Why so serious? This is the question we’re asking of music, after experiencing the queer, delightful whirlwind that is Lynks (formerly Lynks Afrikka).
Lynks straddles a tongue-in-cheek style (audibly and visually) to create a new landscape for pop music to frolic in. Bringing elements of performance art to the table, Lynks’ music is unpredictable, rendering listeners open-mouthed, as well as open-minded. Notable for their Leigh Bowery-esque masks, Lynks is no stranger to thinking outside the box, seen in their single from earlier this year “How to make a Béchamel Sauce in 10 Steps (With Pictures)”.
The London-based bombshell is fresh of the back of releasing their debut EP ‘Smash Hits, Vol. 1’ – an eclectic mix of hard-hitting lyrics and rambunctious beats. Tracks such as “Desperate and Lonely, in Desperate Need of Love” and “I Don’t Know What I Want” are a cynical insight into the trials and tribulations of twenty first century Capitalist society (‘My ego is equivalent to the unemployment rate’) that have got this Gen Z-er nodding her head in agreement. Wrapped up in infectious synthpop rhythms and club scene instrumentation are “Str8 Acting” and “How to Be Successful”, oddly satisfying and combating toxic masculinity first-hand.
Lynks is the doomsday realist we all need right now, so we spoke to them all about Oscar Wilde, queerness, and a possible career in recruitment.
How are you doing? More importantly, what does your mask look like today?
Hello Gem! Great name. I’m doing well actually. I accidentally self-isolated for a week and a half over a cold, but that’s over and now I’m ready to party! And by ‘party’ I mean endlessly exploit ‘eat out to help out’ until the government’s bankrupt and I don’t fit any of my costumes anymore.
My mask today is a velour mustard balaclava with dripping black devil horns on the top. It’s a good one – pics coming soon, probably.
What inspired the mask? Mask for masc? Phantasmic pandemic prediction?
I sometimes worry that I jinxed us all for the ‘rona with all my mask-wearing. But no, it definitely wasn’t COVID related. And if it was it would be completely useless – it covers everything on the face EXCEPT the eyes and mouth. Not safe.
To misquote Oscar Wilde; “give a man a mask and you shall see his true face, my name’s Oscar Wilde, it’s The Past, how are you?”. And I think that’s very true. Well done Oscar.
I, like so many queer people, spent a good chunk of my teens filing down all my rough, obviously gay edges to try and fit more comfortably into the hetero world. And that’s something that really sticks with you. I don’t think I’ll ever be like the eccentric, fabulous little child I was at age 10 again. But I think in becoming Lynks and donning the mask, it frees me from all those expectations of normalcy and allows me to fully lose myself on stage with no consideration of whether I’m being cool, or weird, or ‘too much’. When I’m dressed as Lynks I’m clearly all of those things already, so there’s no need to waste time thinking about them.
You definitely come across as a person who doesn’t take life too seriously. Has this been a long process, or have you always felt wild?
Wow, it’s really nice that I seem like that. I wish I was like that! Would be lush. But no, I’m a very sensitive person. That’s precisely why I’ve got Lynks. Lynks is the angel on my shoulder that lets me see the light and humour in all the darkest stuff that’s running through my head. It’s why so many of the songs are actually hella depressing when you get down to the crux of them. It’s all a big musical coping mechanism really.
Congrats on “Smash Hits, Vol.1”! My favourite element of the record other than the unabashed lyrics is the clean-cut production. What inspired this?
Honestly the way I go about producing is kinda intentionally not inspired by anyone. I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff that unconsciously sinks in, but when I go to make a beat I try and treat it like a kid playing around with their toys. To just not take it too seriously, make a pile of shit and then search through the rubble for any gold. I think that metaphor got a bit lost in the journey…
Which track on the album do you currently feel most connected to?
Ah, it’s difficult when they’re all such #relatablebops, but it’s got to be “I Don’t Know What I Want”. I’m a live musician who’s had their entire industry ripped away, is back living with their parents and is seriously considering applying for a recruitment job. I truly have no idea what I want.
You mention university a few times in your songs. Is there a reason for this focus, other than the current government’s less-than-successful impact?
Well, I graduated this time last year, so all the tracks were written either while at uni, or during the existential spiral that followed it. You can see it pretty clearly actually – “Str8 Acting” and “Desperate & Lovely” fall into the ‘I’m at uni, all this sex and clubbing is SO HARD FOR ME’ category and then “How to Be Successful” and “I Don’t Know What I Want” are more ‘I miss the sex and clubbing please don’t make me write another cover letter’ vibes.
“How to Be Successful” feels like a very personal attack (verging on too real) which got me thinking about common queer experiences. How do you navigate being queer in this hellfire which we call Earth?
I’m sorry Gem – I didn’t mean to attack you. Us queers gotta stick together. I’ve got a very complicated relationship with my queer identity honestly. Like I hinted at earlier, I spent a lot of my late teens repressing that side of me. And I think I’m only now, partially through Lynks, I’m realising that it’s something to be celebrated, not hidden.
I’m not 100% there yet, really. But definitely getting better. I found that the moment I stopped trying to police my own femininity is the moment I found myself becoming properly, truly close to people. I’d 10/10 recommend it to anyone and everyone grappling with their sexuality/public persona.
Though, to be honest, I feel like it’s one of those things you have to arrive at yourself. We’ve been bombarded with so much ‘just be yourself!’ rhetoric by tv/film/advertising that the message has been totally lost. You really have to get there through your own experience, I think.
“Desperate and Lovely…” feels stripped of your usual merry tone. Is it hard to write tracks that appear so personal?
No! Actually the opposite. I feel like ‘personal’ is what I do really well. But I also think that all my tracks are personal. “Desperate and Lovely” feels particularly deep, I think because it’s about dating and relationships (online dating specifically – the track is about trying to write a Tinder profile after a breakup) and that always hits us particularly hard for some reason. Maybe because deep down we’re all just procreation machines put on this planet to spit out babies. I’m not sure. I think I forfeited my place in the conversation when I came out of the closet.
What made you want to write music about things that matter?
Wow, what a question! Well, I don’t think I necessarily try and do exactly that. In my old project I used to go a more traditional route: writing songs about being in love and being sad and whatnot. And it was very difficult to not just spout a stream of cliches over my post-dubstep-alt-pop beats. At this time I was writing a lot of theatre as well as music, and I had the brainwave of ‘hey, why do I write plays about literally anything, but I only write music about being in love or being sad?’
And so with Lynks, the idea isn’t as much about writing songs about stuff that ‘matters’, but more about writing songs that feel truly relevant to me. About the stuff I think about all the time – food, sleeping, making friends, climate change, whatever! Real-life. No cliches. It’s very liberating.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like the readers of Notion to know?
Thank you for having me Gem! Tell them I’m available for weddings, christenings and bah mitzvahs and if anyone’s got any recruiting jobs going then fire em over.