With a small budget, creativity, and a love for K-pop, Russel Noche has built a following on TikTok thanks to his impersonations of K-pop idols.
When you think of the perfect impersonation, what comes into your mind? Is it the accurate facial and body expressions? The wig and costumes? The setting? The confidence? Or a mix of all of them? For 22-year-old content creator Russel Noche, his TikTok videos where he impersonates K-pop idols aren’t exactly what you call big budget spectacles.
But for Russel and his many followers, that is not an issue. Because while he may not look like the spitting image of the idols he impersonates, he makes up for it with hard work, heart, and this lighthearted energy that pervades nearly all his videos. All this and more has helped the Antipolo City native attract over 200,000 followers and become one of TikTok’s favorite K-pop idol impersonators. NYLON Manila recently got the opportunity to talk to the rising content creator where he shared his love of K-pop, how he makes his videos, and much more.
LOVE OF K-POP
@superkawaii003 I hope they do more interactions like this #jangkku #JANGWONYOUNG #IVE #ENHYPEN #SUNGHOON @ive.official @enhypen ♬ DEAR.CUPID – IVE.official
When Russel began posting on TikTok, K-pop idol impersonations wasn’t his first thing he did. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2022 that he began copying idols. But don’t get it twisted, Russel is not jumping on a bandwagon. He’s a true K-pop stan. “Minahal ko po ang K–pop dahil po talaga ito sa influence ng 2NE1. Sila po ang nag introduce sa akin sa K–pop,” Russel shares. “Nagsunod-sunod na po ito at napasama na po ako sa iba-ibang fandom.” But aside from the music, what also attracted him to the genre was its positive influence on others. “Nakikita ko pong magandang halimbawa po sila sa nakararami. Sa K–pop po nagustuhan ko po ang pagiging hard worker nila para po ma-entertain po ang mga taga hanga nila.”
His bias list is long. Among groups, he counts BIGBANG, 2NE1, IVE, ENHYPEN, TXT, Girls Generation, TWICE, Red Velvet, BLACKPINK, BTS, EXO, and NCT Dream among his faves. As for individual idols, IVE’S Wonyoung, ENHYPEN’S Sunoo, Kep1er’s Hikaru and Bahiyyih, Red Velvet’S Joy, Stray Kids’ Felix, EXO’s D.O, NCT Dream Jisung and Jaemin are just some of the idols he has a soft spot for.
His natural talents to entertain, act, and impersonate was something he felt he had in him since he was born. “Babad po ako sa television noong bata pa po ako, Mahilig na po ako manggaya ng mga artist na napapanood ko.” As he got older, his others skills began developing, such as roleplaying in high school and participating in cosplay competitions. Now, he is using all that to his advantage.
IDOLS ON A BUDGET
@superkawaii003 HIT YA ? #HITYA #HITYAchallenge #Lapillus #lapilluschanty #chantal #chantalvidela @official_lapillus @chantalvidela_ ♬ HIT YA! – Lapillus(라필루스)
When it comes to making his TikTok videos, it is a one man show for Russel. From pre, during, and postproduction, it is mostly Russel. “Sa costume, make up, hair style, and editing, ako po ang lahat ang gumagawa nito. Kung sa outdoor naman po ang shoot, madalas pong nagpapasama po ako sa bunso kong kapatid.” As for how he decides on who is next impersonation will be, it usually boils down to two criteria. First, it’s an idol he stans. “Madalas po talagang pinipili ‘yung idol po na nakakapag-inspire po sa akin. Siyempre po pinipili ko pong i-impersonate ‘yung mga idol na stan ko po talaga.”
Second, it’s an idol that is requested by his audience. But when he doesn’t know who that person is, that requires an extra bit more work. “May mga instances po na may ipinapa-impersonate po ang viewers na hindi pa pa po ini-stan na group. Pag ganon, kikilalanin po muna ang group, kikilalanin ang members, makikinig ng mga music nila, at manonood ng mga vlogs at mga music video and live performances po nila.”
@superkawaii003 Her visuals ?? #JANGWONYOUNG #IVE @IVE.official ♬ original sound – ??
Making content, especially for social media, is not easy. Despite what some may say, it requires thought and effort. And that holds true for Russel’s TikTok videos. While he may not have an abundance of resources in his disposal, he still gives it his 100% each time as he flexes his creativity, ingenuity, and thrifting skills.
“Titingnan ko po muna ang aking kakayahan kung kaya ko pong gayahin ang isang artist.”Afterwards, it’s time to make the costumes, the part he admits is the hardest for him. “Dito po sa prosesong ito, maghahanap po ako sa mga ukay ukay store ng mga damit na kagaya o kaparehas ng idol kong gagayahin. Sa helerang store, iisa-isahin ko po ang mga nakasampay na mga damit. Maswerte na lang po kung makahanap ako ng damit kaagad na kasya sa budget ko. Kung hindi po, baka tuloy parin ang paglilibot at kung minsan po kung saan saan na ako nakakarating. Hindi po ako uuwi hanggat wala akong nahahanap.”
If he can’t find an exact replica, he then goes for pieces with the same color, and he’ll work his costuming skills from there. But that is if he has the budget for thrifting. If he doesn’t, Russel shares that he uses his own clothes. “Umaabot po ako sa punto na may masisira akong damit. Dahil wala nga po akong pera ‘yung sariling damit ko na po ang aking sinasakripisyo para magawa ko po ang costume ng isang artist.”
Sorry members, it’s harder than I thought.♬ Jiggle Jiggle – Duke & Jones & Louis Theroux
Step three is practicing what he’ll do, both in the dance moves and the idols actions. “Itong proseso na po ito ang nakakapagod. Sa pag eensayo po ng sayaw maswerte po ako kung mayroong video creator po sa YouTube ang may upload na step-by-step na sayaw kung wala po mano mano ko pong I-slow mo ang dance practice ng idolo at tsaka ko po ito aaralin. Sa paggaya naman po ng kanilang mga kilos nila medyo madali nalang po ito para sa akin dahil may background na din po kasi ako sa pag acting.”
Up next is the actual shooting of the video, a process, which surprisingly brings out a lot of mixed emotions from Russel. “Feelings po ng pagsuko, lungkot at saya. Pagsuko kasi minsan po hindi ko kinakaya ang init ng indoor setting kasi po mababa lang po ang bubong namin. Mainit po kaya minsan napapasuko ako pero di naman po natutuloy dahil po mahal ko po ang ginagawa ko. Nalulungkot po ako kasi nag-practice naman ako pero bakit ‘di pa rin magandang tingnan ‘yung galaw ko. Pero sa kabila po ng mga negatibong nararamdaman, nandyan din po ang saya. Saya po dahil sa nakikitang mga ngiti sa mga nanonood habang nagshu-shoot ako. Nafi-feel ko po na chini-cheer po nila ako.”
@superkawaii003 Woman on the beach – JANGKKU [COSPLAY] #JANGWONYOUNG #IVE #SUNGHOON #ENHYPEN @ive.official @enhypen ♬ LOVE DIVE – IVE
The fifth and final step is the editing and depending on where he shoots the video, it shapes how the process will go. “Mahirap po pag indoor setting kasi gumagamit po ako ng green screen. Kaya po sa editing po medyo hassle sa pagtanggal ng background, paghahanap ng mga images at video at sa editing po siyempre isa na din pong problem ko ang storage ng phone ko. Minsan nagde-delete po ako ng app para ma-export ‘yung edited video.” All in all, from conception to posting, takes Russel between two to four days to complete.
@superkawaii003 How are you ❎ Hawaii You ☑️ #jangkku #JANGWONYOUNG #IVE #ENHYPEN #SUNGHOON ♬ DEAR.CUPID – IVE.official
As you can see, Russel’s video are very much a product of hard work and bottom-up creativity. With what resources he has, he makes it work. With all that put in, he really blew up in early 2022, the same time he started posting his K-pop idol impersonations. He’s impersonated Stray Kids’ Felix, IVE’s Wonyoung, BLACKPINK’s Lisa, and ENHYPEN’s Sunghoon just to name a few.
Does Russel look like he just stepped out of the Gucci boutique? Absolutely not? But that homemade touch is part of the charm and many of his videos have gone viral on the platform. Some of his best performing videos have racked up millions of views and hundreds of thousands of likes. “Napagtanto ko pong nakakakuha po ito ng attention kapag nakakakita po ako na may mga nag-e-edit po ng video ko po ng impersonation, nagkaka edited clip po yung mga live ko po sa tiktok, at nagkakaroon na po ako ng mga memes sa iba’t-ibang social media platform,” Russel details.
OMG LISA? ??♬ original sound – Super Kawaii
And seeing his videos go viral, Russel feels all the effort he puts into his work make it all worth it. “Pag nagva-viral po ako nafi-feel ko po na nagawa ko po ng maayos ‘yung impersonation po. Nafi-feel ko din po minsan na baka napapanood na ako ng mga idols ko kaya masaya po ako. ‘Yung pagod ko po sa pag gawa ng costume, pag aral ng choreography, pag aral ng facial expression, pag edit, nawawala po lahat. Minsan po napapaiyak po ako kasi po sobrang appreciated po ‘yung mga impersonations po.”
It is this effort that Russel thinks why many of his videos have done so well. “‘Yung mga videos ko po kasi lagi ko pong pinaglalaanan ng effort. Nakakataba po ng puso kapag nakakabasa po ako ng mga comments na naa-appreciate po nila ‘yung effort ko. Feeling ko po dahil po ito sa effort po na nilalaan ko po sa paggawa po ng video.”
GIVING HIS BEST WORK
@superkawaii003 #duet with @lukecabxxx What an awesome dance cover of @Axllukecabiltes ♬ LOVE DIVE – IVE
Out of all the videos he’s done, he cites his BLACKPINK dance practice choreography to Parris Goebel as his favorite. “Eto po ang para sa akin ang pinaka maayos ko pong dance cover na nagawa.”.m As for his favorite idol to impersonate? None other than the 4th gen princess herself, Jang Wonyoung. “Favorite ko po siya dahil po sa bukod na bias ko po siya sa group, gusto ko din po unbothered personality niya against po sa mga haters. Marami po siyang haters, pero matatag pa rin po siya at patuloy pa rin po siya at hindi po siya affected.”
And speaking of Wonyoung, Russel recently scored himself viral hits when he impersonated her during IVE’s visit to a baseball game in South Korea. In particular, his impersonation of that video, with matching Gaeul side profile, is his biggest hit to date with over 15.8 million views and 1.7 million likes. “Sa pag-recreate po ng baseball game po ni Wonyoung masaya ko po itong ginagawa,” Russel expresses. “Sa pag-print ng logo ng FIFA sa t–shirt, sa paggaya ng galaw at facial expression niya, sa hair and makeup sobrang saya ko po itong ginagawa. Natatawa lang po ako sa part na wala naman pong baseball field sa lugar namin kaya sa sementeryo po ako nag shoot.”
@superkawaii003 She’s so stunning ?❤️ #JANGWONYOUNG #IVE #WONYOUNG @ive.official ♬ LOVE DIVE – IVE
It’s no secret that the internet can be very opinionated. And when scrolling through the comments of Russel’s impersonations on a budget, you can find an eclectic mix of reactions. Some are positive, praising and complimenting the effort he has placed in the videos. Others, meanwhile, are usually lighthearted jokes, usually at his expense. For example, his Sunghoon impression gets called Suntanghoon. His impression of Wonyoung has earned the colorful nickname of Wonold, Loseyoung, and Loseold. As for his cosplay of LAPILLUS’ Chanty? One of the top liked comments calls it Chanta Claus. But Russel is in on the joke and is only here for the positivity. Like his bias Wonyoung, he doesn’t let the haters get to him.
“Sa pagbabasa po ng comments, dinararamdam ko lang po ‘yung mga positive comments at healthy criticisms. Dedma lang po ako sa mga negative comments as long as wala po akong iniinsulto at tinatapakang tao. Kapag nakakabasa po ako ng mga positive comments nabu-boost po ‘yung confidence ko and napapasaya po ako ng sobra sobra.” As he sees it, constructive criticism is there to make him a better creator “Mas lalo po akong Nai-inspire na mag work hard pa lalo. Lalo na po sa dancing skills dahil doon po ako nagsa-struggle. Laking pasasalamat ko po sa mga taong binibigyan po ako ng chance na mag improve pa at hindi po nila ako sinasabihang trying hard.”
LIVING THE DREAM
@superkawaii003 JESSI’S ZOOM CHALLENGE WITH YEONBIN ” REMAKE VERSION” ??❤️ #TXT #SOOBIN #YEONJUN #jessi #zoomjessi #zoominzoomoutchallenge #zoomchallenge @Jessi @TOMORROW X TOGETHER ♬ ZOOM – Jessi
Russel sees his idol impersonations satisfy something deeper in him, a long-held dream of someday he himself might become a K-pop idol in the future. “Sa pag-i-impersonate ko nagagawa ang pangarap ko. Pano ba naman po kasi, wala rin akong time na makapag practice ng talent nung bata ako. Lagi akong taga bantay ng tindahan, tumutulong sa pang construction na gawain, aral, gawaing bahay, proyekto sa paaralan, limited access sa internet.”
His life up until this moment didn’t necessarily give him the resources to live his dreams. So, he decided to make it work for himself, with impressions that come from a place of love. “Ngayong year nga lang po ako nakakapag sayaw and content na nasa puso ko talaga. Parang malabo na po talaga ang pangarap ko na maging idolo tulad nila. Sa impersonation, kahit doon lang po ma feel ko ang natupad ko ang pangarap ko kahit sa panggagaya lamang.”
@superkawaii003 저희도 해봅니다 ? #ENHYPEN #JUNGWON #SUNOO #ThatThat ♬ That That (prod. & feat. SUGA of BTS) – PSY
As Russel continues to flex his creativity and expand his ever-growing list of idols he’s done, the content creator is proof that you don’t need to do too much to make people happy. His 14 million likes on TikTok should tell you as much. Now that Russel has built a strong following, you honestly can’t say never that he’ll get to meet his idols one day. And if ever that happens, he says he would love to be on stage with Wonyoung and Sunoo. “Sila po talaga ang naging inspiration ko ng sobra sobra. Gusto ko po sila dahil sa kanilang character, dancing skills and vocals, stage presence at higit sa lahat ang kanilang pagiging ‘sassy.’”
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