Exclusive ARMY Interview: Larissa Gonser

안녕하세요! I have finally decided that it is time to embrace my largest audience on KAC: BTS' fandom ARMY. Over the last...three years I think...my views have gone up purely because of the interest in BTS and the large scale of ARMY around the world. So, to kick off that revelation, I decided to sit down with an ARMY with a large following (she is at 32.5K Followers at the time of writing this) to get a closer look at what being an ARMY is like, what loving BTS is like, and how BTS has changed her life. I'm hoping that this is the kind of content ARMY will be happy to see from me. Let me know in the comments below if this is what you would like to see or if there are other things you would also like to see. I'm pretty open to writing a lot of things about BTS and ARMY. 시작!

August 2018 Larissa and her younger sister Morgan had posted a video on Twitter of them unboxing a Korea Box (who you all know I've been friends with for 3 years now). I decided after watching that video that I needed to know these two girls who screamed and fangirled so hard over BTS. Now today she has more than 30K followers on Twitter and is an advocate for many different things we'll get into later. For now, I had decided that since I am not an ARMY and I am always talking about BTS that I need to get a look inside the fandom! To kick that off I asked Larissa if I could interview her for KAC so that we can get a deeper look at her as well as ARMY. This interview was a bunch of fun and we learned a lot about each. It honestly felt like talking to a friend most of the time. Let's get into it. 

Kat: Obviously we should start simple, please introduce yourself. 

Larissa: I'm Larissa Gonser, 22 years old. Studying to be a special education teacher. 

K: When did you first discover BTS? 

L: February 26th, 2018

K: That is very specific, do you keep track of it somehow? Like a calendar or a reminder? I wish I had done that, I have only approximations. 

L: Yes, my sister first started stanning them and then got me into them. She tracked back to the exact date I told her I was Army. It's in my calendar for a yearly anniversary date. 

K: That's honestly the coolest thing every. So, what was your life like before you became an ARMY? 

L: Great question, but it's so hard to answer. It's only been over a year and I feel like this has been my life. It was pretty ordinary, I just had something missing that I wasn't aware I needed yet. 

K: I know exactly what you mean. What was your first BTS song, music video, performance, and bias?

L: [song] Mic Drop, [music video] I think DNA, performance I watched live was an awards show, first concert was in Texas, and my first bias was Namjoon. 

K: What about your current favorites: song, album, music video, and performance? 

L: My favorite songs are always changing, but right now I'd have to say it's Jamias Vu, Ddaeng, and Cypher 4. That's the least I can narrow it down to. My favorite album would probably have to be Dark and Wild. My favorite music video is Blood, Sweat, and Tears. My favorite performance was the latest MAMA performance. 

K: Ooh, we share a favorite album. Dark&Wild is my favorite album and still one of my favorite comebacks of theirs. And yeah, their MAMA performances are always amazing. Fire was one of my favorites to watch because it was the first time that they truly captivated EVERYONE. 

L: Oof YES! Also, I realized something, I meant Cypher 2 not 4 for fave song. 

K: OH MY GOSH NO WAY! Triptych is my favorite Cypher! 

L: I looked back and was like wait... My favorite part is Yoongi's at the end. 

K: Yes! I love the raps in Triptych the best out of all the Cyphers, but especially Yoongi's part. So you said that Namjoon was your first bias and I know you are OT7 all the way, but who is your current bias? Like for me, even though I love OT7, Yoongi is my bias and Taehyung is my wrecker. 

L: Taehyung is my bias. Jimin and Joon are my ult wreckers, but they all wreck me everyday. 

K: That they do. As you had seen [on Twitter] Taehyung is really trying to wreck me as of late. 

L: He wrecks me so hard even though he's already my bias. 

K: No one can control that boy. You've been to three concerts now (1 in Texas and 2 in Cali). How was that? 

L: So amazing. Each concert felt like I was seeing them for the first time. It was so unreal. We screamed, cried, and made some very inhuman noises throughout the whole concert. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to see them at least once. It's so beautiful. 

K: I would love to see them but I just haven't had the ability to yet. Maybe one day. 

L: You will!

K: Before BTS, would you ever have considered traveling that far for a concert? 

L: Never. The thought of getting on a plane terrified me. The moment I found out they wouldn't be performing near me, I got over the fear long enough to get tickets. I was nervous before our flight though. 

K: That's how I am going to be when I am headed off to Korea. 

L: I'm excited for you. 

K: I'm so excited, but I'm nervous because I will be going alone. 

L: Honestly I think that would be fun alone, but I'm weird. 

K: I know it's going to be fun alone because I can do what I want the entire trip. 

L: Exactly! 

K: What is your favorite memory as an ARMY so far? 

L: All my favorite Army moments have been with my siblings. My ult favorite was when I surprised my sister with the tickets to LA. [You can watch that reaction clip here: Morgan Reacts to LA Tickets)

K: I cried the first time I watched that video that I had to watch it a second time. 

L: Aww. 

K: Since you brought up your sister. Let's talk about family for a moment. So obviously you and Morgan are both huge ARMY, how has it changed your relationship, if it even has? 

L: It definitely has! We were close before, but now we are inseparable! She is absolutely my best friend because of our bonding over BTS. 

K: What is the difference between you both as ARMY? 

L: The only major difference between us as Army is our biases. Mine being Tae and hers being J-Hope. We even made a ship name: Have a little MorHope and partae with LarTae. 

K: I remember you guys mentioning that in one of your live streams together. Seeing you and Morgan's bond through your interactions lets everyone know that family is obviously really important to you and a big part of your Twitter account is #BTSxJacob. Do you want to explain a bit about that? 

L: Jacob is my brother. He is 20 years old with Down Syndrome and autism. He has always had a love for music so when we started listening to BTS 24/7, he jammed out right along with us. He's always listening to us even when we don't realize it. He started saying their names in conversations with himself, so I went over the members with him to better associate him with them. Now anytime he hears the word BTS he yells, "IS THE BEST"!

K: Oh my...that is so sweet. I bet it makes you proud to see him share this love with you. 

L: It does! 

K: So I suppose that means that you are a large advocate for Mental Health and Down Syndrome Awareness. And it is obvious Jacob plays a big part in that. What is it that you do to try and help others? And why? 

L: I'm not sure if I'm interpreting your question correctly, but I volunteer throughout the school year at different special Olympics events. This last year, I helped at a dance and a karaoke night as well. My whole life revolves around helping my brother and others like him. That's why I'm studying to be a Special Education teacher. They need someone who is going to be patient with them and treat them like the bright, wonderful people they are. 

K: Yes! That's exactly what I was asking. I think it is so wonderful that people exist who have the ability and the capacity to love and care for others. It's definitely a wonderful thing to witness. So obviously BTS and ARMY are huge on awareness for various things as well and it's nice to see that everyone has something that they deeply believe in and can dedicate themselves to. 

Getting back into talking about BTS, now with all of k-pop there is a stigma around k-pop fans and since we are discussing BTS, I am phrasing this question in regards to ARMY. The stigma is that you can only stan BTS or you're a fake fan. What are your thoughts on this? 

L: I don't agree with that at all. I have so many multi mutuals (including my sister). I personally only consider myself an ARMY but I'll listen to loop songs. Good music is good music. I hate the fact that people are put down and bullied for loving more than one group. An Army loves BTS completely with their heart but they don't have to love them only. 

K: I completely agree with you. Music is the international language and you can love everything freely. Yes you can love one group more than others, but it doesn't need to be a mutually exclusive love and if it isn't, then you should not be put down because of it. Like so many of my friends are multi and then I have a bunch who are single group. But not one of us will bash the other for our differences. We actually relish in it because we share a common love: music. 

L: Exactly! 

K: With ARMY you've got two ends of it. The good and the bad. Just like all fan groups in reality, but again we're only talking BTS here. So I've got a two part question for you. 1) What makes you most proud to be an ARMY? and 2) what has made you most disappointed with fellow "ARMY"?

L: There are so many things to be proud of ARMY for. Our fandom is full of beautiful, talented, and diverse people. I think the thing I'm most proud of is seeing ARMY go out of their way to do things for others, whether it be reaching out to another in need or coming together to donate to a great cause. The main thing that disappoints me is when people give clout to the wrong people that purposely put BTS down for that attention. If we just report and block, they will disappear. 

K: The largest part that non-k-pop fans don't realize is how diverse ARMY actually is. When you joined the fandom what was the most surprising part of the diversity? Because ARMY is every age, race, gender, culture, and so much more. Like I have friends who are still teens and friends who are in their 50's and 60's that all adore BTS. What do you think is most underestimated by those who don't actually know? 

L: The stereotypical assumption that we are all a bunch of teen girls is tiring. We've shown time and time again the power of Army and I think our diversity helps with that. For example, when the Palisades went on sale and Hyundai was struggling to keep up with the orders, we showed that our fandom has many people that are obviously old enough to buy a car and have their lives together to afford it. We chart #1 in so many countries because army are truly everywhere and it's wonderful that we can all come together regardless of age and celebrate BTS. 

K: It really is amazing the global success. Because the downside of international success for a k-pop group (at least in the past) meant the group didn't do well at home in Korea. But now it is not considered international success and it is considered global success. It is also so very wonderful to see that yes ARMY are all older because they are able to afford everything BTS puts out. When I first got into k-pop it was difficult for me to buy things and that's why now as an adult I can buy everything. I've even gone so far as doing giveaways where I bought BTS albums and BT21 merch to give away to ARMY who couldn't afford it. 

L: Same! I wish I could afford to do more giveaways. 

K: It's definitely difficult but so rewarding the few times I've been able to do it. What would you say to recruit someone to be an ARMY? 

L: I would send them a Music Video (differs on their personality as to which) and say "watch and welcome". 

K: That's honestly the truth. My biggest problem is when people turn to me after finding out I love k-pop and ask me to show them my favorite song's music video. I usually tense up and have to ask them: "how do you feel about gore"? Because my ult favorite song is "Voodoo Doll" by VIXX and it's a 19+ music video. So I usually gauge their taste in music before I recommend something. Plus BTS' music has always been palatable to all audiences (which is why I predicted their success years ago) and so I generally will share their music (them or GOT7). 

L: Oof yes. 

K: Stepping back to your Twitter account, as of right now you have 32K+ followers on Twitter. When I first met you back in 2018, you have gained like 30K+ followers, I think you were around the high hundreds/low thousands. How did it feel to gain so many followers? 

L: That's a good question. I have no clue. Maybe because of the ridiculous amount of times I tweet a day. It's been crazy. I do follow many people first also because of kind replies or I like the content they put out. 

K: You do tweet a lot and you always have a wide range of variety in your tweets. It's never the same thing one after another. With the large amount of followers you have, who is your most famous? 

L: The prime minister of South Korea. 

K: Whoa! That is amazing! Did you freak out? 

L: Definitely! Thought about him seeing hard stan tweets. 

K: I wonder how he'd react. On the opposite end, who do you wish followed you? 

L: Just armys. I don't need anyone famous following me. 

K: That's very sweet of you. I love that your thoughts are of ARMY. What would you say is the best thing about having so many followers? 

L: More interactions. There are many people that follow me and then never interact again but there are also so many people that I have gotten to know over the past year and have grown so close to. 

K: That's awesome. I wish I interacted more, but I usually am more of a lurker. What recommendation would you have if a person wants to achieve Twitter success (lots of followers) like you have? 

L: I honestly don't know how to answer that. I see so many moots that are interactive and put out amazing content but have a small amount of mutuals. 

K: That is true. But in the end, as long as we support each other, follower count doesn't matter, right? 

L: It doesn't matter at all. It's not the number, it's the people that matter.

K: Have you ever considered branching out into YouTube or other social media platforms? 

L: I made a channel with my sister, but only made one video. It's not for me. I'll stick with Twitter lives. 

K: Yeah, YouTube is a lot of work. I love your lives on Twitter. You and Morgan are hilarious. 

L: Thank you. We're usually sleep deprived while doing them. 

K: Aren't we all? I once did a video on my YouTube channel where I was drunk and sleep deprived while getting super emotional about hardships. 

L: Aww. 

K: It was supposed to be a lighthearted talk about anime. 

L: Sometimes we need to let our emotions out. 

K: Definitely. It was just...weird. I cut a lot out of the video. Luckily it was only voice-over. What is one thing you wish you could tell BTS if you got the chance right now? 

L: I would like to thank them for changing so many of our lives. Their impact is monumental for so many of us. 

K: That is so sweet. I bet they would appreciate that. Now, final question, I ask this of everyone that I interview. Before this interview, had you ever heard of or read anything from Kat's Anime Corner? 

L: Yes I have! I love seeing the differences in our Korea Boxes. 

K: Haha, yeah my Korea Boxes are 1) pretty multi-fandom and 2) getting to the 3 year mark of receiving them, so they are a bit more personalized. I wish I did more Korea Box posts (I get 3 a month) but I do everything alone, so it is hard to balance that with everything else. 

Well...wow. That went a lot faster than I thought it would! It's very fun talking to you. I thank you very sincerely for allowing me to do this. I hope that your followers will appreciate learning more about you from this interview. 

L: Of course! This was fun! I thought it would take weeks! 

Wow guys, that was a hefty blog post! If you liked it and want to follow Larissa, you can find her on twitter at @LarissaWithLuv. Also, if you want to see more ARMY posts and BTS posts, let me know what you'd like to see. This was a lot of fun and I feel like I learned more about ARMY and can relate because the way ARMY feel about BTS is the way I feel about VIXX as a Starlight. 

That's all for this time! Until later. 


Ja ne! 

xx Kat/캍


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