Nik is a multi-platform creative and LGBTQ advocate whose controversial debut release as recording artist NEO 10Y launched the artist as a pioneer and activist. NEO 10Y discusses his unapologetic artistry that explores politics, race and queerness and how his new music is redefining boundaries in the music industry. Nik has worked with Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Salvatore Ferragamo, LVMH and Tom Ford. Owner of Menswear Label, Ada + Nik through which he has used as a platform for his activism for the queer community. A creative mentor for underprivileged students in London, a director of fashion films that have appeared in Interview Magazine, Nylon and Hypebeast as well as a recipient of OUT Magazine’s Top 100 Bachelors of 2017. Nik shares with us what drives his creativity, formative experiences that shaped him, his artistry and goals for 2018.
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
How would you describe your youth, did you have a role model growing up?
I don’t think I really did. At least no-one that looked like me. It was a bit skewed towards a certain limited archetype of “role model” when I was growing up. I think a whole generation of us have had to carve out our own identity and create role models as ourselves for future generations.
Do you remember your first crush?
I always pursued crushes on girls when I was a kid, but never really understood the emotion of what it was like to crush on a guy, it makes sense now. They’re all pretty vague, no-one specific.
What advice would you give your adolescent self?
You can be anything you want to be.
How was your relationship with queer culture as an adolescent?
Really difficult. I used to shun it, like push it away because I knew that I was attracted to it. That’s just society and systemic homophobia at the time. I am sure there are kids going through the same now.
We all have those mornings when you wake up and don’t feel like exercising. In those occasions what do you tell yourself as motivation?
You know, it’s a vicious cycle. The less you work out, the less you want to. The more you go, the more results you see and the more you want to. We all go through phases and sometimes giving your body a rest or trying something different like yoga or meditation is a good call too.
“That all of us have so much untapped human and spiritual potential and that I want to harness mine more over this lifetime.”
December last year you released the first half of your album as NEO 10Y, Disidentification. What can you tell us about this release?
I was classically trained as a kid, but never encouraged actively to pursue music in a serious way, so I never did. The world has changed and technology and wisdom can open doors. The album is a pretty intricate artistic commentary on politics, sex and ego. I discuss really important issues in an articulately metaphorical way that once you really go into it, you can get lost in the detail.
Hit up NEO 10Y for the artist’s latest videos and music releases.
Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
Everywhere, I write all day and think about constructs and ways to translate them into art for people to understand from a different perspective.
What’s one of the biggest issues we face in contemporary society today?
Chaos and divisiveness through fear. It’s a massive human hurdle, there are forces pitting men against women, cis against trans, homosexual against heterosexual, black against white. There are also a tonne of conversations that need to be had / are taking place and it is so important that we have these. So that we can move forward, BUT we must be aware of the parties that are using divisiveness to serve a more chaotic purpose.
What role do you think art can have in change and activism and its relationship with politics?
From my perspective, it is the channel I choose to communicate with the world. I hope I can open some minds and hearts that way.
What do you hope to achieve from your creative projects?
A different way of thinking, fulfilment of my own creative ideas. I think of concepts all the time, so I have to find ways to create / translate them. I also hope that it can be entertaining and unique.
“I think a whole generation of us have had to carve out our own identity and create role models as ourselves for future generations.”
What have you learnt about yourself this year?
That all of us have so much untapped human and spiritual potential and that I want to harness mine more over this lifetime. I am fully plant-based now and have noticed that I am becoming more psychic because of that.
Are there any young creatives that excite you for the future?
Lloyd James Husband – a designer that I worked with on the outfits for the Janis video; I love Shayne Oliver’s work for the new edition of Helmut Lang, Jaden Smith, HUGOWHO.
Goals for 2018?
I want to make a narrative – driven short film and maybe live somewhere else for three months next year – like Tokyo or take on an artist in residency programme at CERN. I’ll put out some more music maybe too.
Do you have any future projects that you can tell us about?
I want to make a narrative – driven short film and maybe live somewhere else for three months next year – like Tokyo or take on an artist in residency programme at CERN. I’m also releasing more NEO 10Y tracks – Dopamine and Poems To Fuck To come out in June/July. I am also playing more live shows in UK and US.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
“I’m behind you.”