BTS have always pushed the boundaries of K-pop, making music about topics that relate to the younger generation, from living up to the expectations of elders in "Silver Spoon" to Agust D's frank lyrics on mental health in "The Last".
In a recent interview with Naver, Suga and RM opened up about dealing with depression and anxiety both as trainees and now as worldwide successes, and how music has been their ultimate saviour.
See a translated excerpt from the interview below:
From your debut in 2013, you confronted the dreams and reality of boys and youths. In Suga’s mixtape, you revealed your inside that contained the gap between dreams and reality as a trainee dreaming to become an idol star, depression, and compulsion. Looking back on your past as trainees, how do you think you overcame the energy of anxiety and where do you think you are on the path to your dream?
Suga: Anxiety and loneliness seem to be with me for life. I put a lot of meaning on how I would work it out, but it seems like I have to study it for my entire life. Emotions are so different in every situation and every moment, so I think to agonise every moment is what life is. By the lyrics, I wanted to tell people ‘I am anxious, so are you, so let’s find the way and study the way together.’ There was never a moment when I didn’t have a dream. And I fulfilled all of my dreams. I wanted to debut and become a singer doing my music as a trainee, I wanted to win a #1 after debuting, I wanted win a Daesang and go to Japan and America after winning a #1. Billboard and the AMAs were actually unimaginable, but they happened. Now I don’t feel like I’m running for a specific dream, but these days I started to think values and happiness as a person are important.
So now, it’s a long way to go until I reach those. I’ve achieved a lot as a singer, but last year was a turning point. I’m only 26 years old. I’ve been doing music for 10 years, but I’ll do it longer. I really have a lot of thoughts to myself in this beginning of the year.
RM: Humans seem to be programmed to think of ambivalent feelings at the same time. That is the driving force behind human beings: to be the warrant of all things and to control other worlds. It is in our genes that we think of breaking up when we love and of failure and fall when we succeed. My view is similar to Suga hyung’s, but anxiety is like a shadow.
To talk about my personal case, my father developed a ringing in his ears (tinnitus) working for 25 years. He said that he wouldn’t feel any symptoms when he was concentrating on something or doing something that he enjoyed. But the symptoms would hinder his daily life when he was getting stressed or facing depressive situations. Anxiety, which turns into buzzing in the ears to someone, is like a shadow to me. It grows when my height grows, and it grows more at night. So I wouldn’t say that I am overcoming the ambivalent feelings on the other side of my mind, but it seems that every human being needs a resting place because he or she has to go with the inevitable solitude or darkness.
The only resting place for me was music in the past, and luckily I chose it. I met good friends and succeed in my career and economically. So now, rather to become friends with the anxiety, I constructed many resting places such as collecting figures, buying clothes that I like, and going to random places and seeing how people live. I take a bus, get off at an unknown town, and realise that I’m not far from the world. It helps shorten the distance between me and the world. Then my anxiety gets dispersed.
You can read a full translation of the interview here.
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