An Interview with Theo Love
ASHwell: For someone who isn’t familiar with you, can you describe your artistic endeavors?
Theo: My background have always been in theatre, in dance, in music . I hung out with musicians all the time and wrote in my journals, always writing poetry and that grew into spoken word and that grew into visual arts to making videos, like spoken word videos, story telling and then moved into me rapping over beats. With spoken word I was getting hired for gigs and the next step was music you know, to put it to a beat. It’s really cool because now I talk about a lot of personal issues and social issues and I can make people dance while they ingest the information. I’ve come to find it’s easier to take I when you put an 808 to it.
AW: In the last year how have you responded as an artist to all the really traumatic things we have all been collectively experiencing?
T: You know there is only so much energy you have for that dialogue. My first two projects touched on these issues of inequalities for people of color, queer people, Black & brown people- anyone disenfranchised and marginalized. It really just kind of flared out what I had already written and put more context to the stuff that I had already put out. But as far as what I create now it’s been hard because I’ve already put out projects about the anger and the pain and resilience and now I want to touch on the fun and the joy and beauty. It was a weird year last year because I didn’t know how things were going to go because of the election.
T: I was like, who am I talking to you know is this country as racist as Fox News is showing me?
AW: Right! Because there’s a lot of white liberal people in the last few years who have woken up to a lot of these issues and been like “oh, everything is so corrupt!” where as a lot of people that have experienced repression first hand particularly Black people were already aware of this.
Theo: Oh yeah this last year was the year white people found out their government actually doesn’t give a fuck about them. Black people have known that shit!
AW: Right, so how do you feel about this shift in cautiousness? Do you see hope in it? Do you think there is going to be more support from people that maybe had pro large and advantages in life to maybe do more to people that have already been on the front line of the fight so to speak?
Theo: Yeah ,100% it’s awesome to see the allies step up. Particularly white people, this is an old conversation but it’s not Black people that really need to do the talking it’s white people amongst white people having these dialogs. I’m so proud of the people who have taken the time to do their homework and read the books and engage with their friends with respect. Last year, being the Black friend answering all those questions from white people can be fatiguing, so I was really proud of how very specific people reached out and asked information, sought it out for themselves , shared information. There are so many people I’m proud of that I can tell they grew up through this experience in a way.
AW: Absolutely! What do you think about the world of music, either on a personal level or perhaps on a larger cultural level, going into the next year- is it time for celebration or is there more work to be done as an artist?
T: I would say all of the above you know. Music is universal. We all respond to the kick and the snare the same way so I think it’s a great way to spread information. To do any of those things to celebrate the resilience, the joy Black beauty, all of our triumph. You know it’s the artist job to reflect the times, so I think you can do both.
AW: Yeah I cannot wait to be in a sweaty honey club situation again.
T: Oh yeah I’m so ready! Especially because I’ve been really focused on making the music fun and dance-y and have attitude. Just like serving it up queer and punk as fuck! Gender fucked and fuck what you heard.
AW: Can you talk more about the current music you’re making right now? I love these references you’re dropping what can we kind of expect when you are ready to release something.
T: I used to care a lot more then than I do now, and so I would say more expression and freedom to express myself. Obviously I’ve grown in my skill but there is also growing as a person. Don’t get me wrong there will be trap beats and hip hop but if you keep up with what I’m saying I’m queer punk-ing it out. I’m trying to be as detailed and personal as possible but at the same time I want people to have fun and feel empowered and to be able to say these words and feel like you’re the shit.
AW: That’s super valuable, it’s like anger can turn into so many things. It can turn into a negative response or you could build it into creating something really beautiful as a way to sort of cancel out what you’ve experienced.
T: Well it’s cool because there’s songs for the revolution, songs for mourning, the ones who passed, and the songs that get us through the movement, through the hard times. You know the ones that are joyous and celebratory. There is space to have both in there and I think it needed to because sometimes the negative can be so heavy. I think everyone experienced that last year. Particularly black people in America. You know there wasn’t a day I would wake up when literally be who I was wasn’t a topic or conversation on headlines land that shit is fatiguing.
AW: I can’t imagine a situation where you’re allowed to be just Theo. You have to be representing or answering to or contemplating all these issues. That seems like it could be really challenging.
T: Well and for that reason I chose to kind of be quiet. I felt like my music and my art spoke for itself. You know I just kind of updated it and was putting it out it if you know me you know where I stand.
AW: I found myself doing something similar lately where I was watching a lot of people kind of repost stuff on Instagram and I was like that’s cool people are waking up to this but it’s like a sugar rush of concern. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing it’s just like, where were you two years ago, none of these issues are actually new we’re just seeing the consequences of collective of action against conservative forces. And sometimes you don’t have to necessary deviate from your artistic path if you’ve already been addressing these issues.
T: When race comes into play some people are just finding out what you’ve been experiencing your entire life it’s like “you’re late to the fucking party but here’s a party hat we still need you.”
AW: I love that, wow that’s such a great way to put it.
AW: There is a strong visual component to your work, you’re putting yourself out there as an individual- how does continually being visible figure into your creative expression?
T: It’s Everything! I like to have my hands on everything. I write the songs, I produce the videos. I’m story boarding the video. I’m casting the video. I’m in the video. You know I try and want people to feel seen. I want people to feel seen and the best way to do that is to be as authentic as possible so as I grow the details I share become more personal in ways that everyone can relate to.
AW: What are your hopes and fantasy’s for when we get out of this pandemic?
T: People will be kinder and have the time to process and see themselves. For that reason we will be able see each other and really be able to see all the small things we really just took for granted. Random smiles from strangers. That’s just one. There’s so many things. And I think we can take better care of each other, so I really hope to see that. And I hope that everyone appreciates what they have and that they are inspired to go for what they want and have because life is not guaranteed!