Meet the Nigerian-American creative is refusing to be boxed in.
Jumper and trousers OFF-WHITE, Annahstasia’s own bracelets and rings, earring (left) AREA, earring (right) OTIUMBERG, shoes BOTTEGA VENETA
Taken from the Winter issue of Wonderland. Order your copy of the issue now.
Nigerian-American visual artist, musician and model Annahstasia Enuke is on the rise. Having dealt admirably with the ridiculous backlash to a Nike campaign she shot — in which some of her underarm hair was visible — Enuke has shown herself to be perfectly equipped for the life of a multi-hyphenate in 2019, her dedication to social justice combining with her creative flair to position her at the forefront of the industries in which she operates. Here, we talk to Enuke about balancing so many ventures, her relationship with social media, and where she sees herself in a decade’s time.
Hey Annahstasia! Do you remember the day you were first scouted? Can you tell us a little about that day and how you remember it?
Hey! Modelling has definitely been a journey for me, and one that started via my music actually. About two years ago I had caught word that Nike needed female musicians for a shoot they were doing (they wanted to put together a band for the day for an AF1 campaign). It was a lovely day where I got to jam with four other girls in this beautiful vintage studio. The shoot felt very organic. Since I come from a performance background, modelling didn’t feel abnormal at all, which I guess came through on set because Nike continued to book me after that shoot. Working with them led to more and more jobs, until it became a pretty regular part of my life. I was in university at the time, and the money allowed me to quit my café job and focus on studying, making art, and creating music full time. However, even though I was working regularly, it was difficult to find an agency to officially represent me. I managed myself while I was still in school and, coincidentally, [it was only] once I had a vision for my career that LA Mod- els and I came into contact.
How would you describe your style?
I recently learned about a style movement called Buffalo that was very prominent in the 80s, and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it because 80% of the time I’d say I’m a Buffalo girl. I love boxy or bold tailoring, pairing that with a well-draped form. I love to play with colour, texture, and balance in that same way. My style has probably been influenced a lot by my Dad. He’s a designer and has always practised a specific structural opulence that I search for whenever I am putting a look together.
If you could walk for one designer, who would it be?
I’m in support of brands that champion diversity, independent artist’s and ethical practices.
(LEFT) Jacket and jeans HERON PRESTON, Annastasia’s own bracelets and rings, earring (left) AREA, earring (right) OTIUMBERG, boots STUART WEITZMAN
(RIGHT) Blazer, bra, skirt and earrings AREA, Annahstasia’s own necklaces, bracelets and rings, boots JIMMY CHOO
How do you compare the worlds of art, music, and modelling? Are they all linked?
Art and music can be very independent processes that are not necessarily
linked to money. Modelling, on the other hand, is more about the performance aspect of art, and has an end goal to sell a product. It also feels very transactional. You get the job, you do the job, it’s done. Oftentimes the creative process is outside your purview; you arrive to help execute an idea that’s not your own. You’re a role in a play or a cog in a small machine. I definitely use two different versions of myself for modelling and art.
How would you describe your art? Are you particularly inspired by any other living artists?
Describing my art is essentially moot – you’ll just have to engage with me and see it for yourself as it unfolds. There’s no use putting something like that into words before the public does. I don’t believe it’s the artist’s job to think omnipresently about their work, no matter the medium. I am constantly inspired by contemporary artists, and musicians. Some people I’ve recently been inspired by are Ib Kamara, Solange, Zhang Huan, Arthur Jafa, FKA twigs, Sevdaliza, Wangechi Mutu, David Hammons. It is a long list, however I deeply respect and reference them in my work.
What’s your process like when creating one of your works?
I’m a pretty masochistic creative I’m realising. I’m a bit calmer in the process of making music, but I start to deep dive internally and sometimes I can get to a pretty dark place. I prefer to follow my gut on creating a bed of sound or a beat with my collaborators, and then freestyle over it. That way, anything that needs to come out does, and
I can then focus with the other side of my brain and make sense of it. Visually, though, I prefer to feel things in my body. The physical strain of creation is very satisfying to me, but at the same time I’m not super patient in the actual execution of things. I like to be very brash, chaotic, and sporadic when I create.
You also make music – what inspired you to go down that path, and who are some people who shaped your sound?
When I was around 14, all sorts of musical references came into my life and language. Most of them were soul or jazz artists: Nina Simone, Bill Withers, Janis Joplin, Billy Holiday, Son House… all the classics. At that point it became very obvious to me that music, specifically singing and performing, was this process of expressing from the heart, and channelling this immense power for these fleeting moments of time. That’s always where I came from; I loved being that vessel. So when people ask me to describe my sound I just say it’s soul music, even though it doesn’t really subscribe to the genre.
You embody your generation’s talent for pursuing multiple ventures and creative avenues at once. How do you find balancing all of them?
Oh it’s definitely not light work. I mean, they say ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ for a reason. Each talent takes time to master and curate and develop, and you’ll always feel like you aren’t cultivating things enough to say that you actually do them. The key is to just keep going back to each of my projects until they meet the quality I want.
What’s your relationship like with social media – do you give much importance to your public image? How much of your life do you try and keep separate from social media?
I wouldn’t say my relationship with social media is healthy. I find I’m on my phone compulsively, checking my likes and views, especially on Instagram. It’s very satisfying to put something out as vapid as a selfie, and see it get hundreds or thousands of likes, even though it is conditional and fleeting. I’d say my life is 30% presented online, 70% not. Sometimes my reality is amazing, but the majority of the time I’m holed away in a stuffy studio with no windows, sitting on a set where I signed an NDA, or busy creating and need my hands and attention for other things. Instagram doesn’t have any pull or weight on how I live my life, but I like to indulge in it more frequently than I probably should.
We’re coming to the end of the decade, where do you want to be in a decade’s time?
Doing a sold-out stadium tour for two months every other year, and living in my custom-built home/open air studio somewhere in the woods. Maybe I’ll even be converting vintage cars to run on renewable resources.
Gonn Kinoshita using Amika
Yuki Hayashi at The Wall Group using Chanel
New York Models