[Herald Interview] BTS a ‘wonderful musical companion’ : Big Hit Music producer Pdogg
Upcoming anthology album ‘Proof’ looks back on BTS’ trajectory before the group moves on to next level, maybe in another genre
Published : May 26, 2022 - 18:30
Updated : May 27, 2022 - 07:35
Big Hit Music producer Pdogg poses for photos during an interview with The Korea Herald at Hybe’s headquarters in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
K-pop has become one of the most popular music genres in the global music scene, thanks to local artists’ active promotion of their songs. Seven-piece boy band BTS is one of the biggest music sensations in K-pop history, dominating global music charts and awards with its megahits.

“Butter,” “Spring Day,” “Blood, Sweat and Tears,” “Fake Love” and ”Dynamite” are but a few of BTS’ songs that are well recognized around the world. The septet’s songs would not be the same if it was not for Pdogg, 38, who has contributed greatly to the septet’s numerous hits.

“It has been over a decade since I’ve focused mainly on BTS and the group’s songs and album. … My role is to support the group in telling its stories and expressing its feelings through music,” Pdogg said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald at his studio located at Hybe’s headquarters in Yongsan-gu, Seoul.

Pdogg studied vocal music in performing arts middle and high schools but he was also into hip-hop and enjoyed composing songs as well. The producer joined Hybe, formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment, in 2007, as the company’s founder and chairman Bang Si-hyuk discovered the producer’s talents after looking into some of his works on an online composition community site.

That same year, Pdogg officially began his career as a composer with songs “Come Back” and “Love” on co-ed group 8Eight’s debut studio album and Lim Jeong-hee’s studio album “Before I Go, J-Lim.” He then became BTS’ main producer at Bang’s request, and was asked to make songs that a hip-hop crew, who is now known as BTS, could perform.

“The idea of launching a hip-hop crew that can perform like an idol seemed too vague. I wasn’t a dancer and there were not many teams with that concept that I could reference, either. I got some ideas about it after checking some big-name choreographers’ videos. Of course, I had many trials and errors as well,” the producer said. 

Big Hit Music producer Pdogg poses for photos during an interview with The Korea Herald at Hybe’s headquarters in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Pdogg had a strong impression of the seven-piece band as “extreme music lovers.” Although both Bang and Pdogg hoped to launch a team that could become Asia’s No. 1 idol group at the very least, the producer had not expected BTS to enjoy this much global popularity and success, he said.

“I had seen many artists before getting to know BTS, but I had not seen an act that really loves music this much,” he said. “Every single member has a passion for music and they really work hard. Even I get motivated a lot by the group as it shows ceaseless efforts and makes great outputs.”

The hit song maker has much affection for his work and BTS. Pdogg shared that he had jokingly told the Hybe founder and chairman, “The time I leave Hybe will be my retirement as a musician.”

His passion and talents earned the producer a total of 40.07 billion won ($34.29 million) in the first half of 2021, beating out the country’s far more prominent tycoons running conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai and LG.

“To make BTS songs special, I try to include members’ feelings, thoughts and stories, as well as the trend of the times to form a bond with the listeners not only in Korea but also outside the country,” the producer said. He picked BTS’ 2015-16 trilogy album “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Trilogy” as the work to which he is most attached, and the group’s third studio album “Love Yourself: Tear” as the toughest piece. 

Big Hit Music producer Pdogg poses for photos during an interview with The Korea Herald at Hybe’s headquarters in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
The veteran producer is still concerned about surviving in the music scene by continuously making good music. “I still feel much pressure every time I am finishing new songs and projects. As a composer, I still question myself how I could carry on my work without losing touch.”

At the moment, he is busy preparing for BTS’ upcoming anthology album “Proof,” which will offer an expansive look at the group’s nine-year career. Ahead of its release on June 10, the producer revealed the purpose of the upcoming album and said it will be a chance for the group to look back on its career and the history of its growth, to go on to the next level, perhaps in another genre.

While BTS has described Pdogg as the “eighth member of BTS,” the producer said the group is a “wonderful musical companion” to which he has committed almost his entire life.

He also thanked Army, the boy group’s fandom.

“BTS exists because of Army. The group also recognizes that. Since they have a lot of expectations for us, I have to do well as a supporter,” he said.

Defining good music as songs that can arouse happiness in the listeners, Pdogg said he hopes his music can cure listeners’ sadness and make them feel happy.

“When I make music, I feel alive and happy. I hope to share these feelings with many people through the songs that I produce.”

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)