We like to think we’re pretty good dancers, here at MP! After all, we can totally ace the Cha Cha Slide and know approximately 54637 of Little Mix’s absolute *fire* dance moves. Our dancing doesn’t quite compare to Russell Horning’s, though.
You guys probably know Russell better as Backpack Kid or @i_got_barzz on Instagram. He’s the viral star that recently performed ‘Swish Swish’ with Katy Perry during her performance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and is absolutely brilliant.
See? Told you he was good. We recently had a natter with Russell to see how it felt to outshine Katy Perry and find out the one song that he would never, ever dance to. Here’s what Backpack Kid had to say…
Hey Russell, how’s it going?
Good thanks, you?
We’re great thank you. So our first question is, how does it feel to outshine Katy Perry on SNL?!
I feel pretty special because loads of kids want to be on SNL and Katy picked me out of everybody. I just did me, I was myself and I just kind of blew up from there.
Did she find you through Instagram?
She was looking through Instagram and she saw me on her explore page and she contacted me through there. So yep, she found my Instagram and then emailed me.
So what’s she like? We’re guessing she’s super nice?
She was really, really nice. She’s one of those celebrities that are still humble. Honestly, she just acts like a normal human. She didn’t think the world evolved around her. She’s just a really nice person.
And obviously everyone’s doing ‘The Russell’ move now after seeing it on SNL. We were looking on Instagram and saw people’s mums doing it and grandmas giving it a go…
Yeah, it’s a pretty worldwide dance.
What’s the secret to perfecting it?
It’s called flossing; a lot of people say it’s really difficult to do. I think it’s so easy though because I’ve been doing it for a long time. I would say the secret is hand eye coordination and multi tasking abilities because you’ve got to move both your hips and your arms and your knees at the same time.
We’ll keep that in mind for when we give it a go. How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been doing this for a year and a half now. I started last January.
Seriously? We thought you’d been doing it way longer!
No, I’m still kinda new at it.
Some of our other fave popstars have taken a stumble recently like Normani from Fifth Harmony and Little Mix have fallen in the past. How do you recover from on-stage falls?
I’ve only done 3 or 4 performances, so I try not to mess up. I don’t think I ever have. Before, I was on stage for SNL, getting ready to perform ‘Swish Swish. I was behind the drag queens texting all my friends being like ‘Watch the show now! Watch the show now!’ I was shaking because if you mess up on live television in front of millions of people there’s nothing you can do about it.
Did Katy give you any advice for your nerves?
No, Katy Perry didn’t give me any advice. She just let me be me and told me that I should do what I think feels right. That’s what made me Backpack Kid.
Speaking of backpacks, what have you currently got in yours?
It changes pretty much every other day. But right now, I have $7, a phone charger, a pair of ear buds, a pair of sunglasses, a water bottle and a Bluetooth speaker in it.
That sounds heavy…
It’s really not. I’m used to it. I don’t want it being too light because then I’d be falling around everywhere and it annoys me, so it’s just the right weight where I can still dance.
Do you have just the one backpack or are there multiple ones?
I just use that one backpack, at the minute. I’m waiting for more to be sent from a company called Sprayground so I can alternate when they come. But I’m trying to stay loyal to this company Sprayground. I’ve known them a long time and I only wanna wear their backpacks in their videos.
So obviously, Katy Perry isn’t the only famous face that has seen your videos. Rihanna also posted one on her account…
That was crazy. That’s the biggest celebrity that’s ever recognised me other than Katy Perry. It was insane. I went to school the next day and everybody was like ‘Rihanna posted you!’. I got like 7 million views on the video and a bunch of new followers.
The kids at school must think it’s super cool…
Do you get recognised when you go out with friends now?
Pretty much everywhere I go. I was in Walmart the other day and 5 or 6 different people noticed me and that’s just in Walmart. You should see me at a skate park or an amusement park or something.
Do fans ask you to dance when they see you? How do you respond to them?
I like it because my supporters and my followers are the people who made me who I am today. I take pictures with them and always say hey.
So what’s some of your favourite music to dance to?
I like rap music. My favourite rapper is Kodak Black and I like dancing to his music. I just like dancing to whatever’s popular nowadays, though. That’s what goes viral – the songs that are new out there.
What’s the one song would you never dance to?
Ooh, that’s a hard question because I dance to a lot of different genres… country, rap, hip-hop and R&B. I guess a song with heavy profanity and bad language. Profanity is a bad influence on children and a lot of my viewers are children. I wouldn’t want them to be like ‘Hey he’s dancing to songs with curse words in it, so I’m going to curse when I grow up’.
So, do you feel that social responsibility towards the people that watch your videos?
As big as I am on Instagram, I’m seen to be a bit of a role model. People expect me to do everything perfectly and set a good example. Followers will be like, ‘Hey I wanna grow up and be like you’. So I’m trying to be as good as I can and not be a bad influence on children that are watching me.
Speaking of Instagram, in your bio it says ‘Ending Racism’. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Of course, most of my friends are African American and a lot of people shun me for that. I think becoming friends with black people is making the world a better place. Of course, I’m not becoming friends with them just because of their skin colour, I’m becoming friends with them because I like them and their personalities. I like them for them, not their race. If they were white, Indian, Asian – I would still like them. But people shun me for it, they’re like ‘Why are you hanging out with black people? Where are your white friends?’.
Is that mostly on Instagram people say that?
Yeah, it’s pretty much on Instagram. If I’m not in videos by myself I’m with African Americans. Then people say ‘Where are your white friends?’. I’m just like ‘Okay if you don’t like it, then you can leave’. But I try and put it in my bio to make things clear.
Also in your bio you’ve got @SquadVG. What’s that account all about?
Me and my friends have created a dancing account and we’ve called it @SquadVG and we’re just making videos on there as friends to see if they’ll go viral with followers and views and stuff. I don’t know where that account is going to go, to be honest, but we’ll see, we’re going to keep working on it and are up for the challenge.
That’s really cool. Is it people you go to school with or live around you?
Yes, it’s me and four of my closest friends. We all live relatively close to each other, no more than 30 minutes, so often we get together and make videos then go to the mall or something.
Finally our last question is what’s next for Backpack Kid?
I wanna make this a full time career. I really wanna grow up as a dancer and influencer. I wanna make a job out of it, earn money and make a living.