Joy and sweat typify their concerts, and cult-like UK following evokes quasi-spiritual reactions. “I was overcome with such perfect happiness that I finally understood why people choose to get married”, wrote Sam Stone for Inter:Mission Magazine about Lynk Afrikka’s basement gig. 
This evening, the musician’s Hell on Earth event in London (see details here) promises more of the same as well as the release of single On Trend. As a performer who is ridiculous to a surrealist degree – she up-cycles so well, a dishcloth garment becomes a political statement. In between relentless gigging, Elliot Brett, the brain behind it, chats gender identities, Greta Thunberg, subculture and balaclavas.

Lynks Afrikka has gigged with Goat Girl, Sorry, Oh My God It’s the Church!, Shygirl and Scalping as well as selling out headline shows. Their new single On Trend comes out this Halloween – also, aptly Brexit-day, until yet another recently announced delay by the UK government. Poised with bouncing synth modulation, shouted lyrics and accompanied by iconic backing dancer-singers, Lynks is here to voice the insanities of the modern world. Honest, mundane, yet all whilst oozing sex: How To Make a Béchamel Sauce in 10 Steps (With Pictures) is a standout track investigating a savoury creamy liquid. On Trend directs an industrial-pop-laser onto Trump, the crazed use of mindfulness apps and our extinction crisis perpetuated by capitalism. Lynks Afrikka produces a unique fluid euphoria in varying liquid forms both material and social, bending the constraints of modern society.
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What is the scent of Lynks Afrikka?
I was going to say sweat, but my sweat is actually pretty odourless. Maybe something that looks ugly but smells amazing, like tagine.
The original odour (Lynx Africa) stinks of performative masculinity. When was your subversive character/response born?
Side-note: I actually love the smell of Lynx Africa! But on another level, it is the distilled smell of toxic teenage masculinity. It reminds me of boys’ changing rooms and feeling confused about my sexuality. Using it as a name was a way of reclaiming and subverting that, I think. So that’s where the name came from. The act was and is just me trying to make something as genuinely entertaining and unique as I can. I think the way it’s queering up straight spaces is something I didn’t really plan or anticipate. I’m extremely into it though.
Straight Acting was your first break-through track, now doing the rounds in the Scottish drag scene and worshipped at your sell-out Camden show at Dingwalls. Whilst queer visibility increases, are we seeing any tangible change?
So, as I learned in my Geography GCSE, when a subculture exists within a culture as with the LGBTQ+ community in the Western world, there are four things that can happen: assimilation, separation, marginalization and integration. Up until recently, I reckon what’s been going on is a mixture of assimilation (LGBTQ+ people becoming part of society but sacrificing queer culture in the process) and separation (LGBTQ+ pockets with thriving queer culture, largely separated from the rest of society as in gay districts in cities). What I think we’re now finally seeing is integration, in which LGBTQ+ people are becoming part of society but queer culture is being maintained and integrated into the popular consciousness in the process. I’m well into it.
The balaclava has become a mainstay look for you. Is this a riot-girl or fetish-wear reference?
I read that as ‘baklava’ (Turkish sweets) at first and was thinking, ‘not an intentional fashion reference of mine, but sure?’ To be completely honest, the balaclava isn’t any kind of reference. I used to do a full-painted face but, as already mentioned, I’m a sweaty, sweaty boy and, after a 45-minute set of singing and dancing about, there would be zero makeup left. So I brought in the balaclava for purely practical purposes. It soaks up the sweat and leaves my eyes and mouth painted beautifully. I also think it looks great, and if I ever become famous, I’ve pulled a Sia and no one will know what I look like! It’s a win/win/win.
As a drag-influenced performer, the outfit is key. How does concern for the environment shape your style? Everything seems cut-and-paste!
The environment as in… Greta’s pal? Well, I like to use recycled materials wherever possible – plastic bags, mops, old clothes, etc. As I write this, I’m actually making a carnival outfit and matching wig out of a shredded pop-up tent! It’s very fun. I got some advice from a theatre director once, which was ‘play the problem’. So if you’ve got to make an awkward journey from A to B, find a way to make the journey itself something interesting for the audience. I feel like I’ve carried that through for my clothes too – in the problem of not really being able to sew and challenging myself to only use repurposed materials, I’ve created a pretty unique look for myself with a lot of signature components. It’s scrappy as fuck, obviously, but I think (hope?) that’s something people have grown to expect and like from me. I like it anyways.
Up-and-coming release On Trend features audio from Trump on climate change to a meditation app sample. Would you define the track as hybrid?
Yes, it’s definitely the Prius of alt-industrial pop. I think sometimes my songs can come across a bit silly. Because they are. But I think it’s good to ground them in reality. It’s the same reason I put the samples of real Bristol club-goers in Str8 Acting. It reminds you that what I’m joking about is real. Because that’s ultimately the point of humour, isn’t it? To poke fun at all the shit that’s too difficult to face straight up. If you dress climate change up in a clown costume, suddenly it’s a little easier to talk about.
“As soon as you’re a guy dressing up flamboyantly on stage, gender and sexuality are always going to come up even if you avoid it.”
Is disorientation a theme for Lynks Afrikka?
I wouldn’t say disorientation as much as escapism. I don’t know if this is true for anyone else, but I sometimes find myself at gigs zoning into my own thoughts and feeling self-conscious. Gigs are a very ‘cool’ environment, for lack of a better word, and it’s easy to start thinking about how you look, how you’re standing, if you should be dancing or not, etc. That’s one thing I really want to try and get rid of in my shows. I want the audience to totally lose themselves for 45 minutes. It’s a big reason why I dress up. I literally say it at my shows sometimes: you guys aren’t allowed to feel stupid! I’m wearing mops, for fuck’s sake!
In Loud & Quiet, Alastair Shuttleworth writes your music “mocks the joyless stoicism (and sonic conservatism) of contemporary club-culture”. Tell us more about your concept.
Concept makes it sound a lot more thought through than it is. And I definitely don’t want to mock anything. Like, hey! However you like to enjoy yourself is fine with me. I just think there needs to be more of a place for people that want to go out and have actual fun. I think we’ve collectively decided that fun and joy and excitement aren’t cool. Smiling on stage isn’t cool. Properly dancing in the audience beyond a mosh-pit or a 1-2-step isn’t cool.
I don’t want to make this a ‘mental health thing’, but it would be a bit stupid not to mention it – we’re in an epidemic of depression and we’re still glorifying sadness! Look at your Instagram feed, look at a fashion magazine – cool is a dead-eyed, blank-faced stare in an oversized suit. And in music, there is, of course, a big place for that. Depressing music is important, relatable, cathartic and brilliant. I just think there needs to be room for joy too. And above all else, I just really like seeing the audience smile and laugh.
Name some of your favourite queer icons.
Leigh Bowey, James St James, St Vincent, Björk, Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, Elton John, Pissy Pussy, Peaches, Alexander McQueen, Graham Norton, SOPHIE. I’m definitely missing a lot.
Gay identities, sexuality and being Jewish are a theme in your creative output – even in the short narration you read the first night we met (at Gaby’s Room open mic). Is narrative an important part of Lynks Afrikka?
I think that the narrative of gay identity and sexuality are going to be an important part of Lynks Afrikka whether I want them to be or not. As soon as you’re a guy dressing up flamboyantly on stage, gender and sexuality are always going to come up even if you avoid it – look at Elton John, Bowie, Prince, or more recently, even people like HMLTD, who, to my knowledge, are all straight and yet still have been pulled into a conversation about the appropriation of gay culture. I don’t really have a clear opinion on that last bit. But my point is that to be a man not wearing a shirt and trousers on stage means that I’m already part of a narrative of gender and sexuality.
It’s lucky that I’m okay with that – I think it’s a shame that guys aren’t able to dress up and perform without it being labelled as a statement about gender. One of the few downsides of being male, I guess. It’s funny – I’ve never really thought of Lynks Afrikka as drag. I’m overjoyed being thought of as a drag queen because I adore drag and love playing drag shows. But then, I don’t wear wigs, I don’t wear heels and I barely wear makeup (by drag standards). So why is it drag? I think it’s just that as soon as a guy dresses up, it must be drag. Which I’m fine with – keep calling me a drag queen! It’s just interesting, I think.
Tell us what you’re currently working on.
Yowza. Lots of songs. I’ve got a whole album worth of stuff basically done – I just need to record the vocals. I’d rather get into a real studio for that though, so I can stop having to wait until the trains have stopped running to record – my room is next to a train track. On Trend drops today, 31st October, – stream it on Spotify if so! The video is coming out next week – watch it on Youtube! I have loads of gigs… I’m still an unsigned artist, so all I can really do is make music, music videos and play gigs! So I’m doing that as much as my little arms will let me.
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