The BTS Team at BigHit
One thing you’ll learn about BTS is that their music is very collaborative. Far from creating a watered down product, this can mean an exciting combination of different ideas and talents.
All members are invited to collaborate and add ideas to songs that will be released under the BTS name. Although each member does tend to take the lead on their solo tracks, it’s definitely not unheard of for them to turn to other members for suggestions or guidance, and most of their songs have multiple songwriter credits.
In addition to the core seven members, there are several creative staff at BigHit whose names you will see turn up often. Who are these essential shadow members? Let’s meet them!
Bang SiHyuk a.k.a. Bang PD a.k.a. Hitman Bang
Bang Sihyuk is the founder of BigHit and was its CEO for a long time. He then became the CEO of the larger conglomerate HYBE, before stepping down in 2021 so he could focus more on the music side of things and less on the business side of things. These days, he lives at least part of the time in LA and is working on setting up an American HYBE label with his buddy Scooter Braun.
Bang is the one who scouted and recruited all of BTS and put the band together. As a musician himself, he also has credits for writing and producing many of their songs and continues to take a hand in their sound today. He is extremely close with the members who view him as a kind of father figure, and they still consider him to be their “boss.”
Sejin was more of a behind-the-scenes leader for BTS compared to Bang, but there’s no question he had a huge impact on them, especially in the early days. He is the head of the HYBE management team and was with them on a near-daily basis when they were starting out, and the members are very close with him. He and Bang both wrote the members very touching and memorable letters on the final episode of Bon Voyage 1. You’ll sometimes catch glimpses of him with the boys at the airport in older clips, but otherwise he keeps a pretty low profile.
He’s moved on from the BTS team now and rumour has it he is now a manager for Enhypen.
Another OG member of their management team that you may see appearing in older pics is Hobeom. He was one of the sub-managers to Sejin but you can see him in iconic moments such as when Jin got shy at the airport and buried his face in Hobeom’s chest, escorting a very young Jungkook to and from school, or when Jimin and Hobeom went to Suga’s basketball game to cheer him on.
Most famously, Hobeom got married in 2019 and all of BTS (and Lee Hyun!) attended the wedding and performed a live version of DNA – you can find clips of it on YouTube.
Since the wedding, he appears to still be on the BTS management team but no longer travels with them and isn’t seen as much.
The Rap Line have been active producers for most BTS songs since the beginning, and each of them have their own studio at the HYBE building. RM’s studio is called Rkive, SUGA’s is Genius Lab, and j-hope’s is Hope World. They’re each decorated very much according to their own personalities and you’ll see their studios often in Lives and Instagram Reels.
(Jung Kook used to have a studio too called Golden Closet where he worked on his video editing, but it’s not clear if he still has one since HYBE moved to its new headquarters in 2021.)
However, they often work with other producers as well to help shape their individual songs into the distinctive BTS sound.
Pdogg (studio name: Dogg Bounce)
Pdogg (Kang Hyo-won) has been BTS’ primary producer since day one and – fun fact! – is now the highest paid employee in the Korean music industry. He’s the one who first heard RM’s underground rapping from his buddy Sleepy and brought RM to Bang PD’s attention.
He continues to control their sound and has both writing and producing credits on most of their biggest hits. While the members usually have the core and outline of a song ready before entering the studio, it’s Pdogg that gives it a richer sound, adds backing instruments and suggests things like rhythm lines and ad libs.
Slow Rabbit (Studio Name: Carrot Express)
Slow Rabbit (Kwon Do-hyeong) has also been on the BigHit production team since the earliest days, despite his youth – he’s the same age as Jin. He’s now the primary producer for TXT but still works with BTS from time to time. He’s the producer and co-composer of many of their solo songs especially, including j-hope’s first mixtape.
ADORA (Studio Name: Adorable Trap)
Adora (Park Soo-hyun) was also part of the producing team from the earliest days after diverting into producing from being a full trainee. She’s worked on several BTS tracks and often lends supporting vocals to their work. Listen for her singing along with SUGA on the tracks “Seesaw” and his D-Day solo song “SDL” in particular.
Update for October 2021: Adora left BigHit to join Aura Entertainment and has debuted as a soloist!
Update for August 2023: Adora provided live backing vocals for SUGA on the final three nights of the D-Day Tour in Seoul and was amazing.
Hiss Noise is the other BigHit day one producer and he also has a lot of producing and writing credits on BTS songs, including Magic Shop, Persona, and ON. He’s worked with them a lot more recently, such as on the BE album.
Supreme Boi (Studio Name: The Supreme Escape)
Supreme Boi (Shin Dong-hyuk) was an underground rapper with RM back in the day, and actually was one of the rappers originally recruited by Bang to join BTS. He was part of the initial group and even appears on some very early BTS recordings from back in 2011. After being a trainee for several years, he eventually left to move into producing exclusively for unknown reasons. He still works as a producer for BigHit, and produced some early work for BTS, as well as appearing vocally on some of their tracks – most notably Cypher pt. 3 and j-hope’s solo song Hangsang. He has appeared on stage with them at events like the BTS Begins concert and All Force One, a rap festival featuring RM and Supreme Boi as headliners.
Supreme Boi can be outspoken and as such sometimes falls into disfavour with ARMY. But he’s still part of the core production team at BigHit for now.
DJ Swivel (Jordan Young) is a Canadian producer and mixer who worked on many of the tracks in the Love Yourself era, along with his co-writer Candace Sosa. He has his own Forever Mix of Euphoria (which is gorgeous) and has a writing credit as well on many of their LY songs, especially the ballads.
You can see his deep dive into the making of Euphoria (the original track) on Youtube.
GHSTLOOP is a newer producer at HYBE and works a lot with Pdogg on his various projects. GHSTLOOP mainly has worked with BTS since the MOTS era and also had a hand in Jimin’s recent solo album.
El Capitxn (Jang Yi-jeong) was the maknae of the Kpop boy band HISTORY back in the day before moving into songwriting and producing in the mid-2010s. He was a main vocalist and even features on one of IU’s biggest hits of all time, Friday. He’s close friends with SUGA (who claims to have trained him) and had a heavy hand writing and producing SUGA’s later two solo albums, and even toured with him on his D-Day tour, handling the sound mixing. He first worked with BTS for the legendary song Ddaeng and you’ll find his earlier production credits with them from the 2016-2019 era under the alias J.Pearl.
Docskim, sometimes credited as mikscod, is a longtime session musician for BTS (he’s an amazing keyboard player) and also has producing credits on some of their songs like Lie. He’s faced controversy from ARMY and Twitter cancellation in the past, but BTS continued to have faith in him. He worked with RM on the Indigo album, particular on the lead single Wildflower, and there’s a touching story about how he was ready to walk away and give up music altogether, but that song restored his interest and passion. He also played live with RM during various Indigo promotions and on V’s recent Jazz club live.
John Eun is an incredible guitar player and a jazz singer-songwriter in his own right, but he’s also a close friend of RM and has produced several songs for him, including Bicycle, Forgetful, and Lonely; RM also features on his song Hope. He recently appeared on V’s Jazz club live clip playing guitar so may show up in some of V’s solo recordings as well.
JUNE (Studio name: Imagine World)
JUNE was a trainee at BigHit in the early days who moved into producing, and worked on some early BTS songs like Lost and Not Today. He’s recorded music himself as a soloist and now works over at Planetarium Records.
Update for August 2023: JUNE provided live backing vocals for SUGA on the final three nights of the D-Day Tour in Seoul and was amazing.
Son Sung-deuk is BTS’ performance director. He was their primary choreographer from day one and still choreographs many of their hits, although in recent times he’s kept very busy working for TXT and Enhypen, too. He travels with BTS when they are touring or making other performance appearances; it is his job to help them block out and rehearse their performances and sort out any potential issues that arise based on the stage and area they have been given to perform. As a result, you will often see him working with BTS in Bangtan Bombs where they are doing dance practice and rehearsal. Next to Bang PD, he’s probably the face you will see the most among BTS staff. You can even seen him performing alongside BTS – with a mask on – in their December 2013 award show performances, where he filled in for Suga who was recovering from appendix surgery.
Son Sung-deuk has been nominated for and won several awards for his choreography and is all-around pretty awesome. He created most of their early dances, including No More Dream, We are Bulletproof pt. 2, Danger, I Need U (absolutely iconic), Run, Idol, and more recently, Dynamite and Permission to Dance. He’s also married with two young sons (Moa and Hoa), who sometimes show up on set, causing V to be extremely happy.
Since COVID times put a halt to most of BTS’ live performances, Sung-deuk has been busy acting as a judge and mentor for many HYBE-themed reality shows. He’s now putting together the first girl group for HYBE America, which keeps him busy pretty much full time now.
Bangster (Lee ByungEun) was j-hope’s dance instructor back in the day and has known him for years. He worked closely with j-hope on choreo for his solo album songs and Chicken Noodle Soup, before being hired by HYBE as a full-time performance director.
He’s been BTS’ primary performance director now since the Permission to Dance concerts in 2022 and toured with SUGA on his D-Day tour as well. He’s definitely worth following on Instagram as he often posts behind-the-scenes shots from their live performances.
Other Performance Directors
Other performance directors sometimes work with BTS as well, especially in the Chapter 2 era where they have multiple projects going on at once. In particular, Kim Minseong and Noah Nakta worked closely with SUGA, Jimin, and Jung Kook on their solo projects and choreography.
Ghost was BTS’ backup band when they performed live in the Love Yourself/Dynamite era. You can see them in the Tiny Desk Concert, their Saturday Night Live performance, and on BBC Live Lounge, among other places. They tour with BTS and perform along with them to enhance the sound during concerts. Here’s a good article about Ghost if you want to know more about their members.
SUGA’s D-Day Tour Band
El Capitxn worked closely during the D-Day tour with SUGA’s live band, which includes:
They were all extremely talented but also hilarious goofballs who did not hesitate to tease Yoongi during every encore. Here they are pictured with El Capitxn, along with Adora and JUNE who sang backup live for the final three nights in Seoul.
In more recent times, BTS will often bring in additional choreographers to work with Son Sung-deuk on their big hits and title songs, to create more unique dances and moves. Got a fave choreo? It was possibly created by one of these choreographers who have worked with BTS more than once.
Many of their music videos, from No More Dream forward, have been designed and directed by Lumpens. Lumpens is both a man – artist Choi YongSeok – and a company that he founded to produce MVs. Other directors from his company work with TXT and Enhypen, as well as other kPop artists, but BTS usually works with Choi YongSeok himself.
He’s the man behind most of their visuals but he’s particularly well-known for his bright use of colour, as in MVs like DNA, Idol, Stay Gold, Spring Day, and Fake Love. You can see him consulting with Jungkook and V on the Life Goes On video concepts in this YouTube Live video, and if you want to see his face you can see it in this Apple tablet featurette.
MU:E is an art direction/design firm that often works with Lupens on his lovely videos. Designer Bora Kim is the brains behind the look of Stay Gold and Dynamite, among other videos, and has won awards for her work with BTS. She keeps an extremely low profile but you can follow MU:E or Bora on Instagram.
One of my personal dreams is an eventual documentary series that follows their other staff around for a day. I would love to see a day in the life of a makeup artist, or costume designer, or set designer, or hell, even their accountant!
So far that hasn’t happened but this little mini-doc on their longtime hairdresser, Park Naeju, is exactly what I had in mind.