“NOW, of course, there is no utopia…There’s a light side; there’s always going to be a dark side. The way we think is that everything that we do, and our existence itself, is contributing to the hope for leaving this xenophobia, these negative things, behind. It’s our hope, too, that people in the minority will draw some energy and strength from our existence.”
So speaks BTS leader and spokesman RM, described by author Brian Hiatt as someone who “carries himself with a level of gravitas,” in the May 13, 2021 article The Triumph of BTS in Rolling Stone Magazine, the iconic music magazine founded in 1967 in San Francisco, California.
The seven Korean superstars—RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—grace the magazine’s US cover for the first time, for the June issue on The Future of Music. (BTS appeared in November 2020 on the cover of a special collector’s edition of Rolling Stone India.)
With a photograph of the boys’ now-very-familiar faces looking out in surprise (although, fans joke, V still looks skeptical and/or aloof), the cover banners “the Nonstop Triumphs of the World’s Biggest Band.” Also included are recent photographs, taken in South Korea just last April, with the members appropriately but casually decked out in Louis Vuitton, a luxury brand they are now officially endorsing.
Although there is much in the engaging piece about BTS history that fans already know very well—RM as the first member, Jin’s discovery on the street—Hiatt makes an effort to quote all the members as well as Big Hit Entertainment (now HYBE) boss-man Bang Si-hyuk. Thus, a gem like the aforementioned quote by RM directly addresses the worldwide issue of Asian hate, something even global celebrities like them still encounter to this day.
There are also some lesser-known tidbits, like how V himself didn’t get why his identity wasn’t revealed until the last minute before their 2013 debut. “I actually can’t understand it whatsoever,” he says good-naturedly in the interview. “Why did they do that? Why was that the concept? I really had no idea!”
Hiatt prudently provides the answer: “V had great charms in terms of appearance and personality, so I thought it would be impactful when he was revealed last,” Bang says.
One of the songwriters who collaborated on the 2020 BTS hits On and Black Swan was Filipino-Canadian August Rigo
Or, that one of the songwriters who collaborated on the 2020 BTS hits On and Black Swan was Filipino-Canadian, August Rigo, who revealed that working with the team is a long, meticulous process. “It’ll come back and they’ll say, ‘We love these two parts that you did…Then we have this verse, and we have this section that we’re not quite sure of.’ So it’s like piecing a puzzle together in collaboration with BTS…It wasn’t like, two days and it was done. No, it was two, three months, maybe six or seven revisions.”
In fact, HYBE is revealed to “have their ears to the ground” and actively seeking out talents they fancy, from songwriters to producers—and with their now-universal clout, it is unlikely that anyone they contact will be dumb enough to say no.
There are quotes on Jin’s upcoming military enlistment, and Suga’s brave coming to terms with his depression. “I’m comfortable now and feeling good,” Suga tells Hiatt. “But those sort of negative emotions come and go. For anybody, these emotions are not things that need to be hidden. They need to be discussed and expressed. Whatever emotions I may be feeling, I’m always ready to express them.”
BTS’ outspoken resident producer and songwriting genius also had a matter-of-fact answer to the suggestion that BTS members had no love lives because Armys might not like the idea, while still skirting the actual issue and not giving a “yes” or a “no.”
“I have a hard time understanding this question,” Suga states. “ARMY is a diverse group. In this hypothetical situation, some may accept it, some may not…Whether it’s dating, or something else…they’re all individuals, and they will understand things differently.”
On military training, Jin tells Rolling Stone that military service “is an important duty for our country. So I feel that I will try to work as hard as I can and do the most I can until I am called.”
If and when Jin enlists alone, Jin gives a mature outlook about a BTS that’s temporarily without him: “I’ll be sad, but I’ll be watching them on the internet and cheering them on.”
Still, what the boys unabashedly express, in more eloquent translations, is how they truly miss performing, no thanks to Covid-19. “When we couldn’t go on tour, everybody felt a sense of loss, a sense of powerlessness,” says Jin. “And we’re all sad. And it actually took us a while to get over those feelings.”
The good part is, Hiatt has painted a warm, intimate enough portrait of BTS for fans to fall in love with their idols all over again—and for skeptics and hold-outs to realize that BTS is truly in an authentic, important, and massively influential league of their own. – Alya B. Honasan