KARLA 'HUSTLEGRL' MOY

My name is Karla, I am 23 years old and my birthplace is the Congo. I've lived in Toronto for about seventeen years.

FF - What were you doing five years ago?

KM - I was fresh out of high school and I took a year off to tour with Drake. It just started with me being a fan and him not having enough online presence so I took it upon myself to start a fan site. So he asked me to come on tour and I already wanted to take a year off because I didn't want to go straight into University, so I took a year off and just hustled hard that year. It was fun! Going from city to city, it's the same show every night but a different crowd and I was eighteen years old and ready to explore the world and it was a really great experience.

FF - What do you do now?

KM - Now I still design, I still do photography on the side, I work on the Remix Project - I am the Creative Arts Programmer here at Remix, and I also DJ. 

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FF - Tell us about the Remix Project...

KM - the Remix Project is an amazing arts program funded by the government, there’s three streams: the art of business, creative arts and recording arts, so obviously music, visual art and business. So it’s a 9 month program for at risk youth age 16-23. We only accept 15 students in each stream every year, it starts in February and ends in November. We help them accomplish their goals, get internships and jobs and stuff like that. When you’re here you’re surrounded by likeminded people, it’s not often that you’ll get to meet another creative person that has similar values and morals, so it’s really cool to be in a creative space like that.

 

FF - How did DJing start for you?

KM - I've always loved music and always tried to think of different platforms to share the music that I love, so I was like hey why not start DJing?! I was surrounded by performing artists and DJs and so I reached out to a friend of mine, DJ Romeo, and working at the Remix Project, we have access to DJ equipment (laughs) so I'd stay after work and learn how to use turntables and the mixer and DJ Romeo put me on to the DJ game. I'm still learning, I need to polish my scratching skills but to get a hang of it it took a month and a half just to know how everything works, but for me to be able to perform and be comfortable with that it took me like three or four months. 

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FF - What's your goal?

KM - My end goal is to have a creative agency, I would love to be able to have my own creative space and staff to provide marketing and branding services. I want that team to design what we need to do for a client, or come up with a marketing campaign, so I want to have my own Hustlegrl universal empire... Right now Hustlegrl lives on the web and Hustlegrl lives on the streets too, but Hustlegrl needs a home! So I would love to have my own creative space.

FF - If your life was a movie, what would be on its soundtrack?

Destiny's Child - Independent Woman Rick Ross - Hustlin'
Eve - Who's that Girl! 

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you can follow Hustlegrl here.
As told to: Olivia Seally / Photos + Video:
Olivia Seally

LING THRAXXX

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I’m Ling, I was born in Washington DC and I’m 21 years old. I creative direct, style, model, do graphic design, videos – just anything creative that I can get my hands on. But what I really love doing is helping people, I like to bring the artist out in everyone else. I learned from being around creatives. I have no formal education, but that’s how I wanted to go about it. I have moments where I feel I should go back to school, but any questions I have I self teach; ask people, go on Youtube... I attend Youtube University (laughs). Something I learned going into portfolio reviews when I was in High School, trying to go to college, is it wasn’t ever about the final piece, but how you got to that piece and why you made it. I go through that actual process... that’s how I learned most things I know today – by assisting, interning and being hands on. If you got “it”,

if you got that drive, you’ll go out there and get what you want.

People call where I come from (DC) ‘a bucket full of crabs’... everybody’s just pulling each other down to try and get up and get out the bucket. Because it was so street out there, I was really prepared for my move to NY and people being cut throat within the industry. When I moved here I was making art, people started fucking with my style so I was getting into modeling and styling. But I didn’t quite know how to be a professional... New York is teaching me that, for sure. I didn’t know how to pitch something, or hit someone up for a casting, make a tech pack, etc. A lot of my friends in New York really showed me how to be a better artist, how to be a better creative.

So the goal for me is this artist collective I’ve started called THRAXXX;

“TH”: the, “R”: real, “A”: artist and the XXX is just the style – raw, edgy, raunchy, blunt.

So it’s an agency of likeminded artists, who have the same believes; who are humble and just want to be artists and come together. A real artist, to me, is someone making art off the love of creation. Obviously they’d like money... everyone’s gotta eat. So I just want that platform for these real artists to promote other likeminded artists, for example you could be a model and another member of THRAXXX could be a rapper and he’s promoting you and you’re promoting him. So it’s just all these artists... whatever field you’re in. 

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I’ve known plenty of people who start companies with friends and stuff happens down the line and you eventually will be doing something that you want to call your own. But THRAXXX is some thing for every body... that honestly is one of my life goals. I looked it up, what I have on my hands is a start up culture. And it’s someone like me who wants to start a company to give jobs to all my friends and peers. And I want to give everybody a chance... people who can do accounting, or technical stuff, not just artists. That’s another aspect about THRAXXX, we are generally all from that type of area where we know so many good people, who are from the hood, but they’re smart, they’re talented... where’s their chance?! Then society looks at them like they’re doing all these horrible things... they didn’t choose that shit, that shit was given to them and they have to deal with it. That shouldn’t mean they don’t get a chance, just like everybody else.

I’m really just trying to create a platform that will go on hundreds of years after me. Like, all the old rap heads had it, because they were the first of their generation. It wasn’t a big deal back then, Wu Tang for example... no one at the time really looked at it, in the grand scheme of things, but they were the best group ever, to me. They were just so diverse and it was just something about them. 

When rappers come out now, it’s as a group... not just one. Or when artists come out they have a collective. That’s actually a beautiful thing, because it’s people fucking with each other. There are definitely still people throwing shade, but that’s what we are trying to abolish... that’s the new generation’s fight; this fucked up industry. That’s the sad thing about it though... is you need money to really be heard or seen, when it’s just a middle-man.

Let’s say, you are a groundbreaking, pioneer of an artist, the next big thing... they’re not going to try and put you on, they’re going to try to take from you and make it their own.

They’re going to leave you out here to be a real, starving artist.

It seems like there’s a lot more people who are trying to be businessmen and there are fewer people trying to be artists, within the art community. For me, I would love to find a businessman who I can trust but that’s hard as shit. I don’t want to be thinking about these things, but the way the world is the artists have to, so that they don’t get fucked over by the businessmen. That’s how it is... businessmen and artists.

But that’s kind of interesting because in the beginning (of anything really) it is those people who are hungry, starving artists, who are really passionate about it and it’s just them. And then obviously as other people, who are totally irrelevant, catch hold of how much money is to be made, then it’s kind of all over. So that’s happening now but

we’re in a new culture! There’s new art movements coming out, new rap movements, new fashion... Everyone is a freshman in this shit and now is the time for a new generation!

But people are still trying to hold on to the old. And the white man, or whatever, is in here making money off of people like us. But it’s going to start fresh with all of us. All these new rappers, artists, creatives, it’s going to start again. And we’re going to be the ones controlling it.

FF- Can you list a few people that are either a part of this movement or an inspiration to it?

LT- Robot Moonjuice – my friend from Harlem, he’s an amazing person... he just does it all. He actually hooked me up with my first ever casting, which got me into WAD Magazine and that was great for me. I kinda co-styled it with Kevin Amato, he shot it. I’m in Kevin Amato’s new book; he’s another person who just put me on. A third person would be Tyler White; he’s been really influential, taught me a lot of things. Jorge (Gito) Wright has taught me a lot of things too... Jorge is probably the most influential person who has put me on.

FF- If you could only wear clothes from one designer, for the rest of your life, who would it be?

LT- I don’t need designer shit, that’s luxury! Fashion is a luxury. So I say Dickies! They make good clothes, the shit lasts, they make work wear and then on top of that, they have a designer line, so it’s like designer work wear. And it’s going to be around forever, nobody can do what Dickies is doing, at their level. 

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as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally

THEOPHILUS MARTINS

My name is Theophilus Martins, I am 29 and I was born in Providence, Rhode Island.

FF - What were you doing five years ago?

TM - I was just starting to bubble off making music and I was connecting with a lot of the kids in New York, I really wanted to be a part of that scene. And so Myspace was my way of connecting... I remember I hit up Mickey Factz; he was like the first person to show me so much love. I was just trying to be a part of all that. And I ended up being the tour manager for this group from LA called U+I. They actually contacted me online... I put out something with okayplayer and they liked my shit and asked if I wanted to come on the road as their DJ. 

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So we ended up going on tour with Warren G. I connected with Curtains and Kidz in the Hall, they were so popular... they were like one of the bands in LA who were doing shit that was progressive and innovative and they were cool with a bunch of New York cats. So they were like my introduction, I’ve always been the kid on the outside of the group trying to get in, so I just tried to find whatever relationships I could (laughs). We did a song called Beautiful Day, it was me, Evidence, Aloe Blacc was on that fucking song! and Mickey Factz was on it, so that was my way of getting into that. 

FF - What do you do now?

TM - I’ve always been into entertainment. As a kid I did some child acting, I did performance... I didn’t like it because I was super shy, so I started DJing, which was my way of being a performer in music without being the face of it. And then I got more comfortable and wanted to start to make my own music. I lived in London for a good part of last year, I took some time off and I felt I had an understanding of what I want to do, as opposed to

trying to be this great rapper, or an amazing DJ. I was just like why don’t I build the world that I want to live in? So I just do cool shit now; I DJ, I perform, I creative direct. I think that it’s more appropriate for me to just do what I want and plant those seeds now and let that grow and let people see it.

Being a part of art and a part of so many things that you like... I used to look at it as a burden, but then I realized well, for one...

I don’t like putting out music regularly, I want to build it and look over every detail because I care about it. If you get one from me and I don’t feel like putting another one out for a few months, then you’ll just have to accept that. But I also realize in those moments the art never dies, the passion never dies. It can be applied to so many things and I feel like I was trying to channel that energy into one lane, but I don’t want anything I have to force, nothing. So I’m just going to do what comes natural. And for me, that took trust, like do what comes natural?! No! College! Bills! but I was just like I’m gonna be good regardless and things changed from that point.

FF - Tell us about your company ‘Good Posture’

TM - Good Posture... it’s a little bit like I birthed the baby, like I spent last year figuring out who I was and what I’m doing and how to launch it and in January I premiered a collaboration I did with this company called Flexfit. I partnered with them to design this product and then designed this experience, so I had these big 15 foot walls that I designed at Agenda and it introduced my company and what inspired it. Colors drove the idea for the music, which translated to the hats... yellow and blue are primary colors and yellow is this color, like how I felt when I was making this music, it was very much lively, it was cool, it was fun. And that canary blue was like a lot of the music I was making while I was in London, it was very melodic, it was sad, it was emotional. And so I designed a yellow corduroy hat and a blue hat so just attributing those colors into a physical manifestation, so now I’ve designed some clothes that will accompany those hats too. Just making it a full experience, so like I’ve given birth to the baby by premiering it at Agenda, where it got great press and people fucked with it. 

FF - Do you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior now?

TM - OK, well in music... I had my debut LA show two days ago! That show was like a graduating step, I was watching myself while performing, like wow this is what I’ve always envisioned! I performed in a way that I’ve always wanted to and delivered it the way I wanted to and it was a very joyous experience. I felt like ok! I’ve graduated one level, I’m a freshman entering a new stage of being an artist and being fearless. It feels very new, it’s like first day of graduation, you have family dinner and walk around like yeah! (laughs) it’s that kind of feeling, where I feel accomplished. I know who I am now, God damn! It took twenty five years (laughs) but I’m thankful, it took a lot to get here but it was worth it.

you can listen to Theophilus Martins here.
As told to: Olivia Seally / Video:
Olivia Seally / Photos: courtesy of Theophilus Martins