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(MARIE CLAIRE INTERVIEW) Dreaming Suga

1st on the Billboard World Album chart, from dominating the Oricon charts to a world tour spanning Europe to South America, an Asia tour that sold out 150,000 tickets. BTS, who is unbelievably entrancing as they break numerous records as an idol group, always make their own music and are artists who direct their own stages. Through the most BTS-like tracks and performances, BTS have forged a world of unexpected idol music, and among those 7 men is Suga, who calmly came from the underground to take the mainstream by storm.

Suga is experiencing his 20s while repeating a pattern of hitting a wall after darting off at his peak, then getting up again and moving forward. Because of this, he didn’t want to miss even one of the moments that flash by. Like this, he filled his sound with the daily life that could fly away at any moment. Instead of the name “BTS’ Suga,” he has put a mixtape out into the world under the name “Agust D” that freely expresses the beauty of one youth’s experience.

Q. After your world tour you had an Asia tour, and I heard that it’s all finished now. Traveling all around the world for nearly 2 years must have been dizzying.
A. I really like it. I’m living the life I dreamed of when I was young. There’s a time difference of around 12 hours in Brazil. It’s fascinating to stand onstage literally halfway around the planet. Even if I sleep a little less, it’s okay.

Q. Even while you’re that busy, you put out a mixtape.
A. I write songs while going back and forth on the airplane, and I worked [on music] back at the hotel room after our concerts are done. Now the second half of the work is almost finished, and today after this interview is over I’ll go back to work more.

Q. What kind of songs are they?
A. It’s full of the kind of tracks that you can’t hear in BTS’ music. In particular, the feeling of the lyrics is very different. I straightforwardly expressed myself in regards to how I think of youth. I also spoke honestly about my own self. I’m the type who likes making material out of things like the reality that I experienced from my late teens to my twenties, my daily life, my conflicts, and my dreams.

Q. It seems like you think deeply about those things, ordinarily.
A. It’s because that’s the time I’m living right now. If you hear the conversations I have with my peers or with my older brother, not having a clear dream has been my biggest worry. I lived this far by fitting into the societal mold, but after becoming an adult and actually facing up to that reality, it’s different than what I thought. Even if you just endlessly search for a job or take entrance examinations, your thoughts become more plentiful.

Q. Then what kind of 20s is the youth named Min Yoongi spending?
A. I think that I’ll only know if I’m living well after a little more time passes, but I can assure you that I’m living a very satisfying life.

Q. Your mixtape is a perfectly self-produced product in that you wrote songs, wrote lyrics, and even produced the tracks. You must want to be a little greedy, and there are many things you want to include, right?
A. Since I’ve done everything on my own from one to ten, my greed seems to be getting a little bigger. I also have the kind of personality where I really can’t abide doing things roughly. I focus on the highest point of completion. In particular, when I made the tracklist, I worried a lot. About how I should put it together for flow and how to clearly convey the stories that I wanted to include. It’s a mixtape I made meticulously as if it were a whole album.

Q. But rather than making a full album, you chose the unique form of a mixtape.
A. The reason is simple. I started with the purpose of trying all the things I wanted to try. While thinking I should just express myself transparently. I wanted to try putting out music that was just made how I thought of it, the direction my heart went. I worked very freely on both the genre and the lyrics.

Q. Is the music that you made freely by yourself that different from the music you’ve worked on as part of BTS?
A. Of course. Like the way that my mixtape came out as “Agust D,” rather than under the name “Suga.”

Q. Even before you did activities with BTS, you did music for a long time. You put out another mixtape before your debut, didn’t you?
A. The thing that I put out at that time is the kind of quality you can’t even listen to. (laughs) My thoughts have changed a lot in the 3 years I’ve been doing activities with BTS. To be honest, I was seriously daunted after debuting as an idol. I was like, “I’m a person who’s been continuously doing music since I was young, but now that I’ve become an idol people are going to look at me differently, right?” But those were all idle thoughts.  No matter how you look at it there are things that have changed, but it seems like I agonized about it and hung this heavy meaning on it for no reason. I was in this severe, serious mode. (laughs) The things that at the time felt as though they were molds that caged me now feel more like a fence. My heart has become more comfortable. I’ve also done away with some of my stubbornness about music. How should I say it? It feels like my outlook has become much wider compared to before.

Q. It seems like you’ve gone through a sort of growth process.
A. Yeah. It seems like that. My self-confidence has become more robust. All of the BTS members are like that. All 7 of us have our own thoughts about things, but we’ve discovered the way to combine them, and our conviction onstage has become stronger. Our musicality, choreography, performance, stage setting, etc. are all individually important, but I think that only if we combine all of those things properly can we make a final product. Since we’re onstage, we unconditionally have to do well. We want to show even more than what’s anticipated by the fans who come to the concert venue to see us perform.

Q. Since you have so much greed toward the stage, it seems like you’d share a lot of discussion about music with your members.
A. We all work individually, and then we consult each other only after organizing the things we’ve made on our own. Because if we always just talk about work then it gets stressful.

Q. From where do you get the inspiration for your work?
A. I put everything in endless memos all the time. the things I think of at any moment, sudden emotions, words that come up into my head unprompted… I write down everything. Sometimes really good ideas come to me 2 or 3 years later while I’m rummaging through things that I wrote down after just staring blankly for a while. I also listen to other musician’s music quite a lot.

Q. Whose music are you mainly listening to these days?
A. I like the lyrics that Lupe Fiasco writes, and recently I’ve been listening to American rapper Desiigner’s new stuff and to rapper YG’s songs. Among Korean artists, there’s a team called XXX, and their songs are really good. Ah, also the vocalist Suran, I first encountered her through her demo album but I really liked it, and now she has worked with me as a featuring on this mixtape.

Q. Since you listen to so much music and like focusing so much on thoughts and emotions, it must be important for you to have time to yourself.
A. Yes, that’s right. It’s an absolutely necessary time for me. There have been times that I’ve sat alone in my recording studio for 10 hours. Although to be honest I was just goofing off for 8 hours and working for 1 hour. (laughs) It’s important for me to have time where I can calmly organize my thoughts in a room by myself. I get overwhelmed if I’m just running around without any of that kind of time.

Q. What’s your favorite line among those that you’ve written while sitting by yourself like that?
A. “Because the dawn is darkest before the sun rises, even in the far future don’t forget the you of now,” from the track ‘Tomorrow.’ I like lyrics with this feeling. Content related to comfort or development. I want to make music that people can easily sympathize with.

Q. Now that we’ve been talking for a while, it’s all talk about music.
A. If you asked me to talk about my other interests… uh, collecting music equipment? buying things like rings and necklaces or bracelets? There’s not much. (laughs)

Q. When I look at BTS’ SNS accounts, it seems like the atmosphere is really cheerful. Suga, you seem more like the quiet type yourself.
A, I can be bright sometimes, but I don’t really like loud things. But in the chatroom with the members, things are always crazy. We’re seriously funny. They take their own ugly photos and upload them, they take each other’s ugly pictures without permission and share them. Yesterday somebody posted a video of Yang Sehyung-ssi’s and it was seriously nuts. There were so many “LOL.” It’s difficult on everybody to work and do activities, but we laugh together and by chatting like this we can support each other and get along well.

Q. You have this team called BTS that shares each other’s joys and sorrows, and you made a mixtape full of the music you wanted to do. As much as you worried, it seems like you’re spending a fruitful 20s.
A. There are still a lot of things left that I want to do. I want to do better. I’ll keep making music for a long time into the future. I’m going to keep clinging to this floor. My 20s will be spent youthfully, and when I reach my 30s and 40s then I’ll spend my time well as befitting a person of that age.

* when they say “greed” it doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing, it just means having a strong desire towards one aspect of life
** Yang Sehyung is a popular Korean gagman

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