- Words Sunayah Arshad
- Photography Sade Sangar
- Fashion Naailah Khalifa
- Production Sunayah Arshad
Sharing moments of creativity, we sat down with young romancers Tom & Deba on a rainy afternoon in south London to talk their interests, influences and thoughts on each other.
Stroll through Soho on the day of a rare Supreme drop and you’ll likely see a queue of customers itching to get their hands on the latest merch. Look even closer and you may just see two teenagers fall in love.
Born and raised in the digital age, Deba Hekmat and Tom Austin’s relationship began as the epitome of teen romance. Tom’s persistent efforts to get Deba to notice him via Instagram were, eventually, successful, and the two spent the remainder of their teenage years frolicking around the streets of London. Now in their early 20s, Deba — a model and aspiring actress, and Tom — a ‘viral by accident’ singer/songwriter under the alias Niko B, are sharing moments of creativity and figuring out their next steps together. Using their many creative outlets to find inspiration and express themselves, the couple are reminding others to live, laugh and love a little, which is so refreshing to see.
We sat down with the pair on a rainy afternoon in Deba’s (extremely cool) south London clock tower flat, to find out a little more about their interests, influences and thoughts on each other.
Tell us a bit about your creative journeys. How did they begin?
DEBA: Everything that I started to do just fell into place at a really, really good time. I was going through getting kicked out of college and then being at home. I found my modelling agency when I was 16 and they’ve been beside me since then. They’ve really pushed me to start thinking about what I want to do outside of fashion and everything, so in the past year and a half we’ve really been trying to push TV work and film and stuff like that. That’s where my passions are.
TOM: It probably started when I was seven,just doing stupid YouTube videos and that. I think everything I’ve done has stemmed from that one time I wanted to make a YouTube video. It went from stupid animation to presenting random stuff in my room and then I just ran down every little creative avenue until now.
How do you guys inspire and motivate each other?
D: I’m constantly inspired by Tom whenever he’s doing something. In terms of work rate and motivation, you really inspire me.
D: Yeah bares.
T: I love the way Deba does things, like recently we practised her lines and the way she teaches herself to remember lines was just so cool to see.
What’s one of your favourite projects that you’ve done together?
D: Ooh, I’m gonna have to say the Lucozade one. That was really fun. It was the squirty top Lucozade, so sporty Lucozade instead of the fizzy one…
T: A drink very close to our hearts!
D: It was just really fun. We don’t get to work together a lot.
T: We had a football and kinda just messed about. I had a Christmas jumper, it was sick.
Have you guys introduced each other to new creative spaces?
D: I would say less creative spaces and more just things! I showed you The Great British Bake Off, and that stemmed “Mary Berry”.
T: Oh yeah, my first song was “Mary Berry”! I need to give you the royalties for that.
D: Facts, you do. I get most of my dress from you. It’s so weird, like a little bit cringe. Honestly, I feel like sometimes I do try and dress like you.
T: I think I dress like you. We cosplay each other!
What are your star signs? And are they compatible?
D: I checked this the first day I met you. I was such a little weirdo. But we’re actually the most compatible on the chart.
T: Really? I’m a Sagittarius.
D: I’m a Leo.
D: Definitely you.
T: No ‘cause you don’t mean to be funny. I’ll say about 100 jokes a day and maybe 10 of them will work. I have to try to be funny.
Who’s a better cook?
T: I always say you’re my favourite chef.
D: You don’t have to lie! I can cook, but I use the same seasoning for every single meal so everything tastes exactly the same. Tom’s got variety, he’ll do different things.
Who has better music taste?
T: Why me?! Have faith in yourself.
D: I just don’t, it’s fine. Automatically the whole K-pop thing brings me down so much.
T: Don’t bring K-pop down.
Who’s more likely to get arrested?
T: Her, 100%.
D: I get really angry!
D: What was your first impression of me?
T: I just thought you were so sick. So sick.
T: What was your first impression of me?
D: Cool little skater boy. I was like wow.
T: No way!
D: How has British culture influenced you as an artist?
T: I think quite a lot. The town I was raised in and lived in my whole life is very relatable. It was a town called Newport Pagnell and there was absolutely nothing to do there, so I was just making the most out of not much. I feel like that’s transcended into my creativity, ‘cause if I get a blank t-shirt now, I can just see so many possibilities.
D: I feel like you embody what it means to be a British teenager very well. You are teenage Britain.
T: How have your Kurdish roots influenced you as a creative?
D: God, I feel like it’s half inspiration and half — I wouldn’t say haunting me, but looking over me. I have to be cautious of what I do and how I behave because at the end of the day, I don’t want my own community to look down on me. I feel like it’s the same in a lot of our lives where I don’t want my own people to not like me, essentially. But how the culture influences me? It’s everywhere. It’s through everything that I do. Kurdistan is what I care about. That is my number one. I live, breathe and bleed for back home. It’s who I am. I don’t really see myself as British, which is a bit weird considering I’ve got a British passport, but I wasn’t born here either.
D: If you weren’t in music, what would you be doing?
T: Ahhh I don’t know. Maybe presenting? Or something completely different like a teacher or something. Or a really bad footballer.
T: What do you hope you’re doing in 10 years time?
D: I would love to have lots of land and just grow fruit, aside from work and stuff, once I’ve sorted me and mum out. A house. I just wanna get land and grow fruit.
T: That’d be sick. Then we can make jam.
D: And rosewater and all sorts. I’m so excited.
D: What’s your favourite thing about me?
T: I love your hair here, it spirals a bit and it’s sick. And when we’re out you’re very good at talking to people and complimenting people out of nowhere. It’s very nice to be around.
T: What’s your favourite thing about me?
D: My favourite thing about you is that there’s not a time when I’m not laughing with you. I’m always laughing, always. From the second I wake up to the second that I go to bed, which is pretty fun. Can’t complain about that.
D: What’s your favourite memory with me?
T: Probably the very beginning when we were at Euston Station. We had our first kiss there. That was the start of like, everything.
T: What’s your favourite one with me?
D: I don’t know. I can’t have a favourite memory of you. Not to be like ‘There’s too many’, but there’s been too many fun things. I would say our first proper holiday together. That was really really cool.
D: What song reminds you of me?
T: You know that song ‘So she said what’s the problem baby…’[“Accidentally In Love?”] Is that in Shrek?
D:Yeah! And my one for you. You know the one that we used to play in your car all the time?
T: “Ordinary Pleasure”?
D:Yeah, by Toro y Moi.
D: What’s your life motto?
T: Oh my God, live laugh love babes.
D: It actually is.
T: It really is. Live a little, laugh a little, love a little. You’ll be fine.