BTS Star Suga Talks Solo Project and Working with Late Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto

In June of 2022, K-Pop group BTS confirmed that they are taking a hiatus from making music together – leaving free time for members to pursue solo projects and re-energize. Band member Suga did not pump his breaks, as he followed through with the final installment of his Agust D trilogy. 

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The BTS singer recently released (April 21) his 10-song record, D-Day. The project follows his two mixtapes Agust D and D-2, which he dropped under his alter ego Agust D. His razor-sharp raps tend to pull at heartstrings, as they embody his struggles with mental health. 

The hitmaker told Rolling Stone that it was a challenge to balance his two personas, which delayed the album release.

“Since I had to finalize the trilogy, I wanted to push Agust D by any means,” he explained to the outlet. “Yet in reality, in terms of marketing, Suga has more presence. There was a heavy pressure to synchronize Agust D and Suga, and it took a toll on finishing the album.” 

Within his well-rounded collection and documentary, Suga: Road to D-Day—fans will quickly recognize and understand who he is as an artist. Throughout the album, the musician opens up about personal trauma, love, navigating “late capitalism,” and finding freedom in his artistry.  

When he began writing the album, “liberation” was the theme. However, he confessed to the outlet that his definition of the term changed once he completed the tracklist. 

“In the past, I knew what that theme meant, and I figured out my thoughts were already resolved in the process of recording it. There was this K-drama called My Liberation Notes [From 2022] that did really well. I had started working on the album three years ago – and then noticed that it really matched thematically with the drama. I felt and hoped that people were looking for more stories, more discussion on this topic of ‘liberation,’” he recalled. “Once I asked myself about my definition of liberation is, I started unpacking that idea of liberation more [through my songs]. I think viewers will think it’s very fun and entertaining – considering the other kinds of promotions I’ve done. I have confidence. In my video, I’m just living very freely.” 

The project had a handful of collaborations. For instance, “Huh?!” with j-hope, “People Pt.2” featuring IU, and “Snooze” including Ryuichi Sakamoto and WOOSUNG. The Oscar-winning composer Sakamoto, previously (April 2), died at 71. The cause of death has yet to be announced, but the prominent Japanese composer announced in 2021 that he was undergoing treatment for rectal cancer. 

Suga said that he has grown as a songwriter since working with Sakamoto, as he pushed his boundaries on the mid-tempo track.  

“There is this method of reversing samples, chopping, and splicing which is commonly used among songwriters a lot. Some people would see this and ask, ‘Is this really composing?’ And it actually is because all these samples are being taken from their original sources and then recorded again. I needed to practice that kind of production through sampling, and I ended up using Sakamoto’s songs,” said Suga. “So Sakamoto naturally was one of the legends that I dreamed of meeting, and when I expressed my interest in meeting him, he accepted without hesitation.” 

Although D-Day is the last of the trilogy, he confirmed that he will be making more independent music. However, he did not clarify if the next project will be under Agust D or Suga. 

“It’s the last of the trilogy, not the last of Agust D. The stories that I have to tell as Agust D are heavier than those of Suga. I don’t have music energy left in me to continue to tell those heavier stories, because I poured out my soul in this album,” he shared. “My next album could come out next year, in a decade, or right before I die.” 

D-Day is available to stream now, and fans can watch behind-the-scene moments featuring BTS in Suga: Road to D-Day on Disney+. 

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions

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