We collaborate with the West London artist to bring her mystical The Sleeping Prophet EP to life
‘The Sleeping Prophet’ is a series of mythological 3D tableaus we created in collaboration with LOLA as an immersive visual accompaniment to the West London musician’s EP of the same name.
Directed and designed by 3D Artist MUNGO, this journey through The Sleeping Prophet EP travels through its four tracks, “Wingless”, “Care”, “Feral Soul” and “Divinities”, as they sit within a shifting, mystical world that reflects each song within the wider cosmos of the project. This CGI, video game-esque universe is steeped in LOLA’s own detailed references of prophecy, reincarnation, iconography and the arcane found woven throughout The Sleeping Prophet project, which is inspired by the celestial stories written by clairvoyant Edgar Cayce.
The work includes bespoke, handcrafted flower installations for the “Feral Soul” scene, created by Artist and Set Designer Furmaan Ahmed. It also features an original mix fabricated by Sound Designer PULLEN who used the EP’s original instrumentals to score an audio guide through the story of ‘The Sleeping Prophet’, and which is available to download here.
Watch the video here, hosted by 4:3.
‘The Sleeping Prophet’ by LOLA & Lucent
Concept: LOLA & Sharkkana Direction, 3D art and design by MUNGO DoP: Taz Psaras Commissioning & production by Alice Nicolov Make-Up by Michelle Hier Sound by PULLEN Set design by Furmaan Ahmed
We’ve updated the playlist with new music from Ivorian Doll, Becky and the Birds, Kiran Kai and more
Lucent Loves is our Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the rising talent we’re listening to. Listen to some of our favourites from July, including London rapperIvorian Doll‘s latest heater, “Body Bag”,sugary, left-leaning R&B from Sweden’sBecky and the Birds and a spacey offering from south-east London rapper and producer Kiran Kai.
We post our roundups monthly alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.
We’ve updated the playlist with new tracks from BackRoad Gee, UMI, Jean Dawson and more
Lucent Loves is our Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the new releases of rising talent we’re listening to.
June was brimming with new music and we’ve selected 30 of the best releases for you. Listen to some of our favourites, including London rapper BackRoad Gee‘s melodic “S5-E5” Mad About Bars, dreamy R&B from Seattle’s UMI and a new punk-tinged cut from Jean Dawson.
We post our roundups monthly alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.
We’ve refreshed the playlist with new tracks from Midas the Jagaban, Nayana IZ, Tora and more
Lucent Loves is our Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the new releases of rising talent we’re listening to.
May was full of incredible new music and we’ve selected 30 of our favourites for you. Listen to UK Afrobeats artist Midas The Jagaban‘s debut release, Tora‘s soulful new single and Barney Lister-produced “TNT” from Lucent favourite Nayana IZ.
We post our roundups at the end of the month alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.
We launch our brand new playlist with tracks from M1llionz, Jasmine Jethwa, Wesley Joseph and more
Launching for lockdown is Lucent Loves, our brand new Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the releases of rising talent we’re listening to. Over the last year, we’ve brought emerging musicians to the stage for our audience, so, to keep sharing our love for new music, we’ve created Lucent Loves.
April was full of incredible releases. We’ve curated 30 of our favourites for you including the stunning new single from musical polymath Wesley Joseph, our pick from Jasmine Jethwa’s beautiful pop-folk EP and M1llionz’ latest drop, which comes accompanied by a visual tour of Jamaica through the Birmingham rapper’s lens.
We post our roundups at the end of the month alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotifyfor the latest.
Wesley Joseph – Imaginary Friends
Louis Culture – Being Me
Kenny Mason – Firestarter
Nayana IZ – FINAL HOUR (ft. Lorenzorsv)
UMI – Mother
Kaash Paige – Frank Ocean
Shantel May – It’s Better This Way
NEL – And Your Problem Is
LOLA – Feral Soul
Scribz Riley – East Side
RMR – Dealer
BLENDA – Options
Flo Milli – Eat It Up
Fivio Foreign – Ambition (ft. Lil Tjay)
M1llionz – Y PREE
Ivorian Doll – Rumours
Teeway – Private Ryan
Backroad Gee – Party Popper Remix (ft. Pa Salieu & Ambush)
For South London artist Sam Akpro, music is about longevity. “I just want to give it to people slowly,” the rising artist tells me over the phone in his first-ever interview. “It’s about taking your time and not being led by social media, where you feel like you have to be constantly releasing. There’s too much of that; it’s too in your face.”
Akpro brings unexpected worlds together in his work. His more recent music blends lulling guitar chords with murky, industrial trip hop. Although he only began putting out music this January, his debut release, Nights Away, has given his budding discography a distinctive stamp. A dark and introspective EP, the debut encompasses the south Londoner’s current sound: fluid-yet-sharp productions punctuated with keys, chords and live instrumentation throughout.
The south Londoner is, by his own admission, an active collector of references. Akpro’s spectrum of musical influences and desire to play with juxtaposing soundscapes come from the wealth of genres he grew up surrounded by in Peckham. He remembers gravitating towards music that he describes as “very left” of what other kids were listening to, including music from the Gambia where his family’s roots lie. “I lived in this block of flats when I was younger and the neighbours always played reggae tapes, so I grew up hearing a lot of that and old school dancehall,” he recalls. “There were Gambian compilation CDs lying around as well.”
The artist has also spent time discovering seminal sounds from Britain’s musical history as well as contemporary music from the US. Massive Attack’s mesh of sounds and Trippie Red’s work have both oozed into the 21-year-old’s self-described “borderless, pick and mix” sound. “Most of the time when I listen to music it’s like, ‘OK, I’m hearing this genre, but I want to add this and also mix this in with it’,” he tells me.
While this approach might make his music hard to classify, that’s fine by Akpro – it saves his work from genre restrictions. “It’s confusing but not in a negative sense,” he explains. “It could go either way and that’s what I want.”
Here we meet the Peckham-raised artist to talk about being a new musician in London, dig into his references and get to know him better ahead of his live Lucent performance atLaylow on 17 October.
What kind of stuff were you listening to growing up?
Sam Akpro: I actively started listening to music when I heard this band Elbow on TV. You know how you have that BBC red button, yeah? Well, I was watching TV and through that red button Elbow popped up live in concert with an orchestra. It was very left of what someone my age, nine at the time, would want to listen to, but it was cool. I used to watch TV like that and listen to the music I found through it every day because I didn’t have a computer in them days.
When did you realise you wanted to pursue music?
Sam Akpro: It wasn’t until January of this year when I started releasing stuff and people liked it. That’s when I realised that maybe I could start doing stuff. Before then it was just ‘Let me see what happens, let me see if I can make some good music’. That’s always in my head – trying to push a sound.
Is there a particular headspace or environment you have to be in to make music?
Sam Akpro: I’ve learnt that I have to be by myself in my room or the studio. And sometimes it’s when I’m feeling down but not necessarily always. Other times I’ll be listening to a song and be inspired to go make something. Luckily, that happens pretty frequently. I just have to be alone because that’s the only way I can really make music that’s 100 per cent me.
You can hear some very distinctive sounds in your work. Where did those come from?
When I started making beats here and there I was studying a lot of music and Massive Attack was one of those bands I really studied – the first few albums they released and Heligoland, which was later. I was listening to the way they mesh everything: there’s drum and bass and baselines from here and there. The Trippie influence comes from listening to a lot of trap. The rhythm is in your face, it’s in your ears and you can hear it. It just makes your head move.
You’re surrounded by a community of London artists who are your peers, like Nigz TG and Master Peace. What does that community mean to you and how would you define it?
Community is a sense of identity. And feeling secure in your place. It’s really important to me and it’s part of what I do – it’s something you can’t escape being in London. All of them guys support what I’m doing and a lot of those people are the reason why I am even trying to go and do these things. I’ll be around them and going to their shows and be like, ‘OK, well, if they can do it then I have some sort of chance of doing it as well’. So, it’s very good. Also, collaboration-wise, I’ve worked on songs with both Peace and Nigz and I’ve learnt stuff that I can take away to make shit.
What do you hope to achieve by this time next year?
I just want to get better at music. Hopefully play a festival next year, more gigs and more visual content, all that kind of stuff. But for now, it’s just not giving too much away too early. Because if you just give all your music away and it doesn’t feel finished or people might not respond to it and then it’s just… gone. You don’t want that to happen with something that you’ve worked on so, for me, it’s just about timing and really taking my time when making stuff. One project a year that you spend time with is so much better than three rushed projects a year. That’s too much. If you’re that good of an artist, you can put out an album and leave for a few years. Frank Ocean did that and you can still listen to his work now. It’s just about taking the time with your music.
Sam Akpro will perform live at Laylow in West London on 17 October. Tickets here.
Photographer Will Marsden’s series of dynamic stills build a detailed picture of dance
In ournew short film created in collaboration with Tariq Disu titled ‘Process of a Polymath: An Introduction to Strawberry Head‘, we explore the elements that lie at the heart of the South London musician’s creative practice: dance, music and verse. To accompany the piece, photographer Will Marsden joined us on set to capture Disu’s choreography with a dynamic series documenting the minutiae of the artist’s body in motion.
Marsden, of Academy Films, had originally planned to capture posed movements from Disu’s choreography sequence. Days before the shoot, he revised that idea, focusing instead on documenting the artist in motion. “Capturing the whole movement seemed more true to the movement Tariq wanted to express,” the photographer says. “It needed to be as organic as possible.”
Tariq interested me. His music is honest and acute. Photographing people is very much about the relationship between the sitter and the photographer
To represent the movement in an honest way Marsden shot hundreds of bursts of Disu working through his choreography. These moments, captured in black and white and placed onto grids to make a tapestry of dancing figures. For Marsden, whose work often comes through a documentary-style lens, the collaborative nature of the shoot was what lay at its heart. “It was about the dialogue between me and Tariq,” he says. “We would both review each burst of stills and focus on certain movements that created a look and feel that we both felt was right.”
Looking again at the black and white images, the energy from them is palpable. The photographer attributes that energy to the freedom and space that Disu was given to express himself naturally on set. “Tariq interested me. His music is honest and acute. Photographing people is very much about the relationship between the sitter and the photographer,” he explains. “As much as you are creating a frame for them to move in, you need to create a space for them to project themselves too.”
The South London artist considers his polymorphic approach ahead of the release of a new album
“What do you know about doing the most just to do less?” With this simple question, Tariq Disu opens Process of a Polymath: An Introduction to Strawberry Head, a new short film exploring the artist’s creative process.
Springing straight from Disu’s own mind, Process of a Polymath is a demonstration of the elements at the heart of the South Londoner’s output. As it documents the artist moving gracefully through moments of verse, music and dance, we watch as he muses on his own polymorphic approach through the lens of a self-penned jeremiad. “I just wanted to dance and I wanted to talk,” Disu explains. “Words are wind. It’s me speaking from different perspectives.”
The multi-layered piece is set against the rumbling backdrop of “Maybe Later”, the lead track from the artist’s forthcoming album Strawberry Head. Created as a collaboration between Disu and Lucent and directed by Taz Psaras, the video is accompanied by a soon-to-be-released series from photographer William Arkle which captures the artist’s beautiful choreography in motion.
Questions from “Maybe Later” punctuate this visual story. Disu takes time to examines the drive that pushes him forward and sometimes threatens to spread him too thinly. That weight and responsibility smudges the dim-lit piece until the final moments when the artist shrugs it all off with a smile. “That’s just Tariq,” he concludes. Reflecting on the notion of doing too much, Disu is self-effacing: “The polymath thing is more of a piss-take,” he explains. “I’m 22. I don’t know shit and I’m still learning.”
He may still be learning but Disu – an independent artist – is rigorous when it comes to work that has his name on it. His forthcoming record, an eight-track web of sounds and references is woven out of Disu’s carefully placed poetic verses layered over his own productions and set against cherry-picked, artfully moulded samples. Listen carefully and you’ll hear fragments of SZA or a melody hummed by Lafawndah. The main presence, however, is the artist himself and Strawberry Head is a project entirely of Disu’s own making.
In a digital world that’s become a mess of content, written interviews often fall by the wayside. For East London’s Jess Ajose, however, words still hold weight. “Targeted questions trigger thoughts that become more coherent and help me simplify what I do,” the DJ and creative explains when we sit down to talk ahead of her performance atLucent Edition 03. “In my head, everything is jumbled up. Questions help me streamline my thoughts and words.”
Born in London but travelling back to Lagos often, Ajose draws on disparate styles from both of the cities’ scenes for her output. Based in Hackney, the DJ’s bi-cultural identity of British–Nigerian is the foundation for her sonic sense of self, and it’s this essence which she’s channelled into a fluid mix created exclusively for Lucent. Guiding us from Nigeria’s contemporaryalté scene with breezy vocals from Santi, a spearhead of the movement, back home to London and harder-hitting club sounds soaked in industrial noise, Ajose handpicks sounds from all over. As sound bites from Frank Ocean’s “Be Yourself” make their appearance before giving way to hazy, meditative melodies, elsewhere Nigerian and British vocalists collide. It’s a mix that looks forward at the same time as it make space for listeners to ponder over the words that have come before. As well as unravelling its creator’s childhood and current cultural influences, this piece of work showcases Ajose’s code-switching abilities and her dexterity in working with a range of vocals, moods and melodic structures.
It’s an approach the DJ also uses to weave together her monthly radio slot on Peckham’s Foundation FM which serves as an essential platform for showcasing her work. “Before that, people looked at me as a young black woman and just assumed I played R&B. That used to grind my gears,” she sighs. Now, Ajose’s budding career as a DJ is flourishing and she’s being given the space to fully trust her own tastes and embrace the fluid approach to blending genres which comes most naturally to her.
We caught up with the multifaceted creative to talk more about her sonic style, how to balance a full-time job with DJing and dive deeper into this mix ahead of her performance at Lucent on 5 June where she’ll be soundtracking the night.
This mix goes full circle, starting and ending with moments from Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. Why did you decide to include them in a piece of work which explores your own identity?
Jess Ajose: Sound bites can help frame the narrative of a mix. I used the Frank one because it’s all about being yourself, which was what I was trying to show in the mix. The Tyler one, from Igor, says, “Exactly what you run from, you end up chasing” and that was true for me. I ran from being proud of being Nigerian, of being black, of being a woman, because it wasn’t an identity that was particularly championed when I was growing up and I didn’t have any role models I could identify with. On top of that, investing time in creative things or having creative aspirations was seen as Western and not ‘Nigerian’ – especially by the older Nigerian generation and even by my parents. So, I suppressed my creativity to please my parents but that didn’t last long! Now I’m very proud of how I can be all these things – Nigerian, British, a creative, a DJ and more. Also, Tyler’s of Nigerian heritage and so different from the traditional sense of what it allegedly means to be Nigerian. He’s just himself and that’s why I rate him so much.
Did it take you a while to trust in your own taste and pursue what you wanted to?
Jess Ajose: To be honest, I’m still on that journey of trusting in my taste. Whenever I’m preparing a set I always want to make sure that I’m true to my own sound and what I enjoy playing. The reason I started DJing was because I wanted to make mixes that no one else was making so that I could listen to them in my room. And, it just so happened that people liked what I was playing. I was kind of surprised! I do sometimes have that anxiety that the mix still belongs in my room, though.
Have you experienced challenges in bringing together the Nigerian and British parts of your identity and bridging that gap musically?
Jess Ajose: Sonically, yes. Sometimes it doesn’t work when you’re trying to mix the two. And I’m conscious of things sounding quite random in a mix because I want them to marry each other and be fluid and make sense. But, culturally, not so much. It wasn’t cool to be African or Nigerian before, but now it is and people can be Nigerian and unapologetically themselves without wanting to be Jamaican, which used to be it.
When we first spoke about this mix you mentioned code switching. What does that look like in your everyday life?
Jess Ajose: Growing up in East London I went to school with so many different cultures that we kind of created our own language using plain English, slang, patois and also, from within the Nigerian language, pidgin English. That’s how my friends and I tend to speak to each other when we’re in our own company, but when it comes to being in a professional space more time you have to speak in a way that everyone can understand. So existing in those two spaces means that I tend to code-switch quite a lot.
Over the last year, you’ve been pursuing DJ much more seriously. Is it frustrating to only see the ‘made-it’ side on social media but rarely the work that goes into getting booked?
Jess Ajose: Oh yeah, I hate my Instagram because it looks so polished that it’s almost become like a second CV. When I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while they’ll be like, ‘Oh, you’re doing so great’. And I’m just like, ‘That’s what it looks like’. Even though I feel like I am doing well, it’s sort of amplified online when, actually, I have to juggle a job and DJ as a side thing.
Do you feel like that needs to be talked about more?
Jess Ajose: 100%. When you’re getting more bookings and doing things with higher profile places that people admire it creates a certain illusion and, in a way, you’re dehumanised; you just become this thing where people say, ‘Oh my god, this person is doing amazing – they’re above this and that.’ A lot of the time you have to start out by doing things for free – I only started getting paid for DJing towards the last quarter of 2018. No one talks about people not knowing who you are and working for free and before the bookers think you’re worth being paid. Even now, I feel that I have something to prove. Money needs to be spoken about more. As a beginner, when people ask you, ‘What’s your rate?’ you have no clue what that means and when you’re inexperienced they’re more likely to pay you less or not even pay you at all. The only way to get over that is by speaking to other DJ friends and, as cliche as it sounds, you have to know your worth, which you’ll learn as you progress.
You mentioned juggling a have a full-time job – how do you manage that alongside DJing?
Jess Ajose: I don’t know how I manage it, but you just make it work. Planning you’re time really well helps a lot. So, planning a set or planning things at work so you can get out a little earlier – it’s all in practice. And mentally preparing yourself for missing out on sleep sometimes.
Watch the indie-trap group get personal in ‘Rabbit$’
Starting with David Lynch’s 2002 horror sitcom Rabbits as our jumping off point, we worked with rising Manchester group Badgirl$ to create this contemporary, tongue-in-cheek nod to Lynch’s creepy cult classic.
Titled Rabbit$ and shot byAliyah Otchere, our short follows the three irrepressible members of the group Billi, Bubz and Cooks. Watch them air their deepest grievances in our off-key version of a Badgirl$ band therapy session.
Directed by Alice Nicolov Videography by Aliyah Otchere
Listen to Cajm’s beautiful mix titled ‘Stuck Groove’ and watch the accompanying video
This cosmic mix titled ‘Stuck Groove’ is a spacey body of work created by London-based producer Cajm. Using jams and his own self-produced tracks, many of which were made by placing stickers on vinyl to loop them and bounce them into a locked groove, ‘Stuck Groove’ glides between sonic structures and worlds of sound. From soft guitar riffs and muffled drums to fleeting appearances from both Martha Skye Murphyand Coby Sey, this is a mix that’s full of perfect moments.
To accompany ‘Stuck Groove’ Cajm has created a short film of the same name. In it you’ll see and hear audio triggering different parts of the mix.
East London synth-punk band Powerplant set out at dusk to shoot what they initially envisioned as a collection of images that would pay homage to Larry Sultan’s revered Evidence series. Instead, what they produced was nothing like Sultan’s work but rather a weird, joyful series entirely their own.
Shot by photographer Joe Smith, the black and white photographs capture the four members of the band playing together – swimming, climbing, covered in mud. It’s a photo story that documents what a good time looks like with Powerplant.
We asked Powerplant’s Theo Zhykharyevto give us an account of how the evening went. Here it is below:
We went out. A good day it was, in the woods that is. On a night like that you could hear the odd owl hoot and the the green bush shiver. There is a place we like to go by the water. There are many dogs there in the day. Good dogs. But now it’s night and the water is not so warm, but hell the fish sure gotta know a thing or two, so we went in. The water – cold. Our spirits – high. It’s good to hang out in a place where frogs reside. Green, sticky, big-eyed frogs. Not toads, no! The pylon gives us power. As my grandma used to say, ‘A minute with the pylon – an hour out of your sleep’.