BTS’ V: ‘Rolling Stone’ Digital Cover Story – Rolling Stone
BTS V, a singer-songwriter-producer, has been BTS’s hidden weapon since the beginning. His rich, deep voice contrasts nicely with his contemporaries’ ever-higher high notes, and he’s not afraid to go full-on bedroom R&B, as on the sultry neo-soul track “Intro: Singularity.” V started his musical career as a saxophonist, with a love of jazz and classical music. He has the most diverse collection of influences of any member of BTS, ranging from Sammy Davis Jr. to Sam Cooke to Coldplay. He sipped orange juice and spoke about his forthcoming mixtape, favorite movies, and more in his label’s headquarters one morning in April, wearing a black newsboy-style hat, a zipped-up black parka, and a white mask.
I remember you did a variety show for the first time in a long time the other day. How did it go?
It was the first time we’d made an appearance in five years. As a result, I was extremely anxious and tense. As a result, I didn’t get much sleep. However, when we arrived for the actual shoot yesterday, the host of the show was extremely gracious and welcoming. So it went as expected. I was totally at ease. Then, because of our interview this morning, I didn’t get much sleep the night before.
I’m sorry about that!
[Laughs] No, no, no, no, no.
I know you worked really hard on your mixtape, and now that it’s been delayed, I’m sure you’re feeling a lot of pressure to get it right. How are things going now?
We’ve collaborated and produced music as a group, and only as a group. As a result, working on my own tape involves completing all of the tasks associated with all of the songs on the record. Many of the songs’ lyrics and melodies must be written by me, as well as the production process. As a result, bearing all of the load that is spread among the other members for a group album is a bit of a strain. But it’s a challenge. But what’s nice about it is that it allows me to show who I am and to show our ARMY the music that really has the color of Kim Taehyung, the color of V. Of course, that’s a fantastic chance, and it’s what makes making this mixtape so enjoyable and rewarding.
So, what’s your latest estimate for when you’ll launch it?
It was my intention to release it last year. However, it turned out to be more difficult and complicated than I had expected. As a result, I decided to release it early this year. But, once again, it proved to be a little more difficult than I had expected! Now I’m thinking about the end of the year.
You were already familiar with the solo song “Sweet Night” from a television soundtrack. What did you learn from the process of creating it?
That was included in a soundtrack for someone I knew well [actor and former co-star Park Seo-joon]. However, it was originally produced as part of my mixtape. It’s a song that’s close to my heart. That song came about because I was desperate for a good night’s sleep.
The song “Blue and Gray” is absolutely stunning. You mentioned that you wrote it at a time when work was particularly difficult for you and you were dissatisfied. What was it about the job that made it so difficult?
That was just when the Covid pandemic was starting to spread and become dangerous. We had worked extremely hard to demonstrate to ARMY our “On” results. And what I was finding frustrating at the time was not being able to demonstrate what we had spent so much time practicing and preparing. “Get packed, we’re about to show you these amazing performances!” I was telling the ARMY on social media. That was extremely stressful and challenging, and it made me sad. I think there was a sense of exhaustion and getting a little worn out from the job as well.
Were there any highlights off the road this year?
It helped me to concentrate on a single task. I couldn’t concentrate on one thing or focus on anything new before Covid because I was too distracted. If I wanted to try something different, I had no choice but to be a dilettante. I couldn’t go very far. However, I had more time in the previous year. In my job, I made a conscious effort to do more producing before delving deeper into my music. I used to think that my melodies weren’t that complicated or intricate. But I was able to devote more time and effort to it, listen to more music, and think about more things. That, I believe, aided me in delving deeper into the manufacturing side of music production. And I had a lot of time to think of good melodies, as well as a lot of time to just sit around and do nothing. [Laughs] And it was also beneficial to me.
I know you enjoy a wide range of musical styles. Tell me about some of your favorite musicians.
My musical heroes change on a daily basis, almost hourly. So, you know, it was Elvis Presley the other day. And that might be anyone else today. This is purely a matter of taste, but I believe I prefer the older Elvis Presley, the Elvis Presley of his later years. There are many well-known Elvis tracks, but I believe there are many more that are less well-known and less popular in the music discography. So, what I’m attempting to do, and what I want to do, is to listen to every single album, even if it’s just for one minute. Both the major songs and the songs that are hidden among the tracks are included.
There are some great ones from the 1950s as well, but late-period songs like “Kentucky Rain” and “Suspicious Minds” are among his best.
If you can suggest any Elvis Presley songs that I can listen to, please do so!
I’ll get you a playlist. So, what was it like to be a “hidden member” before BTS made its official debut?
To be completely frank, I thought I’d been kicked off the team when they told me I was a secret member.
So, do you think you should joke about it now, or is it still a little traumatic?
I will definitely joke about it now. As long as I can turn our CEO, our label’s boss, around and shake him by his cuffs a little bit. But, yes, I can make a joke out of it.
I’ve heard you like old films. What are a few of your personal favorites?
I enjoy vintage films, as well as classics that aren’t quite as old. For instance, The Godfather was a film that I thoroughly enjoyed. And Reservoir Dogs is one of my favorite films of all time. I just finished watching The Godfather. “It’s very long,” a friend had said, “I fell asleep in the middle of it.” “Is it so boring?” I wondered. Then I watched it and was deeply moved by it, especially by the godfather’s charisma [Marlon Brando], as well as by all of the actors, the direction, and the performance. And, once again, his charm and commanding presence throughout the movie.
In the TV drama Hwarang, you did some acting of your own. Is that something you’d like to do more of in the future?
It’s something I’m considering after I turn 30.