When Eshy Gazit began working with the Korean boy band BTS in 2016, the group was seen by some as a long shot for crossover success. “Early on, many people in the industry mocked my attempts to break BTS,” says Gazit, the CEO of the boutique PR, A&R and management agency Gramophone Media. “They thought that it was never going to happen in the U.S.”
Prior to this year, the most notable K-pop success story in the United States happened in 2012, when PSY’s “Gangnam Style” rocketed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. But where that song’s success felt like lightning in a bottle, BTS is bigger than just one song. The seven-member, socially conscious group has spent 2017 collaborating with EDM stars like The Chainsmokers and Steve Aoki, eliciting screaming fans at the American Music Awards and making history on the charts. In September, the album Love Yourself: Her became the first Korean-language top 10 on the Billboard 200, and the single “DNA” reached No. 67 on the Hot 100, the highest peak on that chart for a K-pop group -- until BTS’ “MIC Drop” remix with Aoki and Desiigner debuted at No. 28 in December, breaking the group’s own record.
Recently, Gazit has helped arrange full-band interviews for BTS with James Corden and E! News, even though only one member is fluent in English. “[Interviewers] see the charm, the smile, their humanity,” he says. “The talent doesn’t need language.”