The Art of Communicating with Kazeem Kuteyi
Since its 2015 creation, New Currency has existed in many forms, including club nights across Europe and Canada and coworking spaces for creatives titled “Trading Floor.”
For Kazeem Kuteyi, co-founder and creative director for New Currency, “connecting a global network of creatives in real-time” is vital to shaping the public’s consciousness of what artists could achieve once they come together. Recently, the multidisciplinary creator joined us to discuss his views on contemporary youth culture and nuance in his recent projects.
Join Glossi in getting to know one of Toronto’s top cultural producers, making a creative mark on the world in this exclusive interview for Glossi Mag.
New Currency documents emerging subcultures instead of aspirational and mainstream. What inspired you to create New Currency?
When we started New Currency, something told me people and creatives want to do art and design, but there [was not] guidance for creatives. I was interested in going around different parts of Europe, Toronto, New York, or Berlin to talk with people at the cusp of making something interesting. I understood their processes and hoped anybody who reads [these conversations] gets energized like they can do it too — you can feel that within the events we do and the people we engage. New Currency is when the world changes and youth are at the forefront of change.
How do you define New Currency?
When you think about New Currency, it’s like, what is the new currency? We moved away from the idea of money [because] there’s something to be said about me and you having these types of conversations. You have a particular perspective on the world and I have a particular perspective on the world. We have different skill sets and approaches to executing an idea and I think that’s a currency on its own. Looking at our capability and skills as a currency is important [because it] shapes the world collectively.
How did you find creativity as a Toronto-born artist with Nigerian heritage? When did you choose to make a career out of it?
I think I was born creative. I think everybody’s born creative. I was very much into music when I was in elementary school, then I spent time in Nigeria and found I’m creative because I was very DIY. I would make things I [wanted] to play with, like board games. I’ve been in love with architecture since a kid, so I would draw airport and house plans and [build] them with materials. In terms of when I wanted to make this a career, I went to school for criminology, then went to school for advertising. I understood branding and marketing and found that I love the art of communicating, whether it’s through graphic design, film, or a poster. From there, I decided I wanted to make this a career. New Currency has been that conduit for me to figure that out.
Talk to us about the role of community and collective in youth culture.
When it comes to this world of community, there’s so much strength. New Currency would not be where it is without the collective of people I get to work with [based] on the proposal I’m giving. There is a collective of people from Buladay, Eugene, Toashe, Towanda, Octavia, and Ben Brun who believe in it. They are coming together because the pages would be empty if they were not there… like my homie, Baffic says, “culture doesn’t happen with just you. It only becomes culture when it’s two people.” Culture doesn’t happen until syncing up with my friends, creating a beat together, making a party happen, and everybody coming together. It always has to be a collective of people, a community of people, for [an idea] to thrive.
We’ve seen New Currency events in Toronto, Paris, and London. What are your most memorable experiences to date?
There’s been a lot I feel like I’ve been everywhere, [last year] we did The Symposium in London. What was amazing was people came together from different disciplines, fields, and social statuses to have conversation. I know a lot of the relationships I have now and relationships other people have were born at this event. I’m proud that we were able to make that happen at the Reference Point. Another memorable time was our first fashion week party in Paris because it was like, “oh, shit, we’re doing this!”
A memorable time too, is a collaboration party with Kuruza, Ism, Living Room, [and] New Currency this summer. Going back to this idea of collective, community, and youth culture, [the] four of us all have this shared value of how we want to see music and club spaces in Toronto, collectively coming together and putting together our resources made that party crazy.
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What are your thoughts on youth culture, nightlife, and music now?
I’m going to speak to Toronto specifically. Toronto is going through an interesting phase with amazing talent, creativity, and artists. The problem is there are not enough spaces for them to incubate their ideas or exhibit that work, which is why we do the project Trading Floor every year to help combat that.
In terms of nightlife and music, interesting parties are not happening in commercial spaces. I think anything happening is on the fringes and DIY in a sense. It’s interesting because there’s a collective who care enough to create the spaces they want to exist within, whether it be Pep Rally, Karuza, Ism, Living Room, Chanello, or Brian, all these kids are doing something that’s a departure from anything commercial.
What’s the last song you played?
Bambi’s new song Ride With Me. She downloaded it, and I’ve been listening. I love it. She’s a friend, so I’m excited for her.