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My time: How Jungkook’s time arrived in soulful R&B track

Meet the writers and producer behind the BTS member’s self-reflective R&B track

Printz Board (left), Jayrah Gibson, Sleep Deez and JungKook (clockwise)
Printz Board (left), Jayrah Gibson, Sleep Deez and JungKook (clockwise)
Though the lead single, “On,” made a splash with a surprise No. 4 debut on Billboard’s singles chart, two other songs from BTS’ latest album, “Map of the Soul: 7,” also made it into the Hot 100. “My Time” and “Filter” landed at No. 84 and No. 87, respectively.

Jungkook’s solo track remains the highest-charting solo track from the group to date in the US -- a soulful R&B track with a modern finish in which the 22-year-old looks back on his life as he sings, “My life has been a movie all the time.”

Sleep Deez, who produced the track alongside Big Hit’s in-house producer and composer Pdogg, says the song has a great concept.

“Jungkook was relating to his experience, growing up fast and in the spotlight, always feeling like he’s in a different time zone. I thought it was a great way to make the record personal.”

When BTS wanted an R&B song, Sleep took up the challenge and tried to create something current and radio-friendly that would also work for artists like Chris Brown and Drake. 

Jayrah Gibson, who’s written over 100 songs including EXO’s “Growl” and TXT’s “20cm,” says being part of BTS’ new album, one of the biggest records of the year, was a dream come true.

“This is a dream come true. This is the new wave of youth that are advocating for love, inner peace, embracing your inner faults and just accepting yourself for who you are.”

Songwriting process

According to Printz Board, who’s worked with the Black Eyed Peas, the making of “My Time” began sometime last year. It was one of several songs that were sent over to Big Hit.

“The song started musically with me creating a 12-bar piece and Richelle threw some vocals on it. And Printz Board helped with arranging on the instrumental,” Sleep said.

The LA-based producer then made his own sample with a heavy dose of processing to add texture, which he explains is why the song sounds almost “eerie” at the beginning.

Then he and his close friend Gibson wrote the original demo together.

One night, Sleep and Gibson ended up burning the midnight oil after the bridge in the song became the “lightbulb” moment.

“When I knew I was getting close on the bridge, I called Jayrah. He lives 15 minutes away from me,” Sleep said.

It was around midnight but that didn’t stop Sleep from driving over to Gibson’s and bringing him back to his studio so that the two could write the bridge in the early hours -- the moment he said solidified the record.

“I bought him coffee, we stayed up all night and we got the bridge. I’d say 90 percent to where it needed to be.”

Despite finishing the recording, Gibson continued to hum to the beat and the ad-lib ended up on the track, which can be heard in the last 20 seconds.

Gibson also said a sampling of Richelle Alleyne’s voice was subtly used as part of the beat.

The demo was then sent over to Big Hit, where Jungkook and RM did some rewriting while Pdogg added his touch, including the dramatic guitar sound in the background toward the end.

With more US musicians getting involved in K-pop these days, Printz Board says the industry is more “musical” than the US, especially when it comes to writing chords that are more experimental.

“If we think something would be cool even though it doesn’t completely make sense, it can work in K-pop. Whereas in the US, you’d be told, ‘You’ve colored outside the lines’ or ‘This is too musical.’”

How the lyrics came about

In a recent livestream, RM talked of writing the lyrics for the track.

“Jungkook and I thought we should go with ‘Oh I can’t call ya, I can’t hol’ ya’ as it sounds more right,” he said as he explained the rhythmic aspect of writing lyrics and the decision to sing it as “hol’ ya” instead of “hold ya.”

In the song Jungkook also sings, “Finna find my time.”

“Finna” in the lyrics is short for “fixing to” and carries a meaning similar to “gonna,” which Sleep says was Jungkook’s idea.

“Everybody assumed that I wrote it and when I tell them Jungkook wrote it, nobody believes me.

“To me, it’s all about how it sounds. We could’ve slightly corrected it but would it have felt the same? I like the way it sounds,” he added.

Gibson, who was homeless at one point before his songwriting career in K-pop took off, said he personally relates to the lyrics.

“He makes you feel like it’s everybody’s time. The person who was homeless, like I was back in the day, the person who’s been trying to sing for a long time and be an artist or a songwriter or a person who wants to be an educator in school or anything.

“BTS lets you realize that it’s OK being who you are and just continue to embrace and be the best of who you are,” he said.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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