We all want to be useful and leave something behind that people can connect to. For Sophia Rotas, the creative mind behind Daemon Concept, it’s her very own community that makes her strive for more. Her jewellery brand reads like a shiny silver manifesto, a protective armour that helps to encourage your truest self—whatever that means to you. People like to call Daemon Concept ‘otherworldly’, which is flattering to her but partially wrong. “We are unfinished humans in a world that is changing rapidly,” says the artist. And even though her designs feel like they have fallen from another planet, they are still real, tangible and shaped by so many different stories of the like-minded, the anti-heroes. “The ones you meet here have their own success without complying to the rules,” she explains. “We don’t need more people who pretend to be perfect in truly self-serving ways; we need muses who embrace their shadow selves and human experiences.” It’s the way the community interprets Sophia’s work that makes her feel useful, and that’s all she ever wants to be to everybody. Throughout this feature, you will not only meet the creative behind the brand but also a part of her community, The New Muses, who will guide you through their exceptional minds.
THE NEW MUSES
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOUR WORK IN ONE SENTENCE.
For me, my work is all about exploration and reaching as far as I may try to faintly brush against The Hidden Things.
IMAGINE LIVING IN YOUR DREAM DIGITAL WORLD. WHAT’S SOMETHING WE’LL DEFINITELY FIND?
The cycle of both creation and destruction. It shouldn’t feel too contained or controllable. I may be creating it, but it governs itself.
WHEN THINKING ABOUT YOUR OWN PROCESS, WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU’VE LEARNT RECENTLY?
I think I’m learning continuously. I’ve had a few different careers at this point, from design, marketing, and fashion to UX/UI just before this stuff. I think I continue to learn how to learn better as I go if that makes sense. I think being open to learning is one of the most important skills to have. That, and being kind.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU NEED TO REMIND YOURSELF OF EVERY DAY?
We’re all in this together.
WHAT WAS YOUR VISION FOR THE NEW MUSES FEATURE? I VR sculpted the picture frames and I really wanted them to feel alive, as if the energy from the people in the pictures were animating the tendrils. I’m a big fan of Sophia’s work and I think we aesthetically touch on some similar energy. The collaboration felt quite natural.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF @DAEMON_CONCEPT? WHAT WERE YOU MISSING THAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO CREATE SOMETHING YOURSELF?
Metal and gems have so many otherworldly connotations, they can be so personal and precious. Silver is pure and endlessly recyclable. They call it virgin maiden. It’s a fantastic medium because it does not need to have a utility like clothing—it is pure ideation. We live in a rather faithless society and yet human nature craves a very personal mysticism. When it comes to jewellery, humans always show their higher ideals. It prevails over the most important things about them. I guess I can inhabit many different kinds of personas, but to make things only one of these personalities can dominate. And that part of me is childlike and naive and seeks to elevate and idealize. I forced myself to connect these ideas to high tech means because I wanted them to win. Anything evanescent that I deem important gets its own protective metal shell so it can exist. I don’t truly believe there are many real ends and beginnings in my own world, only thresholds. The ideas we develop can overarch in many mediums.
WHAT STORY IS HIDDEN BEHIND DAEMON CONCEPT? DO YOU BELIEVE IN DAEMONS?
In Ancient Greek mythology, daemons were back and forth messengers between deities and humanity. It signifies that essentially, I don’t originate the ideas I have to myself. It hides a possible reference to our godlike nature and the possible existence of collective unconscious or telepathy. I have aligned with this belief so much that we celebrated when the first copy of my designs from a distant market surfaced. They are for everybody and don’t have a copyright. Being very political about this deserves its own interview, but I do believe that personal property is important, though knowledge is for everyone. Trust me, it’s not a thing you can run away from—you have to think about the implications. Everyday people DM me the copies that have been made from my work and I love it. I believe in some version of the future where we can have zero kilometre supply chains for many things. When information can travel but production is localised with the help of accessible 3D printing and the emergence of rapid-learning trades. This being said, it’s a major issue how big fashion brands are ripping off designers at a rate that makes fashion too fast. In my ideal vision of the future, we can have particular algorithms that can trace this—it doesn’t have to be a dystopian scenario. Ideas come to us but they belong to the world, this is basically the origin of the name Daemon Concept.
WHAT DO ALL THE PEOPLE FEATURED AS THE NEW MUSES HAVE IN COMMON?
The ones you meet here have an element of both being a villain and playing the game. They have their own success without complying to the rules. We don’t need more people who pretend to be perfect in truly self-serving ways; we need muses who embrace their shadow selves and human experiences. In my head, they are ‘The Universal Children’, a bit outside the metrics of time and gender. They are continuously shifting and always coming up with something new— transcending practices and also sustaining me on a personal level.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR VISION. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ON THIS PLANET?
Since I tend to take divergent paths that are often devoid of validation until the very end, I had a lot of battles in terms of trying to justify my own usefulness as an artist and designer. I don’t think I really belong to any city or nation or school and never cared to own many material possessions. And still, I have found a way to create very tangible, high-end things. That’s a very funny contradiction, like an anarcholuxury punk executive. In the future, I hope I will get the chance to assist more people have their high-end outcomes emerge out of nothing, so maybe that’s why I’m here. For my own vanities, for sure, but also to elevate people.
WE’RE TALKING A LOT ABOUT PROCESS IN THIS ISSUE. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL PROCESS?
As a designer, I am simply addicted to looking at everything, dismantling it to small parts and then assigning and divorcing new values to the parts—adding a new rhythm. That’s really all I do. Process is a very fancy word and we need to resist the temptation to try and hide behind it. You are lucky if your journey from A to B is mighty. But most of the time it’s not, and neither are we. You just have to get over yourself. Your best bet really is to accept the contradiction of your flawed nature whilst somehow still keeping yourself and the work you do in very high regard. At the moment, I have my room literally covered in papersketches. I usually make between 5 and 50 a day. I am so crazy about the possibility to be able to produce all these things that never existed before and have so many people from all around connected to it. If you are anything like me, you need to resist the temptation to hide forever. Failure is this velvet, sinking feeling, whilst success makes you feel exposed. Finding the final answer, that true wish is scary. When it comes, you need to accept full responsibility for everything to claim it.
DO YOU SOMETIMES PAUSE AND THINK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU REALLY HAPPY? WHAT ARE THEY ALL CONNECTED TO?
First of all, I guarantee no one, not even your favourite celebrity, wakes up in the morning singing an aria about how excited they are for being themselves. Neither am I. I don’t have too many fucks to give about happiness—this moving target, this little red laser dot. If the world is kind enough, so that I don’t have to compromise my values too much, it’s a good day. We are unfinished humans in a world that is changing rapidly, discontent is natural. I am perfectly fine with being uncomfortable from time to time because on another level, I am also perfectly content that I know that I lined up a set of values that I won’t compromise. Throughout this whole piece, you will see splinters of things that nobody can take away. I want to be useful and help convey a sense of security. If we have it, we have less anxiety. We can move towards a different kind of access. For me that is happiness.
LET’S START WITH A SHORT INTRODUCTION. READY…GO.
I’m Jasmine Asia, model and gaming enthusiast! I was born in London, grew up in Tottenham and I am Bengali. And I’ve been modeling for about 3 years.
YOUR INSTAGRAM BIO SAYS ‘FAKE NERD’. WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND?
It’s just based on the “Idiot Nerd Girl” meme that was popular about 10 years ago—it was just a way for men to make fun of young women who like gaming and geek-culture by saying they only have those interests for attention. It’s so weird that grown men on the internet are so bothered by young women expressing an interest in things.
THE GAMING SCENE IS ACTUALLY VERY MALE-DOMINATED BUT YOU’RE MAKING YOUR VOICE HEARD. WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU’VE BEEN PROUD OF LATELY?
Thank you! Recently I shot Agent Provocateur’s Fearless Femininity campaign, the team is amazing and I am so grateful to have worked with them all. They focused on me as a gamer, my favourite games over the years and my appreciation for the gaming industry. I didn’t know what kind of reaction I would get afterwards. I did see some negativity around my story, mainly people saying that I was portraying an unrealistic idea of a female gamer and that I was posed ‘for the male gaze’ and I thought it was so funny because *I* chose to pose the way I did and *I* am the very girl in the photo just doing my job… looking “unrealistic” (thanks to hair, makeup, lighting and photography). When I game at home I’m wearing pyjamas and I’m slouched in such a way that my back will hurt for a week… why on earth would I look like that for a lingerie shoot? HELLOOOOOO??
THE WHOLE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ALL ABOUT PROCESS. WHEN YOU LOOK BACK, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL PROCESS?
I’m an overthinker and it will take me a while to get anything done, I will tackle something slowly to get the result I want. It just helps me build familiarity with whatever I’m facing. I wish I could be more spontaneous and out there but I think that will come in time. I get anxious because of my age too, I see people who have skyrocketed and I always think that I’ve missed my shot to do the same or that I’ve peaked and I haven’t realised it. But we ALL have our own journeys and I’m comfortable with the pace I’m going at, nothing is stopping me physically—I just need to do my shit.
WHEN TALKING ABOUT GAMING, PROCESS IS LIKE THE MAIN THING. YOU WANT TO BE ONE LEVEL UP, UNLOCK ANOTHER WORLD OR IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS. WOULD YOU SAY PROCESS IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN WINNING IN THE END?
YES YES YES YES! That’s the whole point of the game, it’s just to play it and have fun, see how far you go, if you fail you can restart. There’s no defining ‘the end’ in life, you just keep playing.
IMAGINE YOU COULD MAKE YOURSELF A GAME CHARACTER. HOW WOULD THE GAME LOOK LIKE?
Right now I’m obsessed with Bayonetta—she’s so fabulous and the game design is IMMACULATE. The game isn’t afraid to use religious imagery and it goes the extra mile visually, it’s eye candy. The movements are so exaggerated, the gameplay is chaotic and Bayonetta walks like she’s on a runway. I could totally see myself in her world. I’d wear a Thierry Mugler corset and my hair would be purple, I’d have really high platform heels and my powers would be to summon demons.
WHEN TALKING ABOUT DEMONS, WHAT DO YOU PERSONALLY CONNECT TO DAEMON CONCEPT?
It’s very apocalyptic chic. I can tell straight away the inspiration that is being referenced—be it a video game or a movie, comic book or obscure character design. What I love is that Sophia doesn’t shy away from the future of tech and fantasy coming together. I also appreciate how she uploads the process of how the jewellery is made, it’s so cool to see the metals glow scalding hot.
HOW DO YOU USUALLY EXERCISE YOUR MIND?
I like to read fiction. I’m currently reading Dragons of Winter Night from Dragonlance and I’m finishing the Revan novel from the Star Wars Old Republic series.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CHANGED SOMETHING INYOUR LIFE AND IT REALLY FELT LIKE THE RIGHT CHOICE?
I’ve stopped giving attention to people from my past. I used to entertain people who clearly didn’t want me in the first place but I’ve learnt that I won’t get anywhere chasing something that isn’t authentic. I’ve really learned to love myself.
WHAT’S A QUESTION YOU KEEP ASKING YOURSELF LATELY?
Why have all my dreams been so weird? I had a dream last night that I was in a battle royale simulation that didn’t have a way to quit, I was convinced it was real and I physically couldn’t wake myself up—Kendall Jenner was there too. I don’t know why, I haven’t met her but in my dream, she was leading a squad to escape a sniper. Shoutout Kendall.
LET’S START WITH THE EASIEST AND MOST DIFFICULT ONE. WHO ARE YOU?
Well to start my name is Moyosore Briggs. I’m a 21-year-old photographer, model and part-time cowboy. I’m based in London at the moment, but hopefully not for long. My work revolves around self-portraiture, as well as shooting others. I do try not to limit myself within this, which is why I also do voice-overs for short films and music videos as well as work as a videographer. I just try as much as I can to create any and everything.
YOU ALSO LISTED ‘CULT LEADER’ IN YOUR INSTAGRAM BIO. WHAT’S YOUR CULT CALLED? I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING.
Honestly, I’m a cult leader in my mind, but it’s the cult of the hellbilly. Hellbilly is a nickname I adopted a couple of years ago when I began wearing a cowboy hat in memory of my grandfather. Hellbilly is also the title of a Rob Zombie album. He’s one of the greatest rockstars to ever live and a huge inspiration of mine. Especially because he’s not only a musician but also a film director and filmmaker.
LET’S GET TO KNOW YOU A BIT BETTER THROUGH YOUR DISTORTED SELF-PORTRAITS. ONE OF YOUR CAPTIONS SAYS: “YOU CAN TELL WHERE MY MIND IS WHETHER I’M SHOWING ONE OR BOTH EYES.” WOULD YOU CONSIDER EYES REALLY THE MIRROR OF THE SOUL?
I definitely believe the eyes are the mirror and window to the soul. You can say so much through your eyes, but I feel not many people truly know this. A little TMI story, but just the other day, I was with someone I’m romantically attracted to and we were with friends, but I was acting strangely around them and avoiding their eyes. Finally, when they caught my gaze, they gave me this look and it felt as if I could hear the questions they were asking me so loudly as though they were speaking them. The eyes tell everything we don’t say out loud. In my self-portraits, you can tell my mental state by whether I’m showing one eye or both. This was something I realised during the lockdown when I started taking more up-close shots of my face. It’s really interesting for me because I am astigmatic in one eye, to the point where I can’t really see through it and that somehow plays into my self-portraits. It’s like when I cover my one good eye, I can’t see anything and I’m somehow protecting myself when my mental state declines. My current art practise revolves around self -portraiture and using the camera as a medium to truly understand myself and my psyche. Everything I do revolves around Das Es, Das Ich & Das Über Ich.
ANOTHER APPROACH OF YOUR WORK IS TAKING PHOTOS OF STRANGERS OR PEOPLE YOU MET BRIEFLY AS YOU’RE INTERESTED IN HOW YOU CAN REPRESENT SOMEONE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT VISUALLY. HOW DOES YOUR CAMERA HELP YOU TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THEM?
I absolutely love shooting strangers, it’s one of my favourite things to do. I believe the eyes are the window to the soul, I simply see the camera as an extension of that. When I see someone, I immediately feel something towards that person. They are immediately imprinted upon my mind and psyche and when that happens I want to share that imprint with oth- ers. I do that by photographing them, I converse with them and I get to know them as we shoot. I ask questions, make jokes and set the foundation of our friendship through images.
WOULD YOU THEN CONSIDER YOUR CAMERA AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR MIND?
The camera? No. The image? Yes. The camera for me is just a tool, be it a DSLR, a VHS or an iPhone, all it does is capture the image. Especially because I’m so obsessed with the poor image and digital manipulation. The image is everything to me. There’s so much I can do with it—I can destroy it, I can hide it, I can share it. That’s the true extension of my mind because I can do all these things with my mind as well.
THE WHOLE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ALL ABOUT PROCESS. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR CURRENT PROCESS?
My personal process revolves around so much, but also so little. Within my photography, my obsession with the poor image leads me to somewhat of a backwards process. I take a good image, a high quality, high res image and I break it down. I take screenshot after screenshot, I print the image over and over until it begins to lose pixels and I can not explain the joy I feel when I see those white spots of lost pixels on an image. A word that I connect to process is decay.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST ALIVE?
This is a very difficult question to answer, my first reaction is to say “I don’t know”, but I like to think that I feel most alive when I make a friend or meet someone that I know will be in my life for the long run. That’s definitely something that lights up my world. I also feel most alive listening to my friends laugh wholeheartedly, that fills me with a joy I can’t put into words.
DO YOU THINK ONE CAN EVER FEEL COMPLETELY FULFILLED IN LIFE?
I think so… well at least, I hope so. Ask me again in 5 years.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF.
I am an artist born in Lancashire, living in Salford. For the last two years, I’ve been releasing work under the name Black-haine, a project that works with sound, film, choreography, and performance art.
THIS FEATURE IS ALL ABOUT ‘THE NEW MUSES’. AS YOU’VE BEEN DOING WORK FOR GUCCI AMONG OTHERS, WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A MUSE?
Yes. The word ‘muse’ can come off a bit condescending sometimes, but I definitely feel like I’ve had an effect on some people. My approach to work and my background is rare nowadays. I represent a section of people that aren’t seen and I’m willing to push things and have conversations that other people can’t. It’s cool when bigger artists get in touch, especially when they don’t need to. It can be wild out here sometimes because it feels like I’m on my own in this field but it’s good to know that I’m on the right path. The best conversations I have are when people who aren’t involved in the arts get in touch to say something. That’s what really drives me.
YOU’RE DOING A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS LIKE CHOREOGRAPHY, FILMS, MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE. IS THERE SOMETHING IN REGARDS TO PROCESS THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAS IN COMMON?
The story all comes from the same place regardless of the medium. I get flashes of film scenes in my head and then I have to work out communicating them through choreography, films, music and performance. Each channel acts as a different channel or point of view to this film I have in my head. I talk a lot about Northern England, isolation and addiction in my work. No idea why. For the last few years, improvising when recording and choreographing has granted me my best ideas. I also work with pain in physical movement, text and sound in order to force my immediate instinctive reaction. Only then can I bleed through into different territory. Considering things like exhaustion, strain, and boredom can be hard going sometimes but it’s rare that you walk away empty-handed. Recently I’ve been slowing movement, film, and sound into an uncomfortable pace in order to create different sensations. Deconstruction is also a huge part of this. I have the constant need to break ideas down so I can rewire. I deconstruct my surroundings, inspirations and at times my own process. Sometimes deconstructive processing can become its own technique. I’ve worked out how to deconstruct the technique of deconstruction every few months, so switching mediums can often press the reset button on this.
THE WHOLE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ACTUALLY ABOUT PROCESS. WHEN YOU LOOK BACK, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL PROCESS?
It can be traced back to ideas and moments I’ve collected as I’ve grown up. Being from this concrete, grey, raining town surrounded by moors has definitely influenced me. The process has to be dark and isolated for me to be honest with myself sometimes. Narratively I like to create worlds or situations that seem boring and dull and then place fiction inside that. I always put myself in the most tense situations in order to provide an honest response. My process has been bred from having to rapidly adapt and still deliver hard work with integrity. In the North these kinds of opportunities are scarce, so I give everything and exhaust myself. I give myself this autopsy before I create and pull things from outside of me using these tools that I mentioned before; pain, exhaustion, deconstructions etc. I need to leave the room feeling hollow. This is heavy and cold but it’s the only way I actually feel alive whilst working. I came up quick, I went from performing with three friends in a warehouse in Cheetham Hill to Venice Biennale, working with Gucci and now to making films and recording an album. It’s been a fast few years—process is all I’ve been able to rely on sometimes, trusting my own narrative, my own command and doing what I came here to do.
YOU’RE PART OF A COLLECTIVE CALLED ACAB (“ALL CHOREOGRAPHERS ARE BASTARDS”), A DECONSTRUCTION OF PERFORMANCE. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT PARTS YOU DECONSTRUCT?
Inspiration for a deconstructive drive within my practice came from frustration at the dance scene I was a part of. A huge percentage of the artists carry the same, desperate, tired Pina Bausch processing fed to them by arts/dance school dogma because they all graduate from the same places. A huge part of the industry felt meaningless to me, and it still does. As an outsider coming into their world it seemed strange —I couldn’t work out why artists with a more enriched education than myself all created and moved the exact same way. When I created ACAB the idea was to act as a deconstructive/bastardised device for the UK performance scene, so I deconstructed the creative process, how the work was presented on stage and then how ideas are presented within the work itself. I felt it was important to consider the presenting of social issues in performance and dance. A lot of artists make political work that gets shown to white, liberal, middle-class audiences who already agree with everything they’re saying before they’ve walked onstage. Doesn’t really make sense to me.
WOULD YOU SAY THAT DECONSTRUCTING SOMETHING AND THEN PUT IT BACK TOGETHER MAKES YOU CHANGE PERSPECTIVE?
If you take something apart and make it work for you, you take an idea that people have accepted, put yourself inside and force a new direction out of it. One of the reasons I enjoy deconstruction is that I can take something that people have a context for and fuck it into a more interesting direction that suits me. Constantly working like this is heavy and can become its own context after a while but at the moment I think it’s needed.
EVERYTHING YOU DO IS CONNECTED TO PROSE. WHAT ARE SOME WORDS YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD RECENTLY?
I’m only here.
PLEASE GIVE US A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YOU DO.
Hi! I’m a model, creative, producer and research assistant living in HCMC, Vietnam.
YOU’VE BEEN PERFORMING IN THE MUSIC VIDEOS OF BIG NAMES LIKE CARDI B. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE EXPERIENCES?
Collective excellence and how precious it is when we believe in each other. All these people have mega hardworking dynamite energies and yet they are down to earth, never not vibing. Each with unique paths and dreams. It’s electric to see dozens of powerful performers and professionals on one set, it’s intensely motivating.
THE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ALL ABOUT PROCESS. WHAT DO YOU CONNECT TO THE WORD “PROCESS” ON A PERSONAL LEVEL?
A journey. Personalities. Consistency. I write, draw, build, snap, note down, try and error something. I meditate and workout daily to document experiences and fill in what I lack words for. Bouncing and challenging ideas with like-minded people but also opposites is important. I used to define process through its results. Mechanic routines buttressing each compartmentalized goal with periods of increasingly chaotic burnouts. Never resting or reflecting enough. It blurred the moments and the bigger picture. Womp. Forced stillness and downshifting made it a lot more intuitive, grounded, unrushed, healthy, playful, yet connected offline. Out of sight. Striving for mindfulness.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU LOVE SPENDING TIME ON? CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FEELING YOU HAVE WHILE DOING IT?
Learning. Listening. Guided and random. Interpersonal knowledge exchanges. Exploring ruins, catacombs, new cities and middles of nowhere. Deprivation chambers. Raves. Riding my bike at nighttime. Ideally often in nature. Family. Anything with loved ones, adventures, caring and sharing, togetherness is always fuzzy. I don’t know where I’d be without my people. Wim Hoffing. Moving and vocalizing (wouldn’t call it dancing or singing). Working on relationships with gravity, focused breathing, chest vibrations. In recent years, I found myself loving every moment of living experience because I’m feeling engaged and lucky to be alive.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME?
It might be falling in love online. In autumn, I co-directed a V-pop music video and co-ran the most convivial Saigonese art bar, 289e (come say Hi).
WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO SOPHIA AND HER WORK?
Daemon Concept is surprising, rare and surreal. Sophia is a muse, a cerebral crush, relentless kindred spirit and disappearing rock skipping buddy. She’s invested in the communities she works with. Having lived in Asia most of my life, I’ve seen so many cases of “1st world to 3rd world” ego-tripping entrepreneurs with exploitative and quick return intentions— I wish more were like Sophia.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU WANT TO GIVE EVERY YOUNG CREATIVE OR SOMEONE WORKING WITHIN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY THAT REALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE FOR YOU?
Please consider how to be less dependent on digital monopolies, thank you 🙂
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. MAYBE EVEN SOMETHING NOT EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU.
Hi, Nalin here based in Bangkok. I am inspired by the counterculture pushing back against the forces of consumerism and tradition in a battle for the future identity of my birthplace. I explore these themes in my work which ranges from casting and modeling to hosting parties so that I always feel the latest trends taking shape. Not a lot of people know this but I actually hate talking about myself…
SOPHIA DESCRIBED YOU AS “A RENAISSANCE AND IT GIRL IN THE THAI SCENE.” CAN YOU IDENTIFY WITH THIS?
Really? I feel so flattered. Well, I suppose if there’s a Renaissance taking shape in Thai culture I would be happy to be at the forefront as a poster child of the brave new world.
HOW IS GENDER IDENTITY PERCEIVED IN THAILAND?
Thai culture has historically been defined as strongly patriarchal leading to a rigid social structure and well-defined roles for men and women. Great access to opportunities over the last ten years has broken down many of these barriers. The focus of my work is to show that transexuals can participate in the cutting edge of art and culture thereby changing the perceptions of people over time.
YOU CREATED YOUR OWN STREET CASTING AGENCY ANDALSO DO PHOTOGRAPHY. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LOOK FOR IN PEOPLE?
I’m looking out for other freaks, while at the same time making sure I get closer to the edge.
AND WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LOOK FOR IN YOURSELF? WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR?
I see Marilyn Manson looking back at me and find myself shouting out “I love you”.
YOU’RE ALSO HOSTING LEGENDARY PARTIES. WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER FROM THESE NIGHTS?
Being yourself around others is the most fun that you can have.
THE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ALL ABOUT PROCESS. WHAT DO YOU CONNECT TO THE WORD “PROCESS”?
For me, process is the means to create what I want to express,which in turn is based on my ability to define and the means to create. I have found that with increasing experience and self-confidence, I can be more fluent in my conceptualization yet more precise in my craft.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU WOULD HAVE LOVED TO KNOW A BIT EARLIER IN LIFE?
Don’t fear pushing against closed doors.
LET’S START WITH THE MOST DIFFICULT ONE. WHO ARE YOU? ANY FUN FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF YOU WANT TO SHARE?
Tough question. If I look into my fundamental values I’d say I’m an anarchist. My ultimate goal is to help society shift into another paradigm where nature isn’t seen as a resource but as an entity.We have to work with it in order to survive, as our current system is on the verge of collapsing. Contrary to what most governments are trying to push into our minds, a never-ending economic growth isn’t a long term solution as we live on a planet with finite resources. Other than this I’m based in Marseille, a city of many shapes thanks to its pluricultural history where I sell thrifted garments. I’ve also had the chance to work with Anne Imhof on her latest pieces as well as with Balenciaga as a performer and model. As for the fun fact, I met the first person I fell in love with through World of Warcraft. I was quite a gamer back in the day and still got a Wow account worth a few thousand euros because of all the rare things I collected that aren’t obtainable anymore.
YOU’RE THE MUSE OF A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE, YOU ALREADY MENTIONED ANNE IMHOF AND BALENCIAGA. HOW DID IT ALL START? AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF THROUGH THESE COLLABORATIONS?
I started modelling randomly as I got casted by Simone Thiébaut one night when I was bartending at Meta, an underground venue held by friends in Marseille. Everything went so fast it felt unreal. From one day to the other, I had to cancel all my plans and hop on a train to Paris for the casting, and then the show. Walking for Balenciaga in this tunnel made of gigantic screens was a unique moment that felt more like being part of an artistic performance than just a fashion show. A few months after this, I got called again to do their campaign where I met Eliza Douglas who asked if I would be interested to perform with her in Anne’s next piece. To be honest, I was inclined to refuse at first as I wasn’t familiar enough with the contemporary art scene and thought I wouldn’t be able to find my place among an already established team of professionals but meeting them totally erased my a priori. Contrary to what I imagined, everything felt fluid from day one. Anne is one of the kindest people I’ve met and never made me feel out of place. Working with them all as equal in this multilateral process not based on hierarchy felt refreshing and empowering, which gave me enough confidence to perform in front of all these people at Tate on the first night and ultimately led me to grow more confident in my own abilities, encouraging and strengthening my future projects.
HOW DO YOU THINK DOES THE FUTURE OF COLLABORATION LOOK LIKE?
Collaboration is key. A large misconception we have is to see the law of the jungle as the law of the strongest (one of the basis of the capitalist ideology). In fact, it has been observed that in the jungle, species that have been able to adapt and survive up to this point were the ones that cooperated the most with others (see Pablo Servigne’s TEDx talk on the matter). I believe that in an era where a handful of people hold more wealth and power than 50% of the rest of the planet, the solution is to connect, share, and organize. The only way to make an end to society based on capitalist, racist, and sexist values is to build something of our own, using our collective strength and knowledge.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR OWN PROJECTS. WHAT MAKES YOU?
I started mixing because I love digging. Each musical style has its own codes, language and history which is often a way to protest, resist and express one’s cultural identity, and to describe the collective experience of a certain group of people at a certain time. It helps me to channel excess of emotions and express feelings I can’t verbalize otherwise. I sometimes go back to some of them to dive into the state of mind I was in when I produced them – I kind of like to open a window to a past me. Most recently, I tried to organize raves with friends again. Anthropologists’ works reveal that through history and cultures parties have been an important social outlet to question social order, break down social constraints and reclaim spaces and bodies. To find safe places for the ones that don’t believe in the current system is important to me – it’s from there that we can bring a change.
DID THE IDEA OF WHAT MAKES YOU CHANGE DURING THIS YEAR OF A ROLLERCOASTER?
If anything, this year strengthened my will to resist and find a viable lifestyle that won’t put me in a state of cognitive dissonance the way the current one does. A few days ago our government validated a law criminalizing sharing footage of policemen on duty to “protect” them while we have been flooded with images of escalating police brutality every week for years. They want to restrain our fundamental liberty and slowly push technologies into our lives to be able to keep us in check. The only response is to take collective actions for our own good as they are clearly not willing to change their trajectory, and trying to shut down every social movement willing to bring a positive change (see les gilets jaunes or Notre-Dame-des-Landes).
THE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ALL ABOUT PROCESS. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR CURRENT PERSONAL PROCESS?
This is something I never really thought about. I’d say that I’m currently trying to analyze my thoughts and actions objectively in order to improve my day-to-day life by changingor implementing habits that I think are better than the ones I was having. I feel that it starts from what seems to be the smallest modifications that you can improve as a person and inspire positive change from others around you.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, TELL ME ABOUT THE LAST DREAM YOU REMEMBER.
To what I remember from last night, I was fighting some kind of undead deer hybrids on a flying platform in space, maybe I should watch less animes.
FIRST OF ALL, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF.
My name is Zoé. I’ve been going by TWEAKS for the past few months. I’m still not sure which one to go by when I do these things. I’m scattered a bit everywhere, mostly between LA and NY but I want to move to London so badly.
WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO SOPHIA AND TO HER WORK?
I came across Sophia’s work randomly on Instagram one day and I don’t want to sound corny but it really did take my breath away the first time I saw it on my feed. The designs and positioning of their work make me think of fantasy a lot. Shows I grew up on like Xena. Video games that my cousins and I would play. It’s like living out a specific fantasy whenever you wear it. Everything is fantasy to me, I love dreamscapes and dress up for it. Their jewelry makes me feel like I’m getting into character for a long voyage on the toughest level of a video game.
YOU HAVE A DAILY PRACTICE YOU CALL ‘DEMO A DAY’ WHICH GIVES YOU A SORT OF ROUTINE. IS THERE ANY OTHER DAILY ROUTINE YOU HAVE?
I think we all have tiny routines that help us feel like we’re in control of our lives – or at least provide us with enough evidence (or delusion) that we are. The only thing keeping me together during this fucked year is making my silly little beats and writing out my silly little lists.
YOU PLAY A LOT WITH THE CONCEPT OF DIFFERENT PERSONA AND VERSIONS OF YOURSELF. IS THERE A CONNECTION TO YOUR MUSIC TOO?
I’m not particularly sure. It’s what comes most natural. I like to dress up. I really love picking my outfits for the day. I feel like a servant to my gender identity sometimes, like constantly trying to make it feel present with me at all times. So I end up having to play with a lot of different sides of myself to make sure every side of me feels present. If I don’t, I start getting really dysphoric and feel like a guest in my own body. Actually, now that I’ve written it out, I do think the music I make follows a similar process. You gotta go all the way – as hard and deep as you can with a track (or an outfit) and convince yourself that there are always more sides of yourself even if it’s not the face you’re showing the world at the moment. You don’t need to worry about being put into a box. It’s actually not even possible if you explore every side of you that comes around in real-time. It might look a bit all over the place but that’s the reality. None of us is mostly one thing. Most of us are a whole bunch of shit and then we slap a label on it and call it our identity. That helps me a lot when I feel like I’m making too much of one sound or performing “too” femme/masc/etc. When I let myself completely go into a look or in the production of a song, that side of myself got to be heard today. That matters to me. If tomorrow another side needs more attention, I’ll shine a light on it for a while and do the same thing all over again with the next side that wants to be seen.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO FEEL WHEN THEY’RE LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC? WHAT DO YOU PERSONALLY FEEL WHEN YOU’RE LISTENING TO IT?
I guess while I’m making a track, I’m sort of kneading a feeling out and trying to soften it, making it more malleable, digestible. With other mediums, I think more about the audience but music is pretty selfish. It’s for myself, so I can go about my day without having a tiny feeling take over my head, so I can be present. Damn, I haven’t made a beat in about four days. That’s probably why I’m feeling so shifty right now. If people can pick up on what I was feeling in the moment I made the track, I think that’d be enough. I feel like a kid listening to my own music. The track is my big sis explaining my shit in a way that isn’t as harsh as my thoughts. My thoughts get insensitive sometimes. Music is good cop when the thoughts play bad cop. (Obviously, there are no good cops lol but you get the point).
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU LEARNT ABOUT YOURSELF THIS YEAR?
I can work ten days straight, no breaks and get everything done but just because I can doesn’t mean I should. I learned a lot about my limits this year and when I need to stop myself before I get to said limits. There’s a sweet spot of knowing when to push yourself and when to take your own hand and nod at yourself “No, I need a break.” I know a lot about rest, but I know a lot about work. Next year I’ll learn more about balance.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT MOMENT WOULD YOU GO BACK TO?
I think I’d like to revisit a childhood memory, a really mundane one. Like a memory that was a big moment for little me. I want to know more about my forgotten memories
PLEASE FINISH THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE: TIME IS …
escaping me. I hope I don’t have to spend the rest of my 20s in a global pandemic. I haven’t clubbed enough. I haven’t fucked enough. I haven’t fallen in love enough times. I haven’t been to nearly as many countries as I’d like to. I hope time can be forgiving.
FIRST THINGS FIRST. LET US KNOW A BIT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF.
I spend most of my time in Hungary where my studio is located at art quarter budapest. It’s an exciting place, being the hub of the contemporary art scene. I was born and raised on a river island near to Budapest and left for Scotland when I was 19 to explore the Outer Hebrides through photography.
I was hopelessly enchanted by the paintings of northern romanticism, the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and symbolism while learning about the possibilities of lens-based media. I graduated from the fine art photography course at Camberwell College of Arts in London which radically shaped me and my art practice. It taught me fearless risk-taking and endless trust in embracing failure and how to conduct process-focused material and theoretical experiments within the post-medium condition and beyond as well as pushing the boundaries of photography, doing whatever feels right.
YOU’RE GOOD FRIENDS WITH SOPHIA. WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL CONNECTION TO HER?
We share the same heritage, including our sense of humour, as we are both from Hungary. We resonate in ways that can organically understand and elevate one another. Sophia had a great role in how I learned to tame my strengths and weaknesses both as an artist and a human being. Between each other, we call it ‘defragilisation’. It means a never-ending quest of course, but together we are perpetually developing a customized survival kit for this world. Our conversations tend to revolve around ways of transfiguring what life throws to us into empowerment and beauty.
Daemon Concept strongly resonates with the phrase dystopian renaissance as it reflects Sophia’s creative, transformative power in a collapsing social and economical environment.
LET’S TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK WHICH INCLUDES A LOT OF SCULPTURES MADE OF PERSPEX AND OTHER MATERIALS. WHAT’S THE PROCESS LIKE BEHIND THIS?
I’ve come a long way before arriving at sculpture. I would call my practice crypto-photographic, as the logic behind it originates from light-sensitive silver halide crystals and photo-chemicals in the darkroom. Photography without the burdens of representation felt so relieving as I immersed myself in abstract photography to respond to a world accelerating towards total abstraction. Boundaries between image and sculpture were becoming more and more obscure as I found myself creating material and medium hybrids. UV printing colour gradient lumino-grams on transparent perspex holds an inherently captivating, even pleasing aesthetic due to its reflective, eloquent nature which I’m constantly fighting against. As uncanny as it sounds, materials amazingly possess their own agencies and can turn into either your allies or foes.
THE WHOLE NEW ISSUE OF YEAR ZERO IS ALL ABOUT PROCESS. WHAT DO YOU CONNECT TO THE WORD “PROCESS”?
The energies around process can often be more powerful than the outcome. However, most of the time, it’s about your own intense experience rather than something that anyone can grasp when looking at your work. It’s about self-reflection, self-negation, self-deconstruction, and resilience. In a recent series of sculptures, I’m making plexiglass wall reliefs inspired by the fascinating Art Nouveau architecture I had the chance to rediscover in Budapest during the lockdown. At the beginning of the production, the work completely took over me partly due to unexpected technical obstacles, partly because of the emotional charge I filled it with. Eventually, I had to surrender and allow it to control me in the process which meant letting go of an ideal outcome. Letting go of fixations is a forever win.
WHAT DO ALL YOUR ARTWORKS HAVE IN COMMON? WHAT MAKES THEM YOU EXCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU MADE THEM YOURSELF?
Those who can read my work well tend to say that it has an unusual dual nature. It’s elegant and brutal, fragile and spiky, tranquil and anxious at the same time. It resonates with the same tension that is also its source of creation.
HOW DO YOU USUALLY APPROACH AN INTUITIVE IDEA OR INSPIRATION?
I aim to deconstruct my echo chambers while impulsively shifting between intuition and pragmatism.
ONE OF YOUR WORKS IS A MIRROR ON PERSPEX. WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR?
Someone once told me that I was their mirror which I found quite thrilling and confusing at the same time. It inspired me to explore mirrors within my work both as an intriguing material and as an object with significance. I started making a series of gothic revival and Art Nouveau inspired hand mirrors and daggers out of translucent perspex and mirror layers. I was reading Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre at that time, which I rediscovered through a song Living In Another World by Talk Talk. The angelic Mark Hollis sings “Did I see tenderness where you saw hell? Did I see angels in the hand I held? I’m living in another world to you”. In that sense, looking in the mirror means the collapse of the sense of self, also awakening.
ANY LAST WORDS YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD?
This fragment from Island by Aldous Huxley has mantra qualities: “It’s dark because you’re trying too hard. Dark because you want it to be light. Lightly, child lightly. You’ve got to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly, even though you’re feeling deeply.”