NEO 10Y Wants to Take You From 'Dystopia to Utopia' With 'Stan Yourself' Video
NEO 10Y is a singer, yes, but their creative ambitions aren’t confined just to music. A fashion designer and visual artist as well, Nik Thakkar is constantly blossoming, painting a cohesive, cerebral tapestry across a wide variety of projects.
Born in London, Thakkar, who identifies as non-binary, has lived several lives. The multi-hyphenate artist was classically trained in singing and piano and became a self-taught guitarist and songwriter. Performing at open mic nights, they caught the attention of a kinda, sorta big name: Jean-Paul Gaultier. The fashion icon decided they would be perfect as the face of menswear line AW13-14 in 2013, and for the next three years, they dove into design, creating the menswear line Ada + Nik alongside London-based designer Ada Zanditon, which made a fan of Angel Haze and resulted in a collaboration with will.i.am.
Three years ago, they began to pour their creativity into a new outlet: music. For Thakkar, though, releasing music isn’t that dissimilar to creating clothing lines.
“When I was designing, we were creating seasonal constructs and fashion films every season, so that hasn’t really changed in terms of narrative. If I was still doing Ada + Nik, the collection names probably would have been the song names,” they quip. But Thakkar is interested in making art beyond the fashion world since “the planet is already oversaturated with consumerism."
"As much as I love style, I have kind of evolved into a post-materialist,” they add.
In 2016, Thakkar infamously released "The Kid That Killed Trump,” a divisive three-part music video for their songs “Amerikkka,” “Janis” and “Wild West” where they portrayed a Mickey Mouse impersonator having sex with someone in a Donald Trump disguise. And if that isn’t intense enough, the masked individual bursts into flames.
An EP followed in 2017, and since then, Thakkar has been developing their project and releasing music when the muse strikes. Last year they dropped tracks “Dopamine” and “Poems To Fuck To” alongside two music videos, and this February, they released “Reality Check.”
Now, Thakkar is sharing their latest track on Billboard, “Stan Yourself,” along with a visually engulfing video they directed -- with another new single “Feedback Loop” coming soon (Nov. 11).
The concept of “Stan Yourself” came to Thakkar, who has always been on a journey of self-realization, last November. After tweeting about the idea and letting it marinate, the entire song poured out of them in December.
“‘Stan Yourself’ is about going inward to find my inner superhero, finding the God and universe within all of us, loving every moment until and including death, [and] finding our true and optimized selves, so that we can collectively find world peace,” they say of the track. Alongside the hybrid pop-R&B jaunt, Thakkar -- who directs and produces all their own videos -- has crafted a conceptual visual that is a manifestation of the future and moving into a higher state of consciousness, moving “from blue to indigo” and “dystopia to utopia.”
Shot between London and Los Angeles, the video features a “stalker wall” of photos -- something a ‘stan’ might have. The video is stuffed with symbolism: a body bag is a commentary on accepting death, and there is an allusion to the Divine Feminine with a performance in front of giant ‘fans’ with censored nipples. In a twist of fate, the “Stan Yourself” film happened to be filmed on the corner of Stanley Street -- a happy accident of sorts.
With a 360-degree approach in mind, “Stan Yourself” and “Feedback Loop” are connected “emotionally and lyrically.” “It all forms part of an ongoing series with cohesive visuals and message, like an episodic album,” they explain of the songs.
Thus far, Thakkar, who operates as an independent artist, has stuck to this approach when releasing music. “I don’t have major label budgets so I can’t just make an album and hide away in the studio for two years, I don’t have that luxury,” they say. However, being independent has given them a chance to craft their own amalgamation of long and short-form visual narratives that form their own a self-referential “hyper-reality.”
At the same time, Thakkar is looking forward to the day that they’re backed by a major label. As of this week, Thakkar will have released 12 songs. “My whole discography means that I am on par with album artists in terms of releasing an album's worth of material, but it’s just across three years,” they opine.
Regardless of how their music is released, Thakkar wants to enlighten listeners and inspire them. “I hope my music helps people believe in themselves creatively,” they say. “I think everyone should be their own biggest super fan.”