Nuria Rius transports us to New York to meet the attendees of this year’s Afropunk festival.
One of the most highly anticipated events on New York’s musical calendar, this year’s edition of AFROPUNK was no different. Having expanded to London and Paris since the festival’s inception in 2005, we’re impatiently waiting for it to touch down over here at Alexandra Palace later this month. This year saw the likes of Ice Cube, Tyler, The Creator and Flying Lotus headline at Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park with Earl Sweatshirt, Ho99o9 and Young Fathers filling up the lineup.
Long time Wonderland collaborator, Nuria Rius headed to the two days of festivities to find out with the event is so important to New York’s bright young things.
Name: Darius Goldsmith
Instagram: Not yet available due to re-branding. Follow @MagnusJuliano to find my Instagram featured soon.
Where are you from? Columbus, Ohio.
What do you do? I am currently a freelance model and stylist with a background in fashion design. I also work retail at Dr. Martens.
What’re you up to this weekend? JANELLE MONAE! I am such a huge fan of hers! I really admire androgyny and people who redefine stereotypes. Plus, she is extremely talented and creative! I attended AFROPUNK with Trans-rights activist Cherno Biko (@chernobiko) and also friends/creatives, Chris Green (@MagnusJuliano), VanDawn Williams (@soho_vann), and Daria Love (@mslovexo).
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? AFROPUNK means healing, unity, love, and family.
What do you stand for? I stand for challenging gender norms. I stand for redefining stereotypes based on sexual orientation and race. I stand for true self-discovery and the freedom to self-express!
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Formation” by Beyoncé.
Name: Tori Nicks
Where are you from? Bay Area, California.
Current city: NYC, Brooklyn.
What do you do? Musician, Visual Artist.
What’re you up to this weekend? I’m using my resources to spread awareness of my brand, Mind Over Flesh and to connect with the people I’ve built lasting online relationships with over the years.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? To me, AFROPUNK is a symbol of freedom within my own identity. The cool outcast. The respected black sheep. The black beauty.
What do you stand for? I stand for self progression! The constant development for one’s minds… if we all focus on bettering out selves. We’ll grow as a community, naturally.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Nights” by Frank Ocean.
Name: JuNé LeJoí
Where are you from? Detroit, Michigan.
Current city: Atlanta, Georgia.
What do you do? I am professional art model and artist.
What’re you up to this weekend? I came to the festival because I wanted to bask in the presence of beauty and excellence and enjoy everything the universe could give me that weekend. I came with my cousins and on Sunday I was a performance piece to be body painted by Laolu (@laolunyc).
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? To me means being yourself and embracing who you are. AFROPUNK is a celebration of blackness, of beauty, of acceptance and of coming together as one but still being that unique individual. AFROPUNK is LOVE.
What do you stand for? I stand for my people. I stand for all beings who are unique. Beings who do not know how to be that individual prosper and be divine in their light but conform to the ways of society.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? That’s funny, I’m usually like a jukebox, I get songs stuck in other people’s heads.
Name: Eka Eyoh
Where are you from? Minnesota.
Current city: St.Paul, Minnesota.
What do you do? Model.
What’re you up to this weekend? I went to AFROPUNK last year for the first time and was amazed by the beauty, music, and overall vibe of it. So this year I decided to go again with a group of friends to experience it all over again. In addition to attending AFROPUNK, I plan to move to NYC next year so I also spent the weekend exploring neighbourhoods I want to move to and potential job opportunities I will have here.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? Coming from Minnesota, we have nothing really like this and it was honestly a beautiful experience. I see AFROPUNK as this inclusive space where everyone can collectively embrace the beauty, music, energy and empowerment of being unapologetically black. I also love the forms of expression you will see at AFROPUNK. You have the complete freedom to be creative and express yourself in your way.
What do you stand for? I stand for freedom, self-expression, justice, influence, unity and love.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Tomboy” by Princess Nokia!
Name: Frederick Olaleye
Where are you from? Hard to say.
Current city: Presently in Indianapolis.
What do you do? Marketing for a large insurance company in the States. Student in uni, graduate August 2017. Still searching for my passion.
What’re you up to this weekend? I came to AFROPUNK solo. I wanted a space to express myself, hear some of the bands I love, and discover new music. Being around the people that know me is often confining – I think we all can feel the expectations of others, to some extent. This was a chance to be unrestrained, somewhat. To explore parts of me I neglect. It came out better than I could have imagined. By the time the fest ended, I made a bunch of new friends from around the States: Texas, NYC, Virginia, Philadelphia… I found people that like me for who I am, and I am so grateful for that.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? AFROPUNK is black beauty and rebellion. But it’s also a space to breathe, explore, and live. There was a lot of love in that space.
What do you stand for? Me and my people – black, Nigerian, and the full diaspora. I stand for us.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Spaz” by N.E.R.D.
Name: Bella Starr
Where are you from? Queens, NYC.
Current city: Brooklyn, Brownsville.
What do you do? Server/hair model/future juice bar owner.
What’re you up to this weekend? I’m a part of the AFROPUNK fan army so I received passes for the weekend, and my friend flew in from Chicago.
What does AFROPUNK mean to you? Black pride, fashion, music, art and overall fun.
What do you stand for? Veganism, social justice and animal rights.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Get Ready” by Young Paris.
Instagram: n/a – alder-knight.tumblr.com
Where are you from? The Maine woods.
Current city: Portsmouth, NH.
What do you do? I install solar panels by day and I’m a musician and drag performer by night.
What’re you up to this weekend? I went with chosen family, a friend I consider a sibling, whom I haven’t seen in a long while (we used to be roommates in Brooklyn but hadn’t seen each other in a long while). We’re both weird mixed black queers and this year’s been rough on us. We needed some soul healing among all the violence of 2016 and our friends chipped in to buy us bus and concert tickets so we could go. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? It means leveraging that space in the margins of art/music/culture and race, where the powers of creativity and resistance overlap. It means making room for experimentation and failure and greatness without the judgment of outside observers – this is by black people, for black people, and we can encourage and cheer one another on without having to play for any other audience. AFROPUNK is about striving towards the most radically inclusive space possible, and putting the needs of the most marginalised ahead of the comfort of the most privileged. I am transgender and was stunned that there were no binary t-shirts for sale, for one thing. It’s impossible for a simple festival to get everything right, but AFROPUNK is dedicated to trying like hell and I really respect that. Physically and virtually, it’s a space for celebration.
What do you stand for? Autonomy. Honesty. Justice. Liberation. Ass-shaking.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Faster and Faster” by Janelle Monae
Name: Yared Yonas
Where are you from? Ethiopian (first generation), Inland Empire, CA.
Current city: Los Angeles, CA.
What do you do? Artist creative. I make trans dimensional space ship hot boxing music .
What’re you up to this weekend? Looking for the weed man lol.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? A place for black people to gather and share experiences, silently or otherwise.
What do you stand for? Love, the intersection of individuality/community, and short lines.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “Love Is a Losing Game” by Amy Winehouse.
Name: Dash Carter
Where are you from? Born, raised and still residing in Harlem, New York.
What do you do? I am a licensed Cosmetologist
What’re you up to this weekend? I came to AFROPUNK to be free and have fun with the most creative and transpiring people in New York City. I came with my best friend from college and my good friend Rick from London.
What does AFROPUNK mean to you? When I hear the word AFROPUNK to me it means freedom to be who you are, where ever you are with no type of discrimination.
What do you stand for? I stand for equality, peace and respect for all people and the decisions they make.
What’s the last song that got stuck in your head? “Do You Wanna Come Over?” by Britney Spears
Name: Malcolm Cuthbert AKA Goldie
Age: 30 years old
Instagram: @GoldieNY & @MalcolmCuthbertHair
Where are you from? Of West African and Indigenous Caribbean descent.
Current city: NYC (Crown Heights, Brooklyn).
What do you do? I am a hairstylist/colourist at Suite Caroline Hair Salon.
What’re you up to this weekend? I went to AFROPUNK to experience people like me. I wanted to see young, beautiful black people. I also went to spend time with my friends Dujon Valente, Terry Lovette, Cakes da Killa, Yinka Paris, TaTa Milan, BHawk, Curtis Bryant and a few others.
What do you stand for? I stand for love, freedom, personal art, self expression, friends and family.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? It means a lot to me because it creates a space for black people to build something that reflects us better than any other festival. It’s the only music festival of its kind!
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “The Ha Dance” by Masters at Work
Name: Steve Cover
Current city: NYC (Williamsburg, Brooklyn).
What do you do? Brand and talent management.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? FREEDOM.
What do you stand for? I stand for individuality in a world full of the same robots.
Name: Brea Pipkins
Where are you from? Wrens, GA.
Current city: NYC (Brooklyn, East Flatbush).
What do you do? I’m a full time student at Fashion Institute of Technology and stylist.
What’re you up to this weekend? I want to show off my grandmother’s talent to the world. I went to AFROPUNK dressed in a jumpsuit that she made for me two days before the festival.
What does “AFROPUNK” mean to you? AFROPUNK is expression. You are free to be yourself. It is a time to show love to people you may never see again, but you will leave the event with memories of all the beautiful individuals. AFROPUNK is fashion. AFROPUNK is love.
What do you stand for? Strength. Freedom. Love. Self love. Self-Awareness. Braveness. Faith.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head? “X” by 21 Savage.