Screw power lists. Here’s a pick ‘n’ mix selection of some young people who are actually doing stuff. In this #EyesOn2017 series, they tell us what’s going to blow up this year.
Hailing from Gaborone, Michael Mateyo (who goes by the name of YSLA LanruoJ) is a multi-talented photographer and musician. This year, he founded his own photography agency and produced editorial for clothes wear brand Glotto as well as up-and-coming Tswana rappers Veezo and Faded Gang.
Here he tells us about the shift in attitude of African creatives during 2017 and the artists you should look out for this year.
What have you been up to in 2016?
The year 2016 has proven to be monumental on my journey as a young African creative. I’ve cultivated my craft. I grew into photography and went from being a mere spectator to becoming an active participant in the magic of creating and documenting moments. I established my photography brand Satorienso – which is Japanese for ‘the road to absolute enlightenment’.
Over the year we’ve grown tremendously and worked with fashion brands such as Anti-BHVR, BRAVE WORLD, Glotto, Ares.Worldwide and artists such as Veezo, Faded Gang and Yaw Bannerman to name a few.
2016 was also the year I put out new music and became the first mainstream artist to dabble in a more indie sound with my debut single Hello. Not only does this genre complement my personality, it makes it easier for me to honestly tell my story and relay my experiences to the listeners without the pressure of portraying false bravado.
What will you remember 2016 for?
This year I got the chance to take part in the production of Botswana’s first music documentary, Between Two Worlds (on YouTube), alongside skater Theo Setsetse and artist and skate enthusiast Larry Don Cap.
There was a huge shift this year in the way creatives in Botswana thought and created.
I also got the opportunity to meet visual gurus I look up to, a collective by the name of I See a Different You, as well as another vision of beauty I believe may be the woman of my dreams.
I’ve witnessed the people I care about flourish in their respective fields around me and honestly believe there was a huge shift this year in the way creatives in Botswana thought and created when it comes to their businesses and crafts respectively.
What or who do you think is going to blow up in 2017?
2017 will see a major change in our local pop culture scene as a whole. Look out for artists like Wickson Tonde of Urban Art, Larry Don Cap, producer and vocalist Lukundo and street wear brand Ares.Worldwide to name a few.
I believe our fashion industry will leave its mark as we usher in a new year… Perhaps this has already begun, seeing as designer Mothusi Lesolle’s garments were recently featured in Vogue Italia.
What’s keeping you busy in 2017?
I plan to complete the groundwork of my photography agency and develop it into a fully established and recognised photography firm. Musically, I plan to do more than just get a foot in the door but to pioneer something new in Botswana’s industry – a new sound, a new way of working, a new way forward.
There’ll be more bodies of work in every field I partake in but above all else, 2017 will be a year I overcome even more obstacles and acquire a new array of skills.
In 2017 I will breathe life into my mould.
Find out more about YSLA LanruoJ