K-pop sensation BTS conducted a global press conference at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, after opening the curtains to the “Permission to Dance on Stage” concert series the previous night.
The seven bandmates -- RM, V, Jimin, Suga, Jungkook, Jin and J-Hope -- shared their emotions and thoughts after reuniting with their global fans, known collectively as Army, in person for the first time in two years, and shared plans for the future.
Following is a full transcript of what the band said at the press conference.
V: I’m very happy that we’re having this in-person concert for the first time in two years. Obviously for the past two years, “ordinary” and “normal” were no longer normal, so it was a very sad and difficult time for everybody. We really look forward to this concert and are really excited to be here and hope that we can impart some positive energy to all Army here and all of you, the members of the press, here today.
Suga: This is the first in-person concert that we’re having in two years, so I’m very excited and I thought yesterday, “Is this really reality or is this a dream?” And I was very nervous as it’s been a while since we’ve done this. For the past eight years since we debuted, and also for the past four years since we debuted in the US, I’ve been thinking that nothing has really come easy for BTS and it has been the same for the past two years when we were unable to have a concert and perform. But BTS has always overcome these barriers and bounds through our efforts by trying hard. I think this situation is also the same. We will continue to face these challenges and face these barriers, and we will be able to overcome them, and I think that is a strength that BTS has -- our ability to overcome these. And it hit me yesterday that, while there will be new challenges, we’ll be able to overcome them again.
Unlike when we came here previously for the UN General Assembly, we prepared by focusing on bringing our songs and performances to the concert, so please enjoy our performance.
Jin: I think this is the first press conference (outside Korea) that we’re having since Wembley and we’re all very excited for this. I hope that this will be the first of a series to see our Army and hold concerts. We will continue to have concerts in Korea after this one and are planning another in Korea, so please look forward to them.
Jungkook: We received a lot of love last year as we did this year. This year we created and released songs that tried to express our frustrations as authentically as possible and about the thought and consolation that we hoped to give to people, about how we can overcome the situation together. The fact that we received so much love for these songs that we’ve created gave us a lot of energy, and we hope we can pour in this positive energy that we’ve received in doing these concerts.
RM: Seeing the stadium filled with all the fans got me really emotional, beyond words, finally meeting you, the members of the press, face to face, is so touching and it’s a real pleasure for me.
We had countless shows and awards, but the recent Artist of the Year at the AMAs and the second Grammy nomination were truly something and really did mean something for us. As an artist, we started out in Korea and limitations of our identity, language, genre and the invisible walls, we felt like they really existed but every moment we tried to give our best to every show, every performances and every music with all of our hearts and I think those small each moments truly made today’s miracle for us.
Going back on tour, going back on track and seeing all the fans and people finally in two years it really made us feel like this really is the beginning of our new chapter, and the past two years of the pandemic weren’t easy, not just for us but everyone, including the Armys, the press, for everyone. But today, we’ll try to show how much we’ve grown, how much we’ve learned through this past two years.
Jimin: For the past two years, we felt powerless, we were depressed. We tried to break out of that by doing what we could, releasing our songs “Dynamite” and “Butter,” album “Be” and “Permission to Dance.” Again, doing what we can and trying to find a way out of this situation. And we worked hard at this because we wanted to bring healing and consolation to everyone else who were also going through hard times and who are also living through these challenges. So yesterday, being on stage in front of our audience, it made us -- and me -- feel like we’re back where we belong and we hope that everyone can find themselves back where they belong.
J-Hope: We are back at the US for our concert following our visit to the UN General Assembly a few months ago. Being here again being here with you, the members of the press, really makes it hit on that we are back here in the United States. Speaking on behalf of an entire generation is a little bit embarrassing when we think of it, but also comes with a great sense of responsibility for certain, and it was a great honor always to create and share with the world the music that we love, and I think this really is the power of BTS. And we’ve worked really hard preparing for this tour, because again, we wanted to show that power and the power of our music. And this is our first in-person concert in a while and we have fans not just from the US, but from Korea and all over the world, so I hope that you can enjoy this concert together with us -- really let go and release some of the sadness and depressing thoughts that had been weighing down on us for the past couple of years.
Q. Were you nervous to get back on stage after so long?
Jin: As this is the first time we‘re performing in front of the audience after two years, what many of the members agreed as we talked in the waiting room before the concert was that we might cry when “ON” plays during the concert. We were very nervous, and because we’ve been away from live performances for a long time and we were afraid that we might make a mistake. So we practiced much harder and longer than usual because we were very nervous before we got on the stage. But funnily, no one cried yesterday.
V: I had some tears but they came out of my nose. Q. How did you feel after your first concert?
Jimin: I had a lot of regrets after the concert yesterday. We’ve waited for two years and as a prepared during the time, I was very scared and nervous because the time felt longer than I‘d expected. I had a lot of worries about the kinds of expressions I should make, the gestures I should do, what I should say, and how I could impart the emotions that I’m feeling to the audience at the concert. So, when I actually did come face to face with fans, I wasn’t really able to enjoy the experience as much. So today, I’ll take it easy and try to do that a little better.Q. A few of you went online to communicate with fans, and V mentioned jazz and how you want to try music of different genres. Is there something that you want to do to diversify music?
V: The style of my music and BTS music is very similar and, at the same time, different.
There’s music that I listened to it while growing up, and since I’ve recently been listening to a lot of jazz and blues, I wanted to express this music preference of my own and that is why I’m working on creating wider music. But it’s very difficult because I’m not an expert in these musical genres so I think I’m challenging myself. But I would like to create and present music of my own that is different from BTS’ music.Q. Do you have any plans for the rest of the year about a new release?
J-Hope: We try to make music that crosses different genres, and so we try to put a lot of effort into our mixtapes. But because result needs to be good for us to present something to the world, whether we will release something this year or not, I’m not really sure. Q. First time performing in front of Army (since the last in-person concert) was at the AMAs. How was this experience compared to last night?
Suga: It really didn’t seem real at all until we actually arrived at the AMAs ceremony. It’s always the cheering from Army that always give us strength, just as the cheers at AMAs had helped us in preparing for our own concerts. Whether it’s the Armys at the AMAs or at yesterday’s concert, their cheerings for us and shouts are both invaluable, and equally important to us. Thanks to fans in AMAs, we were able to showcase a great stage yesterday.Q. After your first US award at the Billboard Music Award in 2017, you released the skit that expressed your hesitation and fears. Now that you’ve received major awards at the AMAs, do you still harbor those hesitations and fears?
Suga: You asked about whether those fears and hesitations that we talked about have been dispelled. I don’t think so as a person living in this world. I think those fear and hesitation are something that everyone must and does live with. But if there’s a difference, the experience during the pandemic, I think, has made us ask ourselves why we couldn’t have enjoyed that experience more. Because now that we are in a position where we are unable to just enjoy them, I think we’re asking ourselves why we couldn’t have just enjoyed it more and had these fear and hesitation. So, at the AMAs, I think we enjoyed it and were really happy. We had an audience in two years and we also took home some good results. Although we have the same heart, we were able to really enjoy the moment more and this is something we felt relieved about.Q. Your beautiful moments in life continue, so how do you feel about this?
Suga: About the most beautiful moment in our lives and how they continue, we are very thankful. We often receive from the press and media the question on how we could be with such passionate fandom, and I think we could continue for so long because we are walking along with the enthusiastic and supportive fandom. This is something that we felt yesterday. Hearing their voices and shouts, and seeing their actions, gestures and expressions, although we couldn’t see the expressions under the masks, we once again felt that they are the reason why we’re able to have this and able to live our lives.Q. What’s your message to the Army that is not able to attend and plans for more performances in the future?
Jin: We’re also very disappointed and sad that they weren’t able to come here and hope that many people can come as possible. For the past two years, we wanted to perform and sing but the situation being what it is, we weren’t able to do that and it’s a shame. So, I think what we could do is just do our best. As a singer, what I hope for the most is to be able to perform and sing in front of many people as possible, so we all hope that the day will come soon that we see more Armys with our own eyes.Q. In the US, we had to deal with the issue of Asian-hate, and your positivity obviously combated that. How do you feel about the positive role that you have taken to help Asian-hate and show a positive life to Asians and Asian Americans?
RM: About Asian hate, we always say this but we have heavy responsibility. As I said before, I wasn’t born or raised abroad. But as an Asian, through the past years and our paths, and our awards, I truly felt the wall, and the wall can’t be always described as words. Sometimes it’s visible, sometimes it’s invisible. So when we talk about Asian hate, our paths are all the awards and our music. We just hope that this can truly help every Asian in the world who live in countries abroad. If there‘s something we can help, or we can be giving of consolations, we are always open and will try to expand our value and stop discrimination. Thanks for asking that.Q: How do you feel about the massive reaction and anticipation shown about your LA concert?
Suga: We had our stadium tour in 2019. It was a bigger show, bigger tours back then. Asked about what is different, we thought about what can we do at this point and time. We created the songs “Dynamite,” “Butter,” “Permission to Dance” to try to give consolation and healing to people during tired times. And I think people around the world really love these songs we created, so even though the size of the performance or the venue is similar, we are being welcomed more eagerly and enthusiastically because we weren‘t able to perform for the past two years. When we were in Korea we did perform “Butter” and “Dynamite” in Korea but just in front of cameras without an audience.
And we were wondering about the reactions we would see and what it’d be like to perform our songs in front of the audience. I think they feel much more real -- the feelings and emotions we were receiving in front of the actual people really amplified those emotions even more than we thought they would.
Jungkook: All of us were unable to do mundane things or engage in our jobs, hobbies properly. What’s most precious for us is our tours and performance, and we weren’t able to do that. We really felt thos emotions more.Q. Jungkook, about your AMA acceptance speech, why did you leave your sentence unfinished? What were you going to say after “I’m going to focus on”?
Jungkook: It’s embarrassing but, there were only three more words following “focus on.” So it was, “Focus on enjoying every moment.”Q. How do you feel about your second Grammys nomination?
Suga: We were nominated for two straight years and again, we feel excited and it still feels unreal. Grammy is something that I grew up watching. Being nominated for a Grammy and getting the final win isn't easy. I’m thankful there are still barriers and challenges we can try to work to overcome. We hope that we can overcome them.
Jin: Just because we haven’t won a Grammy, it doesn‘t mean the other awards that we have received are of less significance, but we just wanted to say that we haven‘t won a Grammy yet, and that it would be an honor if we could win one.
Suga: There‘s a Korean saying, “any tree can be felled with 10 strokes of an ax.” If we hit it twice, maybe we can hit it eight more times.
V: By the time we get nominated eight more times, Jin will be 40.
Jin: I will not be 40. I’ll be 38.
V: Ah, okay.Q: You have always been humble and have believed in yourself. Amongst all of the success, how do you stay true to yourself?
J-Hope: Now, we don’t try to set our standards to define success because if you set those standards, it is very tiring physically and mentally to reach those goals. Instead, just trying hard at what we do in our lives and emotions and staying true to that. And this eventually leads to a lot of success. That’s what I’m trying to do. And by doing that trying to stay true to ourselves.
RM: There’s 100 percent of success, and I’ll give fifty, half to the audience. And the other half, we put like five percent each, like five percent value, so that’s 35. And I give 15 percent. So if it’s a trophy, my percent is like five, only an edge of the trophy. So, success is not all ours, and I always try to realize that, and it helps me keep myself down to earth, and I think it’s really important to survive in this crazy industry.
By Choi Ji-won (firstname.lastname@example.org
) & Park Jun-hee (email@example.com)