The leader of the world’s biggest boy band has some great advice…
BTS‘s RM and American music artist and producer Pharrell Williams appeared on Rolling Stone Music Now‘s Musicians on Musicians – Special Series. They spoke on various topics, including their upcoming collaboration, being members of bands, and the prejudices against boy bands specifically.
Pharrell talked about how boy bands, especially in America, are not respected as professional musicians despite being educated and producing quality music. He himself formed the hip-hop and R&B production duo the Neptunes in the 1990s, and in 1999, he became lead vocalist of the band N.E.R.D. He also has worked with many notable boy bands, such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC.
But here that would get ridiculed as like, ‘That’s just a boy band,’ but you know what? They would have really similar results, and I’m not saying metric for metric, but I’m saying very similar results in like the quality of the artists, the quality of them really understanding their consumers, them really understanding their genre and being able to keep it going for as long as they really want it ’cause they really understood what they were there to do. They got the assignment.
— Pharrell Williams
RM appreciated Pharrell’s thoughtful comments regarding boy bands as Pharrell recognized the prejudices they had faced. He added his own thoughts regarding being a part of the system.
Wow. I mean thank you firstly for such consideration… And actually, I’m not a representative for all these in the industry. I’m just one of the part. So, it’s really, for me, like feels like dangerous to, you know, mention something about like the whole system about the pros and cons, lights and shadows, and I think if there’s one good, there’s always one bad.
The BTS leader remembered starting his career simply as an underground rapper. Yet, now he is one of the most famous rappers in the world as a K-Pop boy group leader, producer, etc.
So, for the whole K-Pop system, I started my career as a rapper, but I’m just suddenly, maybe coincidentally, maybe by destiny, I just got into the center of this system, and I’ve been through all the stuff inside. Right?
RM credited HYBE founder and chairman Bang Si Hyuk (also known as Hitman Bang and Bang PD) for making a difference in terms of the K-Pop system as he respects the artistry. So, while he understands technicalities well, he also respects the heart and soul.
But I think for my case, my label and Mr. Bang, which is our CEO of our label, he was… I think he was different because he’s actually a producer so I think he truly understands music and he always firstly respects the producers and engineers, and what you had in your mind as an artist so we always… We always try to take the good of the system like you said, the quality, the people, the techniques of the system, and we still try to mix it with the heart…
RM shared that their goal always is to communicate that we are all humans. This mindset also helps him stay grounded.
We always try to emphasize that we are humans and you are human, we’re just… I’m just a human who makes music and just performs in front of other people and you’re just another human maybe who have a different job just coming to see our concert. So, I think that made me still putting my feet on the ground.
So, he hopes that other K-Pop trainees will follow this mindset. He would tell all not to forget they are humans with jobs. Still, they should recognize their influence and, in doing so, give love.
I just always want to tell all the, you know, trainees in the industry … Please don’t forget you are human, you have a job in this industry and please be who you are and the fact that what we can do can influence the people, can charge each other’s batteries, you know, give, take love back and forth. That’s what I think has always been important for me.
RM gives great advice, as expected. It’s no wonder he’s BTS’s leader!
Read more from the interview below.