'We didn’t expect it to blow up this much': Cork woman on life in Ireland's first TikTok house

'We didn’t expect it to blow up this much': Cork woman on life in Ireland's first TikTok house

Leila Ecker

Cork native Leila Ecker talks to Maeve Lee about her experience in ‘Ireland’s first and only TikTok House’ and the creative process of making viral videos.

Originally from Cork, though she describes herself as “not exactly fully Irish”, 19-year-old Leila Ecker is one of the members of Ireland’s most controversial living arrangement — The Goat House.

The Goat House — now renamed The Go House — is a €2m house in South Dublin that has recently become home to nine of Ireland’s most popular TikTok names.

Each member of the mansion has a large following on the popular app.

TikTok allows users to create videos which can easily ‘go viral’ due to the algorithm it uses, along with its millions of worldwide users.

“It’s basically a platform for you to create anything you want — there’s literally no limit to what you can create,” Leila said.

She uses the app for a mixture of different content including dancing, skits, makeup and funny videos.

“It’s a place for you to express yourself. It’s such a good platform because you can do anything and there’s no limit, whereas with other platforms, you’re less likely to go viral but with TikTok, it’s very easy to have a few viral videos and get all of these followers.”

Leila, who describes herself as “a quarter Italian and a quarter Austrian” was born in Cork city, but moved to Spain for a lot of her childhood, before returning to rural Cork.

She has almost 500,000 followers on the video-sharing app, in addition to a total of 4.5 million likes, although she describes her first efforts at creating content for the video-sharing social networking app as a “mess” and did not expect things to take off as quickly as they did.

After uploading a handful of videos, Leila received 8.5 million views on one video in which she recreated a childhood photo.

“I got a good view thousand followers from that — maybe like, 20 thousand or 30 thousand,” she said.

“And I just said: ‘you know what? Why don’t I just continue it on and see how far I can get?’ And here I am now.”

The GoHouse and its members in Dublin
The GoHouse and its members in Dublin

The idea to take the plunge and create The Go House came from Thomas Arnold and James Browne, who contacted each of the members individually to see if they would be interested in joining the house.

On September 1, Leila and other popular Irish TikTok creators moved into the €2m home and commenced the new collaborative project.

“We didn’t expect it to blow-up this much. Like, the first day we already had tabloids talking about it. It was crazy,” she said.

When first announced, the project, its timing and even some of the residents were the cause of a great deal of negative attention and criticism.

Originally, the house consisted of ten members, including DJ Marty Guilfoyle.

However, after the move-in hit the headlines, the radio presenter received an immense amount of backlash due to him being slightly older than some of the other members and has since decided to leave.

“Personally, I wasn’t too bothered about it,” Leila said. “I didn’t really see much of that stuff.

“I don’t really look at the negativity, I kind of just stick with the positive stuff.

“Most of it was on Twitter, with the whole Marty situation and he was getting a lot of people Tweeting him and all this and it was horrible for him.

“We were all there to support him. I find that us — in the house — we’re way more supportive. If you were at home on your own, you wouldn’t be able to deal with the hate by yourself.

“It was very sad that Marty had to go, and we were all upset about it but obviously, he had to go because it was all a bit much.”

Leila said each member of The Go House was tested for Covid-19 prior to the move.

The house, which is similar to the ‘Hype House’ in the US, consists of nine members who meet each morning to plan their day and decide what videos they will create and collaborate on for the app as well as other social media platforms. The main benefit being in a group setting, Leila says, is the support they give one another, along with the “boost” you get from being around other creators.

“You’re more motivated to make videos regularly, because you see people doing videos all the time, so it gives you that boost to work harder,” she said.

For now, the plan for the members of the Go House is to continue with the project for the next two months and see where how far it takes them.

For Leila, the house is a big step towards achieving her dreams and ambitions for the future.

“I hope to continue on with this career and see how far I can get. Personally, I’d love to do acting and modelling and stuff like that and I feel like I’m on the right track with this because I kind of already am on my TikTok,” she said.

“For the house, it’s only for two months but we’re planning on keeping it going.”

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