[EXCLUSIVE] Getting jiggy with Jipseekid, aka. Joel Bennett (Part Two.)

He’s the man with an infectious laugh and a penchant for beatboxing. We caught up with frequent Korean Englishman guest star, British filmmaker Joel Bennett aka. jipseekid while he was in K.L before the Influence Asia 2017 awards to talk about YouTube, Korea, meeting Yoo Jae Suk, break-dancing, and the other side of Joel.  You can read part one here.

Joel in Beijjng

How did you get into breakdancing?

I started learning when I was 19, but I’ve been doing bicycle stunts since I was 13. I worked as a stuntman after university for a bit, filmed a couple commercials and music videos. Broke my shoulder recently too… *laughs*. I’ve always loved music, dance and expression, so I started started and got addicted as I do with everything. Trained a lot and 5 years ago I broke my wrist and since then it’s been more difficult. Since I was young I’ve always liked listening to hip-hop, like 90’s American gangsta hip-hop. I was obsessed with The Roots when I was younger. 

I’ve heard that in America, hip-hp is liked by the white middle class which I think is really interesting, because I think a lot of them connect with the “down and out” culture. That was never it for me – it was more about expression, or something about the poetry in the bars, the sound, the feeling you get from listening. I was really into UK hip-hop for a while and kind of still am, like Jesht. Stuff like that, those sort of bars are dope.

Joel’s love of breakdancing and b-boying started at an early age. This picture was taken during a trip to Beijing.

Did you have a breakdancing crew?

I was in this group of guys, but it didn’t really develop into battling. I did battle a few times, had some ciphers… But you know, I love breakdancing culture and it’s such a good way to meet new people. Like, the first time I went to Jakarta I spotted some people, and everyone stopped and looked at me and I was like “Hello, I’m from England” and asked if I could join. It was dope and I met some amazing people. Some were really high level!

Competed for a bit in the UK, but after I broke my wrist… With b-boying it’s like all or nothing. It’s like a religion, a way of life. It’s the way you hold yourself, the way you see the world, the way you train and I think after that accident happened it took me out of that community for a bit – which isn’t a bad thing – but it was just frustrating for my ability and level. I got back into dancing a year or two after that, but it’s definitely a bit of an identity thing for me. I wouldn’t identify as a b-boy now.

Is there a difference with the bboy culture in the UK compared to Korea?

Yes! First time I went to Korea it was  different – b-boys are more friendly in Asia. I think I had a bad experience in London; I mean London is more stand-offish anyway, it has that kind of culture and a lot of the b-boys there are European, so sometimes there’s language or cultural barriers. Back then (in the UK), it was weird, it wasn’t very encouraging.

In Korea nobody cared how good you were or called you out, and when I went to this training spot everyone was just doing their thing, whereas in London I felt like it’s a bit worse. I’ve had bad experiences with some people which made me less confident. They try to take your confidence away. It’s just weird. If you look at Korea, Koreans are amazing at so many things because they go at it collectively which is in their culture, whereas we’re more individualistic. 

So what type of films or documentaries do you want to make in the future?

Well I’m passionate about social issues and giving a voice to people, so anything that gives people the opportunity to tell their stories. At the moment I’m really fascinated with family… So the first film I made was about young dads (you can find Joel’s film on Vimeo here). The whole idea of fatherhood and UK culture. I feel the role of the father in the UK is very confused, and I think we’re coming to terms with the result of undermining that, the importance of that. But, I feel in terms of family units we have a long way to go.

Another thing I’m interested in is the idea of adoption. Like in some ways, my parents didn’t choose me – they had me. But to choose someone, to go and say “I’m going to care for you” is quite a powerful statement of love. Quite looking forward to exploring it and seeing where it goes. May go nowhere in the next few years, or it may happen soon.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

All depends what happens next. When I went to university, I was content with just going to university because you get a massive loan from the government. I was really content and I had this mindset like “I’ll never earn money, I’ll make films and try to get them funded”, and then I never really thought about sustainability in life. Now I’d love to make a lot of money, set up a company, work hard, earn lots and invest into the things I feel are important. With money you have more to invest in what you like and so if you’re passionate about something, it’s not a bad place to be, as long as it doesn’t become your life.

Goal is to keep doing what i’m doing and see where it goes. I think it’s because I’ve been very driven and motivated about being passionate about things, I’ve realised that to do well and be sustainable you need to do well today and look after your day, week, month, year. Set targets for the rest of it and backtrack – which is hard to do when you’re forward moving and want to see change. This year I see myself weighing up the options and working out what is the right opportunity.

How do you feel about Kpop?

Apathetic really. I don’t like it.. I like Zion T but otherwise it’s just… It is what it is and I don’t really know what that is. I kind of understand why it’s popular – it’s pop and I’ve never really like pop in English or pop culture or the stuff that’s mainstream. I finally got into Justin Bieber – I think his album (Purpose) was banging, the structure on that is sick, the music is unreal. Even from a music perspective it’s very good, but Kpop isn’t like that – it’s very generic and void of substance.

The whole Kpop thing (to me) is girls that generally don’t look that different from one another – side effect of plastic surgery I guess. I’m not trying to make a statement, I don’t really care. It’s like, when I went to Indonesia and someone called me One Direction; must be the same for Koreans always being asked about Kpop. I guess Zion T fits into Kpop but he’s more RnB, and there was this one girl whose song was always being played in the shops and it was a banging tune… I think it was Ailee. Something about that beat was catchy. I love music, if it’s good I’ll listen to it… Like the Wonder Girls “Be my baby”. When I first when to Korea they had just released it and it was playing everywhere.

What’s your ideal type? 

Type? You mean like a Honda Civic?

How did you feel when you met Yoo Jae Suk on Infinity Challenge?

It was an amazing experience, and I felt so privileged to have received a Korean name from him.