Rising star Tweaks is storming the creative world with their innovation and finesse. Multi-disciplinary artist Tweaks reminds the world of the joys of authenticity with their bold looks and distinctive sounds. After releasing their EP Videl towards the end of 2020, Tweaks has embarked on multiple artistic ventures that showcase their diverse and unique talents. Now, Tweaks is starting a new production label called Seet Deh, a project birthed in the early stages of quarantine aiming to connect with other artists as well as experiment with their love for creative direction.
The 90s-inspired artist sat down with Schön! to discuss their honest views on the current climate of the creative industry, childhood life lessons and hopes for future collaborations.
You’ve just released an amazing self-directed music video for your song Happy Birthday King, which was featured in your latest EP Videl. How did you come up with the concepts for the video?
Thank you! It was pretty insane to make. We shot it during election week and everyone was strung out on nerves but Jehovah Jireh, LOL. I think I was in a similar headspace when I made the track and while we were shooting the video, so that helped with getting the story I wanted on camera. Latif DP’d and edited the whole thing and I directed. We’ve worked on a few visuals together. Most of my moving visuals have been in collaboration with Latif.
How do you go about relaying these messages in visual form?
Taking note of how things feel in the moment has been the best thing for making moving visuals. Thinking about how things look visually outside of my body, like actually watching myself and other people around me and imagining how it’d look on screen. Watching everything. Watching the little things. Noting my own nervous ticks and how others squirm under different circumstances. Taking note of the things that we do out of reaction rather than thought. It sounds a bit creepy but watching my life as if others and I are living life out on a petri dish feels the most conducive to making things look genuine on screen.
Also, watching a lot of films and taking note of editing techniques and shots that stand out to me. Always keeping note of the things that move me. A lot of it is just sitting, listening, watching, consuming. It helps to have Latif on production because we gravitate towards the same films and editing styles. I trust his eye so that helps on set.
You managed to create an impressive collection of songs amongst a variety of other creative projects during lockdown. What kept you focused and motivated throughout the process?
I had nothing but time and a lot of feelings. I was also really restless, so I had a ridiculous amount of energy. Early quarantine felt a bit inspiring now that I think about it, but I could also be romanticising it. I do remember it being my first time having a lot of downtime and not having to feel guilty about it, so naturally it felt safe to try out some new things.
What would you say inspires your artistry?
I think every time you learn a new skill, your brain gets rewired. It’s all really cerebral. Something about it feels very scientific and comforting. When I first started photography, I was walking around and noticing composition and framing a lot more. When I got into video production, I remember I would move my eyes really fast to mimic match cuts and transitions, and I’d have my headphones on with a song going so I’d literally be making music videos with whatever was around me. When I got into sound design, I started noticing how sounds fall on the ear. How they can be really far left, far right or right by your ear like a mosquito, behind you, in front of you, everywhere. Sounds in real life come from all around and simultaneously, and it’s informed the way I make music. Outside stimuli teaches me the most.
Are there any future collabs you would like to do?
I really like the idea of passing an idea on and having someone rework it. I have a few artists that I’d love to get some stems from and do my own thing with it, but I’m still a little nervous about making music in a studio. People tend to assume I’ll be on vocals because I’m femme-presenting when I literally just want to make a beat, LOL. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Dean Blunt, Skillibeng, Actress, Klein & Wizkid. Anyone off that list would be sick to swap sounds with.
Your art often focuses on themes around identity. How would you describe TWEAKS in comparison to Zoé?
Shit changes so fast I don’t even think there’s as much as a hard line between any personas anymore. 2020 was such an unnerving year. It feels like it aged me like five years. I think a lot of us had to go into super saiyan mode when it comes to introspection and figuring out identity and it’s made everything a lot blurrier, at least for me. It feels a bit ridiculous to separate the two.
It’s admirable to see such a multi-disciplinary artist on the scene right now. How do you manage to spread your time across all the sectors you’re involved in?
Thank you for that. I make a dumb amount of lists. I like to write down everything — not just what I need to do but also what I’ve already done for the day so I don’t gaslight myself later on and try to convince myself that I’m not doing enough. My body also naturally wakes me up at 4/5 AM so I usually just get all my work done in the morning and fuck off for the rest of the day. It’s a good balance.
I feel pretty blessed that I was always pushed to try new shit by my mother. I’ve been in every sport imaginable. Gymnastics, track, swimming, tennis, basketball, literally everything. She had me try out guitar lessons, singing lessons, so many things. I also remember I had trouble reading and she got me this software called ‘Hooked on Phonics’ and I practiced it RELIGIOUSLY after school, and it changed learning for me. I was in the lowest reading group in first grade, and I remember the day Mrs. Emmanuel put me in the blue (highest) reading group and watching my peers watch me like, what the fuck going on here [laughs]. I think that’s my first memory of feeling pride in myself and seeing hard work pay off. Like walking over to the blue group, I was physically hot with pride. Thinking back to it, I’m like, shit, my mom was so tight for listening to me when I had an interest or an issue and finding a class/solution for me. We also didn’t have money like that, so I know it was really on some sacrificial shit. Also, seeing that really made me who I am. I actually owe a lot of my redeeming qualities to my mother. I’ve been dipping into a lot of different mediums over the years, trying my hand at anything that’s accessible to me because of how my mother raised me. I’ve been shit at so many things and watched the skill grow, so I don’t really feel discouraged by that gap that comes with learning a new skill, and when I finally get into a pocket with a medium it feels like being 7 again and having Mrs. Emmanuel call me in front of the class and bump me like 4 levels in one day.
Let’s talk about the exciting new projects you’ve been working on! You’re starting a new production company/label. What can you tell us about that?
It’s called Seet Deh and it’s my baaaaaaby. I had the idea over early quarantine and I’ve been letting it grow and diminish in my head all year with help and encouragement from my friends, especially Latif. I’m behind most of the concepts with my visuals and I want to experiment more with creative direction and music management for other artists. I feel like the collaborators I’ve worked with over the past year have taught me so much about building a team and executing a vision. I have a better handle on pre-production now, and I’d like to wield that more in the future.
What sorts of artists would you be focusing on in the label?
You’ll see 🙂
You’ve included a nostalgic, yet futuristic themed shoot to go alongside the project. What was the creative inspiration behind these striking 90s inspired visuals that you’ve paired with the launch?
It’s the shit I gravitated towards as a kid and a lot of my life now is recreating the things that caught my eye when I was a jit. I didn’t have as much agency over my look and style and I don’t think I cared much either, but now I feel really sensitive about presentation.
What are you most excited about in regard to the future of the creative industry?
Personally, I feel a lot more radicalised after seeing how the states handled our safety throughout 2020. The incompetence is mind-blowing. It’s made me even more critical of large institutions. The industry hasn’t done a fraction of the amount of work it needs to shed light on how white supremacy has its hand in every industry imaginable. There’s a lot of nepotism, racism, sexism, all the ism’s going on. I think a lot of artists are coming into themselves and recognising how exploitative the entertainment industry is and that it only works for a few. I’m excited to see how artists deal with that reality through their art.
We’ve got lots to look forward to from you already, but what should we expect from you in the future?
I always answer this question the same way. Please don’t expect anything. I don’t like expectations, they make me feel funny, LOL <3
photography. Emily Lipson @ Born Artists
fashion. Ian McRae
talents. Tweaks + Latif Sellers
hair. Erol Karadag @ Saint Luke
make up. Sena Murahashi
set design. Nat Hoffman @ Born Artists
photography + lighting assistant. Julius Frazer
fashion assistant. Lila Wolfe
words. Esosa Aiworo