Editor’s Note: There is brief mention of drug use in this article. Viewpoints at the discretion of the interviewee and not necessarily of UNICORN Magazine.
When NEO 10Y first reached out to us at UNICORN we thought the stars must have aligned and I couldn’t wait to chat with them about their spirituality, creativity, music and of course their cute doggo too.
We read that your artist name NEO 10Y comes from the biological term ‘neoteny’ which mean THE RETENTION OF CHILDHOOD CHARACTERISTICS IN THE ADULT (SPIRITUAL ESSENCE OF OPEN HEART / ONENESS). This is such a great name, where did you get the idea for it?
NEO 10Y: You know how the universe just works? One minute you’re reading something and you don’t know what it means so I googled it. It was when I was finalising a song. I’d started this project anonymously, so I wanted something that would fit and was cool.
At first I was like it’s a cool word with cool spiritual meaning.
Then I digitised it- I looked on Spotify and saw someone had the word written down already. I thought that’s a good sign so then turned the ‘ten’ into the ‘10’ and it’s taken on this whole massive meaning.
As a non binary person, having 1s and 0s as code in my name, is iconic. Then the Y – I acknowledge my physical body and am aware that I have a Y chromosome.
Y is more symbolic for me as curiosity and looking for the meaning of life.
The NEO is for oneness and it’s an anagram of EON so it has lots of symbology in that sense.
So it fits together cohesively.
This has unveiled itself to me over 3 years. I didn’t think of all this stuff then come up with the name. People think that I did and that’s cool – it makes me look way smarter!
But it’s not me, NEO 10Y is so much bigger as a construct than just me. It’s group consciousness flowing through me as a vessel and that’s why it’s revealed itself to me.
That’s why I sing the lyrics:
*Note that NEO 10Y serenaded these lyrics to me over Facetime
“And if I’m dead then what’s the name for or am I too complex to save y’all? Did I trip and make this all up all in my mind?”
In ‘Crackhead Angel’. I always think why have I been given this name? If I don’t have a purpose to do something with it?
Ok so I dunno if you can read my mind or something in the universe gave away one of my questions for later on… but I was going to ask about the line ‘all these 1s and 0s give me pleasure’ in ‘Crackhead Angel’- is that a nod to your non binaryness?
Yeah 100%. I philosophise on the non binary nature of all human nature.
It’s nice to speak to a publication about this properly, but you at UNICORN get it.
I’ve been wanting to talk about my synchronicities and my non binary artistry as a construct. So it’s really nice to be able to talk about that, thank you!
THANK YOU! I love chatting to artists about not only their work but themselves – because after all your art is an extension of yourself anyway right?
So spiritually, for me, the 1s and 0s, the whole world is a simulation of reality. That’s part and parcel of all of us and that binary runs through us in different ways.
Acknowledging the 1s and the 0s in reality, but also within ourselves, is really important. I think it helps us to decode the universe that we live in and help us understand ourselves better.
For the sake of our readers, can you sum up NEO 10Y in 1 sentence?
NEO 10Y is an ethereal construct to help us decode reality and better understand ourselves.
When it comes to writing songs, do you work alone or collaborate?
I write by myself because I think that this project has come to me, to help amplify it. I think the message is the most important thing about my art because it comes first. That consciousness expansion and self realization and decoding the universe through my art, is the reason why I make it.
I write everything as me. I’ve sat in writing sessions for other projects and I find them boring. I’m like how can people sit for hours in these sessions when I have everything come to me, it’s like I download it in my mind.
I always know when it’s gonna come and every time it does it blows my mind. My own art blows my mind more than any other art I’ve seen in any other reality. That’s why I believe in it, I believe in the bigger picture.
It’s not me?! I’m not just me. When I sit down at an instrument and the lyrics come, then concepts come, it feels like a download into my brain from consciousness.
I’m always so grateful. I’ll cry at the piano. I can’t believe I wrote this.
But I do collaborate sonically with soundscape. I build the demos by myself first then I worked with producers and engineers to turn it into something iconic.
You’ve had some shows across London and LA, impressive. Which was your favourite venue to perform at?
The biggest show I ever did – it wasn’t the biggest attended. I played the Billboard magazine last year in New York. I was in LA anyway as I had a show the day before.
Billboard booked me and flew me out the next morning after my LA show. I felt like a proper pop star! I’m an independent artist, so I don’t have a bunch of suits in the industry fannying around for me.
But when stuff like this happens I’m like ‘OMG GAAAAG’. It was so awesome and it was an amazing show for me.
Oh also I played at UK Black Pride on the main stage last year. That was sick, it was like 10,000 people!
I had a big stage and screen behind me which I didn’t realise was showing my face and when I played ‘Stan Yourself’ there’s a line which says:
“Stan yourself. Be behind yourself”.
I looked back and saw myself and was like oooo wow. That was a nice spiritual synchronicity moment. Because I perform and write to God and the universe and our group consciousness.
It was clearly meant to be! You are very spiritual aren’t you?
Yeah I’m a very spiritual being. It’s bigger than my human and spiritual body. The beauty of this project is that I’ve had the freedom to be independent and the ability to document my synchronicities so I can prove that the universe is coming through my project.
Really what else has happened?
When we shot the video for ‘Stan Yourself’ in LA, it was pure coincidence we picked this one street for the lighting and the gas station with this beautiful purple sunset. And it was only when we edited the footage we realised that we had shot on the corner of ‘Stanley Street’!
Consider us mindblown!
I think spirituality and queerness are really connected, especially fluid queer beings that understand the energies that flow through us. We are way more intune than the patriarchy wants us to believe. Because they are the ones who are disconnected.
So conscious queer beings who put love energy first – I believe we’re the God energy on this planet.
Identifying as straight or as one strict binary is actually an act of violence because it’s oppressive to do that. It’s completely disregarding science and the Kinsey scale and pansexuality and the non binary and spiritual nature of gender.
I never really thought of it like that but you make a good point!
HAHAHA- put that in!
You’ve also performed at one of my/our favourite London venues, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, how did you find it?
It was last Tuesday actually!
(when we interviewed this meant last tuesday was the 15th of September).
That was the gig that was meant to be in March. It was amazing. It was a nice place to perform as I have shared ancestry with Freddie Mercury – who used to take Princess Diana there dressed in drag all the time!
Yeah I didn’t know much about him, but I learnt that and that he died on my birthday. Then last year I watched the movie and I understood his mum’s language. So yeah I have this connection with him too.
It’s such an iconic and cool venue.
We also spied on some pretty cool reviews from publications too, like “Glimmering. Seductive.” – Gal Dem, 2019. That’s an epic review, how do you feel about it?
Thanks for reminding me of that one!
I love Gal Dem as they’re an establishment that supports our mutual vision for humanity. Plus they’re a conscious publication.
I feel like I’ve done mainstream outlets and been fucked over by the BBC in an edit. So I question my trust with mainstream media.
But with Gal Dem, Stanning me, in a list of women… I’m like thank you for understanding the divine feminine energy that flows through me even though I’ve still got a beard.
That recognition was really cool from them and I’m really grateful.
On Spotify you have a playlist called ‘Genre bending playlist’ – great name we’re all for genre bending and fluidity. Of course you have a couple of your tracks on there, but if you had to pick 1 favourite which would it be and why?*
These are all artists I’ve grown up listening to. There’s a lot of non binary artists in there.
I mean essentially they’re all my favourite songs, but do you know that song ‘Your Woman’ by ‘White Town’.
My musical knowledge did not match up so NEO 10Y played her a little snippet to jog my memory!
I love it – it’s quite a non binary song and it’s about queer relationship.
*Note Lucy noted this down originally as gender bending which caused a few giggles on the call.
We couldn’t talk about your music and playlists without mentioning your music videos. Your latest single ‘Crackhead angel’ is epic. How did you come up with the video concept?
I did it with my friend Rob, who directed the video. It came up all again like very universally.
I knew we wanted to film some scenes with a car, have a road trip and two characters. But we didn’t know where we were going to do it but wanted an industrial spot but the nature spot – Rob came up with that. So we went to Epping Forest.
He came up with Hangman’s Hill as the location. It was awesome.
The song itself is about decoding the binary and understanding the concept of oneness. It’s also a track about me and my life, so it’s got those elements.
I didn’t want to do drugs in the video or be predictable. I wanted something that felt true to the song but had a bigger perspective. So that juxtaposition of the industrial nature came out really nicely.
Yeah I did wonder if there would be any drugs featured…
Nah but in one of my other videos we used talcum powder haha!
Not that we’re promoting the use of drugs to readers – Lemme be clear on that hahaha!
Oh gosh no. But it’s about understanding their existence. I’m very pro cannabis. I think it’s not a drug but a healing plant. I have a CBD platform called CBDecoded.com.
Now at some point during our hour long chat, NEO 10Y brought up the fact they have a dog. Now anyone that knows me will know I’m a big dog fan so the interview derailed for a short while as they went to bring the dog to camera for me. Safe to say I was won over by the dog’s cuteness and the fact they are the face of The Vegan Society’s new campaign.
100% worth being unprofessional for 5 mins for meeting a famous pup.
So as well as music, you’ve also worked in fashion. Being scouted in Paris for Jean-Paul Gaultier’s eponymous label’s AW13-14 digital campaign. How was that experience?
That was mind blowing. I was a junior exec in a content role. I went to the shoot they had for Diet Coke. I was taking notes and got scouted!
A month later – their office called and asked if I wanted to be in their campaign. They sent me to Paris, shot the campaign and that was it.
There’s obviously the pink and blue bottles but I posed with both.
Plus working with Tom Ford and Louis Vuitton, you’ve got some amazing projects under your belt. Are you solely focused on music at the moment or can we expect to see you walking some catwalks or gracing us with your face in Piccadilly Circus’ billboards?
I’ve done lots of little projects. But I’ve not worked with LV in a few years now.
My work with luxury brands – my mood has changed since being vegan for the past 3.5 years. They have lots of leather – so my projects were pre-vegan. I would front vegan campaigns and more passion projects. I want to work to inspire consciousness in the campaign but not just be a face for something. It has to reflect me as an artist and progress society.
I think that also ties into queerness as well. For us, our queerness is activism in itself. We are treated as second class citizens most of the time.
We need to understand the root of oppression which exists in our day-to-day diets – everything we do, eat, consume. If we start consuming more consioully then we can inspire higher levels of consciousness in ourselves and the collective and create a more healing energy for our planet, for queer people, for black people and people of colour – any oppressed minorities.
Thank you for chatting with me about this. I mean we could probably talk for hours on the dairy industry and binaries etc but I best let you get to your singing lesson!
I love having these conversations, I want to have them more. That’s why I love you all – you’re a non profit right?
It’s amazing. I wanna amplify these conversations more.
OH AND LET’S TALK ABOUT THOSE 3 UNPUBLISHED PHOTOS I SENT YOU?
Lucy: The ones where you look like a unicorn?
Yeah. Mad synchronicity!
One last one from us, any top tips for our fellow musicians and our readers who want to get into the industry?
It’s a human right to make a song (or a bunch) in your lifetime.
Writing the soundtrack to your reality is a healing and consciousness amplifying process. I recommend to anyone to make and publish a song – because you can do whatever you want!
HELL YEAH! I love that energy. Thanks so much for chatting with me, introducing me to your dog and of course your work. I’m excited to see what NEO 10Y does next.
They / Them| Musician & Artist
NEO 10Y is a non-binary, pansexual, queer recording artist from London with Indian ancestry. They have a unique artistic narrative, consciousness expanding repertoire of music and self directed and performed hyper reality music video series.
You can listen to Crackhead Angel and other great tracks from NEO 10Y on Spotify here.
NEO 10Y was interviewed by Lucy Everett
Illustrations by Ellie Bassford