BTS members pose at their press conference at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. (Big Hit Entertainment)
LONDON -- BTS on Saturday (UK time) delivered a historic performance at Wembley Stadium, becoming the first South Korean band to headline London’s iconic venue.
Ahead of the show, the seven bandmates -- RM, J-Hope, Jin, Suga, Jimin, Jungkook and V -- met with reporters to answer questions about their Wembley debut, their ongoing stadium world tour, the band’s collaborative projects and their thoughts on being called “the Beatles of the 21st century.”
Following is a transcript of the press conference, translated from Korean.
Q: How do you feel about performing at Wembley Stadium?
V: I am grateful to (have this chance to) perform at Wembley Stadium. We got a chance to play concerts here not just for one day, but two days. I will try not to get nervous and will do my best.
Suga: It’s my honor to meet so many reporters at Wembley Stadium. It’s an exciting experience. I am very nervous because our Wembley performance will be livestreamed. Thank you for coming, and please enjoy the concert.
Jin: Thank you for coming all the way to the UK. Many popular musicians are from the UK and it’s an honor to perform in this country. We will give it our utmost effort.
Jungkook: We had originally planned one concert in London. But thanks to the Army (BTS’ fandom community) and thanks to your support, we have added one more date. We will do our best onstage in return for your love and support. This performance is going to be broadcast live all around the world. I hope everyone will enjoy our performance together.
Jimin: To all the reporters, thank you for coming. Last year we did a European tour for the first time and we are honored to be back for this stadium concert. Not only Wembley, but our whole stadium tour marks the beginning of a long journey. So I would like to thank all the fans who made this glory possible.
J-Hope: I’m J-Hope, and also the reporters’ hope. Finally, we’ve made it to Wembley Stadium, where everyone has been waiting with anticipation. We are truly honored, and thankful to our fans. Our hearts haven’t changed much. As artists who love performing, we will enjoy it and do our best. We will make BTS history in this historic place.
RM: It’s an honor to do something in this historic and symbolic place. Many staff at our company, reporters and of course our fans’ love and interest have made today possible. We will do our best, knowing that we are very lucky.
Before starting our press conference, we want to express our sincere condolences to the victims of the recent ferry crash in Hungary and their families.
Q: BTS recently paid tribute to the Beatles on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” How did you feel about the show and about performing in the land of the Beatles?
J-Hope: I feel immensely honored. We had a chance to re-enact (a Beatles concert) for the show, and it was such an honor because the Beatles are artists I really like.
For BTS, we would like to show BTS’ true colors through our music and our story. In the UK, we want to show more sides of ourselves. Wembley is a big and historic place and we have been looking forward to it a lot. We would like to return with a great accomplishment behind us. Please enjoy today’s performance.
BTS members attend a press conference at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. (Big Hit Entertainment)
Q: Is there any British band you’d like to collaborate with?
V: For a long time, I have loved Coldplay and I have always enjoyed listening to their music. We turned on Coldplay when we got in the car in the UK. In the past, I had a chance to go to a Coldplay concert. If there’s an opportunity, I would like to collaborate with Coldplay.
RM: They came to Korea like years ago, and J-Hope and I went to their concert. We saw Chris Martin and the other band members, and it was a great memory. I think everybody loves Coldplay. Also, it would be such a great honor to collaborate with Paul McCartney.
Q: Why did you decide to live-broadcast the Wembley Stadium concert?
Suga: Wembley holds huge significance. As a singer, there are some dream stages. Since I was young, when I watched Queen at Live Aid, I have dreamed of performing here. I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking that I am performing at Wembley. I think many fans watching the live broadcast will love it as well.
Q: How much input did you have in the setlist of this concert?
Suga: The setlist changed a lot as we continued to have conversations with the company. Because we decided on a stadium concert, we wanted to make it more like a festival than a concert.
Jungkook: About the effects, we talked a lot. We didn’t have much time between the “Love Yourself” concert and the “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” concert. We tried our best and had many discussions about how to show diverse sides of the band.
Jin: To create a festival vibe, we included many exciting songs. With much discussion, we went through all the songs and made our decisions.
Q: In the past, you said everything around BTS moved so fast that sometimes it was too much. Now in 2019, you are the biggest pop group in the world. How do you work on being creative when your schedule is so crazy?
RM: This is a very big question and important at the same time. This is about how we are going to survive and how we face our own existence. I said in 2018, “When you grow up, your shadow gets longer.” If I get taller, my shadow becomes longer -- I think it’s like that. Many reporters ask us how we deal with and get over hardships … and all the band things. I always answer that there is no getting over things. We just have to be friends with our shadows. Sometimes it’s too much and it’s too hard and too big for us. To live and survive as artists and as humans who try to love ourselves more, we need to make friends with our shadows. We have our own ways of keeping it creative. For me, personally, I love to go to the park, see the trees, see the water, I love to shop, I love to go to museums. Our new album is titled “Persona.” My persona is RM and my other persona is Kim Nam-joon, a normal 25-year-old guy in Korea. We have to keep those personas.
Q: In comparison to your previous stadium concerts in the US and Brazil, are you doing anything different or special at Wembley?
Jungkook: For the staging and the performances, we will continue to do what we have been doing. Our conversations or talking points during the concert change depending on the venue.
J-Hope: We are live-broadcasting a concert for the first time, so we want to deliver the excitement of Wembley as much as possible so that more members of our Army can enjoy the concert.
RM: I don’t know how many people will watch it. But live-broadcasting the performance globally is a very innovative, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are very encouraged by this.
Q: You had a sound check today. What was it like to walk around Wembley Stadium when it was empty?
Jimin: It’s similar to how we felt when we embarked on the stadium tour. “Wow, we got to perform at a place this large in front of so many people!” But through our tour, what made me most excited was seeing fans filling the seats. I want to see the seats filled at Wembley, a place where we always dreamed of playing.
Suga: It was amazing, because I’d only seen Wembley Stadium on TV. Until recently, this was where Tottenham Hotspur played. It was just amazing.
RM: The seats for Wembley, specifically, everything is red and it’s really beautiful.
Q: You have set another record by performing at Wembley. What’s the future BTS is dreaming of?
Jimin: I don’t want to limit myself to only records. Since the “Love Yourself” tour … I have wondered how long we can continue to do this kind of performance. I don’t know how long, but I want to continue to share good music and synergy with people that cheer for us for a long time.
Jin: My personal wish is to do a show for many people, with no limits on the audience. Because the number of seats is always limited.
J-Hope: Health is what comes to mind. I will take good care of my body and stay healthy. Because I need to be healthy to keep working and to keep seeing our fans for a long time.
V: We have fan meetings coming up in Korea, in Busan and Seoul. We want to capture the hearts of Army members who have waited for us, by delivering great performances.
Q: How do you feel about being compared to the Beatles? Your suits also remind me of the band. The global media are calling BTS “the Beatles of the 21st century.” What are your thoughts about this?
Suga: Are we similar? Thank you.
RM: We wore Thom Browne suits.
Suga: I don’t know if the Beatles wore Thom Browne. But it’s a great honor to be called “the Beatles of the 21st century.” At the same time, it’s a bit pressuring to be called that. We are BTS. We want to be the BTS of the 21st century.
RM: All popular boy bands in the history of music have always been compared to the Beatles. I think it’s fair to say a lot of musicians have been influenced by the Beatles. In the US we were lucky to do an homage to the Beatles during “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” We were very grateful to be called that, and it makes us feel that we are doing good. It’s an honor.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com)