Quick Style Q&A: ‘We didn’t know who BTS were when they contacted us’

Photograph courtesy of Oktawian Gornik/Quick Style

Norwegian dance group Quick Style talk about their collaboration with the K-pop kings and their viral wedding video

Nylah Salam

Founded by Norwegian-Pakistani twin brothers Suleman and Bilal Malik and their friend Nasir Sirikhan, the dance group Quick Style recently notched up over 58 million views on YouTube after posting a joyful 12-minute wedding dance routine

Since their formation in 2006, Quick Style have received a number of accolades, including winning Norske Talenter — the Norwegian version of Britain’s Got Talent — in 2009. Despite none of them being musicians, that was enough to get them a deal with Sony Music.

In addition to the core group, their extended Quick Style crew counts 11 other members. Their tightly choreographed routines, which draw on influences including Bollywood and hip-hop dance, have thrilled audiences around the world and led to collaborations with K-pop kings BTS. 

We spoke to the three founding members, who told us about their viral video, filmed during Suleman Malik’s wedding, working with global superstars and plans for their first performance in Pakistan.

This article has been edited for length and clarity.

Hyphen: Tell me how it all started. What got you all into dancing?

Nasir: We met in seventh grade — equivalent to year 8 — in high school in Oslo and shared a common interest in Michael Jackson, dance and music, while all the other guys were more interested in football. After that, we signed up to a youth club called X-Ray. That’s where we got one-to-one training in hip-hop dance.

Suleman: When we were growing up, our mum used to dress me and Bilal in very funky and weird clothes compared to other people, so when we moved to where Nasir lives and met him, we all had the same vibe and felt a very special connection. None of us could dance at that point, but we were very interested in it.

Your YouTube dance-off series, Sorry Not Sorry shows an obvious debt to hip-hop culture. Who are your favourite hip-hop dancers and choreographers?

Suleman: We were inspired by a Japanese group called Shit Kingz and a Korean group called Prepix, who moved us to a different level. Jinjo Crew is a Korean group that inspired us, because they have that brotherhood, friendship and that bond, which I think is very beautiful. We’ve also learnt a lot from the work of choreographers like Marty Kudelka, who has worked with Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Backstreet Boys. 

Your dance routines are hugely complex. Your wedding video has several different chapters. How long does it take to choreograph them?  

Bilal: It doesn’t take that much time, but it can vary. With the wedding dance routine, not all of us were rehearsing at the same time. We were only all together on the day of the actual wedding. Everyone was changing into their suits and practising outside our house. 

Suleman: Most of the choreography I do could take me 15 minutes and I could have the best routine in the world, but other times it could take 10 hours and I might not have figured out anything. 

Who or what would you say are your biggest inspirations? 

Bilal: Michael Jackson, His music videos, his songs, his moves were on repeat throughout the beginning of our journey. 

Nasir: It’s not always the moves that inspire us, it’s more the presence and everything that’s in the making, the ingredients that go in it. For example, we get inspired by our families and our nephews — not in terms of what they do or how they are, but what they will like. We know their tastes. 

You did the choreography on BTS’s 2016 song Save Me. How did the band get in touch with you and how has that collaboration helped your careers?

Nasir: We didn’t know who BTS were when they contacted us. We got an email, which I didn’t reply to for 10 minutes and then their producer “Hitman” Bang called and wanted an answer. After that, we basically jumped on the job and choreographed Save Me, which was the first K-Pop job that we did. They had full trust in us and we delivered. Everything after that is history.

Your wedding video has now logged just under 60 million views on YouTube. How did you feel when you realised you were suddenly famous across the globe? 

Bilal: We’re used to taking part in competitions, TV shows and doing workshops, so to get recognised in this way was a very unexpected feeling. We got recognised from the heart because we dance from our hearts. I’m happy, we feel blessed. 

Suleman: The reaction from fans made me realise that I’m happy we never stopped and never gave up. It is proof that if you keep doing what you love doing, then success will come. 

How many hours a day do you practise? 

Nasir: We used to practise between four to eight hours a day. Now, when we are together, we are more synchronised in what we are doing. So, we can come into the studio and be finished in 30 minutes. 

You are Norwegian Pakistanis. Have you performed in Pakistan, or visited?

Bilal: We will be flying out to Pakistan in September to work with Coke Studio and in October we’re going to perform in Karachi. 

Your work mixes both South Asian and western influences. Is this something you are constantly thinking about? 

Bilal: For sure, we think about this, but we don’t do it with intention — it’s just part of who we are. We dance to all kinds of music: Somali, Ethiopian, anything.

What does the future look like for Quick Style? 

Suleman: We want to expand our studios worldwide and share the love all the time. We’ve been in the K-pop industry for a few years and now we want to come into Bollywood.

Bilal: We three started at 14 years old. We just want to show that we don’t give up. The goal is to just keep on growing.

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