On this particular Friday evening, there was one place in Britain where a new revolution was in the making. As the Tate Britain lit up into the night, the artist Kojey Radical made his immersive audio visual experience premiere – not online but in person.
Galleries can be somewhat a conservative and quiet affair but the Tate Britain is moving in step with the changing tide. Entering the gallery to the sound of black music echoing from the speakers into the halls and winding down the steps, we joined a queue of people patiently waiting to see the new video for ‘Open Hand’.
Kojey was all hands on and in high spirits, and understandably so, since this was quite a turnout for an unsigned artist at the Tate. Preluding with an intimate spoken word performance with his band, Kojey swiftly introduced his video, knowing that there was still a long queue waiting outside for the next screening – “Luckily we were in positions where we could actually present this to people in the way that we wanted to, which is alot more of an integrated experience, with a closed group at a time, the video’s nang!”
Kojey articulated the intention behind his powerful video – “Our message is putting the art back in the hands of the people, so us being able to show in the Tate and present it like a piece of art is very important to us. All we ask is that you take it and you show it to one person. The power of organic man made support is the reason why we have a line curling round the Tate in the middle of the Pimlico and we’re from Hackney.”
Fuck. It just hit me we shut down the Tate. Damn, I need to bell my mum
— Kojey (@KojeyRadical) October 2, 2015
After the video screening we caught up with the directors themselves, Lewis Levi and Alex Rest, the duo otherwise known as The Rest – “If you see the first video ‘Bambu’, it’s like the 2nd part to that so really this video is about how we’re all enslaved by objects so we use Gold. It’s an object, it doesn’t really mean anything, we don’t need it but people crave to get ‘the gold’, it could be anything, it could be clothes, cars, it could be anything. All these things it doesn’t mean anything it basically shows that he’s a slave at the start of the video, he gets all this stuff but he’s still a slave because now he’s a slave to society. And at the end it’s just like shit man – we’re all still slaves. That’s sort of the concept and we built up from around that.”
The Tate seemed to have captured the new spirit of British creatives, who are unbound by any limits and experimenting with music, performance, art and literally ‘everything’ they want to. Kojey works in tandem with his Creative Director, Craig aka ‘Mos Popular Human’, who explained to us what Push Crayons is about – “I started out with Kojey from the beginning, we started the whole Push Crayons movement around 2012 officially and since then we’ve just been putting in work, trying to make amazing visuals and I think we’re on our way to doing that. Push Crayons, so it’s whatever anybody’s able to bring to the table to help the whole creative process, just to make amazing stuff.”
What’s true of Kojey with Push Crayons and The Rest and all the people who are part of the movement is their drive to collaborate together, Craig continues; “The directors, The Rest are amazing film makers and I met them when they came to Chapter 002, the first show that Kojey and I put on. From there, I got a message from Lewis one day and he was like yeah you guys are doing great stuff and showed some of his stuff and I was like ‘you guys are sick”.
This is not the first time The Rest have collaborated with Kojey, and they told us how the video come to life – “We’ve done 2 videos with Kojey so far, this is the 3rd one, he sent us the track and said ‘just listen to this’, he didn’t want a video and I was like ‘Yo I’m doing a video to this, swear down’ and he was like ‘cool’. So we just got a few friends in, got a few favours and then got the video happening really. He just sent a few ideas that he had and then me and Alex we’re a duo, we basically came together, came up with a whole idea and sent it to Kojey and he was like cool that’s it!”
And that’s it – ‘Open Hands’ is sick, nang, powerful and a whole lot more – we’ve seen it and as Kojey asked just ‘show it to one person’ and let it do it’s thing. We think you’ll want to show it to quite a few more people when it premieres online.
Kojey Radical will be appearing live at Arrival presented by DJ Semtex as a part of Community LDN.