RM, Jin, Suga, J-HopeJimin, V, and Jung Kook were officially together as BTS Since 2013, working tirelessly while becoming The biggest band in the world. The group recently announced that they will embark on a new chapter together, one that currently focuses on individual activities. Although the individual members have released mixtapes or singles in the past, none of them have officially released a full-length solo album – yet.
At first glance, J-Hope can seem like the most kind and optimistic member of BTSAlways a big smile on his face. But there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. He is the lead dancer for the band, but he is also involved in the creative process of each BTS album. He pays close attention to his profession, is not afraid to experiment.
Talking to rolling rock In Korean, via Zoom, the 28-year-old immersed himself in the creative process and what jack in the boxMeans him and his identity.
The whole world is about to hear jack in the box. How do you feel?
She’s half nervous, half excited. Since I’m the first to go on my own, I feel a sense of responsibility and there’s definitely some pressure too. jack in the box Filled with only the things I personally wanted to do, almost to the point where I worry to myself, “Did I focus too much on what I just wanted to do?” [Laughs.] I think that’s where half the stress comes from. This album is very meaningful to me, and for the most part I feel very proud and excited for its release.
Although the BTS members have released mixtapes and singles in the past, you are the first to release a full-length solo album. How did this decision come?
Instead of thinking about who would come out first, while promoting as BTS, I kept asking myself, “What kind of music can I do as a J-Hope from BTS?” I always ask myself this question, and I steadfastly come up with a plan. I think by doing this, of course, my  mixed tape world of hope He came out … And from thinking further, I realized that I wanted to show more dance, which you can consider as the main basis for me. This led to the creation of [2019 solo single] “Chicken Noodle Soup”, which features more of that. I’m starting to think that J-Hope needs to show more sincerity in music, and that’s what I focused on as I got closer jack in the box. I think in terms of timing, I ended up being number one because I was constantly preparing. I didn’t approach the project with a desire to be the first on my mind.
Since when jack in the box Was it in the making? You’ve mentioned in the past that you always have a plan, and on a recent V Live, you confirmed that the artwork for last year’s full version of “Blue Side” was a bit of a spoiler for this album, with jack in the box The illustration and the words “Pandora’s Box.”
The concept of Jack-in-the-Box is closely related to my stage name, so I guess the idea I’ve always had in my back pocket. I’ve always felt the need to objectively unveil the music associated with Jack in the Box for a long time. Pandora’s Box is also an analogy to my name. “When can I edit this? When can I create an album with these items?” These questions were always in my head. I wanted to include spoilers for these themes in the artwork for “Blue Side,” and during my discussion with the artist behind the work, I clearly stated that I wanted to include these. That’s how my approach was when I put together the album and its tracks.
You’ve shown darker sides of yourself in tracks like “1Verse” from 2015. Even with world of hopeAlthough they may appear colorful visually, the lyrics show the depth. How did you decide to get darker and visually heavier with “more” and the full album?
First, how do you define “1verse”? [Laughs.]
I guess it goes like this: While I’ve been a part of BTS for 10 years, I’ve experienced a lot. With that in mind, of course there are stories I want to tell, and I realize it can be difficult to tell some of those stories through music with the image and current atmosphere of J-Hope. I felt the need to show some of my dark sides… and I think I really wanted to do something like that. I wanted people to realize that J-Hope is not just about bright things. He can do these concepts and has a wide scope. I wanted to draw attention to this ability by challenging myself. I didn’t think much about the future.
Just focused completely on what I wanted to do, what I wanted to express, what I wanted to show. This was the focus, and jack in the box Those raw items. When this album is “opened” I get a little worried because it only contains what I want to do. [Smiles.] I’m curious how people will react. But what I really want to say is that the album is full of my soul and sincerity. In this way, it’s a unique album, and the album is very meaningful because, in terms of music, it would be a stepping stone for J-Hope going forward.
With tunes, you’re using more of the old hip-hop sound as a basis; “What if…” even Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimi Shimi Ya” samples. What made you want to take the album in that direction?
When you hear the music, you’ll know, but that sound is my foundation. The music you listened to while dancing [dances]the vibe I had… That’s what I express in music, that’s what was included in it jack in the box, back to what I wanted to do, what I can do, as my rule. I think with that, it’s becoming more honest, more J-Hope-esque, while visually, I can show something completely different. I think the album has elements that are both visually and aurally appealing. I think for fans, there are definitely elements that they will find very J-Hope-esque.
When “more” appeared, some people were shocked. “J-Hope? J-Hope plays music like that? Rock? Emo? Hip-hop? Emo rock?” But I think if you listen to the album, you will start to realize that there is a clear reason why J-Hope chose music like that, why he chose that track, why he chose that line.
Jack in Box features two title tracks, “more” and “arson”. [In the Korean music industry, “title track” is often used to describe the lead track of an album, regardless of whether the track shares a title with the album.] You mentioned that you were surprised when “More” was chosen as one of them. How did you decide that “Arson” would be the second song?
As soon as I heard it, it felt like it was meant to be. I put everything I can pass on and most…my energy into this song. I chose it because I felt that the style of the song showed the height of J-Hope’s feelings. “Arson” is a song that sounds like a turning point and a crossroads. He has the fire and passion that I wanted this album to have. The song is also the last in the song list. One of the reasons for that is that I found this song really well combined with my thoughts behind why I created this album. The track acts as a period at the end of the sentence, and clearly reinforces what I wanted to express on this album.
You shared that the BTS members were all with you when “More” was released. Have the members heard the full album? Do they have any favourites?
The first person I shared the album with… It’s always the same for me. I always partner with RM first. I could have shared it with Suga, but he likes to be very respectful of the process. He told me, “I’ll listen to him when he comes out.” He always tells me that. There is a bit of shock and stimulation that comes after hearing that. “When it’s released, I’ll look up and listen to it afterwards.” So I let RM hear it first… and then it was Jung Kook. For the other members, I showed them the title songs, but not the full album.
When RM heard the album, he said, “Wow, I didn’t think you’d play music like that. I have such a bit of brain deadlock.” [Smiles.] “And so are you. The fact that you brought this music in at this time… I really respect it, and I would love for you to be.” He gave me that feedback.
For Jung Kook, it was really funny. After hearing the album, he suddenly went to his studio. [Laughs]. I think he felt motivated to start. I love that one of our greatest motivators is each other. I like it myself. When one of my members is playing a certain type of music or working on an album, I see their individuality and color, and think to myself, “I have my color too. I want to reveal myself too.” We influence each other positively and are good motivators for each other.
When “more” showed up, we were all together for work. [Smiles.] They were so surprised by the strong visual trend, that J-Hope did this kind of music… they were surprised.
And of course congratulations on Lollapalooza. You’re the first South Korean artist to headline a major US festival, and that’s huge news! How did you react when you heard about it?
It is an honor to be invited to such a big festival, and to be a pioneer as well. If you’ve heard “more”, when you listen to jack in the boxYou will clearly understand why I said OK to Lollapalooza and chose to participate. I really want to show my music, and I wanted to show J-Hope’s live life [show] for a large audience. While rehearsing, I used to perform as BTS’s J-Hope, which is one of seven. Now that I’m trying to fill out an hour-long static menu on my own, I realize it’s tough. [Smiles.] I feel the need to really focus and be detail oriented because I’m checking things out. This is the headspace I’m in while I’m getting ready these days.
It may seem arrogant or like a mindless challenge, but even that, it just depends on how you want to perceive it. There is so much to learn, and I’m rising to the challenge. I’d like to introduce some spoilers, but I think it would be better if I could be there in person to see it. I’ll show the music the way I did jack in the boxbut not only that, there will also be elements of J-Hope’s image being voiced… This is my spoiler that looks nothing like a spoiler.
You said you learn something new and mature with each album. what did you learn jack in the box?
I think it’s too early to say. I love listening to it steadily. When something comes out, I like to listen to it constantly and consistently collect feedback. With this album, I asked a lot of people for their opinions. There are a lot of things I’m starting to realize by getting the feedback. I’m doing a listening party with artists and industry people to enjoy music together. One of the reasons for this is to show, “J-Hope does this kind of music. What do you think about that?” To obtain, benefit from, and improve this feedback.
I think it’s too early now to say what I’ve learned. I think at the end of July or maybe early August, I’ll have a clearer picture of what I’ve learned. This is the beginning now. This is the beginning of everything I wanted to challenge myself and show it jack in the boxso I think from now on there will be more things that I can tackle.
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