Huh Collab: Wavy The Creator and Tell Your Children See Light In the Darkness
Issue 7 | Imagining New Worlds
This feature brings to life the collaboration between Singapore’s Tell Your Children and Lagos, Nigeria’s Wavy The Creator, as part of Somewherelse’s HUH. It’s a virtual bridge between international cities and artists that otherwise wouldn’t be able to work together. Thanks to the Internet we live in a globally connected world. HUH fosters collaborations between different kinds of artists from different cities and helps them create new innovative and fulfilling projects. The first iteration connected Toronto-based singer-songwriter Luna Li with Canadian-born, L.A.-based filmmaker Rosanna Peng.
Wavy The Creator’s latest release, This War This World, asks a harrowing question: “All this blood we shed is it for nothing still?”
She wrote the song as she reflected on the End SARS protests that engulfed Nigeria in October 2020. The movement is devoted to stopping police brutality, specifically that inflicted by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, an arm of the Nigerian Police Force that over time began to abuse its power and target young people who weren’t doing anything wrong.
Brought together for the second iteration of HUH, Wavy was linked with Singapore creative studio Tell Your Children to bring the song to life through animation.
The song’s themes are a balance between optimism, frustration, despair and hope and the accompanying animated video plays with this duality, flitting from light and warm pastel tones to dark and sombre. There’s a moment where a house is being flooded with water, representative of the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. The animation work isn’t overly complex, it’s all soft lines and round edges and very symbolic. It lets Wavy’s message take centre stage.
Denise Yap from TYC says she was very inspired by the first line of the song “the Sun will rise again / even though the rain’s been pouring hard” which inspired the team to base the video animation around water, rain and what comes after a storm –– growth, renewal and reinvigoration. “The song contains both pain from the now, but also has a hopeful tone and we wanted to create dreamy visuals that reflected that hope for a different future.”
Isolation has been difficult all around the world but it’s provided time for reflection, time to organize and to propel the world further—in the hopes that the world we re-emerge into is more compassionate, more just and more equitable. Uprisings like End SARS are a reflection of that momentum and as always it is the imperative of artists to reflect the times we’re living in.
But, how did different creatives from Lagos to Singapore to Toronto pull something like this off? Not without a few time zone mix-ups and delays. As HUH exemplifies, the push towards more virtual collaborative creation is just getting started and provides the opportunity for deeper cultural connection.
When thinking back about the process, Wavy said “It’s beautiful to be able to blend creative ideas with different creative minds from across the globe. Working across borders opens up your mind to different possibilities and fresh ideas.”
Singapore and Nigeria are very different nations with entirely disparate social realities but in coming together on this project the respective artists learned more than they might have working with people within their own circles.
Jialing Hoon from TYC said, “We took the lead from Wavy’s direction to focus on the ongoing protests in Lagos and we got ourselves adequately informed about what was going on there.”
Deon Phua extended on that sentiment, saying “Working on cross-cultural projects globally not only opens our eyes to what is going on elsewhere but it also brings larger awareness to our audience locally. It’s always more significant and meaningful when the work we create can be appreciated by people halfway around the world.”
Wavy born Jennifer Ejoke is a singer and rapper and this track is a departure from her usual upbeat and bouncy tunes. “ I never imagined that I would get a chance to work with amazing creatives from Singapore on a special project like this, without even meeting them. This project for me is very symbolic and different from any other thing I have done so far.”
Wavy is actively involved in the creative scenes throughout Nigeria and splits her time between Lagos, London and Ghana. She’s completely on the pulse, sonically, stylistically and aesthetically, with an ever-evolving sound that blends Afropop, hip hop and alt-pop.
Tell Your Children was founded in 2014 and since then has done illustration, graphic design, animation, mural and branding work for multiple brands, most recently including The Hundreds and Uniqlo. Their style is buoyant and bright most of the time, so the mood and tone of this project is also a departure for them.
Hoon said this collaborative effort opened her eyes to the ways artists can draw inspiration from world events. “Seeing how Wavy could create a song with so much warmth during troubling times was inspiring to me.”
Written by Kelsey Adams
Lead Photo Illustration by Marta Ryczko
Photos courtesy of Wavy The Creator and Tell Your Children