Bang Yongguk

On the road to 3: his third EP, from studio to stage


Talent: Bang Yongguk @bangstergram

Photos: My Music Taste @mymusictaste.official, YY Entertainment @yy_ent

Bang Yongguk (also stylized as BANG YONGGUK) is perhaps best known as a member of South Korean boy group B.A.P, where he served as their leader and main rapper. But even before that, he was already making waves in the music industry, releasing his single album “I Remember” and featuring in Song Ji-Eun’s number one single, “Going Crazy” in 2011. Over the years, he continued to explore solo work with tracks like “AM 4:44” and “Yamazaki,” and in 2019, he released his full album, BANGYONGGUK.

Following the release of his first two EPs, 2 in 2022 and The Colors of Love in 2023, his latest, titled 3, dropped on a significant date for the artist this year. “When we decided to release the album 3 in March, I wondered what the most special day in March would be,” Bang says. “I thought that my birthday, which is on the last day of March, would be the most meaningful.”

Admittedly, as someone relatively new to the world of K-pop, I had not been familiar with Bang’s work, both under B.A.P and as a soloist. Nevertheless, it was easy to get drawn into his latest mini album, especially with the accompanying official videos that were released with each song.

3 features six tracks, with “MOVIMENTO” and “BAD” serving as the title tracks. “BAD,” which features artist YOUHA, in particular, stood out to me with how they contrasted each other lyrically, vocally, and visually in the song and music video.

Wrapped in a brightly colored blanket, Bang sings repeatedly in the chorus, "I'm feeling bad, bad, ba-a-ad." His glum demeanor is particularly striking against his more vibrant surroundings, amplifying his sense of loneliness rather than offering comfort. He laments being interested in a girl who seems keen on playing games, spending much of the song staring into space. The one time he cracks a smile is when YOUHA’s vocals first enter the song. YOUHA, who only appears via a video call on his tablet, looks more confident and playful, singing “I know you want me, but I'm kind of busy.” Although visually, it seems as if viewers are invited into his perspective, the upbeat melody pulls us into hers as well.

This recent release explores new sounds, and some have noted that both title tracks are a bit of a departure from Bang’s signature broodier style. But while his new music has surprised, it has not disappointed. “I feel like the range of my music has expanded a lot,” says Bang, reflecting on his music evolution since he began his solo career. “By incorporating various genres, tempos, and different stories from my life, I now have solo tracks that cover a wide range of themes.”

Bang actively participated in writing, composing, and arranging all six tracks in 3. “This EP was inspired a lot by the recent world tour,” he says. “I wanted to enjoy the performances with more audiences in a more exciting way. That's why I decided to challenge myself with genres and tempos of music that I hadn't tried before.”

Not wasting any time after the release, Bang embarked on his US tour, III. He performed in 11 cities across the month of April, starting in Brooklyn and concluding in Los Angeles. Fresh off his tour, he shares his thoughts on his latest mini album, his creative process, and his experiences on the road.

Timid Magazine: Congratulations on the comeback and tour! Looking back on your US tour, what was a memorable moment—on or off stage—that you can share with us?

Bang Yongguk: It was a tour that started right after releasing the new album 3, and the most memorable moment on stage was when the fans sang along to the songs from the new album. It was a moment where I could feel the love.

TM: What inspired you to release a video for each track on the album?

BYG: I always try to focus on both music and visualizers. This is because I believe that music has become not only something to listen to but also something to see and a part of the performance on stage. Therefore, I wanted to create a visualizer for every song on the album. Just like the process of making music, we spent a considerable amount of time with the team preparing for overseas locations, and I feel that we have created a great piece of work.

TM: During filming the videos, was there a specific experience, challenge, or highlight that stands out for you?

BYG: The moments preparing for the shoot by going to France ahead of the music video filming date and scouting the location in Nantes are still vivid in my memory. After finishing the location scouting, we would always have long meetings with the team to decide on the filming concepts. Sometimes, we would share our opinions and work on creating a piece of art together until the sun rose. Even though it was tough, those times made me feel alive.

TM: Can you elaborate on your creative process? Do the lyrics typically come first, or does the melody? Does your approach differ depending on the song?

BYG: When making music, I don't focus more on either writing lyrics, composing, or arranging. Each of these tasks requires significant choices and concentration. I think the process of building up each part like constructing a building day by day is more important. In fact, I often tend to give up personal time or hobbies. Music has become both my work and a companion in life.

TM: My favorite track on the album is one of the title tracks, “BAD.” Can you tell us a bit about how this collaboration with YOUHA came about?

BYG: When I needed a female vocalist for “BAD,” YOUHA was the first person who came to mind. I often listen to YOUHA's music and really wanted to work with her at least once. Considering the theme of the song, as well as the visual aspects and vocal skills, I thought YOUHA would be the perfect fit for this song, so I reached out to her. I trusted my intuition, and as expected, we completed an excellent track. I would like to take this opportunity to thank YOUHA once again.

TM: The track “NUMB” stands out with all-English lyrics, while your other title track “MOVIMIENTO” incorporates a little bit of Spanish in the lyrics. During your songwriting process, what factors influence which language you use in a song?

BYG: After finishing the track, I usually decide on the language based on the feel of the track. When I used Spanish with the garage sound, it felt mysteriously fitting. Rather than planning it out in advance, I tend to follow the feeling during the work process. It would be great if I had the opportunity to perform it during a South American tour.

TM: Beyond live shows, what are some ways you hope to connect with your fans this year?

BYG: I want to tell you a lot of good news that fans will enjoy. The biggest plan of the year is to prepare a project that I have to wrap up personally and give you some surprising news.

TM: Looking back on your career so far, what has been the most rewarding experience for you as an artist?

BYG: When I was younger working part-time, I told my friends that I would definitely take the music I made to America and play it for them. Who would have thought it would come true? Rather than being sure about that dream, I trusted myself and tried harder. I think it's very rewarding to be traveling around the world and achieving those dreams right now.

TM: Is there any message you’d like to share with your fans?

BYG: Dear and respected fans. I would not have grown this far without you. Thank you for your support and love. I will try my best to repay you.

TM: Now that you’re back from touring, what’s next for you that you can share with us?

BYG: I want to complete my summer plans and go on a long trip alone. I haven't had a particularly relaxing day this year. I feel I need a long time to reflect on myself again. I look forward to the day I will greet you again with new news. Thank you!

Disclaimer: This interview was edited for length and clarity.