There is nothing like a cross Atlantic connection. As lovers of music and all things queer and colourful, HOLAA is always looking for something to share that’s wildly original and uncorrupted. Our journey led us to discover Sanyu Hunter Nicolas. An Afro-Queer artist based in New York City, Sanyu is out there making music, making art, making magic. We reached out and Sanyu reached back. This is how the connection went…
How do you identify (in terms of sexuality, gender and ethnic background)?
My sexuality is very fluid. I identify with the term “queer” sometimes, but overall my sexuality is best defined as fluid. As far as gender identity goes I’m genderqueer/variant.
How would you describe your relationship with your African heritage?
As a first generation American born to Haitian parents I feel that in some ways I’ve been placed within an interstice of the diaspora. I have relatives from The Republic of Congo and my family lived there for some time as well, but many Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latino people are so contained to their immediate identities, that many of them refuse to acknowledge their African roots. A lot of this disassociation stems from the enslavement of African people. Being within this interstice of the diaspora has really cultivated an understanding within myself to fuse together those tattered connections. I love my African heritage and show it through my intellect and the way I choose to adorn my body.
How do you see independent mediums i.e. soundcloud, vimeo, tumblr and the like contributing to the dissemination of counter culture?
Social networking sites are like cyber-rockets that supply speed, access, and reach. There is a molting of authentic subcultural identities and people who are morphing in to physical representations of subcultures that they share no identity with. Sites like tumblr definitely supply people with the access and reach to engage in things that are new to them. On the other hand, there is a cyber revolution of discussions taking place through social networking i.e crucial conversations on race, gender, politics, art, humanity etc. Aside from these issues though, social networking has definitely opened the flood gates to the dissemination of counter culture. So many people are molting and the question is what happens now?
Tell HOLAA! more about your music?
I started Invitation to a Beheading as a project that I loosely based on some of Nabokov’s writing. The didactic way in which his stories unfold capture a character’s essence and emotions, bringing the reader to internalize those things. So Invitation to a Beheading started being about capturing the character of certain emotions. It has depth, and I intend for it to be evocative without being pretentious. It might draw out some strange feelings in you, or it might help you through some crippling anguish. It might stir up your libido, or it might just make you feel good in a general way.
Having had a listen you draw a great deal on the macabre and melancholy to create an eerie beauty? Is that deliberate?
When I’m working on something new, I listen to it continuously for different purposes. One of those purposes is to feel out what emotions I may be evoking from people. I believe that human-nature has its share of eeriness and beauty. I guess my music is kind of like that.
For all intents and purposes you can be described as an artist, do you think queers of colour are sufficiently represented in mainstream media?
The media is very influential. People shouldn’t look to media for guidelines on morality, but many people are malleable in that way. So in terms of social progression, in my opinion mainstream media doesn’t have a sufficient amount of queer POC (people of colour) representation.
What forms of art do you indulge in? why?
I have many loves when it comes to art. I hand carve raw and intricate gauges for stretched ears for my business, Immaculate Concepts. I also spend a lot of time drawing and apprenticing to become a skilled tattoo artist.
What is beauty to you?
For me, beauty doesn’t have any particular guideline. Beauty is a characteristic of any person, place, thing, concept, or animal that stirs some sense of attraction. Beauty isn’t always blissful though, it also carries other tragic qualities, and even those stir attraction.
When you are alone what lingers?
I was always a really introverted child, and I’m actually at a cusp in my life where I have been navigating through extroversion. So when I can, I really enjoy my solitary moments. When I’m alone there’s no telling where my mind will take me. I might be in some deep existential thought one second and the next second I’m surfing the internet or goofing off.