Issue 1 Free
People Just Do Nothing Amelia Dimoldenberg, Last Night In Paris, Robbie Russell, Mikey Krzyzanowski, Eldon Somers, Gundeep Anand, MeĂŤk, Reuben Dangoor, Hannah Hill, Kamio, Harry Conway, Bubblegum Club
Last Night In Paris
Illustrated by @jenksinthecut With additional thanks to: Ashley Verse, Alex Hoffman, Daisy Deane, Staci-Lee Hindley, Sophie Crossley, Perry Gibson, Alex Hughes, Trevor Moore, Gemma Butterworth
Odds are, if you listened to any form of news channel today you’d catch a load of bad news stories – funding cuts, dishonesty, Brexit – it’s enough to make you lose faith... We wanted to find the people who could help bring us back together. So we asked twelve trailblazers to tell us how music, food, art and culture can unite us. They had one mission: Inspire us into action. The result is aweh. In our first issue we send Theresa May a hypothetical DM to tell her where she’s going wrong, check out Leicester’s local music scene with grime artist Kamakaze and find out how it all began for the boys behind People Just Do Nothing (big up Brentford). So if you’re fed up with fake news, have a read of some real stories from some talented people busy making space for what really matters.
To collaborate with us or just tell us what you think visit, nandos.co.uk/aweh
A hypothetica DM to Theresa May Words by Amelia Dimoldenberg Illustrated by Bel Mehta Amelia is the founder of YouTube series Chicken Shop Date. @ameliadimz @ameliadimz
“With £400m cuts to youth funding in the UK from 2010 to 2016 there are hardly any services for young people left. So, who is picking up the pieces?”
Credit: Edie Amos
With £400m cuts to youth funding in the UK from 2010 to 2016, there are hardly any services for young people left. So, who is picking up the pieces? In August last year, much to my astonishment, the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, started following me on Twitter (it was probably an accident). Since then, I have debated with myself many a time – mostly when drunk – whether to confide in him my fury at the lack of youth funding in the UK. I concluded that Corbyn would probably agree with my liberal views, so there wasn’t much point wasting that kind of social media energy on him. The person I really needed to DM was Theresa May. Weirdly, however, Theresa May doesn’t follow me (probably because I don’t follow her), so I have decided to write down my thoughts in this article instead – a hypothetical Direct Message. As a teenager, every Wednesday evening after college, I would get the bus to my local youth centre, the Stowe Centre in Paddington. As well as providing sports facilities, cooking classes and counselling, the Stowe was home to The Cut magazine, a collaborative project that empowered young people to represent youth
culture themselves. The Cut was more than just a magazine made by young people. “We wanted something that created a social space too,” says Nina Mandahar, a photographer and co-founder of The Cut. “It was a platform for conversation and exchange that had an educational element and gave young people their own voice.” For myself and the other young people who contributed to The Cut, the Stowe acted as the hub for our own media empire. One brightly lit computer room was all we needed to conjure up our fantastic publication. The Cut was where the idea for my web series Chicken Shop Date came about, and its current success is in part due to the support and input of the mentors and young people I met at the Stowe. Nina and her The Cut co-founder Nendie PintoDuschinsky relied heavily on funding from Westminster Council to run the programme, but soon the money began to dry up. “As time went on and government cuts increased, it became harder and harder to get funding,” says Nina. “It became difficult doing applications for small pots of money – there was lots of uncertainty.” Sadly, The Cut has now been cut.
The £400m in cuts to youth funding since 2010 have caused over 2,000 job losses and the closure of hundreds of youth clubs from Kent to Manchester. These cuts have a direct impact on the opportunities for disadvantaged young people, many of whom rely on having a place to go to after school or someone to have a cup of tea with much more than I ever did. Did you know that London has the highest rate of child poverty in England? Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, whose constituency the Stowe Centre is in, has been fighting to save youth services since the cuts began. “Picking up the pieces left by removing local government funding is an almost impossible task,” she says over the phone from what sounds like a very busy office. “Fundamentally, you can campaign around saving the youth service, but actually you need to be in power to make different decisions about the service you provide and the funding you put into it.” (In their 2017 manifesto, Labour pledged to reverse all cuts to youth funding.) But seeing as Corbyn hasn’t yet managed to campaign his way into power, and with little prospect of Theresa May providing current youth workers with the support that they need, what are we to do? Sian Anderson offers one example of how the pieces could be picked up. Sian is a top BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ, PR guru and co-founder of the FLOOR SIXX music academy. Far from your typical youth club, her academy is a new 10-week summer course based in London where 40 young people from around the country can take courses in music, photography, journalism and event production. This culminates in a final show and exhibition at London’s Roundhouse. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and one Sian and her business partner Jason Black only managed to put together thanks to their industry experience and impressive phone books. But how do you get hold of the cash to provide such specialist programming, I hear you cry? In Sian’s case, it wasn’t through the usual channels of government funding and other schemes. “I felt like applying for [government funding] was a waste of my time and theirs,” she says. “I’m not going to fill out 120 pages of paperwork for you to give me £15k–£100k. In the time it takes for me to do that, I’ve done 10 weeks’ mentoring with these young people.”
So Sian and Jason (who runs his own successful company, Crep Protect) paid for FLOOR SIXX out of their own pocket. This is an unrealistic funding option for most youth programmes, but the music academy also benefits from the support of brands. Their contribution brings the whole project together, offering everything from free studio space to plastic cups. In today’s world, young people are so aligned with brands, and they are not afraid to show it, so this sort of partnership makes sense. Like with all youth schemes, what Sian and her mentors are doing at FLOOR SIXX is part of a much bigger picture. It’s about making sure young people have proper accreditation to show to a potential
“It’s about making sure young people have proper accreditation to show a potential employer, and providing a safe space.” employer, and providing a safe space. FLOOR SIXX is just one example of how the gap in youth services is being filled, but not everyone has £90k in their pocket or the contacts that Sian and Jason have. This is why central government funding is the only long-term way to provide that safe space for young people. I asked Sian if she thought her wild ambitions to help young people would find funding in years to come, to which she replied: “We will get there in the end, because I think there are enough people who care.” Sadly, it’s unlikely that Theresa May will stumble into a Nando’s, pick up this magazine and see my message. So if you’re one of those people who care, petition your local MP to ask Theresa May to reverse the cuts to youth funding, promote your nearby youth groups and the work they are doing, or volunteer if you can. All young people should have the chance to succeed, so let’s make saving youth services a priority.
@container_45 @lnipb @LNIPB Time Keeper, Jordan (2017)
Last Night In Paris by Norman O’Flynn
Norman O’Flynn is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Cape Town, South Africa. His work forms part of Nando’s South African art collection, and is on show at Nando’s restaurants across the country. Recently, some of his work was exhibited at Nando’s Feast Your Eyes pop-up gallery in Soho, where he met self-taught creative collective Last Night In Paris. Norman linked up with two LNIP members – Jordon and Taurean – to capture their creative spirit in the following paintings.
Time Keeper, Taurean (2017)
Listen to our podcast hosted by Last Night In Paris at nandos.co.uk/aweh/feastyoureyes
Thanks to their fluid approach to art, the only constant in LNIPâ€™s work is their dedication to pushing boundaries. So it made sense that Norman chose them for the latest in his Time Keepers series, which uses his trademark visual language â€“ pop iconography and graffiti-esque mantras - to depict figures with intriguing stories and creative potential. The series deals with contemporary themes, such as what it means to go viral and the explosion of knowledge caused by the internet, both of which have played a key role in the rise of self-taught creatives like Last Night In Pa ri
Kamakaze â€“ MC Massappeals â€“ Produ c er
To The Ends Words by Robbie Russell Photography by Sam Crowston Robbie is a freelance journalist and the co-founder/ assistant editor of PUSH magazine. @robbie_russell_
To The Ends is an exploration of the streets and spots that helped shape an artist into who they are today. Driving through leafy suburbs, past shopping parks and a myriad of confusing roundabouts, Leicester seems like any other city in the East Midlands. To an outsider, the maze of interspersed communities appear connected by little more than the first two letters of their postcode: but appearances can be deceiving and, as a city, Leicester is beginning to get used to causing a shock. At the start of summer last year, 250,000 people lined the city’s streets waving flags and basking in the glory of their football team’s unlikely Premier League title win. Claudio Ranieri’s men had defied 5000-1 odds to cause one of the greatest upsets in the history of sport and, for pretty much the first time, the eyes of the world were cast upon the humble city. What they saw was unity. “That day was the most together I’ve seen the city ever. If you’d have come here to this exact spot, you would’ve seen every race, every walk of life in this park.” Guiding me through Victoria Park, the site of last year’s victory jubilations, is 23 year old Dagenham and Redbridge midfielder and MC, Matt Robinson, aka Kamakaze. With us is his long-term friend and collaborator Darryl Reid. Under his moniker Massappeals, he’s taken the sounds of Leicester streets, fused them with internet escapism,
and has become a recent favourite beat maker with the new vanguard of UK grime. Together, along with local MCs Rezz-Ra, G-Tek & Skeez, the pair made ‘Fearless’ an LCFC champions anthem covered by CNN, Sky Sports and the BBC. It’s a track that not only boasted about the Foxes’ world-beating squad, but also about Leicester’s hidden lyrical talent. They were all there on the historical day that their city came together; and on all of the days before, when a victory parade through the streets they grew up on seemed like fantasy. When trying to make it in a city without a hall-offame to speak of, and only Kasabian holding the musical torch, you learn to dream, scheme and grow a thick skin. Kamakaze has always been a dreamer, and no matter how often he’s told it’s impossible, he’s flourishing with a double life; shaped and guided by football and music in the city that raised him. Growing up, Robinson had to become accustomed to splitting his time between his twin passions. Training intensively as part of Leicester City’s youth setup, he spent a lot of time with young footballers from all over the East Midlands,
swapping tracks on coach trips for away matches, passing the time with spontaneous cyphers. These were the days when the first instances of grime from the capital captivated the entirety of innercity Britain. “I used to listen to Dizzee, JME and all them, but for me it was natural to then go and find stuff from my own area.” He explains, “if anything, the lads from Nottingham had more influence than anyone from London. Nottingham always had a good grime scene.” We pull up to the park where Kamakaze and Massappeals first met around 8 years ago, when Kamma was 15. Connecting over music, skateboarding, and Kamma’s self-confessed inability to properly execute a kickflip, the pair began working together; fearlessly open-minded about creating a unique blend of back-of-the-teambus grime, and Massappeals’ first love of mindbending electronic beats. Their prolific working relationship continues to this day, with the recent drop of Kamakaze’s first independently released solo EP. ‘Wavy Shirt Wednesday’ follows the fully collaborative ‘Royal Blud’ EP, released in 2016 with Glasgow-based label Astral Black, the artwork of which depicts an almost eery shot of the two sat in their favourite local takeaway. Both tapes have all the attention to detail, skill and undeniable self-confidence of two musicians who clearly haven’t been told that the
best grime ought to come from London. As Mass puts it, in some ways the pair benefitted creatively from being “two artists on the outside, looking in.” As the two point out the curbs they used to skate and those formative benches where they exchanged their earliest bars, they inevitably begin to reminisce further. “We all watched Channel U as kids” remembers Massappeals, “I used to skate to my mates house six miles away just to watch the countdown, every Sunday.” Kamma explains how his father put him on to rap through his record collection that included A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and MF Doom, before grime began to captivate his young mind: “When I was about 10, all hyperactive and shit, the grime tempo appealed to me. One of my mate’s cousins was in a crew called ‘Young Thug Soldiers’ at the Secondary School near us, and we’d have all their tunes on our phones.” He recalls how he was inspired to pen lyrics himself, and did so under a nearby bridge. “It was all, I’ll shoot man up blah blah blah. We obviously weren’t doing any of that stuff but it’s what everyone else was talking about,” he recalls. “Then, as I got older, music was more of a form of expression and it wasn’t important if people heard what I was doing. That was an outlet that really helped me, to hear myself, learn about myself, and talk about real life.” Music was their weekly mindfulness practice, and Massappeals’ bedroom studio was their dojo.
â€œWhen trying to make it in a city without a hall-of-fame to speak of, and only Kasabian holding the musical torch, you learn to dream, scheme and grow a thick skin.â€?
Real life for Kamakaze changed substantially when his ‘Road Rage’ freestyle for JDZMedia went live in 2015, and soon became his first YouTube outing to hit over a million views. “I’ve got my city on my back, trying to carry the weight” he spits, staring straight down the camera lens with the same inscrutable focus you’ll see from any professional athlete. You get the impression that whether it’s with a mic in hand at the legendary LC spot The Garage (R.I.P), or a ball at his feet, midweek away at Shrewsbury; his intensity never fades. Having left Leicester City a year prior to the video in order to join Luton Town, Kamakaze had found a way to represent his city once again, it was also a chance to show a lyrical ability that rivals his midfield prowess; quick witted as he is fast footed. “Leicester had MCs, but no one that ever really broke out and started getting recognised further afield. When the JDZMedia video blew up, everyone was buzzing - no one from around here had ever hit that many views.”
“As I got older, music was more of a form of expression and it wasn’t important if people heard what I was doing. That was an outlet that really helped me, to hear myself, learn about myself, and talk about real life.”
Through the park, past the garages where Kamma tells us him and his friends used to shelter from the Midlands rain, down roads decorated with restaurants and shopfronts with neon signage written in a myriad of languages. One street, Narborough Road, is somewhat famous for being home to restaurants, shops and small businesses owned by people of around 25 different nationalities. This is something Kamakaze and Massappeals both take enormous pride in, and as we approach the brow of a hill (where they promise our photographer he’ll get a ‘money shot’ of the city) it becomes clear that the real Leicester can be found on the streets where cultures converge. “Leicester is a prime example of how multiculturalism can work” Kamma says, as he points out the best Algerian restaurant, chicken spot and curry house. The food, he says, is one of the main things that he misses when he’s away from Leicester, and it’s the wealth of cuisines on offer that he uses to demonstrate the city’s great diversity. “I’ve never known there to be racial tension here. Obviously there were certain divisions, but generally speaking all of the different areas melt together.”
Overlooking the city with two of its most exciting musicians, it’s hard not to view Leicester as a city united in a collective ambition to become known for far more than crisps and Gary Lineker. From the tower blocks of the St Peter’s estate, to the wellkept hedges of Stoneygate, remarkable things are starting to arise from unremarkable spaces. “Just like Leicester City, me and Mass are on a new journey. This place has never had MCs or producers known nationwide, and every time we play a show abroad or hitting so many views, we’re the first to do it.” Leicester is a city of dreamers, and through music if not football, it’s dreaming on.
Playlist curated by Robbie, Kamakaze & Massappeals Pull Ups (feat. Big Zuu, K Dot & Izzie Gibbs) – Remix Kamakaze, Massappeals Glo’d – Kamakaze Cola – Massappeals Hold On – Mahalia, Buddy Let’s Play a Game – Eyez, Zdot, Dubzy Wheel (feat. Mez) – Massappeals, Mez B.A.D – JB Scofield, Prince TY Little City – Sane, Lowpass Luke Chakras – Twisted Pennys Come Over Mi Yard – Trillary Banks
Scan to play
Credit: Vicky Grout
Flour in your hair and a smile on your face: welcome to the ADHD cooking school ki
Words by Mikey Krzyzanow s Mikey is the founder of Goma Collective. A social enterprise focusing on creative projects. @gomacollective @gomacollective @chilliconcarner
For some people, being in a kitchen is an escape they look forward to every day. You can take your mind off work, school, or anything getting to you that day. This is something Loyle Carner and I have both grown up understanding, and wanted to pass on to other young people.
I’m Mikey, the founder of Goma, a social enterprise that builds creative projects like the cooking school. Loyle is usually either on a stage or in a studio making music. However, every couple of months, we get together in a kitchen and teach young people with ADHD how to cook.
For Loyle in particular, having been diagnosed with ADHD from an early age, cooking quickly became an essential outlet for a constantly moving mind. From a clinical perspective, ADHD is a group of behavioural symptoms that include difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity and trouble following instructions. Especially within the education system, ADHD can be seen as a negative thing, but this project has taught me that this is not always the case. To highlight the positive side of ADHD, Loyle and I linked up to set up our own cooking school, in the hope that more young people could find the same clarity that Loyle has in the kitchen.
Over the last two years, our project has trained up six young chefs: five with ADHD and one with anxiety. There have been endless proud moments with our original class, from seeing them on talk panels for mental health awareness to opening a pop up restaurant and hosting over a hundred people. I’m stoked on how everything is moving, but that’s mostly down to how cool our young chefs have been. There are two girls from the class who can give you a good insight into the project: their names are Anna and Mia.
Mia is 16, and an incredibly talented chef with ADHD. Credit: Molly Manning Walker
“ I’ve always had a passion for cooking. It allows me to put all my energy into something positive and productive. I manage to multi-task successfully without overwhelming myself, whereas with other everyday tasks I can find myself being hyperactive, and I don’t finish the first task without trying to take something else on.” “ It’s definitely had a positive effect on my ADHD. It allows me to calm down and remove myself from stress, and even brings me closer to people. It also has shown me I can multitask in the right environment.”
“I find that cooking works as a great distraction from anxiety. It allows you to concentrate and relax at the same time. When I’m having a day where I feel anxious for no particular reason, cooking takes my mind off how I’m feeling, which makes me feel a lot better as I’m not constantly thinking about how anxious I feel.” “I find cooking really interesting when you’re able to discover new things about different cultures from the food.”
It’s been really cool getting to help young people like Anna and Mia through the cooking school – it definitely makes all the work put into Goma worth it. My advice for other young people wanting to start something similar is this: don’t wait until what you think is the perfect time, start small and build your way up. We’ll be running another set of classes for the cooking school with a new group of young chefs soon.
Anna is also 16, and like a lot of young people, she lives with anxiety. Credit: Molly Manning Walker
Goma’s Jerk Cauliflower Ingredients
1 large head cauliflower 2 tbsp (30g) Jamaican jerk spice ½ small bunch fresh thyme 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted Pinch of sea salt Credit: Molly Manning Walker
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
Method Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Mix the spice, half the thyme and coconut oil to form a rough paste, season with salt. Squeeze the lemon into one bowl, and the the zest into another, and set aside. Trim and discard the outer cauliflower leaves and stalk so it can sit flat, then cut a cross into the base. Rub all over with the spice paste, then place in a medium pan or tray. Squeeze the lemon juice on top. Cover with lid or foil, and pop in the hot oven. After 1 hour, remove the lid. Take the pan from the oven, then pour in the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and remaining thyme leaves. Return the pan to the oven for a further 10-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bubbling and the cauliflower is golden.
People Just Do Nothin
Alex Hoffman in conversation with Kurupt FM Photography by Ashley Verse Interviewer: Alex Hoffman (Head of Music, Vice) Styling: Daisy Deane Art Direction: Staci-Lee Hindley Meet the boys behind People Just Do Nothing @kuruptfm @kuruptfm
“ The first episode of People Just Do Nothing turned up at Noisey HQ before the internet was awash with music/ comedy hybrids; everyone was immediately obsessed. I thought it was great but I never imagined it becoming a BAFTA-winning BBC series, or selling out Brixton O2 Academy. I was wrong. I've seen the boys in character before, of course, but was fascinated to know how Seapa, Hugo, Steve and Asim turned messing around with a camera in Brentford, London, into the success that is People Just Do Nothing.” – Alex
Seapa Hugo Steve Asim
Alex: Why don’t we start with this place? Who wants to tell me about the significance of this place here? Hugo: I used to live here, this is where it all came together. Steve: Where we all came together…
from Steve’s side. And then my reaction was like, ‘Yeah, well nothing really happens around here, so let’s see…’. We didn’t think it would turn into a full TV show or anything, but it felt like a funny enough idea that we could use it to showcase some writing abilities or acting abilities rather than just us messing around. Originally it was based on a tower block with loads of different characters…
Hugo: Yep, we all came together in this room. [Laughs.] Alex: Is this the first place where there was an actual conversation between the four of you about possibly doing something together? Seapa: Well, the first place would’ve been Thailand on a 12-hour bus ride. Me and Hugo were doing these accents and then Steve and Hugo started talking about maybe doing something with them. And then we came to England and Asim was a cameraman and editor at the time… and our mate Ben, who shot the first thing, actually. Alex: What was the ambition at that stage? Was it, ‘Why don’t we shoot something and that will be funny’, or was it ‘We can do this’? Seapa: It was more, ‘We should try and do something’
Steve: Yeah! We were gonna play middle-class hipsters! Seapa: We were gonna have these two old men that came from the call centre as well, where we used to work, the accents and stuff came from there. I worked in a call centre with Asim, Hugo and Decoy. The other three I knew before, for about three years. We met Decoy there. We used to sit in the back row and do accents, pranking people all day long and taking it off record. That was probably the second best job I ever had. Alex: So, what do you guys say when someone asks you what you do for a living? Steve: I say I work in TV, that’s the simplest way of putting it, I think. But then I kind of see myself as a
writer first and foremost. So I’ll probably say I’m a writer.
Steve: Waiting for the court case to come through... Alex: Do you ever bump into people from the scene?
Hugo: I actually find it quite difficult to answer as I don’t really have one specific thing… I just say that I created a TV show with my friends and it’s on the BBC. Seapa: I say I f*** about with my mates and get paid for it. And then I say as a writer and an actor. Alex: Was that always what you wanted to do? That’s what everyone wants to do, right? Seapa: Yeah exactly. I was mainly into music growing up. I was an MC, I was into garage, jungle and hip-hop and stuff. So yeah, I thought that was gonna be my life. Comedy was always just naturally in me... I was always doing little characters but I just didn’t realise that was a thing. When I was MCing it was serious, like graffiti MCing and wearing them sort of clothes and going raving was all I did and that was just the culture. But simultaneously I was obsessed with like The Office and Peep Show and that’s how I had a common ground with these boys when I met them. Hugo: I wanted to be a DJ. I got obsessed with pirate radio when I was in year 7. Seapa: When I first met Hugo, we used to film stuff on camera phones just for ourselves, literally just to make ourselves laugh and pass the time. But never in a million years did I think, ‘Oh we’re actors’ or ‘we’re comedians’. Do you know what I mean? Alex: And were you all on the same level in terms of how ambitious you were when you first started? Steve: I was forcing them a little bit at first. Hugo: Yeah, I don’t think we really thought that it would ever turn into anything like this at all. Seapa: Nah, I just thought it was fun, and I guess when you’re a creative person but you’re just doing sh** jobs, or even no job, it’s better to try and do something than nothing. Alex: And how involved were each of you in the pirate radio and garage scene? Seapa: I was an MC back in the day on a couple of different pirate radio stations and ended up helping run the real Corrupt FM which was run by my mate X-Flow.
Hugo: I do round here, like DJs and stuff that used to be on pirate radio. Alex: Anyone think that it’s actually a documentary? Seapa: At first I had people call me from school and be like, ‘It’s mad! You’re basically doing the same thing init!’. Like, not getting that it’s a mockumentary and just thinking that ten years later I’m still tryna be a garage MC. But I think now they sort of get it. Asim: Yeah, even with the Chabuddy stuff. Like my Dad and my family won’t know why Chabuddy’s funny – they think he’s actually quite smart, like he’s a real gogetter. Alex: Do you think that’s the success of it – the fact that you didn’t have to make up these characters? Hugo: Yeah, well we’ve been these people in these situations. Trying to be like… someone’s written a 12 bar verse and trying to fill it up to a 26 bar or something. Seapa: The reference we always use is it’s like when David Brent picks up a guitar, he can actually play and sing… but it’s his ego that’s the ridiculous part, and what he’s saying obviously. Alex: I do wanna go through how each step happened. Could we go through the memories of the first ever shoot, like the first time you actually recorded with the four of you… Seapa: I had a few little hip-hop videos out on YouTube and me and Asim were rappers. Hugo was a producer and obviously I would only be funny in private with my mates, but otherwise I took myself a bit seriously as rappers do. So I wasn’t sure people were gonna respect me. [Laughs.] But everyone was just like f*** it, let’s do it. We literally just filmed it in there [points to bedroom]. It was pretty much completely unplanned, apart from saying that we’re in the studio and giving it a little bit of a premise. But it didn’t look like a pirate radio station, it looked like a home studio, so it’s called ‘Studio Time’, that episode. It’s the first thing we ever filmed and it was Beats and Grindah using their twohouse studio time from their mate, and trying to make a beat basically. Alex: How do you feel looking back on it now?
Steve and Hugo: Shout out X-Flow!
Seapa: Shout out Dreamer as well… I sort of forgot that I actually took it off the real name….
Hugo: It’s not that different from what we do now!
Seapa: Except for the voices, the voices are mental different. Asim: Haha yeah, Beats says something like, ‘I’m trying to realign my chakra bruv’ and you’re just there being a dizzy mug.” All: [Laughs.] Seapa: This was literally where it all started, I’ve not been here since those days so it’s pretty mad.
serious task, I guess. We did like, thirty drafts! It was a proper mad learning curve of going into the Roughcut office [PJDN Production Company] and getting taught how to write a script, essentially. Seapa: Before that, everything was improvised, we literally planned out a little bit of a beat sheet for the webisode and that was it. Alex: There was no script? Seapa: There was no script.
Steve: That line, ‘We’re not making music we’re making beats!’.
Steve: Just a beat sheet and some lines that we knew were funny.
Alex: Yeah that’s a great line. Seapa: That made it into the TV show. Steve: [Sarcastically.] Yeah, so we haven’t actually evolved at all really. Hugo: We’re still complete twats. Alex: Some bits have evolved though! What are the sort of landmarks for you guys, cause I guess there was a run of you doing improvised little bits and when did it suddenly feel like ‘This is something’? Steve: When we got the pilot we had to do a script for the first time, that was the moment it became a more
Seapa: But other than that, nothing much. We would be filming all day and then get like four or six minutes out of it. Steve: And there wasn’t really much of a plot either, once you start making stuff for a TV pilot there has to be a good story arc. Steve: They were always saying that it needed to have stuff to keep people interested and keep suspense. Seapa: Our argument was that we didn’t really want there to be too much happening, which is a hard sell for the BBC!
Original Script â€“ People Just Do Nothing
Steve: We didn’t want it to be too complicated either. Seapa: I think we learned that we had to create these moments and arcs and stuff. But also at the same time, it really is ‘People Just Do Nothing’, they don’t do anything! Their self-importance is their little world and it’s something they think is huge, but in the end nothing gets sorted out and nothing happens, it’s just tiny. [Aside.] That’s what she said. Alex: So conventional wisdom says that… there’s a group of friends who have been mates for ages doing this stuff, making this great thing that feels really authentic, and now they’re moving to this famous TV channel with this big production company. Conventional wisdom says there’s gonna be some conflicts there. Were fans worried that you’d make it too polished or that it wasn’t gonna be authentic anymore? Were you worried about it? Asim: I remember I was really worried after seeing the first cut of the pilot. When we first saw it… the style just wasn’t right for us.
Seapa: And we learned to pick our battles rather than arguing about everything. Asim: We already had characters, we had a world, we had a style. That was already there before Roughcut did anything… so we had ownership over it already. They weren’t like, ‘We’re gonna develop these characters with you from the start’, which a lot of production companies like to do. Alex: For those people who are interested to know about your journey… What would you say to them, young people in a creative area? Asim: It’s an interesting question because back then… I’m not tryna say we are f***ing dinosaurs but back then YouTube wasn’t as big. Nowadays, you can get a decent amount of stuff and go and get spotted, you can do it yourself. My little brother is 14 and wants to start his own YouTube channel. But then, for us, a lot of people go through things like Edinburgh Fringe Festival to get into comedy, or go to drama school. We didn’t really come from that world at all. That s*** was so unattainable.
Seapa: It was too polished. Asim: The cameras were cutting so quick from angle to angle… it looked like a fast-paced sitcom. Really bang bang bang. It was so different to our first webisodes. We used to spend the whole day filming and get it down to around… 17 minutes was the longest webisode, I think. But we loved that, letting it breathe, no punchlines, no payoffs. Seapa: Since then, we’re all involved in the edit from a lot earlier on, and Steve will go in and feed all our notes in. Seapa: When Roughcut got in contact with us and we had that first meeting, we said, ‘We’re not performing monkeys, if we get to do this how we want to do this, as well as learn, then we’re up for it’. We had nothing to lose at the time, we weren’t desperate to be on tele or famous. We actually had a longer term plan, to do a couple more webisodes before we started approaching people, but they approached us before that plan came to fruition. And obviously, Ash Attalla was running that production company, and he had made The Office, which we were huge fans of. And they were proper down to earth. They always let us have full creative control, but helped teach us as well. Steve: We were quite resistant at first, to be honest, that’s why it took thirty drafts because they would give their criticism, and then we would come back with our argument, and it would be this back and forth. In the end, we figured out the middle ground and a tone that worked for all of us.
Seapa: You can get the technology. You can even do it on an iPhone, or if it’s music you can get access to a studio, you can put it on YouTube. If it’s shit or whatever you should do it for yourself. We found it funny, it wasn’t like we really wanted to be famous. It was a slow burner but if you push your creativity and you’re good at it and you’re dedicated to it… Asim: We have each other as well, it’s hard to do it on your own. We check each other, and we’re really honest. It’s the funniest idea wins, basically. And this is cliché, but the best script advice is to write about what you know. Like, we did all this because we know this, we know that world and these characters. Write about what you know and if you’ve got mates who are talented, use them and work together. The boys behind People Just Do Nothing will be about this summer’s festival circuit, but make sure to keepup-to-date with what’s next for them @kuruptfm.
Creativity Uncovered Words by Eldon Some r
s Eldon is an Art Director and founder of People of Colour, Colouring exhibition. @eldonsomers
Rochelle White, Index (version 2), 2016
When I was younger, art wasn’t that easy to access. My creativity wasn’t always the priority at my state school, either. Very early on in my school experience I had to stop taking my saxophone lessons to do extra maths classes… And I still can’t do maths today! Between 2003 and 2013, according to a report by the Warwick Commission, there was a 50% drop in the numbers of pupils taking GCSEs in design and technology. The fall in drama was 23%, and for other craft-related subjects, 25%. Speaking as a musician, those 15 extra years of saxophone practice certainly would’ve come in handy. I later picked up music again, but I’m still disappointed that I had to make a choice like that when I was so young. It’s a choice lots of young people in the UK still have to make today. If you’re a young person reading this, I hope you don’t! As I grew older, when visiting London, I headed to various art galleries and found myself impressed by the renaissance and baroque oil paintings, simply because I believed I was supposed to be. The Tate Modern and other contemporary spaces always seemed to exist in a universe separate from my own. I said things like, “Anyone can do that. I can do that… What is so special about that?” What I actually meant was, “What is so special about art?” I didn’t know any better. Not only about art, but about the contribution made by people who looked like me or shared similar financial burdens. I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t been taught to know any better. I wasn’t taught very much about art, or the creative sphere, and I strongly believe young people today should be. The Warwick Commission’s report insists that arts education should be an entitlement for all children. It believes the government’s focus on science, technology, engineering and maths needs also to make room for the arts. However, one of the biggest problems for the arts is cuts to national and local funding. The government slashed its grant to Arts Council England by 36% between 2010 and 2015. Over the same period, local government funding for the arts, museums and libraries fell by 17%. Spending cuts create a downward cycle: fewer risks are taken, resulting in less talent development, declining returns and therefore further cuts in investment. Young people in the UK deserve better than such a system!
We can change things for ourselves, though. I moved to London to support my musical endeavours, soon realising I had a desire to create beyond the sphere of music. (What inspired my decision was a Yayoi Kusama retrospective; her works truly opened my eyes to the impact that visual and installation art can have on the mind and soul.) From that point, I plunged myself head first into the art world, quickly discovering that artists of colour held a serious stake in the history of art. I began to realise how these artists and their contributions had often been ignored. From that moment, it became my obligation to shift the tide that washed away so many contributions made by artists of colour throughout history. I was startled by the transformation that occurred within me; from a person who had little interest in art, to someone who felt compelled to produce and curate works that could potentially influence the art sphere and the wider world. My artistic potential had previously lain buried and untapped. I was hindered by the lack of support for any creativity throughout my schooling years. I knew that countless others were shrouded prodigies whose genius was buried under creative illiteracy. It was through these two realisations that my brainchild, People of Colour, Colouring (POCC, pronounced “posse”) took form. Promoting creative literacy and inclusivity in the arts was exactly the incentive behind POCC – a platform for artists of colour to exhibit their work to a wide and diverse audience. While only artists of colour exhibit, the intention is not to exclude. All are welcome and encouraged to be a part of this experience, and I work hard to promote inclusion and cohesion between people. The shows include fine art, photography, music, literature, poetry, theatre, fashion and anything else. The emphasis is diversity of perspective and medium. I believe that offering such platforms allows people from many different backgrounds to benefit from and enjoy an array of intimate and accessible perspectives. POCC is a step towards promoting unity, a celebration of different cultures, ideas, experiences and approaches. It’s an attempt at levelling the playing field in the creative domain. This is beneficial to those within the sphere and indeed outside it, as art often reflects and can influence people and the world.
Last Man Standi
Credit: Kieran Clarke
Words by Gundeep Anand Gundeep is a Creative Director and founder of community football tournament The Last Stand. @_thelaststand_
Credit: Elmar Rubio
“You are hopeless. No one can save you – not even God.” When your mentor, the person you admire and worship the most, texts you that – where do you go from there? I’m Gundeep Anand and I’m the founder of The Last Stand – a street football tournament whose purpose is to unite communities and break down social, cultural and religious barriers through sport. Now that we’re into our third year and have won backing from world-class footballers, I wanted to tell you the tournament’s story, and how the biggest disappointment in my life turned out to be the biggest blessing. My life started off as an unlucky lottery ticket. At college I studied mechanical engineering, then went on to do an apprenticeship at an oil and gas company. It seemed the perfect start. I had my own desk, my own landline, my own laptop, and I had a bigger salary than anyone else my age I knew. I honestly thought I was living the life – until the recession hit. In a second, it was all gone. I was made redundant and left wondering how what I’d worked hard for for so many years had gone as quickly as it had arrived. I turned to the people around for me guidance, even people very close to me, but everyone gave up. I was like, when it rains, it pours.
I didn’t know it yet, but that disappointment was about to become the biggest blessing of my life. Left with nothing, I decided to go back to square one, and figure out what career would make me happy, money or no money.
“I didn’t know it yet, but that disappointment was about to become the biggest blessing of my life.” I decided to go back to coaching football, something I’d been passionate about before I started work. It’s not till you have less than you thought you would that you realise how rewarding it is to give something back. Every hour I volunteered, I got more and more addicted to teaching. It was a great thing to see how big an impact just a small amount of your time can have on someone – especially someone younger who wants guidance.
â€œYou are No one c you you, even Go
hopless. can save , not od.â€? Credit: Jack Snell
Credit: Kieran Clarke
Then, one day, I was chilling with my friend, talking about how we used to brings kids from one estate to another to host football tournaments – how much excitement it added to everyone’s life – and that’s when it hit me. The Last Stand was born. I won’t lie – it was tough at first. After sharing the initial idea with friends and family, I realised that just because my idea was exciting and life-changing to me, it didn’t mean my peers, or even those I reached out to for help, were as gassed. Self-belief was all that kept me going for the first few months of setting up The Last Stand. People all around me were telling me to let it go, that it wasn’t a wise choice. But I knew the vision I had in my head, even if no one else understood. I saw the tournament as an escape, a voice for the voiceless, an opportunity to reinstate people’s self-belief. The Last Stand is first and foremost a platform where young people can express themselves. The thing that sustained me through the hardest times was the desire to prove to the young people around me that dreams genuinely can come true, if you work hard enough. I wanted to show them that they could do anything, literally anything, if they believed in themselves.
“The thing that got me going through the hardest times was wanting to prove to the young people around me that dreams genuinely can come true if you work hard enough.”
To this day, I think the reason we blew up so fast is that we put the people first, period. So, really, when the final tournament day came around, it was more like a big celebration of each other than a competition. The whole community came together – we had a DJ, security guard, refs, camera crew. We even had a solid base thanks to the local community centre. It was mad how everyone donated their time and resources to the project. You don’t see that too often nowadays. That’s the power of sport. It can unite and break down social barriers in ways other things can’t. Our first tournament brought together people from
that people normally have to travel to these events, but we brought the event to them. And it wasn’t just those involved who got in touch. We heard from people outside the tournament too… World-class players like Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba, as well as global brands and some of the world’s biggest online publishers, all got in contact about the event; some congratulated me, others offered help. I couldn’t believe the response. Sometimes I still can’t. We’ve just celebrated our anniversary, and I’m proud to say we have support from world’s biggest Credit: Elmar Rubio
different parts of London, different religions, different cultures, different ethnicities and different backgrounds. I felt crazy proud. We managed to bring some unity to a time – Brexit, Trump – where people often felt there were more things dividing us than uniting us. And, in my opinion, there’s nothing more powerful than unity. It holds the key to any positive change in life. After that first tournament, we got message after message from the boys involved saying how it had helped them believe in themselves. Everyone was gassed. The thing that was different about it was
athletes and brands, plus big sport publishers like SportBible, who have helped us reach millions of people all over the world online. When I look back to the beginning, I’m just glad I didn’t give up – even when those around me weren’t supportive, even when it seemed like I wasn’t going to achieve the things I wanted to. There’s something to be said about going against the odds and believing in yourself. This might sound like a cliché. But if I were to give one bit of advice to my younger self, it would be this: just do it, apologise later.
Words and Art by Meek Multidisciplinary artists from South Africa. Creating illustrations and whatever we want! We were inspired to create a collection of pieces showing the connectivity of South Africa as a whole. The hundreds of Meeks, all individually connected, represent the unification of all cultures, religions and groups across South Africa.
ArtLinks Reuben Dangoor x Hannah Hill @reubendangoor
ArtLinks is our new series linking up young artists to discuss a topic they’re passionate about. This issue we asked Reuben Dangoor who he wanted to chat with on his chosen topic: how his work drives young people’s engagement with politics and art. His answer? The visionary Hannah Hill. Reuben is an artist from London. His debut collection of paintings Legends of the Scene, which depict grime rappers in the style of the British nobility, received global coverage and was exhibited at Tate Britain. Most recently his Dabbing in Politics and Nah Mate pieces have received national attention for their commentary on contemporary politics. Hannah is a visual artist from London who specialises in illustrative hand embroidery. Her Arthur meme embroidery went viral in 2016 for its feminist reclamation of the medium. Her work explores female empowerment, race, body positivity, mental health and, from time to time, pays tribute to the London grime scene. Here’s the conversation they had…
“I’ve always quite liked the challenge of trying to distil down something that is quite complicated...”
HH: Hey Reuben, can you give us some background to your work and how it’s influenced by politics? RD: I studied design at University of the Arts London, and I wouldn’t say that I have a specific medium or style. It comes from whatever idea I’m trying to communicate. So in terms of how politics affects my art, that’s where the idea comes from sometimes – it’s a catalyst. You’ve got quite big things going on in politics, but they are often quite hard to distil down into a conversation that you can have with mates. I think that I’ve always quite liked the challenge of trying to distil down something that is quite complicated, and simplify it in a way that perhaps people are willing to engage with, or at least see the core of what it means. Sometimes it’s about repacking something or putting it through a filter so your audience can be like, “Yeah, I do understand it”. That whole thing of a picture saying a thousand words, I know it’s a cliché, but a lot of people can look at a single Instagram image and get as much from it as a long Facebook status. Do you think young people have more power in today’s society than they used to? I think they definitely have more power than they used to. The maddest thing about a lot of social media is its democratised a lot of stuff. I wouldn’t say it’s trivial but when Stormzy’s album charted, for example, that was a completely independent release and it got there by a generation of people who didn’t even buy music anymore. That’s an example of that on a music level how powerful that audience are. I do think people have come around to how powerful this generation is. The election that just went by, I would say there was a huge amount of young votes and social media had a part in that.
Reuben Dangoor, Dabbling in Politics #1 Dabbling in Politics #2 Dabbling in Politics #3
70% of young people who were registered to vote voted, which is just nuts. I think that the online presence, even like memes and weird stuff like that, was factored into electing parliamentary officials, which is mad. It is a lot of stuff that people maybe in traditional institutions write off as trivial and don’t necessarily see as a powerful tool, or they just don’t understand it. That for me is the biggest example of how powerful young people really are and when they come together and engage and that sort of thing.
“I have had people say, ‘Oh, I’ve voted because of your work’.”
Reuben Dangoor, Marmite - Nah Mate (2016)
Reuben Dangoor, Skepta - Tracksuit of Armour (2015)
people wearing it from all over the world, or at a rave or a wedding or whatever it is. You see your work travelling, which is the nicest thing to see with any of your stuff. It is like a walking billboard – it’s a good way of putting art out there, and I feel like it probably starts conversations. Like, people are standing in a queue for a rave and make friends because someone is wearing a cool T-shirt. All right, here’s another question for you: why do you think that young people generally think that things like politics and art may not be for them? Do you think it’s a goal of your work to change their views? It certainly wasn’t a goal when I started doing stuff. The response has always been from young people enjoying the work and whether that’s something to do with politics or not. Even the grime paintings are a thing in themselves, and seeing those MCs in a light that you haven’t seen them in before. It was about getting audiences into spaces where they could see art, where they haven’t been before, and that’s a really nice thing that came off the back of that. I certainly didn’t set out for that, it definitely wasn’t a goal, but it is wicked that it has started to happen.
Credit: Vicky Grout
Your work isn’t always in a traditional medium. You put it on T-shirts etc. Do you think this makes it more accessible to young people? When I make my art, the medium is informed by the idea. For example, when I did the Corbyn dabbing image, it made a lot of sense to put that on T-shirts, because you want to get it out in the world and want people to wear it. The cult status was already surrounding him – that made that decision for me. I guess the nice thing about a T-shirt is, it’s a billboard for your work, and people are out and about in general. You know, I’ve had pictures of
I have had people say, “Oh, I’ve voted because of your work”, which is mad and a really powerful thing for young people to say, and even if a couple of people, if I had gone up to them and tried to persuade them with just words, they may have tried to shut me up. But because you are just presenting something and leaving it out there, they can tap into and engage with it. I can only really speak from where I am in London, but I don’t know if in those situations you see many people who represent – you don’t see yourself in those communities traditionally when you turn on the television debates in the House of Commons. It is fair to say there is a certain demographic being represented on the television, a certain age and social class, and it is similar in art.
Credit: Sam Neill
Yeah, I think there is an underrepresentation in general in both galleries and in the art world, and politics. Even if it is not a perfect system, it is still about engaging on every level, especially when you’re young. I feel like with art it is definitely still from a Western fine art perspective. People feel excluded from the art gallery. The people in general, the historic collections aren’t going to be representing you, but then also art that does represent part of your culture, you’re kinda judged in a totally different way. It’s like the urban music category back in the day. It’s just put to one side as opposed to given the main stage.
For me the main thing is, how do you get people to go, “That looks really interesting and I want to go see that”, if they have never been to a gallery before? How do you get that person to be like, “Yeah, wicked, I’m going to go and feel confident enough to go”, and “This is art to me”, or “What I am making is art”? We can’t speak for all young people – you are only going by your own experience. You definitely are activating and engaging young people who wouldn’t be interested in art, I reckon.
Exactly. Do you think what art means to young people is changing? That’s a difficult one. Again, it’s trying to define art. Maybe what people see as art has broadened, I don’t know. I would hope that people don’t think that it just has to be a painting on a canvas. It’s true – even within the art world, textiles isn’t respected on the same level as painting or sculpture or that stuff. There are so many different levels. I think young people have more access to seeing exhibitions that they wouldn’t (have previously been) able to. With the internet, there is just a lot more access.
Listen to the podcast of Reuben and Hannah’s full conversation at nandos.co.uk/aweh/artlinks
Sub The Par Words by Kamio Kamio is a singer with deceptively sweet vocals and a taste for gross lyrics. @kamio
Embarrassment is an emotion that everyone feels. It’s an excruciating feeling that can come from anything and everything. Anxiety is a word we find all too familiar. With the internet came the joys: access to instant information, Vine (R.I.P.) and Doge. And the woes: Trump’s Twitter, followed by the mental fragilities we are ALL susceptible to because of social media, and how we feel after comparing our lives to Kylie Jenner’s Instagram. I had a chat with some très cool people to shed some light on red cheeks.
Akira Woodgrain. I’m a producer and creative consultant. I dunno, people ask me to do stuff and I say yes.
Describe the feeling and what embarrassment means to you. Talking too much embarrasses me. Sometimes my filter breaks and I over share. What’s the most memorable way you’ve been parred? Every stop and search ever. Have you ever purposely tried to make someone feel embarrassed? Nah, that’s peak. Except Dennis (Baadnews), I embarrass him every chance I get. But he sucks. He cooks his eggs on both sides and orders plain chicken.
Theo Ellis. Morale and bass player in Wolf Alice.
Describe the feeling and what embarrassment means to you. Embarrassment feels like the moment everyone realises you’re faking it. What’s the most memorable way you’ve been parred? I fell off a monitor I was standing on once at the height of feeling like a legend, never gone redder quicker. What’s an awkward scenario you fear most, which may or may not have happened? I constantly feel like I shouldn’t be or am not invited to most events. Sometimes people are discouraged because they’re scared of what others might think. Have you ever struggled to put something out there because of this? I think the older I’ve got the more I have overcome the idea of embarrassment stopping me from doing something that makes you happy, spread your wings and fly my friends (lol, don’t be a wasteman though).
Murkage Dave. I’m a musician, DJ and sometimes I put on parties.
Describe the feeling and what embarrassment means to you. I think of embarrassment as a limiting factor. It’s something that stopped me from doing a lot of things when I was younger. But now I’ve learnt that if you just tap out and put yourself on the line, it’s never as bad as it seems. Then you end up pushing yourself. Have you ever purposely tried to make someone feel embarrassed and how? When you’re younger it’s almost like psychological warfare. You’re attacking people to stop them attacking you kinda thing. Sometimes people are discouraged because they’re scared of what others might think. Have you ever struggled to put something out there because of this? Of course, whether it’s putting music out or an opinion. I try use feedback as a challenge and quality control. Not all negative feedback is someone hating either, sometimes it’s just somebody’s opinion. That’s how I look at it that these days.
Meme Gold. I’m a garms dealer and super part-time bartender.
Describe the feeling and what embarrassment means to you. My muscles seize from the waist up and then I stress-sweat an abnormal amount from my armpits. That’s a distant memory though. Have you ever purposely tried to make someone feel embarrassed and how? If I think someone is embarrassed about something pointless, I make it more awkward and make sure people around us know about it. It’s just so they see it’s pointless being embarrassed. Sometimes people are discouraged because they’re scared of what others might think. Have you ever struggled to put something out there because of this? 1hundo. When I first started making and dealing garms, I was so scared to put stuff out. All I could think was who’d wanna buy my stuff I’m just some normal guy. But then I stopped giving a f***.
I’m a photographer and model. Sometimes people are discouraged because they’re scared of what others might think. Have you ever struggled to put something out there because of this? Yeah, when I was younger I used to worry all the time and let other people rule my way of living. But one day I woke up realising what a waste of time that was, and how people probably aren’t even thinking about me anyway! Do you have any words of advice for anyone trying to overcome this fear? The way I see it, the one thing you can’t get back is time. And life is to short to be wasting it on all your worries. Accept that you will fail and fail again! But where there is failure... there is success. So learn to let go of your ego, or any self-doubt, embrace all that is you and enjoy the time you have.
Kwes Darko aka Blue Daisy. I’m a mere man with a brain full of ideas.
Describe the feeling and what embarrassment means to you. Embarrassment is a feeling I feel can be both a serious and laughing matter, depending on the situ. Have you ever purposely tried to make someone feel embarrassed? I once exposed a new girl at school for not wearing knickers. It backfired cos she turned round and screamed (in a very strong French accent) “I WEAR NO KNICKERS, BUT I WEAR A BRA!”. Whilst lifting her top up to prove it. She then chased me around the playground and literally threw me from wall to wall! She was hella strong. We became mates after that. When you’re younger, it’s hard to see the bigger picture and it feels like the end of the world. Can you share one of your childhood humiliations? I used to wet the bed as a younger. My mum took me to the GP and I was prescribed some kind of piss alarm so when it detected a hint of urine, the alarm would go off and wake me up to go toilet. It never worked. What’s an awkward scenario you fear most, which may or may not have happened? Hearing my parents having sex - that may or may not have happened. It’s safe to say that your life is not like Tinder; you can’t ghost embarrassment. Criticism will be lurking wherever we are vulnerable. Please trust me to never let this feeling stop you from doing what you want to do. I understand the pressure we put on ourselves to only show the world the best parts of us because ultimately, no one wants to feel rejected or not good enough. But I’m learning to use this fear to my advantage and so can you. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Ask yourself, who really cares? Stay true to yourselves bredrins. The most important thing is that YOU do YOU.
Pushing Johannesburg in a new dire c Bubblegum Club is an online magazine based in Johannesburg, South Africa. They present a perspective on the people and creative work defining South African youth culture. They spoke to five up-and-coming Johannesburg creatives to find out how theyâ€™re reclaiming their cultural identity in a city looking optimistically towards the future. @bubblegumclubbb
Words by Christa Dee & Marcia Elizabeth
Johannesburg. A city of layers; textures, smells, sounds and experiences that all mix together and concretise what it means to be an inhabitant of the city. There’s an eclectic energy floating in the air, and it’s being inhaled by the creatives that call Johannesburg home. This energy is a reaction to what’s happening socially, economically and politically in South Africa right now, and it’s resulted in a boom of young people making their mark in their respective fields: art, music, film, events and poetry, just to name a few. A common thread weaves throughout all the work: decolonial thinking, which is an active unlearning of the influence of Western power. And fueling all of this is a desire amongst young creatives to take risks, play, experiment, throw caution to the wind. Come with us on a journey around Johannesburg as we meet and explore the work of Nokana Mojapelo, ONYX, Lebohang Masango, Gemma Hart and Ian McNair.
Credit: Jamal Nxedlana
“ There is an energy that floats in the air, and it is inhaled by the creatives that call Johnannesburg their home.”
“There’s a new-found energy and confidence that’s motivating us to create,” says Nokana Mojapelo when asked about Johannesburg’s creative spaces. Describing himself as part of what he calls the “new generation”, he says that taking ownership of his creative abilities and ensuring that he flourishes has led to the success of his streetwear brand, D.O.C.C. He believes that not seeking outside validation is important, especially for young black creatives, as it ensures the work that they’re creating is relevant to the people living and working in South Africa right now. It also provides a framework that can be used as a reference by other young artists and designers. Most of Nokana’s designs reflect his own experiences, but his latest collection, STAFF ONLY, feeds into an awareness of South Africa’s historical use and abuse of black labour. In this collection, he pays tribute to the people who quite literally built South Africa. Nokana’s work illustrates how workers, specifically construction workers, have been written out of fashion narratives. His collection shows appreciation for the work put into the country’s ever evolving cities, and makes this visible through apparel. Nokana transports aesthetic and styling choices from the 90s and early 2000s to the present day, formulating an instantly identifiable look.
@leboserame @unclepartytime_ @siyangena69 @willestilios @uno.gondo
Onyx Credit: Tumi
The ONYX team have a similar self-starting, DIY attitude. In 2015, when they were still in high school, Gondo Hlatshwayo, Junior Mabunda, William Nkuna, Siyanda Mdlele, Rrey Kapambwe and Lebo Serame decided to turn summer boredom and a love of music into a business hosting hip-hop parties across the city. The parties have become a platform for South African youth to explore an alternative hip-hop experience that falls outside mainstream media and social influences. “This way, we can really start to create our own ecosystem separate from the traditional scene,” says Gondo. Moshing and screaming lyrics are common features of ONYX parties, whose
whole concept is influenced by grunge and punk. Their approach to hosting the parties is quite experimental and arguably more inclusive, as people don’t need to fit a specific mold in order to feel like they can be part of the scene. It’s all about creating a space where people can let loose.
“Activism is also an important pillar in Lebohang’s life, advocating for women’s sexual health in ways that are sex positive and free of judgment.”
Anthropologist, writer and poet Lebohang Masango sees her relationship with words as a gift that continues to evolve as she grows as a person. Although she writes in a wide range of forms and styles, a common thread in her work is a keen interest in how people occupy physical spaces, as well as an exploration of love and loss. Her work has been published in Mike Alfred’s Twelve + One (2014), an anthology of notable Johannesburg poets, as well as in South African rapper Reason’s Endurance (2014) and in Myesha Jenkins’ To Breathe Into Another Voice (2017), a jazz-poetry anthology. In 2017, she ventured into the world of self-publishing with the release of her children’s book, Mpumi’s Magic Beads (2017), and she’s currently working on her own publishing company called Thank You Books. Lebohang believes that intersectional feminism – a form of feminism that recognises that women’s experiences are also shaped by other identity factors like race, class and sexual orientation – is the key reason she’s been able to survive in a white, male-dominated world. “It advocates the personal and political freedom of women and LGBTQIA peoples against a society that’s been founded on oppression,” she says. “It influences my work by being the sensibility from which I live, write, work and love. It’s a guiding principle that helps me navigate particular choices I make about my work, where I put it and whose voices I support.”
Credit: Jamal Nxedlana
Activism is also an important part of Lebohang’s life. She advocates for women’s sexual health in ways that are sex-positive and free of judgment. She’s currently part of a group that includes another anthropologist, a visual artist, a scientist and a musician, and they’re planning a workshop that explores sexuality. “These projects speak to me because sexuality and gender relations are such a big part of our society,” she says. “It’s the way that we treat each other as people.”
Credit: Jamal Nxedlana
Gemma Hart is also a young creative on a mission to disrupt the status quo. A Johannesburg-based curator and graduate of the Wits Fine Arts programme, Gemma is known for her youth-oriented approach to art curation, and recently launched a business called the Subliminal with fellow artist Cindy Poole. Even as a student, Gemma was recognised for her creative prowess, winning a nomination for the Wits Young Artist Award in 2016, and her experimental approach has since earned her much deserved praise. Gemma has been a writer for Bubblegum Club since 2016 and in 2017, she was appointed curator of the group’s first exhibition, Future 76. The twin environments that Gemma grew up in – a small Afrikaans town and Johannesburg – have played a huge part in shaping her character. To Gemma, curation is a form of art in itself, and her approach comes from both her instinct and conceptual thought. What’s of most importance to her is how these factors translate to the spaces where people view art in. “It’s an understanding of an established canon, and then the process of subverting that,” she says. “In some ways, the White Cube – a wellknown contemporary art space with galleries in London and Hong Kong – has done a disservice to the experience of viewing art. It’s often clinical, restrained and deeply steeped in Eurocentricity. I believe that art should live and breathe while being accessible to a larger audience”.
To address these political and socially relevant issues, Gemma is currently exploring different ways to display and view art.
Credit: Jamal Nxedlana
“I have to constantly selfpolice my voice, without limiting myself too much.”
Credit: Jamal Nxedlana
Ian McNair is also interested in the evolution of spaces. He’s the founder of Platform, a publication dedicated to bringing together music enthusiasts and giving them access to knowledgeable coverage of Southern Africa’s music landscape. He tells us that his childhood, which he spent in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, was protected from many of the realities of South Africa. “I grew up in a space where my parents only had cis hetero white ‘Christian’ friends,” he says. “That means I have to constantly unlearn a lot of my prejudice, even my prejudice about my own identity. I have to constantly self-police my voice, without self-limiting too much, but my white guilt also motivates me to be better and build a better future, no matter how often I get it wrong.”
The idea for Platform was born in the University of Cape Town’s architecture department, after McNair’s fellow creative Imraan Christian called out a student publication for using his images without credit or permission. Imraan and Ian were then asked to create new content for this publication; when it folded, the two decided to develop their own magazine. “Platform is part of a movement that’s developing alternative-to-the-media-monopoly spaces for a discerning audience,” he says. “I’d love for Platform’s legacy to help subvert the music landscape’s dominance of mimetic musical forms by providing coverage and broader pop-culture-styled advocacy for SA-centric cultural ‘tastes’, and to implant as many currently and previously marginalised stories and storytellers into mainstream and large-audience journalistic channels and publications as possible.”
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