BTS Discuss the ‘Pressure’ They Feel, Their Historic ‘SNL’ Performance and More During Press Conference
BTS held a global press conference to celebrate their release of their latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona, on Tuesday (April 16).
The seven-member group — V, Jin, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, Jungkook and Suga — answered questions about their new single “Boy With Luv,” their experiences working with artists like Ed Sheeran and Halsey, and the group’s goals ahead of their sold-out global stadium tour.
Map of the Soul: Persona is BTS’ first record in a collection of mini-albums centered around Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory that our personalities are complex and multifaceted, our persona being one of these aspects. As a result, the group’s fanbase, called ARMYs, have been selling out copies of his novel online and in bookstores around the globe.
“I heard that many ARMYs are studying Jung’s theory. It’s interesting to see them come up with their own interpretations on our songs, and it gives us more reason to work even harder to give more joy to our ARMY,” said Jungkook at the event. “I think we’re influencing each other positively, so we’re inseparable.”
This isn’t the first time the members of BTS have made literary allusions in their work: The music video for their single “Spring Day” referenced Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, while the music video for “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” had RM reciting lines from Hermann Hesse’s Demian.
The album’s lead single, “Boy With Luv,” was BTS’ first collaboration with American pop star Halsey. Since its release on April 12, the song’s music video has become the most-viewed video in a 24 hour period on YouTube with more than 74.6 million views. It also became the fastest video to obtain 100 million views in less than two days.
The music video for “Boy With Luv” is riddled with parallels to BTS’ 2014 track “Boy In Luv,” both sharing different love stories. “‘Boy In Luv’ talked about young love, and now ‘Boy With Luv’ is about how true strength and love comes from finding joy in the small things in life,” Suga explained. “We started from something really small, and now we are here in front of all of you, so we thought, what is the strength or force that brought us here? And that naturally led us to thinking about where and how we began.”
According to Jimin, the group chose Saturday Night Live to hold their debut performance of “Boy With Luv” after “a lot of thought.” For their last few comebacks, BTS’ debut stage was attached to a huge milestone for the group:“Fake Love” was debuted at the Billboard Music Awards and “IDOL” at the group’s first night of their sold-out Love Yourself tour at Jamsil Arena concert in South Korea. With their SNL performance, they hit another milestone by becoming the first K-pop group to perform as a musical guest in the program’s 45 year history.
“For us, finding the best stage for our comeback is a really important decision, and Big Hit and all BTS members take this choice very seriously,” Jimin shared. “We knew many world-class artists had live performances on SNL, so this was an overwhelming experience. It was very comforting to see ARMYs and their presence gave us so much strength.”
Jimin, meanwhile, was hopeful that viewers who might not have known them before were impressed with their performance. “The language might be different, but we hope that you will be able to feel the sincerity of our stories and songs through our music and performances,” he said. “Also we hope that BTS can be known as a group who knows how to enjoy the stage and offers amazing performances.”
Halsey isn’t the only artist BTS collaborated with on Map of the Soul: Persona — Ed Sheeran also provided a little magic by helping to write and produce the track “Make It Right”.
“[Ed Sheeran] contacted us and said that he made a song for us, and of course we wanted to work with him, so that’s how the collaboration started and we’re so happy that it led to this great song,” J-Hope shared. “The song has a very soft but elegant feeling and RM’s lyrics match it perfectly to create a song with charmingly delicate vocals.”
Other tracks on the album include “Mikrokosmos,” which, according to J-Hope, is song about “giving courage and comfort” to those who work tirelessly into the night to achieve their dreams, while “Home” is a song written specifically for BTS’ fans.
“The moment we meet our ARMYs who know us and love us is like coming home and feeling all its warmth and comfort. So the song talks about the ‘home,’ which is where the fans are and where our hearts are. Where we want to come back to when things are hard and we feel lonely,” J-Hope continued. “We get strength from the people who love us and wait for us and we come back to them so that we can return their love with even greater love.”
RM specifically shouted out the track “Dionysus” as the group’s return “to that old-school BTS-style hip hop.” He also took a moment to commend fellow member J-Hope for his lyrical contribution to the song: “J-Hope took charge of writing the song, and we can see that he’s really grown as a topliner”.
The conversation then progressed to the group’s upcoming stadium tour, which has sold out historic venues around the world including Wembley Arena, the Rose Bowl, Allianz Parque and Stade De France.
“We had our first stadium concert in the U.S. last year, and now we are so thankful to have a stadium tour,” V said. “We’re also excited that we can meet more of our fans.” He added that the group was “preparing a lot” for the upcoming concerts and he looked forward to having “a great time with our fans”.
“I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of ARMY to us,” added Jungkook. “It’s always great to hear from our fans all over the world that our music changed their lives or our contents made them happier. We think this speaks to the growing power of music and puts even more responsibilities on our shoulders.”
BTS also acknowledged that they also feel a sense of pressure and responsibility: “I’d be lying if I said BTS never felt any pressure; I’m feeling the pressure now,” Jin revealed. “So we commit ourselves to carrying on our work, and our fans support us and give us a lot of energy.”
According to Jin, the level of success and global popularity the group has achieved wouldn’t have been possible without the help of artists who came before them. “We made our own path not because we came out of the blue and dropped into where we are today,” he said. “We are standing here thanks to the road laid by many artists who came before us.”
As for the group’s goals for the future, Jin said his goal is to celebrate this upcoming tour with their beloved fans. “Actually, this album is about enjoying and having fun with the fans, so our goal would be to enjoy our time together with our fans,” he said.
Although Suga commented that he was “cautious” about mentioning about winning specific awards as a goal for the future, he added that “in [the] longterm, there would be many goals, but before that we have to finish our tour successfully.”
BTS’ stadium tour, Love Yourself: Speak Yourself, kicks off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA on May 4th. Tickets are sold out nationwide except for the group’s Chicago and New Jersey performances.