Silke and Kieran: from dancers to model couple and Instagram influencers

 Zoë Leigh Gadd and Vanessa Costa

 

BIDE had the great pleasure of chatting with two free-spirits about to embark on a pilgrimage of a lifetime in the run up to their forthcoming wedding. Kieran Shannon and Silke Muys, better known to their 40K+ Instagram followers as ‘silkyrontheroad’, simply believe in ‘saying yes’ and seeing where life takes them. Such a mantra during a time of global restriction imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic is a breath of fresh air. Both Silke and Kieran began their dance journeys at the age of seventeen. Silke’s route took her from Belgium, to Mexico, then back to Belgium where she worked with Jan Fabre, before joining Jasmin Vardimon’s company in the UK. There she remained for around five - six years; it was also there that she would meet vivacious Kieran, who found his way from Scotland to Silke via a variety of dance companies - including our own Artistic Collaborator, Dance Ahead - to London, where he secured a role, in Vardimon’s company production: Medusa. Medusa was to be produced in Spain and it was here, in the beautiful town of Sitges, just 40km South of Barcelona, that the real story began to unfold. Chilling on their floor in Girvan, Scotland, they joined us to share more about their holistic adventures.

 

Tell us about your history as dancers

Kieran: I worked for four, maybe five, years in the industry and I had plans to keep on going and so many plans to just be a dancer, then when I met Silke, she kinda opened me up to the fact that we can do anything we want. We didn’t have to be stuck with the label, or do one thing for the rest of our lives - she told me about travelling and I thought why not just give it a go for a year. So, we decided after our year contract with Jasmin was over we were going to fly out to India and see what happened...and the rest started to unfold.

Silke and Kieran in Glasgow

 

Enough about dance...how did the love happen?

Silke: On day one, we saw each other and we were like ‘oh my God’ we just gave each other a hug and felt already at home I think, and from that day we just started living together, like everything.

Kieran: It was instantaneous, it was in a little street that we lived on in Sitges. Silke had actually said that she wasn’t going to be a part of the project. She was going to move to Australia and work and then I didn’t realise she was actually gonna be on the project when I arrived...We started living together, working together, playing music all the time, it was just like a huge - everything all at once. It went from just being a dance project to being this whole other rollercoaster.

 

From Sitges to going global - How did it happen?

Kieran: ...after maybe a couple of weeks, this crazy woman came out waving her arms when we were skateboarding along the promenade. She said, ‘Ah! I’ve been trying to stop you guys for the last five days, I would love to photoshoot you guys and your love. I can just feel your love from here’. So we had this photoshoot with her, it was amazing. Then on the road across Asia, I think we had around seven photoshoots but [there was] one that changed everything. We were contacted on my Instagram by this photographer in Canada who said ‘I’d love to photograph you guys if you ever come to Canada’. We said, ‘oh we are coming to Canada, but in three years’. She said, ‘I cannot wait that long, where will you be next month?’ and we said ‘India’ and she flew all the way from Canada to India to shoot us and then she flew back home. She told us ‘you guys should model professionally and you guys should be doing this’. We thought that would be a dream...When we got home, we had some photographs from the travels to share and we started sharing and sharing and it just kind of took off from there.

Kieran and Silke in Scotland

 

So, how did they make the time?

Kieran: We split everything quite evenly. Silke brings the photography and editing skills, having been a hobbyist photographer for a long time and I began exploring more with photography in India. So, rather than relying on images from shoots alone, we began taking their own photos on a more regular basis. We invested in the tripod and the process evolved. Our photoshoots now take about an hour of just changing the camera around. We went on quite a journey to learn how to do that.

 

A philosophy for life?

Silke: ...as long as we can both keep creative then we’re happy.

Kieran: I think that’s been the biggest thing as during lockdown we’ve not been able to dance, well not professionally. This has been a real creative outlet for us. In September we hit ten thousand followers after starting the account in March...it turned out there’s an audience every single day. So, [it’s about] keeping the stories up, keeping our lives active, keeping ourselves moving and then pushing our creativity - When we see a beautiful scene, like hay bales, we say ‘OK! We’re gonna jump on that and we’re gonna take the camera and go and start shooting’. Any opportunities that come up we just say yes and see where it takes us.

Photo: Laura Apine

 

And according to your Insta, it will take us to your wedding! Are we all invited?

Silke: That would be funny!

Kieran: Covid’s actually maybe put a barrier on that but crazily enough we’ve had cars pulling over saying that they recognise us from Instagram, we had people stop us in Glasgow and in one of the outdoor shops we were looking around for tents and this girl was like ‘oh are you guys Silkyrontheroad?’ and we were like ’no way’. So it’s happened a few times...argh it’s a bit crazy but it’s good fun!

Silke and Kieran proposal and engagement

 

What are the ups and downs of this newfound Instagram celebrity status?

Silke: I don’t know, I think the main ‘up’ is what we can do for people, seeing how people become more confident because to get daily messages saying ‘you inspire me so much’, ‘you inspire me to be naked and free and yeah...

Kieran: Yeah the reason for Freaky Friday (the naked shots), came from something I’ve always enjoyed doing; getting my butt out on a mountain! It’s something that I wanted Silke to be involved in and it evolved into something else. We were taking these artistic shots and... We shared one and immediately started to get messages from girls saying ‘this helps me to love my body,’ ‘I don’t love myself and this is helping me’. It did more than we thought, and the messages kept coming. We decided we’re gonna do this every week, and every single week when we posted it only grew bigger and more people came to us and said ‘wow this is giving me acceptance with my body’. People are making movements on this and opening up and we do receive messages daily that really warm our hearts... If we can just create a little bit of joy, a sense of freedom, especially in these lockdown times.

 

And are there any downs?

Silke: And the ‘downs’ hmmm...

Kieran: I care too much (laughs), I never want to jump the gun or cut someone off before I give them the chance. I think it’s one of these things where I never want to miss out on an opportunity just in case someone needs help or someone to talk to. It is very time consuming and it does get frustrating... 

Silke: Sometimes he gets stressed saying ‘there are like 100s of Indian people all asking if you can lift them when we’re in India’.

Kieran: Yeah, after the Freaky Friday of Silke lifting me we got hundreds of requests, messages and guys were saying ‘could she lift me?’ and I would say ‘of course she could ‘cause I’m 75 kilo, I’m a big guy’. Then they say, ‘oh, when you come to India, or when you come to Nepal, or when you come to this place she can lift me then, we can meet and she can lift me’...Well that’s not gonna happen you know, we’re not a travelling circus, it’s not what we do (cute laughter ensues between the couple). So, it’s trying to put that off in a polite way because we know they don’t mean any harm, it’s just different for their culture.

Silke: Yeah and I guess one other ‘up’ apart from making everybody happy, or hopefully (giggling humbly). Is that we are able to earn some money from this so that when we are on the road again and travelling it’s how we can sustain ourselves.

Kieran: That’s the aim. Keep travelling. If we can make the same amount that we spend, then we’re happy.

Their favourite "Freaky Friday" - Scotland

 

It sounds amazing, your life. You’re always travelling and we can see in your faces how happy you are.

Silke: Yeah, it’s funny because we have been a year and a half between Belgium and Scotland so we haven’t really been traveling and lots of people think we are travelling.

Kieran: Yeah well, I guess locally travelling, we do the hills here and the beach and stuff and our home is like somebody’s dream location. And I guess that’s what Covid has really taught us; to appreciate what’s around us...We had a shoot through the phone last year and the girl thought we were in Thailand and we were just on the beach in Girvan. So it’s taught us to cherish that.

 

That’s what’s interesting about social media, you’re never quite sure it’s real. But, there’s something about your sense of freedom and happiness - How is it off social media?

Kieran: It’s just us. I think if it wasn’t authentic, our job would be so much harder. We see things on Instagram all the time that you think, is that real? You can really tell.

And people say to us all the time, I can feel your love. And that’s on the other side of

the world, on the other side of a screen. That’s something that we really do cherish, as we’ve known since the start of our relationship that we have a really special connection...We love what we’ve got.

Silke: Yeah I think we’re very passionate about life and just everything, dance, music, travel, each other, there’s just so much that it’s impossible not to be happy.

 

What tips would you give to anyone hoping to gain more freedom in their life?

Silke: Say yes to life. Whatever comes in your path, just say yes, do it. I think even if you feel like ‘no, I don’t want to take my shoes off at the beach because my feet will become sandy’... just take them off! Or if someone invites you to go to a little concert and you think ‘no because I’m tired’... just do it! I think go with the flow of life and don’t feel that you need to have a structure. If things change just go with it and learn from it.

Kieran: Yes, I’ve learned so much from Silke. Just meeting Silke was a total balance because she was the one flying off into the clouds and I was her anchor, but when we were out on the road she taught me so much. She said ‘let’s just go somewhere and not have any accommodation booked’. Just doing that was a big thing for me but...best things happened from that. So, we hitchhiked from the North of Laos to the bottom of Cambodia and it was like, ‘OK let’s try this and there’s a chance we may not reach a hostel or anywhere by tonight but let’s take that risk’.

Silke: The experience is just so much better...

Kieran: Yeah it’s just taking that risk, beautiful things happen...yeah it’s just saying yes...Just accepting and not expecting anything to be a certain way.

Culzean Castle - Country Park Scotland

 

How has the pandemic changed things in your life?

Kieran: It just grounded us completely. We were in India. One of my friends said ‘look this pandemic is much more serious than you think it is, you should think about coming home’ and all of a sudden we were on the way home and naively I said ‘oh we’ll be in lockdown for three months’. So, I said I’m going to put 3 months into Instagram. It became like a full-time job. I was working on it for 10 hours a day sometimes - just researching. But it totally grounded us and gave us space and time. If we were on the road the photos may be more epic, the locations might be more beautiful but I wouldn’t have had the willpower to say I’m not going to adventure today, I’m going to research. We’re now growing almost a thousand followers a week. Every single week, and we don’t need to do anything – what we do is extra but we’re so shocked when we open the phone there’s like oh there’s another 20 new followers and it feels so nice to actually have the work paying off now. For a time, you went and got the followers manually by commenting, interacting with them and talking and it’s given us time to now have this base. Now, when we share an image, a hundred people share that image and then their friends see it and their friends see it and that’s just how it works now.

Photo: Weirich Fotografie

 

And the followers, where are they mostly from?

Silke: Brazil. We have no idea why!

Kieran: One thing that did happen is that we were asked if someone could write an article about us in England, some guy from a small news company É and we ended up being in New York Post, Vogue Thailand, we were in The Sun, The Scotsman. We had a game that we played - Guess Where the Country Is - as we woke up one morning and we had all these Japanese names and were like ‘oh we’ve hit Japan’, or Russian and we were like ‘we’ve hit Russia’...but the two places we hit really hard were Greece and Brazil and all the followers just kept on coming in.

 

You’re not film-stars, you’re literally famous because of your life, because of you and that’s so beautiful. You are very inspiring. So, the final question – what are your plans next year?

 

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What? Did you think we would let you know that? No!!!

For that you’ll need to follow @Silkyrontheroad on their amazing journey and from all of us at BIDE we wish them both a fabulous future together.

Please, raise a glass to the happy couple and remember...just say yes!

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