Night Brothers ft 'U Wasn't Der'
Fem and FK of ‘U Wasn’t Der” are tenacious about the sincerity of their story and this is them unpacking it with Seventh.
It’s a Thursday in November just after 11am and I’m sitting across from Fem and Faisal (FK) at Soho House, White City. It’s a cloudy yet dry morning, seated at a large glass table alongside a floor-to-ceiling window with views stretching far out across West London. Born and raised in Ladbroke Grove, both Fem and FK are co-founders of ‘ U Wasn’t Der’, a collective for young guys whereby fitness and physical health is at the forefront of growth, and discipline is held in great esteem. Fem is bold and affable while FK is stern, self-assured and slightly more reserved. Both young men are articulate and enthusiastic; they think about what they say without holding back excessively, which is appreciated during our 40-minute or so conversation.
The pair dropped out of university shortly after beginning their education, experiencing their fair share of tribulations before founding the collective ‘ U Wasn’t Der’ a little over six months ago. 18 months ago Fem began his social media journey and leaped into making lifestyle content which launched him into the creative scene. FK in his own time is a music manager and runs his own brand. To begin our conversation the young men reminisced on late nights spent talking about how they wanted to ‘be bigger’ and ‘do more’, but at that point in time not fully certain of what ‘more’ was. The challenge of seeing people around you come to success is described by Fem as a ‘crossroad’ whereby it inspired himself and FK to tell their own story and bring it to fruition. This is where we see the birth of the collective which they describe as a ‘Band Of Brothers’.
‘You want to be the person that everyone is pretending to be online’ FK highlights, as we call attention to the pressures of being a young man in London. Both Men begin to emphasize the two versions of themselves that they believe exist. ‘There's the lazy, unfulfilled & inconsistent version, then there's the guy that is on point, on time and always thinking proactively’ Fem voices. The mentality that is devised amongst these guys is contagious, in the most positive sense and you can feel it in the room. We talk about the emphasis they place on positive habits. FK convincingly points out his ‘cheat code’ for life which entails maintaining a ‘disciplined’ relationship with fitness which in turn, he believes, provides ‘direction’. ‘ It's like a coping mechanism’ he continues ‘an antidote for stress.’ FK specifies that he is in a much better headspace now than he was when he wasn't training. The core group which consists of about 15 - 30 guys meet every Saturday at a local park in west London where they push through a 90-minute workout with a strong focus on Calisthenics. The accountability factor which Fem and FK enforce on the group appears to have an extremely positive rollover into the guy's personal and professional careers. Fem stresses that if anyone turns up late to the session ‘they might be the topic of banta for the rest of the day’ and ‘ridiculed’ which we all laugh at. However, it can't be overlooked, it’s a really impressive sense of accountability that is absent for a lot of young men in London.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 in the UK, and the unavailability of facilities to accommodate and assist those who may seek community or just need someone to confine in is sadly lacking. ‘U Wasn’t Der’ provides room for young men to be driven and disciplined while holding themselves accountable for their actions. ‘As quick as we are to help and offer a helping hand, we are also just as quick to be that critical friend because that's important’ Fem verbalizes. When Seventh approached ‘U Wasn't Der’ for a collaboration on our core night collection we were seeking out a brotherhood. Seventh's ethos is rooted in family, togetherness and community. That is the heart and soul. When making plans for this shoot the aim was to find a unique way to authentically portray this collaboration. Highlighting men's mental health has allowed us to interpret this bond, aligned mentality more than anything, we hope to translate the power there is in community. Fem concludes ‘As an adult you find a way to monetize things, but that should be the least of your stress, the money is coming, think longevity, legacy, how can we change people's lives?’ I think that is precisely what is happening here.
Words by Anna Quinn