'Meet BTS, the K-Pop Group Loved By Wale and Charlie Puth'
Teen Vogue: How did you feel about landing in the U.S. iTunes Top 10 in February?
Rap Monster: Reaching the top of any music chart is a thrill, but this was a shock. We were on [a strict TV appearance] schedule at that time, so it wasn’t like I could scream or anything (laughs).
Jin: It was ‘Wow. Are you serious? Really?’ It was similar to what I thought when I first heard that Wings charted at 26 on the Billboard 200 last year. How cool is that!
Teen Vogue: For those new to BTS, what song and which video should they check out?
RM: Hmmm, it’s like choosing between your mom and your dad, who do you like better! “Fire” was loved by so many, so that’s the song.
Jin: I’d recommend “Blood Sweat & Tears” because I got the lead role and I kind of lead the whole story of video! And, of course, it’s beautifully designed and choreographed.
V: I, too, think it’s “Blood Sweat & Tears.” It had so many metaphors and I had to make a lot of guesses to understand the relationship between characters. And there’s a scene where I make a strange smile to give you a chill, which I love!
Teen Vogue: Rap Monster, K-Pop groups usually have designated roles for the members and yours is BTS’s leader, but what does that mean to you?
RM: It’s my official role to represent BTS to the world and it’s been a chance for me to mature as a person, but, behind the scenes, I’m just one of seven members and I’m inspired by the others all the time. I get free life lessons from J-Hope and Jimin, sometimes it’s like they’re 10 years older than me.
Teen Vogue: OK, let’s play a little game. You’re now at the mercy of another member describing you.
Jungkook: Jin used to be an ordinary guy in the team, but he’s the mood maker now. He’s the most wicked and funniest of all. No one in BTS is normal though, come to think of it.
Jin: Jungkook’s delicate voice always mesmerizes our ears and that’s definitely his role in BTS.
V: Jimin is a real piece of cuteness, like the youngest in the family.
Jimin: V’s specialty is getting all the attention from others onto him!
J-Hope: Suga is a true caretaker. He’s kind of a hidden leader who takes care of everyone.
Suga: J-Hope’s a real hope-maker. He’s such a ‘hope-generator.’
Teen Vogue: BTS have become highly respected for penning their own tracks. When you’re on tour, do you make time to write?
RM: Mostly we’re in the hotel when we’re not on [our promotional] schedule so I bring all my equipment. I wake up, if I have a rehearsal, I go do that and when I come back to the hotel, I sit down and turn on the laptop, cause I’ve got nothing to do without that!
Teen Vogue: When you’ve got a new demo, such as the rough guide to Wings, do you take it to another member and play it and ask for feedback?
Suga: I usually have as many people listen to it as possible because I think it really helps make it a better track. I always get great feedback from the rest of the band.
RM: Firstly, I take it to (BTS’s executive producer) P.Dogg. If he likes it, he sometimes puts it into the album. I really trust him, he’s got the eye for it.
Teen Vogue: If P.Dogg says no, will you fight for it?
RM: Yeah, of course, I really fight for it! I’m like, ‘Hey, this is the thing I gotta do right now. If you won’t do it, I’ll put it into my mixtape!’ The last one I fought for was ‘Reflection’ — there’s an original version, a whole different song. He didn’t not like it, it just didn’t fit the Wings concept, so I’ll release it myself someday.
Suga: I think I kind of did for my mixtape, because I felt I should as AgustD [my solo moniker], and I’m glad I did.
Teen Vogue: Speaking of mixtapes, J-Hope, we’ve been looking forward to hearing yours. What can you tell us about it?
J-Hope: I’m working on it as we speak and my inspiration really depends on my daily mood swing; sometimes I like to go strong and sometimes I make softer sounds. Since it’s a mixtape, I’m trying to experiment with various genres to test myself.
Teen Vogue: Jungkook, you recently covered Charlie Puth’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” — you teased it in January but didn’t release it until the end of February. Were you making changes? And will we hear your own songwriting any time soon?
Jungkook: I recorded it several times until I was sure that it felt and sounded perfect. I was more than ready to share it because I knew fans had been waiting, but we had You Never Walk Alone being released and I thought I’d better wait until BTS wraps up the official activities for it. I don’t feel confident about writing any of my own [material] yet, but if I ever write a song, I’d like to work on a very soft and sweet vibe.
Teen Vogue: The bigger an artist gets, the more people will try and bring them down. How does BTS deal with that side of fame?
Jimin: I’m a very positive person and I don’t easily get intimidated by people who try to bring me or BTS down. Besides, my family is always there for me.
RM: These days, I try to take everything as my fate and respond with dignity. I accept it, it’s like a shadow, it’s just there.
J-Hope: I had a firm belief that I was going to be a successful artist, and that led me to what I am. I draw all the strength I need from that belief and try to share my energy with other members as much as I can.
Teen Vogue: Rap Monster, you’ve just released a collaboration with rapper Wale, which came about through a BTS fan helping bring you guys together over Twitter. What can you tell us about working together?
RM: When he suggested the collaboration, that was a real shock. I thought about it, [and was] like, should we do a party song? But I wanted to do something different. The title is “Change” — in America. They’ve got their situations and we’ve got ours in Seoul, the problems are everywhere and the song is like a prayer for change. He talks about the police, and problems he’s faced since he was a child. For me, I talked about Korea, my problems, and about those on Twitter who kill people by keyboards.
Teen Vogue: Let’s do a finishing quickfire round! BTS experiments with a lot of genres, which one has been a challenge?
V: I always find rock difficult.
RM: I’m always ready to be challenged, like, “Wings: Outro,” it was hip-house, that was the first time I’d ever listened to that genre… but I liked it.
Teen Vogue: What do you want do while you’re in America?
RM: I want to go to Barneys and Supreme! I want to see buildings and people on the street, their faces, what they talk about, how they walk. I do that in Korea. I go to somewhere I haven’t been and just watch people and colors, that’s my inspiration.
Jimin: I really want to go on a day trip with the members. Or a picnic to Central Park on a sunny day would be nice.