On Friday 11th October, Twins Talk Kpop (TTK) and SOKOLLAB kicked off their Keep Spinning Kpop Weekend event. Set just ahead of GOT7’s first London concert, the event doubled as a campaign for Stand Up to Cancer week.

We sat down with both Niki and Sammy from TTK and Victoria from SOKOLLAB to discuss their campaign and their plans for the future. Check it out below!

What made you decide to run a Kpop/Kculture event for Stand Up to Cancer Week?

Niki

“We met Joyce and Victoria from SOKOLLAB when they had just opened and there wasn’t really anyone doing Kpop or Kculture stuff in London well. Sammy and I have been doing stuff for Stand Up to Cancer for the last four years and this year, they had asked us if we wanted to make a YouTube video.

We said, we have a channel and we talk about Kpop, so why don’t we challenge ourselves to do an event? We knew SOKOLLAB were already doing their own GOT7-themed event over the weekend anyway and we were like, can we piggyback on that? And on the Friday, we would host around three hours of Stand Up to Cancer-related stuff, have some banners, and just raise awareness around cancer research. One in two of us in the UK will be diagnosed in our lifetimes, so it’s not something we can ignore.

This opportunity was like merging our three passions, and the guys at SOKOLLAB were really helpful.”

Victoria

“This kind of event is something we try to do for most Kpop groups in London. I think it’s a good chance for everyone to come together when they’re already here for the concerts and celebrate the music. We did one for BTS in the past.”

Sammy

“SOKOLLAB had actually invited us along to their BTS one when the group came here for their Speak Yourself tour. When we walked in, it was just amazing. There were so many people and like we have cardboard cutouts of GOT7 today, Joyce and Victoria had all of the BTS boys there in cardboard form. So, we just thought it would be a nice way of combining this really active Kpop community in the UK, that doesn’t often come together around stuff, and try to do something for Stand Up to Cancer in that way.

The whole vibe this year is challenging yourself to do something, and it was a challenge getting it together and trying to make it work. We’ve never done an event like this in conjunction with SOKOLLAB and hopefully, in the end videos, it will come across as though we’ve done our best to get that across.”

How was it working together, as, like you’ve all said, it’s the first time that you’ve worked together?

Niki

“I feel like for SOKOLLAB, it was probably a nightmare.”

Victoria

“No, the guys were easy to work with. I think the event itself was a logistical challenge, but everyone wanted to do their piece for Stand Up to Cancer. I think it’s an important cause. Everyone was pitching in and we felt really motivated to get it all ready in time.

Working the twins has been really fun. I think both of us have been trying to figure out the details, but we’ve managed to put something together.”

Sammy

“I think it looks amazing now. So it’s been worth all the sleepless night as well. SOKOLLAB work fast and get stuff done.”

Victoria

“Yeah, we work in weird hours just because of family. We were building the shelves on at midnight on Wednesday.”

Sammy

“You guys have pulled it together amazingly. There are so many people here and it’s all gone so well.”

This particular event aims to raise awareness and money for cancer. How important would you say it is to beat cancer now more than ever?

Niki

“Hopefully we can all join forces together to try and beat cancer at its own game, by raising money and awareness, because there’s so many different types of cancer that are either unidentified or not treated as much as other forms. Statistically, one in two of us is going to be diagnosed and to me, that’s 50% of the people in this room. It’s not something we can ignore because it’s such a high percentage.

We’re really lucky that when we tweet about it and do the past events we’ve done; it resonates with a lot of people. I think unfortunately it has affected a lot of people and that’s why when we spoke to the guys at SOKOLLAB about doing this event, they were like absolutely. Even if people aren’t in a position to donate, just talking about it is important.”

Sammy

“There’s also other ways you can get involved if you can’t donate yourself. Maybe you can get together and host a tea party or a raffle.”

Victoria

“I agree, everyone can do their part. It’s one of those things where everyone knows someone who has been affected by it and it’s that much more important to come together, stand up to cancer, and try and beat it.”

Do you have any plans to hold more Kpop/Kculture events in the future?

Victoria

“We’re sometimes not sure if we’re doing an event until a week before. However, I can probably say we will do something again in the future. We are looking to have a new, larger store, so we may do something around then.”

Niki

“It depends as well, as none of us knows when the next Kpop group is coming. For us, we will probably wait and see for organising another event. When BTS came to the O2 last year, we hosted a pre-show party and that was really fun, but it’s always hard to find the space and make it affordable to run it. Other than that, we’re usually at conventions because it’s easier to meet everyone.”

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For Niki and Sammy, you two make a lot of content related to Kpop in London. What kind of content would you like to make in the future that you haven’t done so already? 

Sammy

“For a lot of the content we want to make, it’s hard to find the time and budget to make at the moment, but as the channel grows it’s opened up more opportunities for us. We’d really like to invest more time into the interview series that we’ve started with BTS Army mums and BTS fan accounts.

We’d also really like to take a deeper look at the fan culture of Kpop because it’s the driving force of it. Often, these fans are typecasted as young teenage girls who scream a lot when we know for a fact that the demographic of Kpop is universal. We want to put a microscope on the fandoms and see what it is that makes it tick. I think it’s so different from other areas of pop music.”

You mention the dynamic of Kpop fandoms. How would you say that London Kpop fans are in comparison to those in American or South Korea?

Sammy

“We haven’t been to shows in other countries, but by chance, we were in Piccadilly Circus when the BTS advert came on for the first time.”

Niki

“We saw the countdown just after leaving SOKOLLAB. I can only draw a parallel to that of Pride or one of the Royal Weddings. I just think that there is no other area of pop music where the fans are so intimately linked to their idols. And it’s like a two-way relationship. The idols know they wouldn’t be anything without their fans, and the fans know they wouldn’t have everything that they have without their idols. It’s super interesting.”

I’ve noticed that we are starting to put up posters for idols’ birthdays on the underground. As it’s something typically done in Korea, what are your opinions on these?

Niki

“I think it’s a lot of copycat behaviour, but in a good way. This is how Kpop groups are treated in Korea. Obviously, it went to America first, so American fans replicated that, and now it’s just an expected thing. Like when BTS came to Wembley, you have the fan chants.”

Victoria

“Even the banners, for example, the Army project. When we did our event at SOKOLLAB, fans came with their own fan art and packs of sweets to give out to other fans. It was really nice actually and I think it’s not something you can get with other areas of pop music. Kpop is something that continuously surprises me.”

Sammy

“I’ve got this little drawer of stuff that we’ve been given in the past. Just waiting in line or at these events, we get given things like sweets with a hand-drawn Stray Kids pictures. It’s just so wholesome.”

It sounds like you have built up your own sort of fandom.

Sammy

“I think we’re just all united in the sense that we’re complete geeks for Kpop and pop music. I think we have a complete appreciation for the process.”

Niki

“I think it’s a concrete battle to not tread on anyone’s toes, but I feel like we’re doing it okay and we’re talking about things in a respectful way. That’s always the goal. I like that you said that though, so thanks very much.”

And for SOKOLLAB, what are your plans for the future now that you’re planning to have a new store?

Victoria

“Right now, we’re limited by how tiny our store is. Once we have the space, we will be bringing in a lot more merch and albums. We will have more of a chill-out space as well so that people can come to chill out with friends, come and swap their photocards, or just come and meet other likeminded fans. It’s hopefully going to be a place where people can come and enjoy themselves, rather than just a retail space.”

Lastly, do you guys have a message for UKP readers?

Victoria

“Thank you to everyone who’s come all over the weekend and supported us (SOKOLLAB) as a growing business. We appreciate everything that the fans have done, and we’re excited to see Kpop growing in the UK.”

Sammy

“We also want to say a big thank you to SOKOLLAB for being so up to the idea and being easy to work with. Also, for space, and the chance to take over with the cancer branding.”

Niki

“To add to that, we would also like to say that people can donate to the campaign by texting TTK5 and TTK10 to 70404 to donate £5 and £10 respectively.”

Thank you TTK and Victoria. We hope you, as well as everyone who attended, enjoyed the Keep Spinning Kpop Weekend.

You can subscribe to TTK’s YouTube channel here and also follow Niki and Sammy on social media (Twitter, Instagram). SOKOLLAB will open their doors again in November, with a date to be confirmed. You can stay up to date on their social media (Twitter, Instagram).

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A Creative Writing and English Literature graduate from London living her best life. UKP's resident Monbebe with a love for all things Korean - especially food and beauty. For writing enquiries, contact @aremas.x on Instagram, or at s.iqbal@unitedkpop.com