“BTS’ SUGA is a man of many titles whose work has a flair and mark that a true fan would recognize. He wear many hats, from being a rapper, composer, writer, and producer. In all instances that he works he has a personality that fits it. He has broken records and made history being the artist who’s done so with all his three monikers. His works are differentiated into SUGA from BTS (when he is part of the group doing group projects with his fellow band members), SUGA the producer (when he does work for other artists, producing their work and recently got feafured in another artist’s work which he rarely Doen), SUGA as Agust D (who is his persona when he does solo projects like his mixtapes).
SUGA talked about his solo work and feelings about producing for other artists, he also mentioned the emotions and thoughts that go through his mind before arranging music and/or deciding on the melody to use for a particular song. In his “Proof” interview with Weverse magazine he had a lot to say about their songs, his solo work and memories from his childhood
How does it feel listening to “Born Singer,” BTS’ first mixtape song, which is now included on Proof?
SUGA: First of all, I didn’t even know if it could be included on the album. I wasn’t even sure it would be possible, since the original song is so famous, but J. Cole gave us permission. I want to tell him how grateful I am. It’s a song I only could have written back then. I still remember writing it during the first and second weeks we were promoting “No More Dream.” The emotions I felt during that debut time will all evaporate over time, so I had to write it then or never. I even thought about rerecording it since it’s a little over the top looking back, but intention behind it would be lost if I did. So we just put it in since it wouldn’t be possible to listen back on this period of ours unless it was in a concert. And there might be some ARMY who don’t even know that the song exists. We felt like a lot of who we are went into the song, so we unanimously agreed that it should be included.
You really went and dug up an old memory. How did you go from being a middle school student who dreamed of becoming a producer to actually becoming one? “Seesaw (Demo Ver.)” isn’t done in a style that’s popular with many people in Korea, either. I was wondering what kind of changes you went through from then till now.
SUGA: When I was young, I wanted to be a rapper, and I wanted to be a producer, and now I can do both of those any way I want, so I’m doing it all, one by one. That’s also why I use several different names: I wanted to keep them separate. He can do this, too? He can do that, too? He can do music for ads, too? It was just lucky I could meet so many fantastic artists as SUGA the producer, so I think I’m really fortunate to be building a career in that sense.
Would you say that your producer’s perspective also has an effect on your solo efforts, like your Agust D releases?
SUGA: I think that, when I release an album as Agust D, that’s a solo work with solo promotions, and I feel like I should use the same system that regular groups do when they’re promoting and have a lead single and a B-side. I was thinking a lot recently that maybe I should shoot two music videos: one just there for the visuals, while the other is more focused on the listening experience. Ah, what should I do? I’m working hard on a follow-up to D-2.
I feel like you and PSY influenced each other through “That That (prod. & feat. SUGA of BTS).” We already knew you were producing and featuring on the song, but you had a lot of screen time in the music video, too. (laughs)
SUGA: I was just going to write the song and dip out, but then he said, “You have experience featuring on other songs, don’t you?” I was like, “Featuring could be okay …” And I did it. Then he said it would be a bit weird if I wasn’t in the music video, and said, “Just try it once and see how it goes,” and I said, “I’ll just do the verse and be off,” and the next thing I know, I’m dancing, too. (laughs) He showed me the rough version and said, “Only do it if you like what you see,” so I did it, and I thought it was fun since it was so much different from his previous choreography. I did the music video purely for all the ARMY watching. (laughs)
People got to know you first as a rapper in BTS, but you’ve also grown as a producer.
SUGA: Yes, fortunately. Lately I’ve been thinking about how I don’t know what kind of music I should do when I get older, and that maybe I should try a few different styles now. (laughs) I think this is both a blessing and a curse, but I think that, while I’m able to work in various genres, I’m not sure any of them are that deep. That’s why I try to use many different styles and when I’m promoting my own material, I put in a lot of things I like, like surprises and twists. These days I started to want to do things again, too. And that brings me both worry and excitement.
So then, what is it you want to give to ARMY and everyone else who listens to your music—while making music for your whole life?
SUGA: I used to place a lot of importance on music—especially when I was young—but now I’m trying hard not to place too much meaning on it. It’s just the times we live in, for one thing, because at some point we became a generation for whom music is simply background music. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s a natural progression, and anyway, I thought there’s a difference between when a musician knows why they’re doing music or not. Here’s what I think: People who listen to my music—I mean, to a certain extent, I think being a fan of something is a must in life. You could be a fan of a person or a sport—whatever it’s about, I think being a fan is important because it makes life fun. Like feeling excited for the NBA playoffs as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. Some people are going to be excited for the day my music comes out and for me to perform. There aren’t a lot of things to be excited for in life. But for anyone who likes my music, I hope they’re excited for it—excited for when it comes out, excited for when I promote and excited for when I go on tour. I hope they’re excited for everything so I can give their life meaning each and every day.
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