The Backpack Kid is not your average teenager. In fact, real name Russell Horning has over 2.3M followers on Instagram at only 17 years old. Blowing up after his viral dance titled The Floss (initially named The Russell), it was the moment he appeared on Saturday Night Live with Katy Perry that his life would change forever.
Now, he’s ready to take his love for music to the next level, creating bangers back home in Atlanta and hanging with everyone from 21 Savage to Lil Yachty. Most recently, he unleashed his SwagPack Kid EP, which hails standout track “Drip on Boat” featuring SwagHollywood.Trending All Day caught up with Backpack Kid on Grammy Sunday in Los Angeles, which included running into a slew of rappers and celebrities.
You’re still in school. Are you staying in Atlanta after you graduate?
After I graduate, I’m gonna try to move here to LA. But I may stick around in Atlanta for a little bit. I’m gonna see what’s up. Everybody’s in LA. C’mon now, you gotta come to LA to link and stuff.
Talk about who you’ve run into over Grammys weekend in Los Angeles.
Oh yeah, everyone’s out here for Grammys weekend. We’ve met so many celebrities just this weekend. It’s crazy. We met with Soulja Boy, Skinnyfromthe9, Blueface, G-Eazy, Ty Dolla $ign, Jessie Reyez, Kid Buu. He’s funny. Also Murda Beatz. Smokey MarGielaa, Tay Keith, Justin Combs, YBN Almighty Jay — just this weekend. [laughs]
Did they all know who you were?
Of course. Not to sound cocky or anything, but yeah they did.
How important is social media for your career?
Social media is very important because that’s where all the kids are, and most of my followers are kids. That’s where they can see my content.
How often would you say you are on it?
All day. [laughs] I’m always on my phone. I’m always on Instagram, all that.
Do you use Twitter and or no?
I mean I have a Twitter, I just don’t use it that much. Because there’s a lot of Twitter posts on Instagram that you could look at.
How many times has someone asked you to dance?
Probably at least once a day. At least! It’s everyday for sure. Every time I go out in public.
Do you ever get annoyed?
Yeah. I don’t mind showing my supporters love and all that, but when I start dancing in public, that’s when everyone starts coming over. If I’m trying to do something, I’m trying to do something. If i’m trying to go somewhere, trying to go eat or something, I don’t want a thousand people coming.
How has fame been treating you?
I mean, I like attention. I really like attention, so I’m kind of liking it so far. [smiles] I’m being honest.
What was your initial reaction when Rihanna posted your video?
Everyone at school started trippin’ the next day. They were like “whoa, Rihanna just posted you!” I was like “so?” [laughs] “It’s not too big of a deal, it’s just Rihanna.”
You didn’t think it was a big deal?
Nah, I did. [chuckles] I thought it was a huge deal! Because it’s Rihanna. That’s a huge deal.
Have you crossed paths with her?
Nah, I need to. I need to meet her.
You gained 55k followers after that?
Yeah, in like two days after that. It was crazy.
Most people spend a year…
Yeah. [laughs] A year trying to get 55k and I got that in two days.
What do parents think?
My parents are pretty supportive, I’m glad. They’re definitely aware of my popularity level.
What did you want to be before all of this?
I was really young, so I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in life yet. I was just going through school. Just living my normal life and then this all happened. Then I knew what I wanted to do: entertainment.
What is one Instagram account you can’t live without?
@thebackpackkid. I can’t live without it. First of all without that account, I can’t really look at other accounts. I could make new account, but what’s the point of that if I have the account that I have?
There must be another account that you really like to follow though.
Worldstar, I follow Worldstar. That’s how I keep up. TMZ is a good one too. I follow like 16 people. It’s hard for me to keep up. That’s why I follow Worldstar. Worldstar just gives me everything.
I saw Why only 18?
I don’t want my feed to be too big. I just want my feed to be important stuff.
Who are some of the people you have graced with a follow? I see Yachty.
Yup, Yachty. Definitely gotta give Yachty a follow. Ayo and Teo, me and them are really good friends. DJ Akademiks, that’s how I keep up too. Akademiks posts a lot of stuff. @remixgodsuede (DJ Suede), we made “Flossin” together. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, me and him are good friends. David Grutman, he’s the homie. Skai Jackson, me and her are good Hollywood friends.
Do you get pressured by people asking you to follow them?
I have a manager. He lets them down easily.
Talk about Russell, the manager.
The manager does everything that I can’t. I can’t be mean to people, that’s his job. I’m the nice guy, he’s the mean guy because I can’t be mean.
How did you guys meet?
Let me tell you. We met at a concert and he gave me his card. That night, I went home and lost the card on purpose. I was like “eh, I’m just gonna lose this card. It wasn’t too big of a deal.” It was under my bed. A few weeks later, I found it under my bed. I was like “I could use a manager right now.” [laughs] I hit him up, he talked to my mom and here we are. We all just started communicating.
Russell: When he was at the show, I helped him get backstage. Was just somebody helping him and getting in contact with him. I helped put the event together.
At that concert, everybody was noticing me in the crowd. It was a Fresh Empire Event, a lot of influencers and rappers. Then I found the card under my bed.
Russell: We texted for a minute before we figured it out. Before SNL, we decided.
We signed the official contract though, after SNL.
Is there anything else you wanna let us know?
I have a collaboration with SPRAYGROUND coming up, on some backpacks. Stay tuned for that. SPRAYGROUND is the backpack brand that I wear a lot of the time. I’m wearing a satchel right now, but that’s just for right now. We’re composing a tour for 2019, hopefully this summer. Tours are always fun.
Do you perform often?
Oh yeah, I perform all the time.
What goes into your live performances?
Energy. Energy is the most important part of a live performance.
Check out Backpack Kids latest video here!