George Rouy

Abstraction and distortion in art come out intuitively to George Rouy along with human emotions and relationships

In his earlier artworks, George Rouy would paint elongated facial features for the wide bodies of his subjects. He would stretch the figures on the canvas through his strokes, and at times, have them sit or stand side-by-side as if conversing.

Then, around 2021, a shift took place.

Gone are the visible features of the face, replaced by intentional marks and lines guided by the haze of the moment, his creative spirit being summoned to life. Smudges of paint brush against a mosaic of splatters. Flecks of color shower dedicated spaces on the canvas. The figures still appear visible, yet invisible at the same time. They might be tall or short. Their genders, androgynous. They are colliding, manipulating the viewers first, then they sync, re-arranging themselves like puzzle pieces and letting their viewers know everything falls into place in the end. Rouy, an aficionado of abstraction, has transitioned, and he is introducing an evolution of his artistic practice.

The bodies in Rouy’s artworks evoke an innate sense of connectivity and transcendence. They trespass the realms of the physical and the beyond, almost anchoring an indescribable reason they visually came into sight in the first place. They might be five different characters Rouy brewed in his mind, but they could also be an individual with five versions of themselves. Deciphering the intention of Rouy’s paintings depends on the viewers, but the artist creates a two-way channel in his works. For every painting the viewers see, Rouy seems to ask them to trust him with their deep-seated thoughts, emotions, and fears and let him paint them through his style. For every painting he creates, Rouy stirs human sensations until he delivers.

NR wants to learn more about the psychedelic nature of Rouy’s works and mind, the desire that powers the artist to pick up his brush and lose himself in the moment of painting. When we caught up with the artist, he was in the middle of finishing some artworks for his next show. He would be flying out of the UK in the next couple of days, leaving the 12 paintings he was working on simultaneously for a while inside his studio in Kent, London. At one point, Rouy tells us he paints intuitively. He scraps off planning and gears toward illustrating what feeds his mind, whether based on his experiences or observations. Somehow, themes of interactive relationships, self-growth, therapy, and psychology bubble up and simmer in his paintings. These nuances might be implied, but one can see how they linger in Rouy’s works, drawing in whoever lays their eyes upon his paintings and locking them in there.

At first, NR wanted to ask Rouy whether he had always wanted to be an artist, then move along wherever the conversation would take us. But even before we asked him the question, Rouy had already let us in on what he would be doing in the next few days. A lot of it involved traveling, ruminating, finding breathing space, and looking at his artworks as he sits or stands before them, idling. The moment he spilled all these thoughts, we shifted our questions, inverted-pyramid style. From the role of energy in his artworks to the culmination of his present style, Rouy talked us through his artistry, influences, and life as an artist, revealing parts of himself that might be under wraps from the public’s eye. 

We started with his travels.

Does consistent traveling affect your creative process? 

I think yes. What I have found over the years of doing this is that I have times of concentration or intense work then a break. I have found that my creative process works a lot better now where I relentlessly paint all the way through before I try to find breathing space. For instance, I have solidly worked for a month now, and I will be taking a few weeks off just to ruminate and process. Then, I will come back and look at my works with fresh eyes. I see what I have done objectively and more since I have taken off some emotions and am now able to see what needs to change or shift. In that respect, traveling works well. 

I also often find myself preparing for a show, so it is good to have the works just sitting in the studio for quite a while, just to live with them. They can breathe and have their own life without me working relentlessly on them all the time.  

What is your breathing space? Do you intentionally create your own breathing space, or do you just do random activities? 

Walking, for instance, on a day-to-day basis is breathing space. Strolling in the countryside is a great way for me to process parts of the day, especially in the summertime. I find it harder to find my breathing space in winter because of the lack of light – it is always dark when I leave the studio – but I love to think of other ways to take some time off. Currently, I am between here (Kent) and Paris.

In Paris, I work more on the computer, study my art, and think about where the series is at. I was there a month ago looking at the paintings I already had in the studio, took photographs of them, then looked at them through Photoshop, just to process everything in a different way. Then, I am just actively looking at my works, and I think it is important. The act of looking also takes up time since my paintings become jigsaw puzzles, and I try to work out the next parts. Sometimes, it just does not quite click at the moment, so I let it simmer for a while before looking at it again. 

I have come to a point where I need to take some time off and come back to the studio once I feel rested because I get so caught up in the energy.

“I think painting is about having and regaining this energy and preserving the excitement, impulse, movement, vibrance, and emotions, especially because the works become a lot more abstract in areas.”

These works also need a sense of clarity, so I am trying to find and maintain that as much as I can. When I have a few to 12 paintings at the same time in my studio, I often jump from one artwork to another, so the energy gets transferred quite easily. I am conscious that when I quickly shift, things stagnate, or when I work on one painting for too long, something sucks the magic out of the artwork. It loses the spell it once had. 

Since you put it in this way, does painting ever get overwhelming for you? 

There is this idea that you have higher expectations of yourself at times, and you are constantly searching for more discoveries, so you never get quite content with the discoveries that you have already found. I think the overwhelming part is to maintain these high standards of and by self. When you reflect or get to a point when you look at some of the works you did that you felt successful, you look back to how you did in the past.

It is not that you are trying to top or match them, but I think this is where it gets overwhelming, when these successes are not happening now. When this happens, you push through it – you work through it until things reveal themselves.  It is like when we plant a seed, it takes time before the plant fully grows. 

I notice that some of the facial features of your subjects are blurred. Is that intentional? 

The faces anchor the work and the composition. They can also be a distraction that ultimately defines the work – it is about having the right amount of purpose to them. I am into abstraction, and the blurred faces break emotions and sensations by delivering physical marks in the painting. When I start to apply them, I begin to see that everything becomes emphasized while they also contradict each other. The face is about having blurred moments of life, and having these pushed out in distorted ways allow the works to have the same breadth. 

Sometimes, it is hard to explain. They just have an energy about them and a certain feel that is not of this earth – it is not from here. It is not even photographic. There is a clear distinction between these faces when they appear right, but when they do not, there is this balance between the ugly and the beautiful – transcendence and out of this world. These days, I am more into computer-generated faces or AI and the historical representation of a figure within a sculpture. Here, I can distort the face, making them heightened versions of humans. I also think about the idea of distortion or blurring as something that is not quick, but a time-based movement that links with the rest of the marks in the painting. They turn out to have the same amount of flow and energy.  

Would you say then that your paintings are energy-based? 

Not entirely energy-based, but they have an awareness of the physical in terms of their anatomy, time, and movement. So, the act of distortion can be hidden – you cannot quite tell how long strokes took or where the moment began. Other things can be visible such as the dancing figures in some paintings. 

I notice that you often use lush or dark colors for your paintings. Do you resonate well with the dark palette or do you have any intentions in the near future to shift to bright tones? 

Some of them have become brighter, but gray still is important in my work in terms of it sitting between the realms of dark and light and how it can emphasize contrast and complement well with the shades I use. I also like how gray can have different hues like pink gray or greenish gray.

I also notice that you have a lot of bodies on your canvas. How did you arrive at this point that you wanted to turn bodies into the subjects of your art?

It is an uplifting movement for me to have these bodies in my work a sense of connectivity and purpose – of flow, movement, and rhythm. I would say I am someone who has been into exploring figurative painting and how to achieve a painting that has multiple figures in it without giving a headache. I think about the figures as organisms who could be versions of themselves. There could be two people but split up into five figures. It is less about a collective, but a depiction of those you know in a space or non-space.

On the other hand, their meaning depends on how the viewers perceive them. Sometimes, the viewers place themselves in the realm that I created. Other times, they deem my paintings as romantic and soft. There is always an underlying intention to these figures and how they interact. Then, there is also this feeling of morphing, a shaping of an internal representation, of one’s psyche or being, and I think these are massively involved in my works. We are living in this life full of intricacies as an individual and as a collective, and I am thinking about these internal pressures, whether that is beauty, ego, or something else. Similar to how we show other people love or compassion, we have these intricacies that form part of who we are.

I did a painting last year called Shit Mirror (2021), and it was on how you can perceive yourself one day and have a good feeling about yourself then the next day, you have a completely different representation or idea of yourself. It is erratic when it comes to the human mind, and I try to represent it with marks, movement, and contradictions because ultimately, nothing is static. I think we live in a world where maybe we have the ideas of what and who we are, those that we think are set in stone or in one journey, then we realize they are endlessly moving.

In this matter, do you think psychology and the study of self are two of the many factors that have helped you develop or pursue your style today?

I have gone through a large amount of therapy and have to dig deep into parts of my own self-growth that there have been a lot of things I have had to tap into with myself that naturally comes out in the work I do today. I have always had this keen interest in these features of my experiences, and being able to express some of them, even hint at or allow them to just be present there, feels resonating.

I think you sometimes get forced into doing a lot of self-growth. In my case, there has been a lot of digging into internal beliefs, both rational and irrational, and they appear over time or I generate them. Then, they distort the sense of self and what is my reality in relation to other things. I have dug deep into layers of my deep-seated fears too, and I think when we start to embrace and understand these, we allow ourselves to push deeper into those areas of our mind and sensation.

Do you have any other sources of influences? 

My work is so intuitive. I can go away and experience experiences, but the ideas that I have just sit in the periphery and do not fully sit in. It is not like I am going to do a painting about this or that, no. It all just comes out in an intuitive way. Also, being around other people and having interactive relationships are important too. I often spend time on my own, painting figures. From there, I have these two extremes where I spend so much time on my own – I also live on my own – and doing these paintings about figures of human interactions and about human sensations. All of them are intense experiences to live through which then can be parts of my influences.

Have you always wanted to be an artist, then?

Absolutely. Being an artist and painting have always been my natural ways to communicate. They have never felt like a struggle. School was hard for me since it was difficult express myself through drawing and art even though they felt natural to me.

“I have always wanted to be an artist, but it was challenging to tell that to my teachers because one needs to understand how to be and what it is to be an artist to fully understand the life of it.”

It has been a huge process, overall, and I am very lucky to be doing this.

Do you have any artistic rituals before you paint?

Yes, I have got rituals. I do some exercise in the morning and in the evening. Then, I go for a walk after painting in the studio (if there is light outside). I make sure I do not work overtime. Then, I have a bath every night because I am normally covered in paint, so having a bath every night is a moment – my moment. So, not many rituals, I think.

How do your immediate surroundings influence your artistic practice today?

Living on my own, going at my own pace with everything, and not being in London were massive shifts in how I operate. There is a lot more consideration and pace that is not rushed anymore unlike in London where I had always felt urgency. Now, it is more just about looking, taking everything in from my surroundings. The thing is that in London, I would commute to the studio, step inside, and tell myself “I have to paint now.” It was a lot frantic. Whereas here in Kent, I could just come here, do a little bit of painting, and sit and look at them. Sometimes, maybe even not paint and just look at them. This is where the surrounding influences come in.


Talent · George Rouy
Photography · Markn and Brigita Žižytė
Fashion · Emma Simmonds
Creative Direction · Jade Removille
Special thanks to Rosie Fitter and Thibault Geffrin at Almine Rech


  1. T shirt Vintage LAURA ASHLEY at LONDON.VINTAGE, paint splattered jeans and shoes George’s own, boxer shorts SUNSPEL and all jewellery George’s own
  2. Vintage YVES SAINT LAURENT wool suit at GASOLINE RAINBOWS, shoes CHURCH’S and jewellery George’s own
  3. Dress, archive GHARANI STROK at THE ARC
  4. Jewellery George’s own
  5. Vintage YVES SAINT LAURENT wool suit trousers at GASOLINE RAINBOWS and belt, shoes and jewellery George’s own
  6. T-shirt in red ribbed jersey, archive HELMUT LANG AW1997 at ENDYMA and classic tailored trousers in polished calfskin, archive HELMUT LANG AW2000 at ENDYMA, crystal drop earrings Stylist’s own, shoes CHURCH’S and all jewellery George’s own
  7. Vintage YVES SAINT LAURENT wool suit trousers at GASOLINE RAINBOWS and belt, shoes and jewellery George’s own
  8. Leather shirt and trousers BOTTEGA VENETA and all jewellery George’s own
  9. T-shirt in red ribbed jersey, archive HELMUT LANG AW1997 at ENDYMA and crystal drop earrings Stylist’s own
  10. Archive HELMUT LANG SS 2004 cut out Nipple tank at ENDYMA, Archive HELMUT LANG 1998 Painter Jeans at NDWC0 Archive, Paint splattered shoes and jewellery George’s own
  11. Black wool suit BOTTEGA VENETA
  12. Archive JUNYA WATANABE, SS 2002, Poem shirt at NDWC0 Archive. Black jersey strappy top, archive ALEXANDER MCQUEEN SS2002 ‘Dance of the Twisted Bull’ at THE ARC, classic tailored trousers in polished calfskin, archive HELMUT LANG AW2000 at ENDYMA, shoes CHURCH’S and all jewellery George’s own.
  13. Vintage YVES SAINT LAURENT wool suit trousers at GASOLINE RAINBOWS and belt, shoes and jewellery George’s own

Neels Castillon

Film director and photographer Neels Castillon on cinematic visuals

For Neels Castillon, authenticity is integral to his role as a film director and photographer, especially, as he explains on the phone from Paris, in an age of fake news. The dissemination of falsified and fabricated news reportage may not have a direct connection to Castillon, whose clients include Lacoste, Hermès and the French singer, Angèle, but his contention lies with the prevalence of artifice. He sees his role as navigating a balance between capturing the feeling that cinematic visuals can provoke, whilst simultaneously resisting the artificiality those same visuals can carry. There is perhaps no better example of how Castillon meets this feat than in his production company, Motion Palace’s, advertising campaign for kitchen manufacturer, Schmidt. The premise of the advertisement was to have one of Schmidt’s kitchens appearing on a cliff face, demonstrating the brand’s functionality and adaptability. On seeing that the brief was to shoot in a studio with a green screen, Castillon responded that it should be shot for real in the Alps. The ensuing advertisement, and supplementary documentary about the process, are jaw-dropping to watch, as mountaineer Kenton Cool makes himself breakfast in a fully-working kitchen, 6500ft above ground. Castillon refers to the experience as a ‘cool adventure’; the team involved stayed in tents for fifteen days, hiking their way up to the cliffside, and creating an entirely new structure to support the camera from above.

It is through commercial work, like the advertisement for Schmidt, that Motion Palace is able to pursue its more artistic endeavours; ‘It’s in the DNA of my company to produce art stuff with the money we make,’ Castillon explains. As a result, Castillon was able to realise the F Major music video for the neo-classical pianist, Hania Rani, in Iceland earlier this year. 

Filmed in a remote location, Hania is seen playing an open-front upright piano – an approach which visually encapsulates the artist’s fascination with the mechanical, organic possibilities that the instrument affords. For the video, Castillon worked with the choreographer, Fanny Sage, and the dancers Mellina Boubetra and Janina Sarantšina, whose interpretations of Hania’s ethereal performance is captured in a single sequence shot. The camera work signals Castillon’s commitment to striving for authenticity; ‘The concept was, how can we translate music that never stops, and keep up this pace?’ So, the camera doesn’t stop either. It was important, too, to translate the sensation of freedom that comes both with Hania’s music and the dancers’ movements – something that the film’s location allowed for. ‘I want to celebrate nature,’ Castillon explains, adding that he strives to capture how a landscape can be inspirational, whilst resisting the urge to just create picture postcards of the scenery. The backdrop of mountains and black sand in F Major have the potential to be just that; awe-inspiring and spectacular in itself. But, as the chilling wind that entraps Hania and the dancers in the video confirms, the logistics of F Major were anything but straightforward. ‘As you can see, there was an ice storm,’ Castillon points out; ‘It was very cold, like minus seven degrees. We rehearsed a lot before but, on set on the beach we only had three takes because of the light and the weather.’ Not only was the filming testament to Castillon’s approach to taking on a challenge, but also his dedication to fully realising the potential of the performers he works with. 

Castillon discovered Hania Rani through her record label, Gondwana Records: ‘I like pretty much all the artists they have in their roster, so when I listened to her first album (2019’s Esja) I was totally in love.’ At the time Castillon reached out to Hania, she was writing her second album, Home, but she had seen Castillon’s 2017 film, Isola with the dancer Léo Walk, and wanted to work together. Their collaboration was postponed to allow time for Castillon to raise money and for Hania to complete the album. This time also gave Castillon the chance to work out the concept for their work; ‘I listened to [F Major] maybe 200 times before coming up with the idea.’ He was also keen to ensure he attended every rehearsal and discuss the concept with the dancers; the process is ‘almost a co-creation,’ Castillon explains, like ‘ping-pong.’ It’s a constructive and collaborative process of back-and-forths to find a way that Castillon can capture the performance in the best possible way. His work with Hania may have been a while in the making, but that seems to be the case with a lot of Castillon’s collaborations. 

Stills from Hania Rani’s F Major music video

There is a sense, talking to Castillon, that he uses his films to capture the creative endeavours of those he knows and admires – and in turn, to introduce them to one another in the name of collaboration. That was the case for last year’s short film, Parce Que, featuring the painter, Inès Longevial, and Léo Walk. Inès, like Hania after her, had seen Isola and was keen to work with Léo who, similarly, loved the painter’s work. Castillon had known Inès for a number of years previously and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to work together, which Parce Que would be – but it took ‘almost a year to find a time when [Léo and Inès] were both available.’ The idea was to combine painting and dance together, but Castillon was wary of avoiding the pitfalls of an ‘arty cliché’. With Serge Gainsbourg’s song Parce Que as the film’s soundtrack, the dangers of doing something cliché could be high, but Castillon managed to pull it off. That success is demonstrative of the director’s integrity when it comes to understanding the performers he works with. It was important that the location choice for Parce Que would be able to accommodate Léo’s dancing, which, as he explains in reference to Isola, requires a smooth enough surface to allow for some of the breakdancing moves. As the film, which tells the story of love and, eventually heartbreak, progresses, Léo dances on a six by four metre painting that Inès is depicted as working on; Castillon’s way of combining the creative skill of both collaborators, and avoiding the cliché of something ‘that has already been seen before’. 

Léo Walk on the set of Parce Que

Inès Longevial on the set of Parce Que

As with the Schimdt advertisement and the F Major video, Parce Que shows that Castillon is a master at pulling of impressive operations. ‘It’s what I love,’ he enthuses, ‘sometimes you have a crazy idea like, “What if Léo dances on a big painting?” And one year later, you are shooting it. Like, okay – it’s worth it.’ A special frame was made for Inès’s painting, which was kept in four parts in a friend’s shop in Paris because, as Castillon explains, ‘the apartments are very tiny’, before being transported to a secret location in the South of France for filming. A delipidated castle near Biarritz was chosen in part because the location reminded Inès of her childhood and also because Castillon liked its uniqueness. It had been designed by a woman at the turn of the twentieth century, who had taken inspiration from far and wide including, amongst other references, Versailles. Castillon is careful not to disclose the exact location of the castle because of the fragile state that the building is now in; the team spent two days clearing the site of detritus before filming and filmed quickly to cause as little damage as possible. There is, then, a sense of nostalgia that infuses Parce Que – a longing for lost love, a reminder of childhood and memory of times gone by. 

Personal connections prove important to Castillon, perhaps another explanation for how he avoids clichés. During the location scouts for Isola, it occurred to Castillon that he knew exactly the place to film. Castillon grew up in Sardinia; he remembers a deserted building near a beach he used to frequent with his grandmother, which would become the ‘perfect place’ to film. He describes the place as surreal, the light there reminding him of an Edward Hopper painting. The experience of watching Isola feels similar to viewing a painting by Edward Hopper, too. To see Léo perform, at first refracting the haze of the summer sun and, later, his movements lit up by the warm glow of sundown, it is possible to feel connected to him in his solitude. Isola grants the opportunity to be close to Léo precisely because Castillon is conscientiously aware of the viewer. One of the director’s earlier videos, La République du Skateboard, came from the desire to capture a scene close to Castillon’s heart. As a skateboarder from the age of ten, Castillon started making skate videos using filming techniques common to the scene, ‘fisheyes, long lens – pretty dirty stuff.’ But, he decided to make a film that was more cinematic, taking influence from the classic movies that helped him learn the filming techniques he employs today. The film, about skateboarding and, skateboarding in Paris in particular, was envisioned as something that anyone could watch. The result is an ode to the scene and the city, beautifully shot, as would be expected from Castillon’s work, and accessible too. ‘I didn’t want to make something that only speaks to experts,’ the director explains. ‘I wanted to translate it in a way that is universal so that everyone can watch and understand why it’s beautiful.’ That same philosophy is applied to dance; ‘I’m not interested in making dance videos that only a few people can understand’, Castillon says of his approach. Rather, he wants to ‘find a perfect balance between the popular and the artistic.’  

At its core, Castillon’s role as a director could be understood as transforming his fascination for performers into nuanced films that combine a highly cinematic approach with a deep respect for artistic craft. He says that he is fascinated by artists like Léo Walk and Fanny Sage, and this fascination inspires him to tell their stories. It’s somewhat telling that Castillon describes himself as someone who ‘cannot create a whole universe from nothing’. Rather, he thrives on the collaborative process that comes with the way he instinctively works. Just as he brings up fakes news as the anthesis of his search for authenticity, Castillon describes a ‘kind of boredom’ that comes with the saturation of content on platforms like Instagram and Netflix. He is resolutely not interested in making films that have been done before. That said, Castillon’s upcoming release sees the director return to Iceland with Fanny Sage for a second film; the music is by the French artist, Awir Leon, who, not surprisingly, Castillon claims to love. He describes the short film, called 間 (Ma), as ‘mind-blowing’ – and it’s a project that he seems immensely proud of. When it premieres on June 29th on Nowness, it’s more than likely worth watching.  

Tame Impala

“I think the energy of being in a place that you’ve never been in before can make your brain think in different ways”

Kevin Parker’s shoot for NR Magazine came merely a few days before Los Angeles was locked down in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has, slowly but surely, turned everything we know on its head. ‘It was great to do something normal, something that I have been doing a lot of in the last few months; doing photoshoots and having fun,’ Kevin explains – now back in his native Perth, WA. ‘It took the attention away from everything that was going on. It was nice to spend three hours, just doing a photoshoot with wicked clothes.’ As the force behind the powerhouse band Tame Impala, Kevin is confident that the band has the resources it needs to weather the blow that the pandemic will have on the music industry; people still listen to his music online, ‘apparently’. When it comes to making music, it’s a well-known fact that Kevin works alone – so in that sense, business continues as usual. Yet, like many other artists who have had to abandon plans for the foreseeable future, the release of Tame Impala’s fourth album, The Slow Rush, in February has been overshadowed by this unprecedented upheaval. The band were due to play a number of shows in the US and Mexico in March, with an Australian tour following in April. ‘We’d spent so long preparing for the tour, and were at this absolute crescendo of getting ready for the shows – and as soon as we had played the first show, it was like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen? For now, the dates have been postponed – which undoubtedly comes as a blow to the Tame Impala fans who have been waiting five years for a new album (though a number of fans turned to punning The Slow Rush’s exploration of ‘time’ in response to Kevin’s announcements of the postponed shows on social media; ‘it’s a slow rush’.) In its entirety, The Slow Rush is an infectiously funky record – and the influence of 70s disco and the current mainstream that has welcomed Kevin into its arms, are clear. Much of the heavy fuzz and reverb found on earlier Tame Impala albums have been slickened and given a shiny polish. Looking into the past may preoccupy some of Kevin’s lyrical reflections on the album, but there’s no reason for why Tame Impala’s sound shouldn’t move forward. It’s somewhat bittersweet that an album that unpicks the strangeness of time should come at a moment when, across the planet, we will have more time to contemplate the past and the future. It’s a heavy weight to place upon the shoulders of The Slow Rush, and if there was any kind of global crisis that was on Kevin’s mind at the time of writing the album, it would have been the climate crisis. Tame Impala partnered with Reverb, an organisation that works with artists to counterbalance the carbon emissions that are created through touring – something Kevin explains as a ‘no brainer’. Touring, especially on the level that the band are, has a huge carbon footprint, and trying to restructure the way world tours have been done for years would be a daunting task for Tame Impala to undertake themselves. But, it’s Tame Impala’s responsibility ‘first and foremost’ to ensure that the band is setting the right example, especially for a band that performs to thousands of people at every show (though, he hopes, the people that listen to Tame Impala are ‘probably not the kind of people going around denying climate change.’) During our Skype call, I ask Kevin about the prerequisites for listening to music; he says he has come to realise that his appreciation of music is shaped by ‘not necessarily the space, but who I was with when I heard it first, or what I was feeling.’ There’s a ‘helplessness’ to this reality; a ‘lack of control, from the songwriter’s point of view’ over how their music will be received. No doubt, Kevin could not have anticipated that The Slow Rush would come at the time it did; all that’s left to do now is listen to the album in solitude and await the moment when the music world comes back to life.

NR Magazine: The Slow Rush was a long time in the making – how do you feel listening to it now that it’s out there? Is it a relief to be done?

Kevin Parker: Absolutely, yeah. It’s funny because the moment I’m finished with the album, and the moment it comes out, I expect this huge sense of relief and a weight off my shoulders , but it never comes. That might just be because I have trouble appreciating things once they’re done; on release day, I didn’t get to enjoy it because I just can’t enjoy these things. I still enjoy the album, but it’s not always easy to enjoy the music when you’re aware of so many other people listening to it for the first time, and invariably judging it. When I look back, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Shit, am I ever going to finish this?’ Now, I am able to appreciate being on the other side of that. I was listening to the album yesterday; if I’m ever on Spotify for whatever reason, I’ll probably slowly make my way to the album and give it a listen – just to see what it sounds like now after a month. (It only came out a month ago, that’s crazy; it feels like a life time ago!)

What were your reasons for making an album that explores the concept of time?

It’s always been something that fascinates me – not time itself as a weird existential force – but the way it affects us. The way you can smell something, you know, if you walk past someone in the street who’s wearing cologne that someone that you were in a relationship with ten years ago was wearing, and you haven’t smelled it since then, it just sends you into an absolute time warp. The way these experiences shape our lives intrigues me. At the same time, I didn’t consciously go about making songs about all these things but, when it comes to an album, the kind of music that I’m making subconsciously informs what I start singing about. Like, when I made Lonerism, the chords and instruments I was using reminded me of times when I felt alone growing up, and so the album ended up being like that. And I feel like The Slow Rush is the same kind of thing, where the music I was making – the rhythms and cords – just made me think about the future, the past and everything in between.

I listened to Innerspeaker again a couple of weeks ago and it transported me back almost ten years back which was, like you say, an emotional time warp. Does the way you listen to your music change with the passage of time, or is the sentiment the same?

Definitely not, no! It’s funny you know, you’re saying about Innerspeaker – it’s the same for me. I hardly ever listen to the album the whole way through, but if I really pay attention to parts of it, it’s crazy because it so clearly reminds me of where I was and what I was feeling. Like for you, it’s kind of crazy; music is crazy how it can do that. I guess the other thing is, listening to Innerspeaker now, it feels like it was someone else. I just hear this naïve kid, not really knowing what he was doing, which is nice because I don’t judge it anymore. I don’t judge it in the way that I do with The Slow Rush. Innerspeaker was so long ago that any of the mistakes, any of the things that are wrong with it, just sound charming and cute, which feels weird to say…

I guess you’re so disconnected from it, with that amount of time passing?

Yeah totally. That’s also good because it finally allows me to listen to it like someone else, not as me – the person who made it. That’s kind of the dream, to be able to listen to your own work. I don’t know how much money I would pay to be able to listen to the songs I’m working on at the time, you know? To be able to listen to the album, as an outsider… I’d give anything to be able to do that, but it’s something that only time can offer.

I’ve seen a few people mention that the cover for The Slow Rush was 3D-animated, but it’s a photograph from Kolmanskop, Namibia, right?

Yeah – I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit disappointed when people asked how I synthesised the image. I was like, ‘Man, I flew half way across the world to take that picture!’

I can see why people don’t believe it’s real. How did you decide on using that as the album cover?

I was a little bit obsessed with abandoned places for a while, and the internet is full of pictures of these abandoned ghost towns; there’s just something so enthralling about them. I mean, probably not coincidentally, it’s like the experience of time passing smacking you in the face. I guess some people find it depressing to look at, but I just see such beauty in it. As soon as I saw that place, I knew that we had to go there. Kolmanskop is like a ghost town in the desert and it’s super windy, so sand just builds up in these amazing ways. What I love about it, is that it looks like liquid – and if you look at a picture, you can’t tell if it took the sand that’s up to the window a matter of minutes or decades to reach that point, you know? You can’t tell which it is and that’s kind of what I love about it.

You’ve previously spoken a lot about how you make music, but how important is the space around you during that process?

It’s important – not that I need to be in a particular place to make music, but I think there’s something about being somewhere new. I think the energy of being in a place that you’ve never been in before can make your brain think in different ways. So, with The Slow Rush, I tried to milk that. I was renting Airbnbs, taking music equipment with me and recording there for a week on my own. There’s this nervous tension about being in someone else’s house…

Though I guess, you got more than what you bargained for when you were staying in Malibu [when the worst wildfire season in California in 2018 ravaged the area]?

Well exactly, yeah. And I’d only been there for one night, and the next morning I just had to go. I had stayed there for a week earlier that month recording, and it’s funny because I think about that space – I started a few songs off this album there, and when I listen to something I think about where I was when I working on it. It takes me a while to realise that that space doesn’t exist anymore; it was completely burned to the ground, it was just rubble. When I listen to a song, or the chorus of a song I wrote there, I remember the colour of the walls; what the door looked like; what it was like leaning out into the backyard. It’s kind of weird to think it just doesn’t exist anymore because, in terms of memory, we never think of a space as not existing, you know? Our minds think of the space we’re in as these permanent places, not something that can just disappear in one day.

It goes without saying that Tame Impala has seen an unprecedented level of success in the past ten years – what’s next for Tame Impala and for you?

That’s a good question; I don’t know. Well, I want to get making music. One of the things I was looking forward to so much with finishing this album was it just being done with. There was so much stuff that I wanted to do, in terms of Tame Impala and not; there were things that I couldn’t do until I made this album. So now, I’m happy to be on the other side of it so I can do the things that seemed wrong before. I have no shortage of things that I want to do now. I’m kind of excited about it – whatever that ends up being.


Photo · JJ GEIGER photo assistant AMANI BATURA
Interview · ELLIE BROWN
Special Thanks · Grand Stand HQ

Félix Maritaud

“you just have to give it a space, a medium, the body”

Félix Maritaud has catapulted to success in French Cinema with his breakthrough role in Sauvage; solidifying him as one to watch. The Camille Vidal-Naquet directed film, depicted Maritaud as a male sex worker in the streets of Strasbourg in search for love. Maritaud’s ability to play emotionally complex characters has proved to be a reason why he is helping to change the landscape of French cinema and challenge Queer roles within. 

NR speaks with the actor about some of his most prevalent roles and the preparation behind the characters and where we can expect him in the future. For the 28-year old Saint Laurent muse, 2021 will be a fruitful year with projects such as L’énnemi de Stephan Strekker, and in Tom by Fabienne Berthaud.

Felix, It is great to speak to you. First of all, growing up, was there a significant role that inspired you to get into acting?

I won’t lie, I never thought about acting before some people asked for it, it just happened, and for good because i really do love this way to explore life through my body.

Before that I was more inspired by art history, artists, paintings, I’m not watching a lot of films, I don’t have many references about movies and cinema, I just participate sometimes.

One of your first roles was in ‘120 Beats Per Minute’ (2017) directed by Robin Campillo. It is a unifying movie between the personal and the political, tracing back the story Act Up Paris and the lobbying of their activists for adequate legislation, proper research and treatment for those with HIV/Aids. It also centers on the romantic lives of the characters in the movie. Why did you decide to pick this role?

First i always had been really moved and inspired by the history of the creation and actions of ACT UP, even when I was in fine art school at 19 with friends we did « anti-patriarchy » actions creating a group called ACT HOLE as a tribute to ACT UP activists, so when they called me to do a casting ( my first one) for the film i though i already belong to it. 

A standout performance for us was your role in ‘Sauvage’ (2018) in which you play the role of a young sex worker. Could you tell us about the preparation you had done prior to filming?

The casting process was quite long, the idea was really to create a body to the character, a way to move, to stand, to walk, to be naked etc. Camille hadn’t in mind a body like mine writing, he was thinking of a more fragile body type, even if i’m not strong btw, my body was imposing something that we had to adjust and adapt using dance workshops and lots of talks, practicing the body movement of the character on Paris streets,

“trying, trying things to find this strength into vulnerability that is what makes to me the beauty of this young sex worker.”

How was it working with Camille Vidal-Naquet, the film director of ‘Sauvage’?

It was really great, he really knew what he wanted about the film and the character, and we had a really friendly relationship, with all the team actually, so it created a space of strong artistic expression based on truth, empathy and love, because that’s what the movie is about. Camille is a really precise director, and on the other hand he is really open to what the team had to say, or propose.

You have mentioned previously that the character you played in ‘Sauvage’, stepped into your shoes rather than the other way around especially because of how specific the script was. Could you expand on this?

I don’t think of characters as persons you’re building entirely consciously, I don’t want to either. I think that what’s interesting to catch on camera is more an energy, something more fluid than a definition of codified, psychological things that people used to think as the way to define or describe characters.

I think that at a moment of commitment to a character, you can’t ‘control’ it anymore, you just have to give it a space, a medium, the body. So as it was a really intense role, and a really intense shooting too and as I trusted the script and Camille I just let the characters vibration the use of my body, it was really intense, but I did learn a lot from it.

So I’m giving space to my characters, I let myself be pure energy just to let them in, creating their own narratives with my body,

“I think of this job as a relationship, and I try not to impose things on relationships.”

You have also worked with Gaspar Noé in his medium-length movie ‘Lux AEterna’ (2019) produced by Saint Laurent’s creative director, Anthony Vaccarello. Could you tell us more about the movie and how it was working with Gaspar Noé?

I don’t know if I would say ‘movie’ to talk about this work of Genius Gaspar Noé, to me Lux Aeterna is a kind of a narrative manifest about creation of chaos with many levels of understanding. The movie makes me feel like a parallel to what movies are doing to life, changing perceptions of realness, creating a form of chaos as a distortion of an equilibrium between senses and the ‘ways it goes’.  

I like working with Gaspar, it’s really something. As Saint Laurent produced the movie, he had the opportunity to do what he wanted and express it really freely,

“I never saw a script, or texts to learn, pure genius energy.”

You have a strong affiliation with Parisian fashion houses such as Lanvin and Saint Laurent. How does fashion inspire you and your work?

I feel fashion is like a place in society where desire is key and expression of the self is at the center of purposes, style is a way to express people’s self. I met Anthony Vacarello during a radio show we were both invited by Beatrice Dalle, then he invites me to some shows and we get to know each other better, i really like his vision about desire, this provocative chic sexiness with beautiful fabrics and materials, I think he’s making women really powerful and sexy, I really do like what he does, I like wearing SAINT LAURENT leather jackets, its makes me feel so much strength. For Lanvin, I knew Bruno Sialleli from a long time maybe 10 years from common friends, I like his poetry, it’s soft, colors and shapes are soft and sometimes belongs to dreams, joyful ones, and as we have almost the same age we have lots of references in common, he’s a really nice guy.

Your latest role was in ‘L’Ennemi’ directed by Stephan Streker (2020), a movie encapsulating the idea that as human beings we are our own worst enemies in the end. The character you play, Pablo, was written with you in mind. Can you tell us a bit about Pablo and how you played him?

Pablo is jailed with the main character of the movie, they share the cell, it’s a really close relationship into space at first and then into minds, their relationship show a form of class warfare between them, an average politician jailed in front of a young guy, it’s a beautiful relationship and working with Jeremie Renier was a real pleasure, he’s a great guy and always ready to play what I do like a lot.

You have had a lot of success French cinema with these independent movies. Do you have any desire to break into international mainstream cinema?

I wouldn’t say mainstream as to me this word belongs to something I try to escape most of the time in my own life, but yes, I will do every project where i feel like it can reach a level of emotions and sensations i would enjoy, I have many projects to come outside of French films, I love to discover new horizons and way to create so I stay really open to new experiences.

What’s next for you?

You’ll see me soon in L’énnemi de Stephan Strekker, and in Tom by Fabienne Berthaud where I play a guy coming out of prison and finding out he’s a father with the great actress Nadia Teresckevitch, and in You Won’t be Alone, an Australian/American/Serbian horror movie by Goran Stolevski that is  gonna be legendary. At the same time I’m focusing on self stuff like artworks langage to understand more of life, creating pictures, poetry and having fun with DATAs.


Photography · MICHELE YONG
Creative Direction and Interview · NIMA HABIBZADEH and JADE REMOVILLE

Kevin Saunderson

“no matter how big we became, it was always a struggle back home”

Back in June, Kevin Saunderson of Inner City made headlines when he claimed, in an interview with Billboard, that the music industry had failed Black artists. And he’s got personal anecdotes to back that up – recalling, over the phone to NR, the time himself and fellow Detroiter, Derrick May, played a festival in Australia almost ten years ago. The pair found themselves playing a stage with around 200 capacity; the Canadian EDM producer, Deadmau5, was on the main stage, playing to an audience maybe 20, 30, 40 times the size. 

It’s a story that captures dance music perfectly in a nutshell. Back in the 1980s, it was Kevin, Derrick and their high school peer, Juan Atkins, who pioneered and popularised techno in Detroit; young, Black producers making music for people like them. ‘Our crowd was 90% Black,’ Kevin explains – sure, the crowds were smaller than they are now, but that’s because EDM music exploded into a billion-dollar industry. An industry whose most well-known faces are male and white; Deadmau5, Skrillex, Diplo, David Guetta, and so on.

What’s the solution? Kevin thinks that it starts with promoters, agents and general management because, at the end of the day, ‘they’re who put music in front of you.’ There needs to be more Black management in the industry to ensure that people of colour are getting more opportunities and not being ‘taken for granted’; he sees it as a collective responsibility to bring other artists up. All that said, Kevin sees the scene as being in a good place, pandemic aside; there’s a more diverse sound coming through the next generation, much more so compared to back in the day. 

Kevin was born in New York, before moving to Belleville, a suburb in Detroit, as a teenager. It was there that he met Derrick and Juan, and it was also there that, together, the three would define the sound that became Detroit techno. The 1980s provided the perfect environment for a new genre to grow; in Chicago, there was house – pioneered by the likes of Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson, and in New York, there was disco (and later, garage). Though the scene in New York pivoted around gay culture, Kevin would travel back and forth from Detroit to New York for the music, going to legendary clubs like Paradise Garage to see Larry Levan play. It was an inclusive scene in an otherwise segregated music world;

“I was always inspired to make music for everyone because I was inspired by New York where it didn’t matter who the music was for.”

When Kevin formed Inner City in 1987, he brought that inclusive nature of the disco scene to the techno sound he’d found in Detroit. 

At the time, music by Black artists was regarded with hostility in America – something Kevin and Inner City found ‘no matter how big we became, it was always a struggle back home.’ It was when the band’s first hit single, Big Fun, recorded with vocalist Paris Grey, was included on British DJ, Neil Rushton’s compilation album, Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit (1988) that Inner City found success. And though Inner City’s second hit single, Good Life, is now recognised as a definitive anthem of the era, Kevin notes that no amount of global success changed their prospects back home. Artists who’d found success in the UK and beyond were met with doors slammed in their face back in the States; ‘they’d hear that agents are full up, “our rosters are full.”’ 

It never put Kevin off. Since those early days, he’s produced under many different names, from E-dancer to KS Experience, and in 2019, he brought Inner City back from retirement with the help of his son, Dantiez, and the singer Steffanie Christi’an. Back in August, the band released their first album as a new formation (and Inner City’s first in almost 30 years). We All Move Together is a celebration of dance music, from its formation in Kevin’s early career, to the present day. After being shown a clip of the actor and DJ, Idris Elba playing Big Fun by his friend Dennis White (Inner City’s original tour manager), the idea was floated to bring him into the mix for the album. ‘When I saw that, it sparked something to contact Idris.’ The result was the album’s opening track of the same name, in which Idris provides a spoken word history of the dance music industry. The album plays like a crossover between old and new, sidestepping the otherwise white-washed EDM scene. 

Working with Dantiez and Steffanie has given Kevin the chance to shape Inner City for a new audience, whilst being able to also keep its legacy going. When it comes to Steffanie’s vocals, it’s been great to create new songs that are shaped around her voice; ‘at the beginning, it was just previous stuff and that’s always difficult for anybody trying to sing someone else’s song.’ Kevin’s also open to using technology differently to the first-time round.

“Technology back then was more hands on, more hardware-based – you had to touch something. Software imitates what was done in the past, it’s recreating what I created.”

It was because of the technology that he got into producing in the first place, using sequencers like the Squarp, and drum machines like the 909, 808, 727. 

Kevin ‘appreciates both ways’ now – sure you ‘had to put the work in with the old ways,’ but newer software, like Logic and Ableton are shaping the future. It’s clear that Dantiez’s influence has rubbed off on his dad; it’s something Kevin has been sure to emphasise since Inner City reformed. And it makes sense because, at the heart of his music and the philosophy that underpins it, is a desire to push forwards. It was the futuristic sound of the German band, Kraftwerk, that had a huge influence on Detroit techno. How did a band from Dusseldorf end up on the radar of a teenager living in the suburbs of Detroit? Via the radio station of the Electrifying Mojo, who had a profound effect on Kevin, Derrick and Juan.

“Kraftwerk used technology to make music and it was so future sounding”

—Kevin explains. It provided the tools to create a definitive sound of the era, one that was able to reach a global audience without interference from the music industry guard. Risen from the ashes of a city decimated by the decline of the car industry that revolutionised the twentieth century, came a genre of music that would change the world once again. And, as Kevin points out, the legacy remains; ‘Detroit is Detroit – DJ’s always want to come to Detroit to play.’ 

Photograph · Scott Sprague
Thank you to the Prizm Network


Pivotal points and personal breakthroughs

As the sun sets earlier and the air gets colder–as the weather folds–Louis Kevin Celestin (also known as Kaytranada) is returning to Los Angeles to pick up where he left off pre-pandemic, with a new understanding of himself. When the coronavirus broke out, he was in the midst of lining up studio sessions with artists, shooting a new series of visuals, and transitioning to a more collaborative creative process. Bubba–his sophomore album–had just been released and he had tour dates booked around the globe throughout the year. Be that as it may, he had to wrap things up and return to shelter in his Saint-Henri apartment. The pulse and tempo of his raw and distinctive take on out-and-out dance music would also have to stay confined in the custody of TikTok dancers for the time being. 

2020 was meant to be everyone’s year, but our most ambitious intentions subsided to a transformative journey of trials and tribulations as things went a whole other way. Abundant introspection has brought many of us to retrace our own pasts and re-imagine our futures in tides of hope and fear. The conversation Kevin and I shared was the occasion to revisit pivotal points of his life and personal breakthroughs of the past year, as well as the impact it has had on where he stands today, in the world and within himself. 

Born in Haïti and raised on the outskirts of Montréal, his notion of belonging has been in continuous motion over the years. Grappling with his perspectives on queerness lead him to find multiple groundings for his identity, as an artist and as a person. Growing into the power of only saying “yes” when he means it, of setting boundaries and maintaining them has meant asserting a much truer self. After spending the summer re-connecting in different ways–with nature, with friends, with other creatives, with himself, with film, with literature, and so on–he is back in phase with his own rhythm. 

Over the years, you’ve shared with me how touring and the acclaim that has come with it has been a source of relief at times, and the cause of distress at others. How has your relationship with being on the road shifted? 

In 2014, I was going on my first tour. The ‘If’ and ‘Be Your Girl’ remixes were buzzing, I had shows in Montréal getting sold out, people were showing up, it was kinda crazy, everything was growing at the same time… so my first tour in Europe was… a first tour. It wasn’t a disaster but my manager and I were learning a lot, especially my manager because I was always counting on him. I’d never been to Europe. I went to London first to just chill then we went to Italy for the first show and the hotel was in the middle of nowhere in some outskirts really far from the city and I was like “what the fuck, that’s Milan?” *laughs* […]. 

Touring was like an escape for me; when I went to LA for the first time, I met my label and the Soulection people, and it was like wow I’m finally there. When I’m in LA, I’m in a good space that’s nourishing to me, good vibes.. that’s what I’ll pay attention to– seeing, things I’m aware of… I used to not deal with it the right way and wouldn’t do much out there, now I’m trying to be more present mentally and trying to be less shy too, not that there’s something wrong with being shy– just not overthinking or holding myself back. 

All this LA shit happened before my first European tour actually, which is crazy. I was in LA, I was finishing school, which I didn’t even finish… I got the Boiler Room LA offer, then I went to Europe that summer. I came back to Montreal and right off the plane I had to head for Murale Festival, one of the first ones. That’s when I saw that a lot of people were there just to see me, there were so many people dancing to my shit, I played some unreleased stuff that later became hits.

A true homecoming. So when did the feeling switch up? 

Yeah, so when I went back on tour, my first album wasn’t out yet, I had only released 2 singles with XL– so I was on tour with no new music, which really bothered me because I was either playing other people’s music or songs from 99.9% that wasn’t even out yet, and people wouldn’t recognize [them]. 

I would often tell my manager ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and he would be like ‘hang on man, you can do it’, to a point where I got really sick on tour– overworked, stressed, I couldn’t eat, and thank God my brother was there because it really saved me.

“I would be trembling with shivers, I had to perform sick and go right back to bed shaking, throwing up my meds, I couldn’t eat, I had to force myself to eat soup… at the same time I was drinking a lot and I didn’t know that drinking was gonna kick my ass the way it did, like every night getting drunk, my head was hurting, it was killing me… there was so many things that I didn’t realize, I was kinda overweight too… I was not well.”

All that back to back stress accumulating into a burnout… how did you cope with that? 

I stayed home for much of 2015, I had money though, which was cool, so I was really like “okay this career shit works, I’ll be back on tour later on”. It was bitter-sweet because I loved to perform but I didn’t like traveling from a city to the next, so it would’ve been a lot better if I had like 3 days off in Berlin, because I wanted to see Berlin, I wanted to see Philadelphia… 

I had to take a long break, I was at home, I really wanted to move out and get my own spot– my mom couldn’t understand it– but I was like ‘I’m still sharing my room with my brother and I’m 24 years old this is ridiculous’… I hadn’t come out of the closet yet, so that was just before I put out 99.9%. 

So while there was so much changing on one side of your life, it was more of the same on the other 

Yeah so then I stayed home, worked on the album; I didn’t even work in the studio with anyone on that album, I mixed it by myself and then I turned it in, and the album came out in May 2016, a couple of weeks after the article where I came out. 

I came out years before but I had to re-come out again– because I had told my family I was bi to be more acceptable, but

“it got to a point where I told them ‘I’m not gay anymore, I’m delivered’, forcing myself to not-be-gay and to have girlfriends, because my friends would ask me ‘so when are you gonna have a girl?’, my uncles, everybody was worried for no reason, like, mind your business.”

Did that help you understand yourself better? 

I mean, there was a typical identity of being gay, so I wasn’t sure of myself because there weren’t gays like me that listen to Madlib or like Mobb Deep or Tribe Called Quest or M.O.P., raw shit like that– that’s what I listen to every day. I got my own divas that I like but it’s like Mariah Carey or Janet, she worked with J Dilla you know– because they’re hip hop. 

Yeah, even Mariah singing over Shook Ones or Cam. 
While a lot of people have been adapting to the concept of remote working, you’ve said you like working that way better from time right? 

Yeah I mean at the time I used to, but I don’t want to do that anymore, because I always know [how it’s gonna turn out] when I work remotely, so now I really wanna be out there and create with the artists, its more fun. And I used to get too much in my head when I would try to create with an artist and that wouldn’t come out as nice but yeah I know now I’m not gonna just work remotely, and it worked ’til covid happened– like I was ready, I put out Bubba, which was what I really sound like personally, so people reached out and those that did because of the album, it made me more confident to just do my thing, so that was working out until covid happened and I had to go back home. 

It’s ironic that right as you were becoming more comfortable with that way, everything had to shift back to remote working. 

Yeah, it makes me forget that I was that way, that I was ready to work with people. Some days I’m like– I’m going to LA soon, so– I forgot– I feel like I’m back to my old ways. 

So let’s revisit how the year went down; how did going into lockdown unfold for you? 

Okay, so– the pandemic was hard for me. I had a tour planned after putting out Bubba in December, so I was ready to go on tour for April-May-June then go to Europe after that– I had my whole year planned. I had done the Australian tour in January, which was amazing but a lot of problems came after that and everything kind of went down. 

I was in LA when the pandemic happened and I was working with people, on what was perhaps going to be the second part of Bubba that I was talking about, which didn’t happen because I had to go home right after doing the Need It video, and things went downhill… 

I went through a breakup in June, and that really messed my head up at a crazy level and I don’t know why, it’s funny because I didn’t need anybody but the breakup was hard to take, and day-to-day life, making beats, was harder than it used to be, I really lost myself. 

I grieved for I guess 3 weeks then I got up like, you know what– I’m not gonna spend my whole summer crying and shit– so I went to my friend’s studio. Alex from BADBADNOTGOOD got a nice farm somewhere in the countryside and we took shrooms, made a lot of beats. He has a beautiful spot, a bunch of vintage synths, a nice lake in the back, all to him and his fiancé… it’s amazing, his dogs are very nice, his cat too, that’s the best shit ever for me… I regret not going earlier or more, but next year I definitely will. Even when we’re not making music, we’re just listening to records, we talk about records a lot, so he just brings out the dopest Brazilian records.. and we just sunbathe and drink wine. That’s the fucking Life, I swear.. so it was really that state of mind… 

“I tried to distract myself from this breakup and I managed to have one of the best summers I’ve ever had still. Maybe less beats, but all the beats that I made were made on purpose and were dope. I found a new formula, I felt elevated.”

Your creative process? 

Yeah, my approach is so different now, and I sample less too, which is crazy.. all my records are just sitting there not being sampled it’s just weird. *laughs* Now I just rather create my own samples and add drums at the end and its a completely original production. It feels great to have that. 

A lot of things have been leading you back to yourself. 

Yeah, sort of.. even this breakup made me want to go to therapy, so I started therapy for the first time and it really blew my mind. I didn’t know why self-love was so important– why loving myself was so important… seeing friends that remind you that you’re the shit, because I was so invested in my relationship. When I was freshly single it was like “okay I gotta find distractions I guess“; good distractions– my friends really helped me, all the people that were there for me this summer, I didn’t know I had that many true friends. 

Having folks really show up for you. 

Yeah, so on top of that it just feels good to have that, and realizing in the long term, “okay this is connected to what happened before: this is why I act this way, this is why I react this way to this breakup“, its all related to what I’ve been through before, and who I am today. It was really an awakening I had inside of me, being in touch with myself and now I feel good about being by myself too. 

What are some self-care habits that have helped with that? 

Meditating, reading at least 15 minutes a day, making beats, reaching out to people and collaborating more, going to the farm, spending time in silence. 


Photography KANE OCEAN
Prop Stylist ANA LONTOS
Photo Assistant SAM NOVACK
Dove Provided by Alan Greenberg
Stream BUBBA now


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“I think it’s okay to just be easier on yourself now”

Josh Collard, the singer from South London better known by his alias, Collard, has just returned from Milan when we speak via video call. He’d been flown out to perform at the Bulgari event for MFW. It was the first time he’s been able to play live since lockdown hit, and though it may not have been the dream show – ‘I only got to do three songs, it was great but, you know, no one knew who I was really except the people that booked me.’ It was, he says, a tough crowd, but it was also likely the first time in half a year that the fashion set would have been able to see each other. He had good fun though; ‘it was just nice seeing my guitarist again as we’ve not had a reason to be face to face yet.’ 

Collard’s upbringing is one of the first things you’ll find when you Google his name; brought up in a strict Mormon household, too much of a troublemaker to be baptised at the age of eight (then becoming convinced he was a sinner), surrounded by music by the likes of Janis Joplin, James Brown and Prince. He joined the hip-hop collective Last Night in Paris at the age of 19, but it wasn’t really him. ‘I was doing crazy performances that I didn’t enjoy, that didn’t feel was a direct reflection of me. I felt like I was always up there emulating something else. I’m not a jump about person – there was a lot of jumping about and rapping. I’ve got asthma; I’m a two-stepper slow grinder, that’s what I do.’ And so, he left.

‘I didn’t have my own intense love creatively for a genre,’ he recalls, rather a ‘love for different genres and different music that just felt like a hobby.’ He was just recreating what was popular, musically, at the time and not really pushing the limits of his potential. That changed on a trip to LA with his producer, Zach Nahome, where he began to experiment more and veer away from the realm of hip-hop and into the territory of a more eclectic mixture of soul and smoother R’n’B. ‘It wasn’t until LA that I let the shackles go a bit.’ And 2019’s Unholy, Collard’s debut release, encapsulated his new sound perfectly. The album received rave reviews, and comparisons to a modern-day James Brown of sorts – James Brown with the addition of a feature with rapper, Kojey Radical.

When listening to Unholy, it’s possible to hear all the different elements that come together in Collard’s current sound; the influence of Motown, the references to religious themes, and the inherently twenty-first century twist. He speaks about creating something that takes from the past, with a modern outlook – something you can propel forward and make completely your own. That, Collard notes, is how music changes to reflect a new era, through exploration and design. He has a keen eye for detail, appreciating the visual side of making music as much as the sound – which is apparent in the way he enthuses about scrolling through albums on his phone, being visually stimulated by seeing the artworks, condensed and filed. 

When it comes to the visuals that supplement your music, is there anything you gravitate towards?

I like uniform, order, structure. I like the kind of Wes-sy Anderson aesthetic, or Stanley Kubrick, where everything’s got a purpose; all the colours have got a purpose, it all makes sense and it’s all uniform. I liked the shoot [for NR, at Purpose: The Archives in Tottenham] because I think it worked with my creative direction; the colours were pretty uniform, the backdrop was pretty uniform, the grey, the cement, everything. It looked pretty futuristic in a way. My favourite city is Stockholm – that place feels like a glimpse into the future. I’d say that visually, that’s my thing: with my creative directors, everything is about accentuating my love for uniformity and the need for things to make sense and kind of mesh. That’s what I’m visually attracted to.

Do you apply that same logic to making music, or are they quite separate approaches?

Yeah, no – it’s not chaotic at all. It’s actually very uniform in terms of my layout. What I think about might be chaotic, or the situation might be chaotic, but I like to get it into a neat form so I can contain myself, you know? I like to start with the chorus – I always go with the chorus first – and once I’ve got the drift of what I’m really piecing together, that’s when I get into the verses. And I still love a uniformed 3:20 song. I love it you know; when it sounds like it could be at the end of a movie, or something like that, and you’ve got to fit within the constraints of that, which is beautiful. That you can fit something so wild, so personal, and you know, say the most out of this world things (which I sometimes say in my tracks), but fit it into this orderly fashion – that’s how I create for sure. 

A lot of stuff has happened this year, and in light of that, it would be interesting to know if the past seven-eight months have changed how you make music and your outlook on things?

I think my outlook has changed because I realised I wanted to be more present in music. I do like uniformity; I do like creating catalogues, but I think it made me want to explore different ways of presenting myself and my music. Not so rigid, and not so time-consuming. I’m excited to do another album, but I’m also dreading it, you know? I can’t speak for other people but, for me, it’s such a – it’s a positive, but positively-draining process that I don’t know if I want to dive back into. So, having the quarantining time and then not having to release anything [at that moment], I got into a thought process where I was like, this doesn’t need to be for a catalogue, maybe it can be just a theme. Just two songs; you love it, just put it out. Every artist’s thing is that they won’t make anything as good as the last song that did well, but I think if you get caught in that loop, you really stop yourself from just putting your art out there. Not that you should be hitting it all the time with “content, content, content,” but I think it’s okay to just be easier on yourself now. I think that was a big thing for me to learn, so I think that’s my plan in future – I’m going to fall into making an album, but my releases are just going to be fluid and what feels right.

Have you been able to making anything in the past couple of months? 

So, I didn’t get into the studio for a while because I work really closely with Zach and, at the time I was like, if I’m working, I’m only working with that guy because I know him and he’s a very hygienic man – you know what I’m saying. And we waited because he’s got a household and I’ve got asthma so we chilled for a while, but since we got back in, we’ve been able to actually make quite a few songs. We haven’t stopped. That’s just the way we work though; we get in, make three-four songs, you know – so we got right back up to speed at least. I’ve been working with him for a decade – nearly a decade now – so the process is always easy to get back into. I mean, it was the same as how we always work: just me and him, so with social distancing, I mean, maybe I spent a bit more time in the booth while he was in the control room, but that’s about it. 

You mention being a bit more fluid when it comes to making music now, but the sounds and themes of Unholy were quite specific to that album, so are you likely to consider veering off to explore other topics or inspirations? 

Yeah, I think that’s the bit I’m trying to protect right now and not force. It’s not the continuation of the sound, but the continuation of the narrative; I don’t want to force the narrative on the next album. So, it’s about figuring out what will fit for this one, what I want to talk about. I think, in terms of organisation, I don’t want to see myself swaying from a 10-track album: and the timings, I love an interlude dead in the middle. I don’t think I’ll change from that format, it’s a nice “Collard” format. But who knows? Sometimes, I’m two songs in, like with Unholy, it was after one and a half songs that I realised what it would sound like. Once I’ve found those one or two songs and the narrative for the next album, I’ll know what to do and what direction to go in. And obviously I’m not trying to make a carbon copy of Unholy, but in terms of musical components – a live sounding album will never leave me; I just love instruments too much. 

So, when we eventually get back to live shows that aren’t just a one-off like Bulgari, what will you be looking forward to? 

The whole band getting back together; I love my band. Signing with a major label [Virgin], I was lucky enough to get what I wanted in terms of my live set up – so I have the whole works. But, the drum solos, the guitar, hearing new music live, even just being able to rehearse and perform that. There’re talks of a show at Jazz Café next year, so I’d be super excited about being on that stage. Headlining would be amazing because that’s the first place I ever performed. I’m looking forward to that, hearing new songs and performing new songs, just even rehearsing new songs cos everyone in my band’s so good. Sometimes, I don’t even want to sing I just want to hear how it all falls together – I’m excited for it.


Photography DAVID REISS
Photo Assistant TAYO NELSON Fashion Assistant Harley O’Connor
Discover more of Collards music on Apple Music
Listen to Collard’s curated playlist for NR


  1. Jumper and Shirt QASIMI Gilet CP COMPANY Chinos NAPAPIJRI Shoes JIMMY CHOO
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  10. Coat and Boots EMPORIO ARMANI Polo Shirt PRADA at MR PORTER Trousers CP COMPANY


“It’s just that algorithm of life, greatness takes time”

Nostalgia knocks on D’Anthony Carlos’ front door with branlike knuckles. Memories materialize into wispy shapes and heavy eyelids flutter conjuring the fading, fluorescent pink lights reminiscent of discos past. Blink twice and the heavy strobes from sold-out shows and basement parties alike flash as he drifts in and out of jet-lag induced sleep still hours before dawn. The DMV (meaning places accessible in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia by the metro) native is better known as the Grammy-nominated rapper, Goldlink. He’s home for a few days between touring with Tyler, The Creator on his US Igor tour and gearing up for his personal biggest tour to date of the European continent to promote the release of his newest album Diaspora, and he’s trying to recalibrate. Having become a household name in the hip hop industry having birthed sans uterus a genre of his own called “future bounce,” Goldlink splices thumping house, eyes-wide-open club and silky R&B, to create an auditory landscape solid enough for his hometown to call a foundation. An identity turned dance floor. 

When Goldlink’s home, he doesn’t leave the house. Success becomes clear when he returns to standing in front of his bathroom mirror, where his reflection remembers and exhales on its own. If the shower’s running the steam gathers to spell out retribution. He’s come to understand the rest of the world by first understanding his city and considers comparison to be a fruitfully empathetic lens. The DMV’s rich culture is steeped in its “Chocolate City” roots, wrought by fables of the American Dream, gentrification and dancing feet that echo the drum snare. He strives to preserve the city’s original vibrance by coloring sound with feeling and you can bet that it evinces in shades of brown. Having grown up as a product of divorced parents in the District’s darkest years as the grim reaper plucked lives with outstretched hands and eyes closed, Goldlink turned to music as his forever sensei. Through it he’s been able to find the answers to the lingering questions of ‘why me?’ as his path is hand laced with perseverance. This unwavering dedication to his community has in turn grown to understanding that sometimes to love home, means having to leave it. Growth is not only an open wingspan, it is the flight itself, a reinvention without reincarnation. 

Whether it’s from reading previous interviews or dissecting the verbal homages that live between the bars of your lyrics, it’s no surprise that home and the DMV, not only mean a lot to you but it’s a defining factor of your identity.

Home for me is the space that you’re most comfortable being in. A place that you can reset yourself you know. That’s really it, I’ve been a lot of places that feel like home but there’s no place like home really. 

When you’re kind of talking about resetting yourself I think it’s this idea of like holding up the mirror per se. I don’t know if it’s this way for you, but for me and being from Hawaii, it’s going to my grandma’s house or something like that. What does resetting yourself look like? 

Yeah it’s chopping it up with the homies, seeing my son, seeing my family, resetting in that. It is the mirror aspect you were talking about and being able to look at and see yourself clearly in that mirror. It also allows you to see all the things that you’ve been able to accomplish while you were away and it’s the perfect time to do that. 

Right and I feel like it’s also this level of honesty that you’re forced to face and it causes you to question what your personal definitions of fulfillment and success are. For you, you’re an artist, a musician and pioneer per se but you’re also a father, a son, a friend. Have your definitions of success and fulfillment changed at all?

It hasn’t changed much. It’s changed a few times throughout the course of my career but it’s kind of stayed the same recently. I think it’s as simple as focusing on something, accomplishing that task and that’s generally what succeeding means to me. Success can be anything really, it doesn’t have a linear definition as in like, oh this is what it is. I feel like I’ve just set certain goals for myself, accomplished them and then reset new goals and then I try to accomplish those things next. 

Right and it exists in tandem with a level of perseverance. In regards to your music you’re always striving to have people understand how you grew up, your home, things like that but where does this need to be understood come from?

Being understood is a basic human need because it’s what we need to be supported. I also know that there’s a balance to it. People won’t understand everything, let alone understand it right away so I never really look for the acceptance of understanding immediately depending on what it is that I want to do. When I released Diaspora, I understood that it would come with delayed gratification. I ask myself if what I’m doing serves a purpose immediately and then if it will continue to serve that purpose in time.

What do you what do you mean by delayed gratification? 

I am much a delayed gratification person because I understand where music is going, I understand the trajectory of things and I make it a point to do a lot of research to remain ahead of my time. Sometimes you need to be ahead of your time to serve a purpose in the landscape of today. We need those unsung heroes and I try to be that as much as I can. 

And with Diaspora too I feel like you know obviously At What Cost from 2017 was so much about home, life in the DMV, creating that sound and then with Diaspora it seemed like you were extending outwards. Was it more so about just taking the next step in your career?

Yeah, it felt like the next step. It was like I tried to find myself locally and then was able to travel internationally to understand myself and my home even better. 

Yeah there’s something to be said about leaving home and what it does to your own understanding of yourself. 

I mean I still haven’t left but I’m okay with leaving because you have to grow as a person. I don’t feel like people should stay somewhere if they feel like they can grow somewhere else but you just stay where you’re needed. I’m never going to leave home entirely and I’m not confined to the definition of what leaving is, there’s multiple definitions of what leaving can mean. If you really love your home, you have to leave it to make it better. If I left and go around the world and compare my home to things that are happening in other cultures to understand and get a better read of why my home works the way it does. You know in order for you to change something entirely, you have to understand it from an external point of view. 

Right. What does growth mean to you and is it always synonymous with change? 

Yes. Like in order for me to grow I have to change so I think change and growth are like the same thing, not always but they should be. 

How are they different?

Growth and change? Well, in order to grow you have to change. In order to change, it doesn’t mean you have to grow. It’s not like backwards compatibility, it’s not like it works only one way.

Yeah but it’s interesting in conjunction thinking about this idea in tandem with the concept of diaspora and the array of experiences that both differ from and are similar to our own. What does diaspora mean to you? 

To me now, it really just means that everybody and every community is experiencing the same social economic problems and are dealing with it in the same way but they’re just different things. That’s really what diaspora means and we’re very much connected. You might do a Harlem Shake but in Hawaii you call it something completely different thing and in DC, we’ve got our own version too but we can understand each other and empathize through our own lenses. 

You’ve mentioned having to deal with survivor’s guilt and the inherent inequalities of the American Dream and now that you’re in the spotlight it must feel like it’s been magnified. I think it doesn’t really necessarily go away, maybe it changes but I think it sticks with you.

Yeah it just kind of changes. Instead of being weird about it and feeling guilty, that guilt grew into me doing something about it, whatever that may be. It’s asking yourself, “that’s how you feel, now what do you want to do about it?” My answer was that, I’m going out and trying to make it fair for kids like me to be able to find a place to make it feel like they’re a part of something.

“I want to create the necessary stepping stones to making sure that that guilt continues to transform into something positive really.”

This issue is obviously called the reinvention issue and I think it’s interesting to think about reinvention in relation to sacrifice. 

Ultimately it just depends on what you’re trying to accomplish in everything because everything is some sort of sacrifice and we all make sacrifices. I sacrifice my time, often my social life, to make sure that I accomplish my goals. I don’t feel any guilt anymore, I felt it at the time, just because I felt like “Why me?” I found all the answers to those questions. So it’s like I don’t feel that anymore and it doesn’t make sense to feel that way anymore actually.  If you want to succeed, you decide to make the necessary sacrifices to get to that goal and you keep working through that goal indefinitely, and when you succeed where is the guilt? What is the guilt? 

Right but it’s also perhaps also having to feel guilty for your success sometimes right? 

Right, it’s just knowing that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do to succeed. I knew what I wanted. I went to go get it by any means necessary and I worked really hard. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink, I’m not fucking, I’m just working and trying to be great. But what happens? You succeed at writing poems.

I felt guilty because it was so surreal, I’m going back to the community, writing the song, but why me? Why me? I have to tell myself it’s because you fucking tried and you cared. You did everything right. So you just succeeded. 

Yeah. And I know you also talked about this whole idea of taking the slow road versus the fast road.

“Reinvention takes time but in a world of instant gratification we don’t give ourselves the time to process things.”

A lot of great people take the slow road. It’s just that algorithm of life, greatness takes time. Nothing and I mean nothing in the world comes fast and works forever. I don’t care what, who, and how you are, it’s never going to work. Things need to balance and things need a base. When you go too fast, you’ll miss it all. You’ll miss the hard part of things. You’ll miss the important thing that create sustainability. That’s why you can’t just be the greatest pianist overnight. You don’t know what it feels like to not be great. You don’t know what it feels like to lose. You don’t know what it feels like. Or, Steve Jobs is a perfect example of that, people like Jay-Z and Kanye West are good examples of people who take their time, every time they did something it felt like it was the first time but then when you look up it’s been 20, 30, 40 years, they take their time to learn something new. To continue to grow is a hard thing to do. There are certain things you can’t cheat, the universe you can’t cheat. If you think of anything that’s worked immediately, it never works forever, ever. It’s like a rule of thumb. I just always make sure that I’ll take the right road. 

I think the misconception about me is that I could have blown up a really long time ago but I didn’t because that’s not what I wanted to do. It’s not that I can’t get on a track with Beyonce — granted that’s a hard thing to do. But it’s just like how am I going to enjoy being on Beyonce’s song if I’m one or two tapes in? That’s not smart.  Beyonce has been making it for 25 years and that’s because she’s doing something right consistently and it still feels like she hasn’t dropped the biggest album of her career because she continues to grow, it’s amazing to see. It only feels like she can only get better. So that’s why a lot of the greatest people told me to take your time, so I take my time.

Yeah. And I’m wondering do we go through multiple reinventions or just one turn of the tide?

You go through multiple reinventions throughout your career, you can reinvent yourself as many times you want as long as you decide to grow. You’re not going to be the same person as you were when you’re 20, you’re going to be different when you’re 25, 32, you should decide when to be different, to reinvent. It’s nothing changing. It’s just adapting.


Photography · BRENT CHUA


  1. GoldLink wears custom pieces made for his current tour through- out.


“I’ve made some of my best music and had some of my best moments from being resilient, pushing through, getting through the struggle”

Speaking with a cadence that lends itself to the kind of familiarity one feels at the turn of a season, Ricardo Valdez Valentine, better known as 6LACK, holds no reservations when it comes to speaking about change. As it moves him, with the wind when the feeling is right, he finds himself peering over his shoulder. Flitting between Los Angeles and Atlanta, 6LACK has become a resident of the in-between, a finely cast shadow that dances upon reflection itself. As presence and absence oscillate, a sense of introspection grows and calls forth the demons from 6LACK’s own mind so that one day he may address them as angels. Would you recognize insecurity if it told you its name was now faith? Having released his latest EP 6pc Hot in June of this year, the recording artist and recipient of 3 Grammy nominations who has collaborated with heavyweights like Future, Young Thug, Offset, Sir Elton John via The Gorillaz and Selena Gomez to name a few, has begun to adopt a different approach to his career and life itself. Utilizing his emotional candidacy and the art of conversation, 6LACK ruminates on his own transgressions, projections and desires in the pursuit of total clarity. He wears no halo but the latter has given him wings.

6LACK has always made music with the intention of resonance but instead of weaponizing his own vulnerability and using resilience to romanticize strife, we see him walk away from these sad boy fantasies laced with martyrdom and move towards a crossroads in which utopia begins to look like the life he already has. The foundations of this new outlook have been cemented by his role as a father and committed partner, bolstering his identity with a sense of purpose and directionality There now exists a healthy dynamism to his person and artistry as he continues to untether himself from the experiences and sounds that once defined him. Having gone on to create initiatives like 6lackbox, a platform that provides an array of tangible and affective resources for his community, 6LACK is letting go but remains held. All roads lead home.

The Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, famously once said, “the single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” You had mentioned previously that it was easier for you to communicate via music than in real life. Taking that into account and coupling it with quarantine and the collective growth that occurred through time for introspection, voluntary or not, what kinds of conversations were you having with yourself and what are you telling yourself as you emerge?

I think that in the beginning of quarantine, I was going through something similar to what everybody else was going through where we started off relatively strong and as time dragged on, we got a little bit dry. I reached a point where I was trying to figure out what I needed to do for myself before I even began to make music, just to be able to express myself, communicate, grow, learn, I felt super stagnant for a second. I realized I had to get back to myself, get back to being curious, get back into reading, get back into doing other things that sparked my creativity because I didn’t realize that I had stopped. I had put everything into music for so long and the setting and meeting of every goal only had me looking at the next one. It became a matter of okay, what do I do now? What do I do now? This way of operating ended up becoming a block of other parts of my life and that was one thing that I identified and began to do something about. I recently started therapy too, so that’s been cool to talk to an outside person who can give me advice or tell me what I’m thinking is cool, or not cool, or is me, or not me. So therapy, self-reflection and creating new routines has helped me to feel a lot better now versus how I felt at the beginning of quarantine.

Totally and with therapy in general, there’s a lot of trust involved. Do and would you say that you’re someone who trusts people easily or are you known to put your walls up? 

I’m not too bad on trust, I give people a lot of chances and benefit of the doubt so I’ve never really struggled with that part of it. I guess really it’s more so just trusting myself in a lot of different situations.

Right and in terms of trusting yourself, how much of that is synonymous with being honest? There are ugly truths inherently wrapped up in self-reflection and we often don’t want to see ourselves as we are. 

Yeah I think it’s a tough thing, I feel like most people will kind of look at that and think it’s automatic, or an easy, or natural type of thing but I’ve learned over the last few years that honesty, even with myself, is embarrassing. Sometimes it feels shameful, sometimes it’s humiliating, it’s not always my favorite stuff to talk about but being able to resolve situations that have transpired from those things has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. And it’s not because I don’t like to be honest or anything like that but when you go through a lot of things that aren’t necessarily favorable, why would you want to shout that out? Why would you want to tell somebody? Why would you want to trust somebody else with that information? So I’ve learned to speak on it more and every time I do a new album or get into a cycle of making music, I have to stop, I have to reevaluate everything, I have to see how I feel about where I am and where I want to be. I have to get to a point of being honest with myself before I start writing because otherwise, I would just be writing from the viewpoint of the last album.

Right exactly, there’s a certain voluntary vulnerability that is hard to give access to even with yourself, it becomes a question of how do you get there? We all arrive “there” differently, can you give us more of a window into your thought process? Put us in the room with you as you’re starting to write and come upon a closed door per se. 

Definitely, recently this year I spent a lot of time in a studio just sitting there. I wasn’t being hard on myself but I didn’t want to walk if I was going to walk the same way I walked last year. I would go there thinking I was going to work, I’d fire up a beat or flip through like 20 beats and eight hours would go by, ten hours would go by and then it’d be time to go. I’d be sitting there the entire time because I was sorting through my thoughts, trying to figure out what specifically is going on and what I needed to get myself going. I really just needed to be brave enough to sit down and have all the conversations that I needed to have with the people in my life because naturally, when you hear things that you don’t like especially pertaining to your person, you want to deny or fight or reply in a way that isn’t always reflective of who you truly are. I had to remember that those feelings aren’t natural and it’s more so about getting it out there and allowing other people to make the decision of what to do for themselves, giving them a choice versus choosing for them.

I can imagine you being in the studio, sitting there and feeling maybe a bit unfulfilled and obviously there’s this idea of success and respective markers of it like putting out a new album, garnering press, outside validation etc. But I’m wondering for you, as someone who is more so an artist than an entrepreneur or performer, how do you differentiate between fulfillment and success? 

I’m honestly just trying to keep a gauge on just how grateful I am. This year, I had to check myself and look at what I was doing and realize if you want to feel fulfilled, if you want to feel clear, if you want to feel creative, if you want to feel all the things that you want to feel, you have to remember to do things in your everyday routine that echo and practice that. Otherwise you’re going to find yourself in a daze or at a point where you’re not in the driver’s seat, miles from where you want to be. I had to get back into practicing, whether it was waking up and eating something right for myself, writing something down in a journal, reading something out of a book, or watching a documentary, I had to refocus myself to get back to that. I got so far away from those things because mentally, with music and my career, it’ll engulf you. It’ll make you feel like this is all you have and those thoughts start to take up space in your mind alongside your personal life and in order to stay clear and fulfilled, I had to remember to be super thankful. Gratefulness created balance for me. No matter what your intent is, every single day, you keep running into problems because you are explaining your intention instead of making them clear through action.

Preach, good intentions are too often used as the scapegoat for shortcomings! What are those things that you want to be more intentional with?

Primarily the relationship that I’m in and making sure that I’m giving the equal amount, if not more than, what someone is giving me especially if they’re a source of positive reinforcement in my life and are there to teach me things where I need to learn. I was in a space where I’ve always been the mentor to everyone else, so transitioning to have somebody else to do that for me was out of the ordinary and a bit difficult. It’s hard to let go of the reins because I was just so used to doing things by myself, sorting through my thoughts by myself, dealing with my emotions by myself — so when somebody else is there and they’re like, “you don’t have to pull the weight by yourself,” you just have to be willing to let go.

Wow yes, and so often we think that love never asks us to change who we are but why can’t change be synonymous with adaptation for the better? Why does sacrifice have to hold a negative connotation? Love is a difficult thing, it forces you to face things about yourself that you might not necessarily want to see or be willing to see. To what capacity has she held up the mirror per se and made you see? 

I would say that the biggest thing is letting go of that feeling that I had to do so much on my own. You kind of go through life in the neighborhood, in the classroom, and studio, all these different rooms that I’ve been able to live in, change and adapt to and teach people and when I got to a point where I met someone who could teach me instead, I had to be able to stop myself. I had to think about what I’m saying or not saying, what I need to listen to, what I can actually learn from the situation versus continuously trying to be on this mission to teach everybody else.

Yeah and if you’ve always been in this position as the teacher of sorts, to what extent is it kind of like being a martyr? How comfortable do you allow yourself to get with excess weight on your shoulders? You’ve said you’re someone who trusts people easily but I feel like, if you’ve been carrying that torch around for people, you’re not really letting people in or exist in your life in the ways that they might want to. 

That’s another thing that was pointed out in therapy too, these effects might not show up in the form of you breaking down or crying but all those things stick with you. As time goes on, the requests, the demands, the advice that you give, flows out of you and you keep moving and more things stick on you but you keep moving and eventually, you get to a point where you’re like, I’m tired and I don’t know why. It’s because you either haven’t mourned, you haven’t let it go, you haven’t actually solved it, you haven’t given yourself a minute to just focus on you because you’re carrying a torch or pulling the weight of doing the work for so many other people.

And I think in doing so, you don’t really open yourself up to being vulnerable. We want our men, our partners, to be strong but half the time they don’t even commit time to addressing the ongoing internal battles within themselves, let alone even recognizing that they exist. Your platform 6lackbox is a resource for so many people and I don’t know if this is something you’ve envisioned but I can also see it existing as a space to normalize mental health issues? 

Yes, it’s definitely something that we’ve been trying to put more energy and planning into. However we can get more people involved so that it becomes a community thing and not just a me-to-them situation because I have created different communities with my fans and developed a lot of long-term relationships with them. It’s always been cool to figure out a way to let them know that beyond the music that y’all aren’t in this shit by yourself. If you got shit that you need to figure out, or if you have something that you’re going through, that’s what the music was made for, that’s literally what we’re here for. One day we’ll figure out how to specify that and nail down an actual plan.

There’s been so much talk around this whole idea of community recently and for you, what does that really look like? Is it a utopia of sorts? 

I think it’s just a collective group of people who have a purpose towards something specific. A lot has been going on, in the country, in the world in general and I don’t think that the primary way that we fix that is by focusing on like the higher ups, or what’s going on on TV all the time. I think we really need to narrow it down and get back to home, our neighbors and the people around us and remember that if we create a stronger community and a stronger bond with each other than everything else will be in a better position to find resolution. This past election is a good example of people coming together because they felt something and wanted to do something about it as a whole. However, we can continue to do things like that on a smaller scale, everything on a larger scale will start to iron itself out.

Speaking of small scale, home is also something that maybe you’ve been thinking about recently? It’s such a subjective word, you find home in people, you find home in your music and we’ve all been inside, in our homes, in our own head spaces. Is home a place or is it a  feeling? 

Home is definitely a feeling right now. Physically, I live between LA and Atlanta and I have really great reasons to be in both. When I go to Atlanta and I get to be with my kid, I feel like I’m at home, no matter who’s around, or what I’m doing. When I’m out in LA and I get to spend time with the person I love, I feel like I’m at home. That’s the best version of home that I could ever really ask for in just having something to look forward to, having something to have fun with, having something to learn from.

You mentioned fatherhood briefly and I grew up with a single dad too. He’s my rock and not always the most vocal person but he recently told me that he thinks we’re pretty similar which was shocking and endearing for me to hear. What have been some of the unexpected lessons of fatherhood?

It’s taught me a lot of clarity, not even to compare it to music but everything that I did album wise before that point was a lot of I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I’m trying to figure it out. Since then, I’m closer to figuring it out because somebody’s watching me. Other than that, it’s been a really good opportunity to express myself fully, to be a kid again, to be an adult, be every single thing that I am because you get to practice it with somebody who doesn’t know anything bad about you necessarily, who doesn’t judge or have any predetermined thoughts about you. They just are happy to see you and want to be fulfilled in some other way. My thing with her is just making sure I give her the stuff that I didn’t have, which was constant reassurance. I want her to know that she can be herself, she can express herself. I was talking about that the other day in therapy, how at some point in my life that reassurance disappeared and I didn’t realize it until I was able to say it out loud. When that disappeared, my life started to shift a little bit, I started doing different things, my grades started to shift, my personality started to change, my insecurities started to form and these were all things that were a result of my relationship with my parents changing.

Right and thinking about the word reassurance, I think especially in relationships, whether that’s with another person or with yourself, it is sometimes something that we seek for the wrong reasons, out of insecurity and that’s a hard thing to admit. .

It’s definitely a hard thing to gauge. I think knowing the specific kind of reassurance that was missing for me, I know that it’s not doing too much to just let your kids know that hey, you look like me and those are good features, or you remind me of so and so and that’s a great thing, or that they’re doing good. It’s about spending time with them and being the type of energy and person who they’ll want to have a conversation with. I think that reassurance can be a tricky slope. I also just learned about myself that I move, act and think in a way where I know that the people around me know who I am but that is not to say that I can go without making the effort to clarify something for them. I am aware that this is something that I can work on for myself and the people in my life. It’s something that I want to make sure Syx doesn’t have to think too much about you know, it’ll be just enough.

Right and thinking about what’s enough, that word itself can be such a trigger for so many people. We’ve all had to recontextualize our own definitions of what’s enough, especially, when we’re not doing all these external facing things anymore as of late. 

I think that has been an interesting thing to figure out too because something can definitely be enough to you and not be enough to somebody else. That’s the fun part and not so fun part to figure out that subjective definition in all of your relationships. The easiest and the best way to do it is by being able to sit down and have conversations where you detach your personal needs or ideas of who you want somebody to be and adopt an open standpoint.

Yeah and thinking about ideals and needs, resilience has also been a word that we’ve seen pop up again and again but to what extent is it sometimes overrated? To what extent are we expecting people to “bounce back” when certain services should be civic priorities instead of difficult circumstances? Why are we coloring struggle with promise?

I think it’s like a 50-50 type of word in feelings, situations and energy. I’ve made some of my best music and had some of my best moments from being resilient, pushing through, getting through the struggle, fighting through this, crying through that. It definitely creates a pressure makes diamonds type of moment where you’ll definitely get something out of it but it is most definitely also overrated because you don’t want to be working from that space, you don’t want to be doing more than what you necessarily have to do. You don’t want to become infatuated, obsessed or interested in that process to make it feel like it’s the only place that you can work from because I definitely have fallen into spots, consciously and subconsciously, where your back’s against the wall and you feed off of that.

Right and being an artist or someone who writes in general, it’s often easier to write when you’re sad and that can be a bit toxic. 

Absolutely. I had to check myself and just make sure that I was not holding on to that because that’ll always be there. If I ever need it, it’s something I know how to do but there’s no reason why I should be putting that first or to be writing songs with that in mind when that’s not where I am or where I want to be.

How do you write about things that are happy then? It sounds kind of like a dumb question but I feel like it’s hard to transition to even create from a different mental place?

That was a conversation we had in the studio and Childish Major helped me put the initial words to it. In order to be able to write about the happy stuff, the good stuff, I had to sit down and practice the shit that made me feel good. Since then, the music has grown into me talking about my growth. I still have the ability to be able to tap into the other side, the sad side, or the side that people recognize or remember but it gives me the range to be able to say more, do more, express more and help people get through more. I don’t want to just be a pacifier for somebody when they’re going through some tough shit. I also want to share in a moment where they can celebrate, have fun or feel good.

It’s allowing yourself to be a dynamic artist because when people begin to create and become known for something, they begin to become defined by that and it becomes hard for them to reclaim agency from the external validation. They compartmentalize who they are from the work they create. 

It’s definitely challenging. That was one of the first reasons why I cut my hair immediately because people off the bat were like, oh, he’s this, he’s that and I was like let me just reset because I felt myself becoming like a figurehead of whatever that was on the first album cover. As soon as I cut my hair, my life started to change. I started to make more eye contact, I looked up and moved on stage. I just had to realize what was going on but I didn’t realize what was going on because I was just too busy living  it.


Grooming · DARONN CARR


  1. Shirt and Trousers NANUSHKA Boots GUCCI
  2. Hat SONG FOR THE MUTE Top ACNE STUDIOS Jewellery Talent’s Own
  3. Hat SONG FOR THE MUTE Top and Trousers ACNE STUDIOS
  7. Shirt and Trousers NANUSHKA
  8. Vest and Jumpsuit BORAMY VIGUIER Boots SACAI
  9. Vest and Jumpsuit BORAMY VIGUIER Boots SACAI
  10. Vest and Jumpsuit BORAMY VIGUIER
  11. Turtle Neck HELMUT LANG Trousers MAISON KITSUNE
  12. Turtle Neck HELMUT LANG Trousers MAISON KITSUNE

Diego Mur

“dance is my guide – it’s how I find meaning in life and my existence”

Behind the Mexican dance company, Nohbords, is Diego Mur, a dancer who, as he explains below, came to the profession by coincidence. And Nohbords is perhaps better described as a project than a dance troupe. Founded in 2014 in Mexico City, Mur wanted to create something that would be dedicated to the study of the body – its movements, its existence in relation to the surrounding environment. He also set out to provide an alternative approach to dance; underpinning Nohbords is the importance of collaboration, whether with photographers, filmmakers, artists, musicians or architects.

No more is Mur’s vision for Nohbords clear than in Ecos (2018), a performance in which dancers explore the potentials of the body’s ability to move, and filmed within the grounds of the iconic Casa Estudio, constructed by architect Luis Barragán in 1948. The vivid colours of Barragán’s design paired with the dancer’s motions – and scenically captured by director Andres Arochi – encapsulate the collaborative effort Mur aims to instil in his work. An acute awareness of, and response to, the environment in which Nohbords’ performances are presented transcends the dances themselves.

For Mur, Nohbords isn’t a bid to appeal to the established dance community in Mexico; rather, it’s an attempt at defying the odds. It is more likely that you’ll find Nohbords working with local folk dancers in Oxaca (as a residency at the Casa Wabi Foundation, aimed at exploring different forms of expression and dance, was), than attempting to impress dance connoisseurs. The alternative approach Mur has taken with Nohbords is as political as it is practical; by connecting and engaging with dancers, creators and audiences outside of the established community, his work is, in turn, inspiring a new generation of dance and performance.

How did your career in dancing and Nohbords start out?

I started pursuing contemporary dance in January 2010, as a student at Antares, which is one of the most important dance companies in Mexico, directed by Miguel Mancillas and Isaac Chau in Hermosillo, Sonora – a city located in the north of the country. It was quite accidental; I was visiting the school because a friend of mine was taking classes there, and one of the directors invited me to try the class. I said yes and took the class, and I did pretty well – I hadn’t taken a dance class before. I was offered an 100% scholarship, so I stayed and decided to dance professionally. After four years of studying, I travelled to Brussels in Belgium for an artistic residency and there, I [decided upon] directing my own project. In Belgium, I also started my movement investigations and created my first duet in collaboration with the Taiwan dancer Hong-Lin Cheng for an art festival. Going back to Mexico, I moved to Mexico City, where Nohbords is based. 

Could you explain what Nohbords is?

Nohbords is a project dedicated to the research of the body and movement in order to create dance pieces. One aspect of the project is that we are a self-managed group; instead of relying on government support or subsidies, we focused on creating and funding our own production.  We are a project that understands the importance of collaboration [more than anything], so we look to present our pieces in alternative presentation spaces and at the same time, we value the work of each artist or professional that we work with. 

Is there anything in particular about the body and its movements that interests you?

I have a big interest in the body, the mind and their connection. I am interested in the body’s transformation; I visualize my dance as a sort of meditation that leads us to uncover complex physical and psychological states. The circle is one of the main movements we work with because it represents eternity; something that has no end, something cyclic, which is something I really relate to. I am also interested in the ‘control’ of the body as a principal tool in dancing. A smart dancer is someone who has a connection between their body and mind. They respond to their environment strategically and through the use of their emotions, being vulnerable, understanding the importance of the energy and how to communicate that experience on stage; breath in, breath out, breathing.

How do you approach choreographing?  

Since I was a child, I have been particularly interested in symmetry, order, synchrony, uniformity. When I saw Mexican folklore and traditional dances for the first time, I really enjoyed watching the bodies moving in the space with a particular rhythm and exactness, and I had the ambition to make that someday. Choreography is something genuine in myself, it happens without overthinking it, in an organic way. I am in love with creating.

What do you seek to achieve through dance?

I like thinking that we create parallel universes that allow us to elevate our consciousness to another level. There is an implicit mysticism in my work because dance has taught me the power of the mind, the imagination and transformation. I believe that that magical and exceptional lands [at the feet of] the audience. On a personal level, dance is my guide – it’s how I find meaning in life and my existence, and this makes me feel that this is my path, my motivation and my entire world.

Is there a big scene in Mexico for contemporary dance? And what is the reception in Mexico to Nohbords?

It is a complicated subject, but I will try and explain it as this: There is a contemporary dance scene in Mexico, but we are not part of it. The main scene relies on government support and subsidies, and for me, that scene represents everything that I am not that interested in and everything I don’t want my work and my art to be perceived as being. Politics in Mexico is full of corruption and genuine apathy towards art and art practices, but at the same time, the work coming out of the [government-endorsed] art scenes continue to represent the system itself. Nohbords is established from a different place, away from that scene, and the response has been marvellous. As a project, Nohbords has been recognised, loved and admired by a new generation of dancers who are looking to establish a more open dialogue and to shape a different understanding of what dance is. 

Collaboration across disciplines is an important part of Nohbords. How do you bring in different disciplines into dance?

We love, and always seek, to collaborate with other disciplines, rather than just integrate them into our work. I visualize other disciplines as a part of the team that helps create the concept of the piece. We have worked with movie directors, architects, sculptors, fashion designers, lighting artists, writers, graphic designers, musicians, etc. The pieces are conceived entirely as a whole; we create the dance pieces through this process of collaboration.  

How important is music to dance? And does music come before dance, or vice versa?

It’s a complex question. We regularly work with original music because I believe that the creation of a unique universe can’t be achieved by using something that already exists, like a soundtrack of a movie for example. Music is vital to the creation of the ‘world’ that shapes each piece, and it helps us in the development process, but learning the rhythm and time isn’t something that I necessarily consider that crucial. Some of our pieces happen in total silence, or we conceive of the music as being generated through the rhythm of the sound of breathing or the natural percussion of the body through movement.

What impact does recording have on your dances? And how do the dancers respond to the camera? 

Videoing brings big exposure, which is important for an independent project like Nohbords, especially as sometimes it’s hard to gain access to spaces to present our work. There are differing ideas about seeing bodies through a camera, or how dance happens on camera. For me, my vision focuses on the dialogue between the dance and the movie directors we collaborate with. It’s been a learning experience, and we’ve been able to develop an approach that works for us.


  1. Image by Sena Studio
  2. Image by Pablo Astorga
  3. Image by Paulo Garcia
  4. Image by Jacobo Rios
  5. Image by Pablo Astorga
  6. Image by Miguel Galo