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9 months ago

Jaguar Magazine #08

  • Text
  • Salvador
  • Materials
  • Morris
  • Cultural
  • Ahmed
  • Mestre
  • Arts
  • Galway
  • Capoeira
  • Jaguar
In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.

Interview Ahmed

Interview Ahmed certainly felt the jolt of his career jumping to light speed. “There’s a little blip where you’re like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’ It’s fun and a bit weird. In those moments you’d be wise to understand that people’s excitement isn’t about you. You’re part of something that’s exciting. Even if someone really loves my music, that’s still not me. That’s the part of me that they see: the hologram version of me. “Being in Star Wars taught me a little bit about the hologram. People may love the hologram you, they may hate the hologram you, but that’s not the real you. That’s really a helpful analogy to hold onto because it can confuse you, too.” Ahmed says that his family plays a big part in avoiding confusion: “All my mum cares about is if I’ve eaten, not how many Twitter followers I’ve got.” It also plays a big part in his work. The son of Pakistani parents who moved to the UK in the 1970s, he was born into two cultures, while the scholarship and Oxford meant that he adapted to different classes, too. All good on the creative front, he says: “I think it’s been a great asset to be able to switch between different sides of who I am. That’s how I’ve been able to earn my living as an actor, by wearing these different masks. It’s something that I did from a very young age. Bridging different cultures and classes day-to-day is almost like playing different characters throughout the day. “It can also come with a downside of having to choose which version of yourself to be. Where I’m at now is thinking less about that but, ‘How can I bring as much of myself as possible to anything I do?’” The real Riz Ahmed is emerging; his recent projects very much reflect this. His latest film, Sound of Metal, sees him play a gigging drummer who loses his hearing, is engulfed by depression, succumbs to old habits and admits himself into a home for deaf addicts. It might not immediately scream, ‘Ooh, that sounds just like Riz Ahmed,’ but the man himself begs to differ. “You find points of connection between yourself and the character,” he says. “For me, a big point of connection was this idea of, ‘What am I worth? What’s my value outside of what I do for a living?’ That’s what Rubin, the character, is facing. ‘Who am I when I have to face myself?’ I’m someone who finds it difficult to sit still, so this lockdown is tricky for me because I often define myself through my actions. But Rubin is forced to sit still in silence, sit with himself, face who he is underneath. That can be scary. I can relate to that. “So rather than starting from the outside like, ‘Let me meet a drummer and then be as much like him as possible,’ it’s working from inside to out. For many of us PHOTOS: STUART CLARKE/SHUTTERSTOCK (P.16); TOM VAN SCHELVEN (P.17-18); BBC (P.19) who grew as chameleons, we approach our work as chameleons. What I’m saying now is I don’t want to be a chameleon anymore.” This is equally true of his music. It’s always been a passion from DJing to MCing to writing to being a hugely successful battle rapper in his early 20s. But he admits that it’s not something that paid the bills and that he considered stepping away from it. Instead, with his latest album The Long Goodbye, he’s made a dish using all the ingredients of his personality. Let’s call it a Riz-otto. The music is a cocktail of influences, Eastern and Western, and is about Ahmed’s complicated relationship with Britain. The words blur the line between lyrics and poetry. And it comes with a short film (available on YouTube) that is absolutely devastating and required viewing for anyone blasé about the direction of 21st-century politics. It’s also telling that, while his previous music was released under the moniker Riz MC, both as a solo artist and as part of the Swet Shop Boys (a collaboration with rapper Heems and producer Redinho), this album is by Riz Ahmed. “I think that the short film is all the different sides of me in one place,” he says. “There’s acting, music, spoken word. It’s talking about some of the stuff that’s going on in society but it’s also talking about it from a very personal place. I want to put all the toys in one box. I don’t have to choose which side of me I get to show.” He also says that, until Sound of Metal came along, he’d even pondered a break from acting. It’s hard to see that happening, at least not for any great length of time. As he says, he needs to communicate to an audience. But are there other ways for him to do that? He’s a fashion-conscious sort and says he’s interested in ‘conscious fashion’ - sustainable ways of expressing ourselves - but work-wise, he says, producing is now the third string to his bow. After years of helping people make films, someone pointed out to him that this is called ‘being a producer’. So he started his own company, Left Handed Films, which premiered its first feature, Mogul Mowgli, at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival. The world is constantly changing, never more so than now, and we have to change with it. But whatever we do, Ahmed demonstrates that drastic measures aren’t required to explore new things. “You can always find new ways of pushing yourself in the choices you make,” he says. “For me, it doesn’t necessarily mean you stop acting. It means you think about the roles you take, the way you’re preparing for your roles. I think that you can find new ways of expressing yourself in the same art form, new ways of growing even in the same field.” “I don’t want to be a chameleon anymore’’ 20 / Jaguar Magazine Jaguar Magazine / 21

 

JAGUAR MAGAZINE

 

Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.

In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.

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