Last week (April 12), BTS sent the pop world into a frenzy again by releasing their latest album, ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’. Back home in Korea after owning the SNL stage, the seven-strong band held a global press conference last night (April 16) to answer questions and reveal more about the new record, their place in the K-pop record books, working with Halsey, Suga’s psychic powers, and more. Here are the biggest talking points to come out of the event.
- READ MORE: BTS – ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’: review
The inspiration behind ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ is the ARMY
As usual, it didn’t take BTS long to credit their fans with something. The first instance, in this case, came when RM took on a question about the inspiration behind the new album, calling ARMYs their biggest inspiration of all. As he explained, the record began with reflecting on the last two-and-a-half years, and their discussions about how loving yourself is the beginning of true love on the ‘Love Yourself’ series. He said that the group had also looked beyond themselves for influence. “We began this process by being curious about what our fans were doing,” he said, according to a fan translation. “The fans’ joy and happiness is the joy and happiness that we feel as well.”
Suga is being cautious with new prophecies
One person seems to have predicted all of BTS’ major successes – their very own Suga. Like a rapping Nostradamus (or Minstradamus, as ARMYs call him), everything he says seems to come true.
In a video from the ‘Love Yourself: Tear’ press conference included in the opening montage, he lists chart success in the US, a stadium tour, going to the Grammys, and being one of the most influential artists in the world, with the caveat: “It’d be nice for all of these dreams to come true, but because they can’t come true, it’s not easy to say them out loud.”
Of course, BTS have since gone on to prove that statement very, very wrong, so NME wanted to know what’s next on Suga’s list to become reality. Jin, whose turn it was to speak when the question was chosen, answered first, placing importance on ARMYs’ response to ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ over outside distractions. “This album is about enjoying and having fun with the fans,” he said. “So our goal would be to enjoy our time together with our fans.”
When Suga got his turn to answer, he said that while there are many things he wants to accomplish, he’s focusing on finishing their upcoming ‘Speak Yourself’ stadium tour successfully. With two nominations at the BBMAS on May 1, he added he is “cautious about talking about winning awards”, but hopes they can win at least one. Fingers crossed we didn’t just jinx Magic Yoongi’s ways by talking about it.
Working with Halsey made ‘Boy With Luv’ “richer and more complete”
According to Suga, the band wanted someone to feature on ‘Boy With Luv’ who could “express the excitement that comes from the joy of love in lots of new and colourful ways.” And who, in modern pop, is more colourful and joyful than Halsey? Suga also praised the star for making the song “so much richer and more complete”.
They’re humble about the ‘BTS paved the way’ thing
“BTS paved the way” is a phrase that you’ll likely have seen on the internet recently, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the trailblazing boyband or not. It refers to how the seven-piece have broken down barriers across the globe, achieving countless things that no other Korean artist has done before.
Asked if that intimidated or invigorated them, Jin nodded to all those who have come 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. I’d be lying if I said BTS never felt any pressure. I’m feeling the pressure now. We do feel pressure. So we commit ourselves to carrying on our work.”
There’s a link between ‘Boy In Luv’ and ‘Boy With Luv’
Aside from lead single ‘Boy With Luv’ being an absolutely summery banger that is impossible to get out of your head, it’s also tied to BTS’ past. The English part of its title references their 2014 track ‘Boy In Luv’, while the Korean (‘작은 것들을 위한 시’) translates to “A poem for the small things.”
Explaining it, Suga said: ‘Boy In Luv’ talked about young love and now ‘Boy With Luv’ is about how true strength and love come from finding joy in the small things in life. RM already explained that 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.”
We learned the meaning behind ‘Mikrokosmos’, ‘Home’, ‘Jamais Vu’, and ‘Dionysus’
J-Hope and RM took it in turns to explain the meaning behind some of the other songs on ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’. Speaking about ‘Mikrokosmos, J-Hope described it as being “about our interest and love for the world around us and the people around us.”
“You see buildings with their lights on late at night and that’s someone working hard at something,” he continued. “Each one of those lights is what gives us these beautiful nighttime city views. The song is about giving courage and comfort to those people by talking about this warm attention and praise for all of these people.”
The rapper also explained the sentiment of ‘Home’, this album’s track dedicated to BTS’ loyal fans. “The moment we meet our ARMYs who know us and love us is like coming home and feeling all its warmth and comfort,” J-Hope began. “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. 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, meanwhile, told the story behind ‘Jamais Vu’, which features a sub-unit made up of singers Jin and Jungkook, and J-Hope. “It’s a French word that means the feeling of experiencing something for the first time even though you know that you’ve done this before,” BTS’ leader said. “The song talks about how there might be unintentional mistakes and setbacks but we will keep getting up and keep on running.”
Of ‘Dionysus’, the heavy hip-hop track that closes the record, he revealed it details “the joy and pain of creating something”, describing it as “an honest track.”
Jungkook’s mixtape is still not imminent
Last year, the youngest member of BTS began promising that he would be the next one to release a mixtape, following in RM, Suga, and J-Hope’s footsteps. Sadly, that still hasn’t materialised and the golden maknae, as he is known, issued an apology during the Korean section of the press conference. “I would firstly like to say sorry to all the fans, I still don’t have the ability to produce one,” he said.
All is not lost though, as he, in typical unflagging Jungkook style, promised to “work harder and practice more to be able to show what I can do.” Let’s get it, JK.