Flex Mami Talks Performance Activism & Creative Landscapes For the Youth

Visionary, businesswoman, talented creative, all topped off with a vibrant burst of colour and energy, Flex Mami is the ultimate poster child for millennials in the media. In an age where one set of skills is not an option for most, Flex impressively holds the title for juggling numerous careers simultaneously. DJ, TV presenter, radio host, beauty queen, writer, model – shall we go on? Not only a career umbrella wizard, Flex is a passionate advocate for increasing positive discourse surrounding identity politics and intersectional feminism. Oh, and did we mention that she loves carbs?

As someone who’s from Sydney myself what energy do you think a Sydney crowd gives in terms of an audience and do you find different locations bring out different vibes?

Yeah different locations definitely bring different vibes, generally the reception for me in Sydney is ultimately great cause I’ve built a profile up here, I guess – it’s interesting because I don’t know what Sydney nightlife was like post-lockout but I think there’s a certain sense of acknowledgement that throwing a good party or having access to good artists is quite hard, so when people are at the venues they are quite receptive to the experience. You know, Melbourne crowds are stereotypically a bit more chill and cooler and a bit more engaged in nightlife as it’s a bit more voyeuristic, they’re not getting involved too much, they are letting it happen. Perth crowds are a lot rowdier – I couldn’t tell you why.

Flex Mami
Image by Chloe Nour

I was speaking with a performer – Arno, who you were in a line up with recently and I asked him if he thought it was important that we cultivate artistic excellence in our Australian youth. Do you think Australia does enough for young artists, and what tools have you used to help yourself succeed in this landscape?

I mean, I don’t think anybody’s done enough, there’s always room for improvement. I think there needs to be more emphasis generally on creative landscapes for the youth. I think that it’s really interesting to me when I’m in touch with people who still believe that creative fields aren’t viable career options and that creative fields are sort of the exception to the rule – if you make it, you make it, if you don’t, you don’t. I think it’s really important that we start to place more emphasis on the fact that it is a viable career to be an artist.

I just don’t think there are enough resources for children to enter those fields because what it looks like from the outside is that everybody is an exception to the rule or has a lucky story, and it is very lucky; there’s no gateway or clear door and we need to change that. Resources I have used – none to be honest.

Flex Mami
Image by Chloe Nour

What do you think the differences are between the way that we market artists on this side of the globe versus say Hollywood culture?

MMM, on this side of the globe it’s very much like – artists are made out to be people you know – they could be your friend, they could be your mate from next door, it could be the girl you went to high school with. I think you know it kind of dilutes the difficulty of what it is to be a creative or a working creative or a musician. But what I think maybe other territories do a better job of distilling into people is that yes, fame, fortune and the celebrity lifestyle are achievable, but they’re also acquired skills and they require years and years of work and dedication.

It comes a little back to the Australian tall poppy thing – kind of limits how far we can size the nature of celebrity – and I think in a lot of ways that’s cool – like people can look at their favourite artists and think “hey I could do what they do,” and that’s good to personally motivate yourself. But I think it also doesn’t necessarily do the artists justice when they’re looked at as everybody’s peers or best friend.

Flex Mami
Image by Chloe Nour

I get what you mean – it’s that sense of supermodel versus a model – like anyone can be, but there’s a certain escalation factor

100%

…and do you believe that having a strong media presence is that important or do you believe we should let the art speak for itself?

I think it’s integral. I think we’ve done a lot of letting art speak for itself and I don’t think that the consumers or the creatives have been fairly treated in that respect. By that I mean – I’m finding that a lot of art – I’m finding that people are getting upset at artists based on their interpretations of their art. We as creatives should be able to articulate what we’re doing and why we’ve done it. The time has gone when art should speak for itself. Everybody has personal agency and we all have intentions and wants and needs – a message we want to share – and to leave that up to interpretation is not necessarily in our best interests all the time.

Flex Mami
Image by Chloe Nour

Another point I wanted to ask you about is that there has always been a mix of opinions between people in the music industry – specifically those who rap or are in hip-hop, and the queer community at large. How do you think we can encourage more positive interaction between the two and do you believe there is still an issue here?

Ooo. DO I think there’s an issue? I think it’s really interesting because from my lens there isn’t, but to say that minimises the fact that there probably is. I’m of the belief of how to merge the two to make sure they move more harmoniously – I am of the belief that performative activism is the first step to actual change; literally having organisations cultivate or create environments for hip-hop artists, or to set a new norm between both, instead of trying to change each genre. Create a new harmonious community that sort of amalgamates the two core ideals of both communities, push that and show people that there is a norm that can exist.

It can’t or probably won’t happen organically; I think there needs to be some intention, and I think somebody needs to step forth and be like this is my agenda and this is why I’m doing it.

If you’re not part of either community or you don’t have access to either community you probably don’t see that there’s an issue, so it would take people from both communities to acknowledge any problems in their own communities and amalgamate them, or create a separate branch and then you know, spread the word.

The hardest thing for people to do, creatives or not, is to be introspective and to acknowledge how their ideals perpetuate negative stereotypes. Introspective first before we get to actual change, but the more dialogue we have the better.

Flex Mami
Image by Chloe Nour

In terms of your own crafting do you edit your work heavily or is it more true to its original idea?

Nah, I’m a big ideas person and I’m not a big fan of execution – so I just get things over the line as quickly as possible – ’cause perfectionism is not one of those things that typically haunts me. I’m not a huge fan of editing my work – my intention is my intention no matter how much I may edit it.

It’s in my best interest to remain as true to the original as possible. I don’t ever want to edit myself to edit based on perceived appearances.

Flex Mami
Image by Danielle Karlikoff

Where can people find you?

You can catch me on MTV, I do news for them weekly <3

Flex Mami
Image by Chloe Nour

Credits

Flex Mami @flex.mami

Photographer: Danielle Karlikoff @computa_hydrates and Chloe Nour @chloevictorianour

Interview: Seymour @tancred

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