"Modern pop and alternative music alike are very concerned with looking cool, and less so with having fun"
Today, Bristol is a vital place for ‘serious music’. With its abundance of avant-garde electronica, cerebral art-rock and compelling hybrids of the two (SCALPING, Giant Swan etc.), a commendable reverence is held for projects designed to challenge, wrong-foot, or outright antagonise their audiences.
However, the recent breakthrough of Lynks Afrikka – the alter-ego of producer Elliot Brett – has confirmed that there is a place in this landscape for sonically unusual projects which provide a more straightforward, gleeful species of ‘fun’. Setting tongue-in-cheek ruminations on sexuality and art to a propulsive brand of avant-pop, Lynks Afrikka has become a local phenomenon through their ecstatic live shows, incorporating drag, theatre and dance.
Beyond the fun and games though, a coherent and subversive set of ideologies behind the project has been established by new single ‘Str8 Acting’. A satire on the ‘masc4masc’ ideal in queer culture, set to a deconstruction of popular club music, the single establishes the twin pillars of Lynks Afrikka’s manifesto: to empower queerness and mock the joyless stoicism (and sonic conservatism) of contemporary club-culture.
“Lynks Afrikka, above all, is a mask,” Brett tells me when I ask about the project’s origins. In a literal sense, the producer only performs entirely disguised in elaborate costumes, with past examples including a peacock-inspired ensemble and a set of tentacles made from loft insulation. “I think the anonymity of Lynks brings out a really pure, distilled essence of my personality when I’m on stage,” he explains. “There’s a pre-requisite for how a 22 year-old, slightly effeminate Jewish boy in a white t-shirt and jeans acts, but there isn’t one for how a masked demon standing on stage wearing a mop acts.
“Have you ever heard the whole ‘do you tell jokes to make people laugh or to make people think you’re funny’ dilemma?” he asks me, citing this as the distinction between Lynks Afrikka and his earlier line in introverted, rather ordinary folk music. “I think I was making music to make people think I was a good musician, rather than to actually entertain an audience,” he says. He abandoned this in frustration two years ago after his laptop was stolen from a show, and all of his recorded music with it. Forced to re-evaluate his priorities, he began a new project focused on audience entertainment, in a landscape where this is an overlooked or even risible consideration.
“I reckon in 2019 it’s pretty unusual to consciously act like an idiot on stage,” he says. “Modern pop and alternative music alike are very concerned with looking cool and less so with having fun I think. We would never get a ‘Hollaback Girl’ in 2019 – and yes, I’m aware that’s not a cool reference.”