Creator Spotlight: Sigil on Breaking the System Through Rock Music

October 13, 2022

Creator Spotlight is a weekly series celebrating young Nigerians in the creative industry doing unique things. Everyone has a story, and Zikoko wants to tell it.

Hi! I’m Sigil. I use they/them pronouns, and I’m a Virgo. I host rock music meetups for Nigerians who love the movement to break down oppressive systems. I’m pretty much interested in everything creative. I make digital art. I draw, paint and crochet. I basically don’t know where to quit. 

Rock music meetups sound interesting, but what made you fall in love with rock in this way?

Growing up, my brother had Greenday’s American Idiot and Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance on CD. I burnt them on my laptop and listened to them all the time. Eventually, I started collecting rock CDs. I’d go on YouTube and different podcasts for recommendations. If a band was interviewed and spoke about another band, I’d go listen. 

How did you go from coming up with the idea of a meetup to actually hosting it?

I’ve had the idea to start a queer rock scene in Nigeria for a while. And I knew hFACTOR was a good space for an event, since their venue was now smaller. I thought the appropriate type of event for that space was a listening party because it seemed easiest to put together.

How did the planning go?

I reached out to hFACTOR about two months ago. From then, I played out what I wanted to do in my mind, but it was a mad scramble within the last week of the event to actually make the calls that put everything together

What did you have to do to execute it?

I did a lot of research into music created by black people, queer people and women, and edited the playlist in a semi-chronological, semi-narrative fashion with some old Nollywood clips for humour sprinkled throughout. I knew I could use the speaker and projector in the space so people could discover the artists and music.

How did you get people to attend?

I pretty much just posted on mine and hFACTOR’s Instagram page.

How old were you when you decided “rock music is my life now”? 

I don’t know if it was a conscious decision, but those two albums I mentioned had a big influence on me and pushed me to find more albums. I was 13 back then. It’s why I decided, earlier in the year [2022], to create a space for people who like rock music to meet. More communities have been formed, but I thought to create one for queer people since those spaces aren’t always the safest. I wanted to be in a space with people who were disenfranchised but also politically engaged, could talk about, make and enjoy rock music together.

Songs played at the event 

How did it turn out?

I thought it was really fun. I learnt a lot about dos and don’ts. Holding a physical meeting for the first time is always rough, so it was entirely expected. The people who showed up made it worthwhile, and I want this to become a small ecosystem of like minds. Everyone was open and interested in the music. 

The enthusiasm to gather in great company was everything. It’ll be a regular thing. This first time, I did it because I had a bit of extra money, but going forward, I’d have to figure out the finances to make it work. Maybe I’d expand to selling some art and building a community of people who make art and grow together — a creative renaissance, in a way.

You make that sound so good. Do you make music too?

Right now, I’m just writing songs and figuring out how to record. I write alternative rock and pop; overt, sarcastic songs that make fun of things. Part of the reason I wanted to host the event was to mingle with people who make music. I didn’t get to do that, but I’m not too worried about it.

That sounds like fun. What song, in particular, should we look out for when it’s released?

I have a song without much of a title, but let’s call it “Moon Cycle”. It’s a bit controversial, and I have an insane video planned. I’m pretty excited for it to be released. I can’t wait to share it alongside the album. 

Who would you recommend if you had to introduce someone to rock, and they aren’t into hearing white people sing?

Cicada and The Thermometers. They show up in an afro rock and psychedelic compilation of songs called “The World Ends”,  made in Nigeria in the 70’s. Clay has one song that’s pop rock mixed with afrobeat, in terms of modern-day Nigerian artists. But hopefully, people will pay to go to her shows so she can produce more. If someone was into r&b, I’d recommend more fine rock music like Betty Davis, who influenced rap music. There’s also Meet Me At The Altar, a new pop punk band fuelled by ramen. 

Who are your musical influences?

Fall Out Boy, The Runaways and My Chemical Romance. I like Max Martin, who’s one of the greatest producers of all time. He made almost every hit of the ’90s and early 2000s. I like Fun and Paramore too. 

There’s an ongoing theme of you liking bands. Ever been in one?

No, but I want to. I think it’ll be so fun to work with other people. If anyone is queer, genderqueer or a good ally, I want to be in a band with you. I don’t play an instrument, but I sing and write. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and I’m 27 now. 

What would you name your band?

I like the name “AJE”. It’s Yoruba for “witch”.

Does rock influence your style, or something else?

I was really into emo and scene fashion in secondary school. And I was influenced by how people dressed on Myspace; I only wear dark colours.

Myspace? I just know you used to blog on Tumblr

LOL. Yes, obviously.

I knew it! What was your blog about, and do you still use it?

Oh no. I stopped blogging there in 2017. I wasn’t even talking about music back then. I was just into fandoms of movies and TV shows I liked.

What fandom were you in?

Don’t judge me for my past mistakes, but I was in the supernatural fandom. I liked Sherlock and Doctor Who. I watched eight seasons of Supernatural, since everyone else was watching it, and was like, “Why the fuck am I watching this?” So I stopped. I kept waiting for something to happen, and it just didn’t. Nothing ever happened. 

It took you eight seasons? You’re patient. What do you do when you’re not writing songs or organising events?

I make beads and visual art to sell. I’m always trying new things out of beads and the planning takes a while. I also collect rocks and forage for them in my grandma’s garden. I’ve found 30 rocks so far.  I’m an outdoor person, but I don’t push my limits. Which is why I just forage at my grandma’s. 

What do you think Nigerian creators could do in the rock/alternative scene?

I think everyone is doing what they want to do creatively, and I admire that. I’ll say, though, that there’s a space that needs to be filled with rebellious and irreverent things, not just the status quo. Rock’s subject matter is taking down the system, and I like that there’s room for pop punk which I love. We need more songs that question the way things are. 

What do you plan to do differently?

Lyrically, I want to represent something that hasn’t been represented before, a narrative that’s unusual but breaks norms. I want visuals that might be upsetting to some but necessary to allow the next generation to understand that there’s no limit to how they can express themselves. 

I’ve always been influenced by pop surrealism so I want to make art that inspires people to stand out. In terms of visuals, I make things that you could find both on Tumblr and adult swim. Think colorful, campy sci-fi soundtracked by multiple genres of rock music.

What do you want the next couple of years to look like?

I’d like to have a balance between the music I’m making and my visual art. I’d like to not only lift myself up with my music but have an ecosystem of people who are interested in the same thing — to create a movement to break the system, that lasts throughout the ages. 

RELATED: Creator Spotlight: Zonna on Creating Sustainable Art Through Tuft

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