[Written by Lynsay Holmes]
[Image Credits: David Chukwujekwu]
A year-long project has begun its steady trickle, as the first fragment in a series of songs and music videos by Canadian artist Basil Panagop, in his debut solo project LaLaLand, was released on Friday. The Halifax born, now Glasgow based creative produces ambient R&B and hip-hop, and Friday marked the realisation of his first single Topaz, along with the launch of his gender-neutral clothing line Intrnit. Meeting the artist two weeks before his launch, we discussed over coffee the meaning behind his work and furthermore storytelling through a multimedia project.
Titled LaLaLand after a childhood game he used to play, the project is a self-reflective story, which uses several media to take a nostalgic look at first experiences and youthful feelings of fresh wonder. The journey begins with a track called Topaz, made in collaboration with indie-pop band Fauves. Topaz being the short name for a Mercury Topaz Ford, I was intrigued as to why someone would make the first track on their album about a car. As an introduction to his story, the song acts as an ode to his cousin as it muses over the days where independence began for them, in his cousin’s “broken, beat up car”.
A chilled-out delight, its lo-fi feel and tranquil vibrancy (you can definitely feel the Fauves influence) work well to encapsulate the feeling of nostalgia. Having freedom of movement at the age of sixteen, the car facilitated the pair being able to accumulate independent life experience. As the track voices, they were able to go to events like a “first nations party”. He remembers: “we could go there ourselves, even if it was in an overheating car which you can hear from half a mile away…the track is a salute to that feeling of awe at experiencing something for the first time and on your own terms”. The symbol of a vehicle is fitting for the theme of self-progress and also acts as a full-circle comment on the artist’s most recent journey, his move to Glasgow.
The track, like the others to follow, is accompanied by a music video- the first piece of an overarching short film the music videos will comprise to make. Shot on Super 8mm film, its grainy aesthetic works well with the cool and bright soundscape of the track. Movement, in the form of driving, skateboarding and public transport, is employed to mimic the bouncing energy of a younger self. In particular, I felt including Glasgow’s local skate culture worked well to instil the idea of playful and vigorous youth. The artist also cleverly utilises different vocal pitches to represent different selves, as Basil explains: “the high-pitched vocal is me speaking at a younger stage, my sixteen year old, adolescent self. The clean vocal is myself in this present, me as a human, and the low-pitched vocal is my inner demons if you will”. Different pitches interacting as different selves, in order to create a dialogue of self-reflection, I found a very interesting idea.
However, even though such minute details might not be picked up by the listener, he reiterates that as a storyteller, your duty is to do the story and all of the people in it justice. In his eyes, this means making the story as encompassing as possible, through such details. He also feels manifesting an idea in multiple media results in the highest and truest expression of your idea, as it communicates in a fully rounded, immersive way- “You can listen, you can watch, you can wear”.
His clothing line Intrnit is cut from this same cloth (pardon the pun). In expressing nostalgia, we discussed the interesting ties that can be drawn between gender neutrality and childhood. Basil saying he was lucky to experience feeling joy in his formative years with his older sister. Enjoying the novelty of wearing her hand-me-downs. He explained that it was more cost effective for his parents to buy clothing that was neutral and therefore could be passed on to him. The creative flexibility of gender-neutral garments sparked a childlike excitement in the models, as Basil stated that on shoot, they had fun experimenting with how to wear the clothes; T-shirts being styled as dresses and the like. The sharing of shirts amongst models was reflective of the childhood dynamic Basil had with his sister; It encouraged a playful inclusivity .
The brand name Intrnit, an abbreviation of interknit (“knit together”) is reflective of this cohesive ethos and is further expressed in the t-shirts’ visual design. A sort of temporal tee, the shirts in his collection have photos which, firstly feature people coming together, but also detail the times and places they were taken. The inclusion of logging the details of photographed memories, turns the pictures on the tees into romantic documents and reinforces the project’s overarching theme of nostalgia. Not comprising on quality, Intrnit is a long-lasting investment for the buyer. To quote Basil: “If younger people can buy this clothing and it imbues them with comfort and confidence, what more can you ask for. That’s why I make the clothing”.
He strives for unity not only in his creative process, but in his personal values. His expression: “a win for you is a win for me”- an attitude he displayed in supporting the successes of others in our local art community- I found very touching and genuine. His ideas of agency, most obviously represented in having the courage to move to Glasgow alone from Canada, with no roots on the other side, I found inspiring: “I’m not afraid of this idea of starting over and from the ground up… My uncle changed his career path at the age of 32, with two kids- I can’t even fathom that. If he can do that, what do I have to be afraid of?” The entire project radiates inspiration, so if you haven’t listened, watched or worn yet, immerse yourself. LaLaLand will slowly be released over the coming months, but for now Topaz is available on all streaming platforms.