them. And he promised to me, 'I
will make you do your music and get big someday, so please believe me.’
"So I believed him.”
The other six members soon were selected, each of them
bringing different talents on the mic or on stage. Songs were developed
by Rap Monster and the other members, with a team of producers working
to craft the best music from the raw material, the melodies and beats,
that they created.
“Our chemistry is different from other groups,” Rap Monster
says. “Everyone has their own points and characteristics. If I’m a bad
dancer, a good dancer teaches me. If I’m a good songwriter, I help the
others with a good melody.”
We ask the obvious question: Are you a bad dancer?
He laughs and answers: “Yes, I’m a bad dancer.”
Their music is different from a lot of K-pop acts that have
made ripples on the American airwaves. They’re not popular because of
the novelty aspect of their songs – think “Gangnam Style” by Psy from a
few years back. And they’re not quite as bubblegum as a group such as
Girls Generation or as eclectic as the synthpop of f(x), the first
Korean band to play the South By Southwest festival.
Instead, BTS often aims for that sweet spot where R&B
and rap get together, the kind of stuff Justin Bieber might be doing if
he sang in Korean and there were six Bieber variations with fashionable
hair and eclectic yet unified fashion choices.
“BTS music sounds like it’s from America,” Rap Monster says.
“We decide to always watch the trends and watch what’s going on over
the world. America’s the No. 1 market in the world so that’s why people
in America prefer us.”
As for communicating through the language divide, Rap
Monster says that’s partly handled by the group’s wildly enthusiastic
social media following: “Fans translate our lyrics and interviews,” he
says of a following that has landed them at the top of Billboard’s
Social 50 list for a total of 17 weeks since “Wings” dropped in October.
“They’re able to say, 'OK, BTS is talking about us and our lives.’”
And it’s partly addressed through lyrical subjects that
express the common hopes and dreams and fears and worries of any
teenager or young adult in any country.
“Our lyrics are mostly Korean but we always talk about the
young people’s lives and their minds,” Rap Monster says. “There’s
something similar between every young person in the world, in America or
in Korea. We share something together even if we use different
languages or live so far.”
American fans are also the savviest music lovers in the
world, Rap Monster says, which made heading out on this brief headlining
tour a little bit intimidating at first.
“We actually were scared of performing in America as a solo
act,” he says. “Their playlists are the best in the world. I was really
nervous for them.
"But after we were on stage our fear disappeared. They’re
like everybody, they’re like friends. Singing along all of the lyrics
even through the raps. They know how to play, the rhythms and the
An aside here to share our favorite piece of Rap Monster
trivia. You might be wondering whether he spoke through a translator. He
did not. His excellent English skills were polished in the classroom
but also at home through what he refers to as “a Korean mothers
“'Friends’ was really famous for the mothers in Korea for
English education,” Rap Monster says of the hit American sitcom from the
'90s. “It was kind of like a syndrome. Korean mothers make their kids
watch 'Friends’ even when they were eating food or playing.
"I think it really helped. It has like 10 seasons, I think,
and I watched it like more than five times through the 10 seasons. They
use the gestures and expressions, like, Americans use, right? I think
that naturally teaches me how to speak or how to make a gesture when you
try to express some emotions.
"Thank you, 'Friends,’” he says, laughing. “God bless 'Friends’!”
Rap Monster recently collaborated with the American rapper
Wale on the song “Change,” which like some of BTS’ other songs – and
unlike most K-pop – touches on politics and societal issues. He says
he’d loved Wale’s music for a few years when the opportunity to do the
song came along last year “like a miracle, like a dream come true.
"The song has already come out and we shot a music video
together, but still sometimes I lie in my bed and think, 'Did I really
do something with him?’” Rap Monster says.
He knows that boy groups from Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync to
the Jonas Brothers and One Direction tend to have a finite lifespan
before members get restless to move on solo projects, acting gigs and
other opportunities. But he thinks the variety of interests and musical
genres that individual BTS members have can be handled on the side or
even within the group, and BTS itself can carry on.
So while Rap Monster says he’d love to collaborate with
Drake or Miguel one day, Suga feels the same way about Kanye West and
Flume. Jungkook seems more inclined toward pop R&B – his dream
musical partners would include Bieber or Charlie Puth. V is a little bit
old school, having mentioned Norah Jones and the Fugees as on his wish
list. Rap Monster ticks off the rest of the band: Jimin digs Chris
Brown, J-Hope is into the similarly initialed J. Cole, and Jin is a fan
of old-school showman Bruno Mars.
“I always tell them that every time we have hits under the
name of BTS we shine the best when we are a team,” Rap Monster says. “I
know all the seven members, they love music, and I know their No. 1 wish
is for us to perform and make music and sing and dance.
"Maybe someday someone will want to be on a television show
or be an actor,” he says. “I just hope they know all of the popularity
and fame and money is from the name of our team. That’s not one person,
everybody contributes to the team.
"Nobody knows the future. I just hope it can last as long as possible.”
Ahead of a Sept. 20 show at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, Harry Styles took the stage at downtown L.A.’s Grammy Museum on Friday night (Sept. 15) for a Q&A conducted by writer and filmmaker Cameron Crowe. Styles, who released his self-titled debut in May, was joined by producer Jeff Bhasker for a lively, often laugh-out-loud discussion of how the album came together, Styles’ experience filming “Dunkirk” (“I was in the water way more than the movie suggests,” Styles cracked), and his views on the music industry.
And while the Grammy Awards weren’t mentioned specifically, the venue — as well as the presence of longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich in the crowd — certainly brought to mind the possibility of a future nomination for what is arguably one of the strongest albums of the year. An understated post-interview performance of Styles’ gorgeous second single, “Two Ghosts,” featuring Bhasker on keyboards, drove the point home.
The story of how the music came together — written and recorded in a remote studio complex in Jamaica — has been told by this point, but Crowe dug deeper into the process, letting Styles and Bhasker expound on just how organic and, in the producer’s words, “authentic and viscerally honest” the project ended up being.
At the same time, said Styles, “it was the most fun I’ve ever had.” Partly because he started on the album without a label commitment (Styles would later sign to Columbia, home to One Direction), he felt unencumbered. “When we started the process, it didn’t feel like I was making any sort of commitment,” said Styles. “I didn’t feel any pressure.”
That freedom allowed songs like “Sign of the Times” to flow out of Styles, even as other tracks were still coming together. Bhasker described a moment in which Styles sat at the piano almost in a trance, coming up with the chord progression to what turned out to be his first single. “It was writing from this place of, ‘Let’s get an idea going, do something with it, and have fun,‘” said Bhasker. “And in 5 or 6 days, they had, like, 10 songs. … It was that immediate.”
Styles’ favorite track on the album is “From the Dining Table,” which he said is, “The one that makes me feel the most,” adding that, “it’s the most different than what I expected myself to write and it’s probably the most honest that I’ve been in a song as well.”
The album’s stylistic choices — what some deem as musical nods to classic rock acts like David Bowie and Pink Floyd — were also illuminated, with Styles explaining that his father listened to “a lot of Queen and Pink Floyd,” while his mother favored Norah Jones and Shania Twain. “I’m a huge Shania Twain fan,” said Styles (he later played a snippet of a Twain song on a kazoo, by request from an audience member).
Bhasker’s take is that if any “homage” is sensed, it was not intentional, though the record they ended up with was destined to sound the way it did. “We were not thinking about [influences] at all,” he said, noting that, in this era of ProTools and pop co-writes, “It couldn’t be more punk rock” to record an album the way those classic rock acts did.
Indeed, the sort of liberties Styles was afforded new artists rarely see, and for that, the singer credits the record company, run at the time of his signing by executive Rob Stringer, who has since ascended to CEO of Sony Music Entertainment. Said Styles: “We had signed with Columbia and I called Rob one day saying, ‘Hey, would you mind leaving me a alone for six months and I’ll call you when [the album is] finished?’ He said, ‘I want hear it when you’re excited to play it for me.’ … A lot of people get into this thing of, ‘It’s me versus the record label,’ and I feel so lucky to get to work with everyone at Columbia. The support from them allowed us to go do what we want, so I have to say thanks to them for letting it happen this way.”
Not to let the mood get too serious, though, Styles then encouraged all in attendance, which included journalists, television executives, and Grammy chapter members, to come to the Greek on Wednesday and experience these songs, the band, and the vibe, for themselves. “You’re all on the list,” Bhasker joked. Added Styles: “If anyone wants to come, Capitol Records said they would cover the cost.” Charge it to Niall Horan’s recoupable account?