[INTERVIEW] BANG YONGGUK on His Creative Evolution and Approach to Music

Cr. Ericka P.

For rapper, singer-songwriter, and producer BANG YONGGUK, his life revolves around music. His journey began after falling in love with hip-hop at a young age. While still in middle school, he joined the underground hip-hop group, Soul Collection, after receiving praise for his self-written rap verses that he shared on an online forum. Under the stage name Jepp Blackman, he honed his skills and expanded his industry network, eventually featuring on his first song “Cherry Flower” with the collective in 2008.  

He officially entered the public spotlight with his impressive rap delivery on Song Jieun’s 2011 chart-topping hit, “Going Crazy.” He continued to garner attention with his subsequent release “I Remember” featuring Beast’s Yoseob followed by the rap duet “Never Give Up” with his future bandmate, Zelo, under the sub-unit name, BANG&ZELO. Despite being a trainee until then, BANG YONGGUK was a hot topic, trending on search engines and attracting public interest as a promising new artist in the industry.

In 2012, BANG YONGGUK debuted as the leader and main rapper of the six-member boy group, B.A.P. Starting with their debut single, “Warrior,” he penned several of the group’s powerful and assertive lyrics that tackle themes such as empowerment, rebellion, social issues, and more. BANG YONGGUK pursued his solo career and began releasing more introspective music around mental health, self-reflection, and more as seen on his albums, BANGYONGGUK (2019), 2 (2022), and The Colors of Love (2023).

On his 34th birthday on March 31, 2024, BANG YONGGUK gifted his fans with the release of his third EP, 3. The album was a labor of love and an opportunity to challenge himself by experimenting with new genres to appeal to a broader audience. He meticulously participated in the lyric writing, composition, and arrangement of each of the six tracks, highlighting his versatility, confidence, and relentless drive for personal growth. He also planned the concepts behind each song’s unique music video, giving them their distinct character. Through its music and diverse concepts, 3 showcases another significant step in BANG YONGGUK’s creative evolution.

Cr. Ericka P.

Shortly after the album’s release, BANG YONGGUK embarked on his ‘III’ THE US TOUR 2024, just months after his successful 2023 summer tour, The Colors of Bang Yongguk. “The biggest goal of going on a tour is sharing my music, indeed, but I also feel like I embark on the tour every year for new challenges,” he shared in a press release. “I learned and felt so many things by meeting my fans during my last tour, and I look forward to learning even more new things during this tour as well.”

The ‘III’ tour kicked off on April 5, spanning across a total of 11 cities and wrapping up in Los Angeles on April 28. The tour was more intimate compared to the previous one. On stage, BANG YONGGUK explained that 3 was filled with things he had long wanted to share but hadn’t had a chance. He wrapped up the tour with the hope that everyone confidently face challenges in their own lives and learn to grow from them. Following the end of the tour, Kpopconcerts.com caught up with BANG YONGGUK to recap his U.S. tour experience, dive deeper into 3, and his creative approach to his music.

Interview responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Cr. Ericka P.

KPC: Congratulations on completing your tour! After performing across 11 cities in the U.S., what are your final reflections on the experience? 

BANG YONGGUK: It was a precious experience that reminded me of how much love I receive from my fans. The endless warmth and support made me feel like those are the reasons why I am alive.

KPC: What is the best and the hardest part about touring?

BANG YONGGUK: Seeing the fans who enjoy my music gives my life a lot of drive. It gives me strong motivation to create music and a reason to be on stage. However, the tight touring schedule makes it difficult to take care of myself. The emptiness and loneliness that come after a performance are just part of touring. So, I need to stay strong and protect myself physically and mentally.

KPC: What factors did you take into consideration when arranging this tour’s setlist?

BANG YONGGUK: The new album, 3, made up the core of the setlist. I wanted to sing all the songs in the album live. I tried to find tracks that fit the new album well and piece them together like a puzzle to make a more dynamic, exciting performance.

KPC: In a previous interview, you described your creative process as a cycle of destruction, creation, death, and rebirth. With your album, 3, you boldly explored new genres and sounds that you’ve yet to try before.  Could you elaborate on what that journey was like for you?

BANG YONGGUK: This album is meaningful in a way that I challenged myself with the genres and tempo that I did not like before. I tried to get out of the existing BANG YONGGUK’s music. By trying things that I didn’t like, I was able to understand the genre characteristics of various music and study to change them to suit my style. I also feel that music has no end to learning.

KPC: You released a music video for each of your tracks on your latest album. What was the inspiration behind each video’s concept? Any memorable moments while on set?

BANG YONGGUK: When I am planning out an album and choosing a concept, I start by including image-related elements. For this album, I pulled from various sources, so I decided that I needed visualizers for each song. From the moment I chose France as the location for the shooting, the preparation period was more memorable than the actual schedule when I was there. After scouting the location, I had a long meeting with the staff about how we would move forward with the concept. Sometimes, we shared our thoughts until the sun came up to create a work of art together. Even though it’s tiring, times like that make me feel alive.

KPC: You’re shown dancing throughout the “Movimiento” music video. How did you feel dancing again?

BANG YONGGUK: As the title suggests, the shoot focused more on movement than dance. My goal was to show how I naturally moved to the music without being locked into a specific choreography.

KPC: In “BAD,” you collaborated with YOUHA. How did this collaboration come about and what it was like working with her?

BANG YONGGUK: When I needed a female vocalist in “BAD,” she was the first person to come to mind. I listened to YOUHA’s music often and I hoped to work with her at some point. After choosing the topic of the song, I felt that YOUHA’s visuals and skills would match the song the best, so I asked her to collaborate with me. I feel like I have a pretty good eye when it comes to this, and I think we were able to complete a great track. I want to take this opportunity to thank YOUHA again.

Cr. Ericka P.

KPC: Reflecting on your 13 years in the industry, what would you say has been the most significant change or evolution in your approach to creating music?

BANG YONGGUK: The diversity. I feel that the genre of music that I can make has grown. In addition to studying, I have to make an effort to accept and absorb it into my own style. It’s also important for me to learn from my experiences. I have produced many albums and have done a variety of performances, and I think these experiences have been very helpful for me.

KPC: How do you balance maintaining authenticity in your music while also evolving as an artist over time? 

BANG YONGGUK: I think my life is music. In my personal time, I listen to various genres of music, read many books, and explore new genres of music. I listen to music when I drink wine, and I don’t stop when I take a shower. I listen to meditation music before I go to bed. If I were to remove music from my life, I would feel like a very insignificant or dull person.

Cr. Ericka P.

KPC: You’ve previously stated that one of your current goals is to support new artists who are chasing the same dreams that you once pursued early in your career. What advice would you offer to young artists aspiring to succeed in the music industry?

BANG YONGGUK: You have to keep dreaming and trying. Artists shouldn’t stop creating. I have to fight numerous worries and the urge to create even while lying in bed. And you have to constantly create something. I think that’s the destiny of artists. I dream of supporting their painstaking work and letting more people know about it.

Fan Question #1: What has been the best decision that you’ve ever made?


Fan Question #2: What artist have you been listening to on repeat?

BANG YONGGUK: Recently DUKE ELLINGTON’s LP gave me the most comfort.

Fan Question #3: Favorite meal from America?

BANG YONGGUK: I like In-N-Out’s strawberry shake the most.

Fan Question #4: Given your appreciation for Pinot Noir, have you discovered any new favorite wines or vineyards lately, and if so, what are they?

BANG YONGGUK: Lately, I’ve been into German and Austrian riesling. With global warming, the variety’s unique flavors and trends are gradually changing so I thought I should experience more riesling before that.

KPC: Thank you for your time. Do you have any words you would like to say to your fans?

BANG YONGGUK: I want to express my love and respect to the fans who have always shown me a lot of love. Please continue to watch me until the end. I will be back. Thank you.

Thank you to BANG YONGGUK and MyMusicTaste for this opportunity and Nahri and Lisa for the translations.

  1. Thank you for this. I hope more people have the opportunity to discover his music he really is insanely talented.


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