BRKN’ Nest: A growing wave of creativity from South Korea & The U.K.

This international brotherhood is made up of six dancers that are documenting the Breakin’ culture with a captivating perspective that envelopes excitement, connectivity and humour. I recently sat down with two of their members (Swiss Willis & Izaak Brandt) for an interview to learn how this group of individuals have created a platform for different communities to blend dance, music and fashion. It was only a few days before their big launch party, so I was quite lucky to catch them at a time when they weren’t running around for the final preparations…

Firstly, thank you both for joining me today. Certainly, a busy time for you guys! I’m just glad we managed to find a quiet coffee shop in the middle of London. Let’s dive right in. Could you tell me a little about this upcoming event and magazine publication by BRKN’ Nest?

Swiss Willis (SW): Thanks for having us! It’s going to be a pop-up event in Peckham where we have performances from up and coming London artists along with the 2nd issue of Nest Mag is being launched. You’ll see a big bunch of people, looking fly and ready to boogie!

Izaak (IZ): It’s a free event! Free drinks! Come and support us. BRKN’ Nest has supported so many Breakin’ events internationally and locally…for 10 years! Reciprocate that love that we’ve shown for a long time and we’ll show you love back.

There is definitely a buzz about your events! But let’s go back a little. How does a group such as yours come together, considering the distance and difference in time zones?

SW: Child Rock is the one who created BRKN’ Nest. Together with Pocket, they started the movement from South Korea. They were already quite good childhood friends. Then around 2009, Sunni travelled there and spent some time with them. They gelled quite well and after battling together here and there, Child & Pocket came to The UK and that is when I got introduced to them. We performed a show together for Breakin’ Convention at Sadler’s Wells. Along the way we picked up Izaak and since then we’ve chopping and changing’ back and forth between the UK and South Korea. Brother Green Aka Echo, is the latest member to join the brotherhood during our last trip to Korea. That makes the six of us along with other good friends of ours.

So, it started with dance being the common factor that brought you all together. How has that changed over the years and what else helps keep the group united?

IZ: The focus has shifted to what can now be described as an events company that explores Hip Hop and the Breakin’ scene from our lens as young creatives. The objective now is to merge cultures and bring people together locally and internationally. This change came about on our last trip to Korea where we made a conscious decision to begin documenting everything. From there we can begin to create content and media from BRKN’ Nest, as we have a unique angle and perspective on the scene compared with other crews. Our focus and what we share together is always going to evolve naturally but we would never do so in a way that limits us.
SW: A crew based in UK and South Korea is one which is unique, and we go by the International Brotherhood for that reason. A lot of it came naturally. None of us expected to be going into magazine publication, but it was the best way to share what is happening in the scene and our perspective on it. The way we work with visual arts, this was the most organic way to share what we want to say. But the focus is always going to shift, you just can’t force it.

You are now releasing the second edition of the magazine at this upcoming event in London. How did the original launch event turn out and could you describe the experience you have planned for this one?

SW: The first launch was MAD! It was the first event any of us had promoted and it was a pilot test with successful results. It was good because it came to fruition how we wanted it to and gave us a structure for events we hold in the future. For the time being, it’s a quick pop-up event where we takeover a space and have people from various pockets attend, drink some drinks, play some bangers and enjoy everyone’s party spirit.
IZ: I would describe it as a celebratory evening of arts, music, culture and of course the launch of the publication. We’re going to showcase 3 up and coming Hip Hop music acts based out of London. There is also a collaboration with Korea’s Into The Deep’ clothing company that will be releasing along with our own merchandise. The event is also bout merging people from different walks of life as we have access to many types of people from various lines of work and sub-cultures. This all leads to a packed-out good vibe.

You’ve mentioned how you reached this point organically. Could you share some of the difficulties that come with juggling so many different interests and responsibilities?

IZ: What really helped us in the last few months is delegating roles within the crew. As an example, Swiss handles design, social media and the perception of the brand. I handle the admin and events production. Brother Echo is the face of our events as he hosts as well being the journalist. Child looks after the merchandising and works closely with Swiss with the creative decisions. We all have a million things going on, but we set deadlines and make sure to reach them. This has helped us mature into our roles.
SW: It was quite natural to delegate roles. We played to our strengths and made sure the roles felt right for everyone. We have all been challenged with the roles we are doing, and we have been challenged as a collective too. But in no way is this a solo process, what with the many online conversations we have ongoing to even make all this work.

You’re all a similar age and have grown up together within this culture. How has that influenced you in hindsight? Does it help with some of the decisions you have to make today?

IZ: Everyone is family to me and we have a seamless working relationship with each other. It makes everything so much easier, knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Breakin’ has helped create discipline, a strong work ethic and teaches us how to interact with everybody. It is a blessing.
SW: This culture was crucial! Specially when it comes to role models. When I was younger, the dancers that were sick were like celebrities to us. They were present at jams and you could go up and talk with them. A lot of people might look up to actors or celebrities as role models, which is great, but there is no presence or access to them. That was very grounding and showed us what we can achieve, which becomes a motivating force.

Can you share something that was exciting for you guys that people may not know?

IZ: I must shout out MG and DJ Renegade who let us host a section of a party at Outbreak in Slovakia. It was a crazy experience with a lot of pressure but just even having that time to show the dancers what we’re capable of when it comes to throwing events, was amazing. The UK mobbed the stage and we killed it!
SW: Brother Green (Echo) chipped his tooth!

Tell me more!

IZ: Daz, one of the younger members of Soul Mavericks, was the MVP of the weekend for sure. He ran up to Echo, who was holding a mic, and accidentally hit the mic into Echo’s tooth. The tooth dropped on the floor and was left in a puddle of alcohol and blood.
SW: Poetry! Absolute poetry!
IZ: It was a mess.

The pain will pass ? @robinleckphotography

A post shared by ? (@brother_echo) on

That sounds like a moment that will be remembered forever! I realise time is of the essence, so I want to ask this last question before we say good bye. Have you learned any lessons that you wish your younger selves would have known?

IZ: If I’m honest, one of my things is that wherever you are, is where you’re meant to be. Everyone has a different path and I don’t think there’s any sense in rushing into something you’re not ready for. If the world isn’t meant to bless you yet, then that’s fine. Don’t dwell on the negative and focus on the positive, and you’ll continue to reciprocate those.
SW: I think having the knowledge that life goes up and down. Times are good, and times are bad. If it was all just one track, that would be insane. You need a balance.

Thank you both for taking the time for this great conversation. Best of luck with your upcoming party and magazine launch. Looking forward to hearing some more BRKN’ Nest stories!
Check out the BRKN’ Nest Mag #2 Recap below.

And if you like what these young creatives are doing, then you can follow BRKN’ Nest on the following channels, or you can purchase a copy of the new magazine from their Bandcamp site:

Instagram: @brknnest, @sunnisoulmeezy, @bboypocket, @pgna__, @izaakbrandt, @brother_echo, @child_rock