In this series, BTS Radio UK has 10 minutes to interview someone!
This week, we speak to Natasha Mulenga, a writer for numerous well known publications. Most recently, her interview with BTS for Teen Vogue got the thumbs up from Big Hit Entertainment themselves.
For starters, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Geez, where to start. I actually find it really hard to talk about myself. I find it awkward. Well I’m Natasha. My family and friends call me Tasha or Tash. I was born in Zambia but came to England when I was three months old. I’m obsessed with music and films. I’m a pop culture encyclopaedia; I remember pop culture facts from years ago. I like reading, walking in nature and jazz music. I’m passionate and make up for my lack of height by being really loud. I realise as I’m writing this that I sound like such a nerd.
What or who inspired you to become a journalist? We have seen that you studied law first and are currently studying a Masters in Journalism, why the change?
I had wanted to be a lawyer from the age of four (roughly) when I went on a work fun day with my mum, (she was solicitor for a many years). However, I fell in love with writing when I was pre-teen. I used to journal a lot (still do) and I would also write fan fiction about B2K and B5 in my books at home (don’t judge me). I had considered being a journalist, but I came passionate about Human Rights when I was 13 after meeting a Holocaust survivor and I was determined to be Human Rights Lawyer. I only got back into writing after I quit working for the Home Office in 2018. I started my blog (asoulfulstorm) and by 2019 I realised that I didn’t want to go back to working in law. So, I prayed about my journey and purpose and decided to pursue my desire to become a Journalist.
You are very passionate about Human Rights, did you feel you would have a better platform as a journalist?
Funny enough I never looked at journalism as having a bigger platform to promote human rights. My original dream was to prosecute dictators who had committed war crimes at the Hague. In hindsight, journalism can be a huge platform for human rights activism. Whenever I write, no matter the subject, I just want to lend my voice where I can advocate for people and help you see the humanity in others. All I desire is for people to read my words and consider a new train of thought.
If you do pieces on human rights please feel free to tell us about them and drop all the links!
I haven’t been blessed with the opportunity to write any human rights pieces just yet but I’m constantly checking out Amnesty International’s twitter and Human Rights Watch. People should follow them.
According to gal-dem, you may be a little obsessed with Marvel …..
Wow, you’ve done your research. This is very true. Like I said, I’m low-key a nerd. When I used to work in Sales for a few months, one of the guys used to bring in his Marvel comics for me to read during my break. I hated that job and I managed to deceive my co-workers into thinking I don’t like talking. I would just talk to Ben and read Avengers vs X-Men. I’m more into watching the films than reading the comics though.
Who's your favourite character and why?
That’s tough. Obviously, I stan Black Panther but I also really like Black Widow. She beats up men and chokes them with her thighs. How do you not love her? Plus, her smugness amuses me. I also really like Spider-Man. I grew up watching Spider-Man on Fox Kids.
If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?
This so hard!!! I love the notion of being able to control the elements like Storm but I really like invisibility and creating force fields like Susan Storm.
You host a great Podcast called 'A Soulful Storm' (*the best BTS episodes in my opinion are 16, 19 and 26) - can you tell us how that came about and what subject matter you cover?
A Soulful Storm podcast was birth from my blog on Word Press “A Soulful Storm”. I had wanted to do a podcast for a few years but I couldn’t find a committed co-host. I’m a very opinionated person and my family always have debates in our kitchens so I had been told by my mum and uncle that I should do a podcast. I always knew I wanted my podcast to be a safe space for Black people (like The Read podcast) but I hadn’t found what my niche would be. There I fell in love with K-pop and found that there are thousands of Black K-pop fans and, like everything in life, our experiences are different and our presence isn't always wanted so I created a podcast for Black K-pop fans and allies. Consider it Black Girl Magic meets K-pop.
*The recent BBC Essex podcast (featuring myself & BK from A.C.E.) can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09714yf
We noticed that you have written a book! Can you tell us a bit more about that?
That feels so weird saying out loud! I was approached by Harper Collins to write an unofficial biography for Lizzo. I spent about four months writing it and my youngest sister Saela was very instrumental in helping me pick out the images used for the book. The age demographic for the book is for teenagers and I am so proud of it. It feels so weird to see my words in a hardback book.
We did wonder if you were thinking of writing a book on BTS… They had given the BTS book to someone else and I was fuming lol!
I’d love to write a book on BTS but I would prefer for BigHit Entertainment to commission me to help the members write their book. Not that President Kim Namjoon would ever need my help, but I would love to have a hand in helping write their official biography.
You recently wrote a great article in Teen Vogue about BTS on MTV Unplugged that received great reviews from ARMY, GP & also by Big Hit Entertainment themselves who retweeted it.
We bet you were excited to see the retweet!
I cried when I saw it. I don’t think people understand how overwhelming I find the writing opportunities I’ve been given. I’ve only been writing professionally for a little over a year and I’m still doing my Masters in Journalism. I write for myself because I love writing but, in my head, no one reads or cares about my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to God for every opportunity I have been given but I am very insecure about my work. Therefore, to see that Big Hit had not only seen my article but liked it enough to put it on BTS’s official twitter blew me away. I didn’t even see it of my own accord. Ana Giggins from Hello Asia AU had woken me up with a DM about it.
How familiar were you with MTV unplugged before BTS graced the show, and how did BTS' performance compare to your expectations?
I’m a child of the nineties so I naturally I grew up with MTV Unplugged. My favourites are Bon Jovi’s, Maxwell’s and Alicia Keys. I enjoyed BTS Unplugged episode a lot. I had been begging for BTS to do MTV Unplugged since they did Armypedia in 2019. I thought it was a wonderful session. I was so excited to finally see a performance of ‘Telepathy’ and BTS’ production team have never let us down when it comes to set design. The field they created inside the corridor for ‘Blue & Grey’ was spectacular. My only criticism is that the traditional nature of MTV Unplugged is that the performances are meant to be acoustic so I would have liked to see at least one acoustic performance. I think that ‘Dynamite’ and ‘Life Goes On’ were the best part of the episode because those performances keep to the theme of what Unplugged is meant to be about (the artists, the band and good vibes). Their band, ‘Ghost’, is amazing.
You mentioned that the records on the wall during the Dynamite performance was like a flex to remind the world that their legacy shouldn't be questioned – do you have a word to say about people who have been questioning BTS' talents and success after this performance?
If you took the time to watch a BTS performance with an open mind, then there is nothing to question. Those seven men are gifted and have the kind of work ethic that I could only dream of. They make three quarters of the Western music industry look incredibly lazy. Very few artists are delivering the level of performances that they can pull off. To be honest, BTS… they should be a lot more successful than they are right now, but they have been held back because of ignorance and xenophobia. They are Asian men flourishing in an industry that has worked ridiculously hard to make sure that people of Asian descent are barely represented.
Don’t even get me started on how the doors to radio have been closed to them because they won’t sing in English. There is a different between listening to BTS and deciding that they are not for you. That’s fair; you can’t be liked by everyone. However, I have no words for you if you have looked at BTS’ performances and concluded that they don’t have talent.
What are your opinions on the current situation behind #racismisnotanopinion?
There are several people who have expressed their disgust more eloquently than I can. I was so angry and we spoke about this on the podcast with my friend Asela (who is Asian American). It is so pathetic that Matthias Matuschik could not express his dislike for BTS’ cover of ‘Fix You’ without jumping to racism and downright disrespect. Racism makes me sick, but it also exhausts me because it is an act that strips people of their humanity and I hate it from the bottom of my core. That man perpetuated hatred and violence onto BTS and it’s unacceptable. The Asian community are already going through so much right now and people to take accountability for their wrongdoings and strive to do better. How else will society evolve?
If you had to choose out of the songs BTS performed on MTV unplugged, which performance resonated most with you?
‘Dynamite.’ BTS performing with a live band will always be magical to me and ‘Dynamite’ makes me want to dance.
You've tweeted out about watching Run BTS! Before, what do you like about the programme – what draws you to BTS and what do you like about their offstage personalities/behaviour? I love RUN BTS!, those guys are hilarious! I think the best thing about RUN BTS! is watching the dynamic between the group. I love men who can make me laugh and BTS always having me cracking up because they can be so weird and playful. You’d never think they are millionaires the way they will betray each other to win a gift card! Plus, whoever is in charge of the subtitles of the show is hilarious and needs a raise!
Before we go, tell us what's next for you – is there anything we need to keep an eye out for in the near future?
You should definitely keep your eyes on A Soulful Storm podcast. There’s a lot of exciting things that are about to occur on the show and I never pass up an opportunity to stan BTS. It is available on Spotify, Soundcloud and Anchor so make sure you subscribe and tell a friend.
Thank you so much for taking the time out for our 10 minute interview!
You’re welcome. This was fun!