Photo: Rebecca Sapp/Recording Academy/Getty Images
BTS: "Fans Gave Us The Wings That Allowed Us To Be Where We Are"
The seven members of K-pop phenomenon BTS graced the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles with smiles on Sept. 11. A group of 200 or so fans who were lucky enough to snag tickets relished in getting to not only see the boys up close, but to hear why the fans are so important to them and their success, why their music feels so relatable and how their story lines have developed.
The conversation began with a warm introduction from GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman, who served as the interviewer for the evening, followed by a viewing of the original "Idol" music video (sans Nicki Minaj). Every audience member began to sway and sing along, many even knowing the lyrics in Korean. The energy was anxious yet upbeat as the fans prepared to see their idols in real life, with the crowd breaking into thrilled screams as J-Hope, Jin, V, Jungkook, Jimin, Suga and RM of BTS walked across the stage.
As the evening began, given the palpable excitement level, Goldman made sure to check in with the audience and ask if they could allow for the conversation to happen in front of them, to which they agreed and limited their screams and cheers to a minimum throughout the night, out of respect for the special moment they were collectively sharing. The fans broke their composure, quite adorably, only when they belted out happy birthday to RM, whose birthday is Sept. 12, when the group entered the stage, and again as they were leaving. The crowd flashing finger-hearts in the air on both occasions.
Yet the fans were not the only ones feeling the love. When Goldman asked BTS why their relationship with their fans was so important, V, speaking in Korean, shared a touching message that many of the crowd aww-ed at even before the on-stage translator shared his words in English.
"The fans gave us the wings that allowed us to be where we are and sort of fly to where we are now, so we are always thankful and we know that we are here thanks to our fans. So I think that’s why we have this relationship with our fans," V said, as shared in English by the translator.
When Goldman asked why they think it's important to talk about the pressures that teens face in their music, Suga shared how music was such an important part of his development as young person, and that they knew that sharing their stories would help others around the world going through similar experiences, and that was what they wanted to give to their fans. This is clearly a big part in what makes the group and the music so relatable, such a personal experience for their fans.
"When I think back to when I was younger, when I was a student, I listened to a lot of music and I think it was a way for me to escape and a way for me to sort of reassure myself, and I think nowadays, teens, people in their early 20s, listen to music, but I felt, and we felt, that there really aren't a lot of good sounding, healthy music that they can listen to that really helps them, that there is a lack that we could fill… I think young people all over the world face these pains, sorrows, problems, so I think that’s why we sing these songs and I think that's why our fans and our listeners can really relate to our music," Suga explained, through the translator.
Goldman asked the group about how they choose the overarching storylines of their albums and develop them through their songs, which he compared conceptually to what The Who had done with their rock-operas. RM explained that the themes they choose are based on what is relevant to all seven of them and their experiences at the time, and what they feel will also be to their peers/fans, and therefore has developed with them as they’ve grown – from school, to youth, to love.
"When we want to find topics and we want to find stories, it's what is in our real mind. So five years ago, in our debut, we talked about schools. And we talked about schools with three albums, and then we talked about youth with 3 albums, and then folks grow up," RM shared. "Our attitude towards life kinda changed a little bit, and we thought … the story the world most needs is love."