Not just sunshine skin and full of glory…
Philosophical, philanthropic and spiritual is how we’d describe Music Artist and Actor, Jordan Stephens. Brighton-bred and creatively led Stephens jolted his way into the colourful world of Entertainment in 2012 as he was 1/2 of the band Rizzle Kicks. Spearheading the lost generation is what he came to do, and today, well a few weeks ago, we discuss his latest project: Let Me Die Inside You.
Photography & Interview by: Rhys Marcus Jay | @rhysmarcusjay
Coming out of this reimagined state of being, what would you describe as an idyllic world?
I think an idyllic world would be a world where human beings feel as though their duty on Earth is to build a relationship with the ecosystem around them, the world around them. I wonder, sometimes whether our massive advances in technology is coming at the expense of all of the magic that surrounds us in the natural world. For example, I’m a big fan of plant medicines and I personally have experienced some pretty life-changing stuff and have seen some indescribable things just through working with plants, which I find wild because the focus seems to be on us leaving our bodies and entering into virtual worlds. I’m sure that’s fun, but I wonder if it’s as intelligent as we think it is. I wonder if our place in life is a lot simpler than we’re making it out to be. Right now, for example, you’ll have to fact check me on this, I’m pretty sure if you look at a tree it calms your nervous system. Walking in nature, breathing in clean air, all of these things contribute to a more harmonious state of being. I think an idyllic world would be one where we’re not so consumed with the idea of production and we’re more connected with the idea of being.
So, are you someone that’s more in tune with ‘being’ in a spiritual sense than a physical sense?
I think it’s the same thing. I think ‘being’ is a spiritual and physical phenomenon, but I do think that there are many upsides to our world right now and all human beings need purpose, I think people need goals, and I think people need to feel as though they’re heading somewhere. But, I think it’s easy to get swept up in this idea of accumulation and our values in ourselves being determined by material possessions and where we’re seen in the material world, where I actually think peace and harmony come from something else. It comes from being okay with yourself and no amount of money can get that. It get can buy you therapy! I think you see it with people who have enormous wealth or have done very well in a capitalist sense, they then start working on themselves… they head to spirituality. Just because there’s a buzz or a noise that doesn’t disappear if you’re rich, and so I think human beings all have a desire to be connected to each other and the world around us, and often the barriers are put up because we’re not profitable as human beings if we’re calm and together. That’s why I think stuff like psychedelics get a bad reputation and are literally classified as drugs, because if you have a bunch of people connecting to the Earth and questioning the hypocritical laws placed on us then you have a population that is harder to control.
Going onto a different branch in the same tree, it sounds like you are someone who is in tune with duality, high and low, ying and yang… What does duality mean to you and how do you see yourself living amongst that sense of duality and the dual world?
For me, a big part of my maturing as a human being came from facing my darkness head-on. Everybody I believe has a shadow self, everybody has… well, through Western minds, what we believe to be immoral impulses and thoughts. I don’t believe in a hyper-moralistic world, I don’t believe in a world where everybody is a good person. I don’t believe that there is a good person; I think morality is entirely subjective. I don’t necessarily believe in a utopia where there is no violence. I just think there could be less violence and no exploitation. With violence, for example, I find it fascinating that we’re one of the only creatures on the planet that will refuse to surrender and will destroy people past the point that’s necessary. Like duelling, for example, I always think about duelling… like, sometimes there is a point I suppose where something can’t be settled in any other way than physical. But, I don’t believe that means that you have to kill somebody or you have to destroy someone’s life or gang up on a single individual. I think if you need to settle something, you do it through honour, and we have all of these stories from back in the day where there’s an honour; you train up, you challenge each other, and somebody wins and somebody loses. There’s no shame in losing.
And then people are so intrigued by that final ‘end’…
Yeah! People want that end goal and they don’t want to lose! They see nothing to gain from loss, which is completely inaccurate.
I completely agree. I’d love to brighten up this topic as well, which leads on from one of your songs. What grooming products do you use for your sunshine skin?
This is mad yeah, on my life I don’t think I’ve had any routine for my hair or my face, which a lot of people of colour would be like “You’re living mad”. But, for me personally, the key to my skin is sobriety and water. Since I’ve been sober, my skin has been better. Exercise, those kinds of things. My dreads are free-grow, I don’t even twist them, they just grew out like that. So I believe in just listening to your body, but in saying that, my girlfriend does say that I need to moisturise and sometimes she just puts it on my face.
SPF and all that!
Yeah to be honest, with sunscreen, I do need to sort it out because I can fully get burnt.
You and me both!
That sunshine skin can be f*cking painful…
This next question is funny, so I might remix it. The original question was: Is grooming a focal point for your appearance? But it seems like it’s not. Explain to me how glowing with the flow works for you as an individual.
So, it’s funny because I entered into the music industry specifically when I was 18 with Rizzle Kicks and we did incredibly well, incredibly quickly. Our image when we first came out was viewed as scruffy, a couple of scruffy kids. I’m pretty sure in 2012, we at least tripled sales of snapbacks!
You know, we had hats on, hoodies, and whatever. But, I’ve got friends of mine that work in high fashion and they were saying “If you’d come out looking like this, you would’ve had a deal with this brand”, blah, blah, blah…. And it’s like, as I get older I definitely feel as though there is a ritual and ceremony in presenting yourself or making yourself look nice in your eyes for an occasion. Like tonight, I feel I look good and I like the clothes. I wouldn’t have done this with Axel Arigato if I didn’t like them as a brand. I’ve got friends who work here and their sh*t is cool and they approached me. I think it looks effortlessly stylish. I’m aware that I can look better at certain points and that certain clothes are shaped, designed… I’m learning to appreciate all of that. I definitely had a thing in my mind and soul growing up where yes things looked good, but I wasn’t massively into the world where people were sacrificing more important elements of their lives whilst trying to spend money on material stuff. I think it’s important when you have a brand that costs money- Axel Arigato isn’t cheap- you want stuff that lasts a long time. You want statement pieces. For me, on my come up I almost wanted people to be like “You don’t need to be spending stupid money on clothes”… you can just wear what you want because I’m not trying to fuel a capitalist mentality where people are working mad hours a week and then just splurging all of their money on an outfit. I don’t think people’s value is purely in the price of what they wear, but I do understand the idea of expression and presentation… as I get older, I do understand that. But, I think my point is that nobody should feel ‘less than’ because they can’t afford something. I don’t like the idea that people go to Instagram on whatever else and all they see is superstars wearing superstar clothing, and they feel unworthy. That’s why part of me almost wants to roll up to certain things in a tracksuit.
So, what do you think about this whole ‘rental fashion’ thing? Where people can rent designer bags and flex for the ‘gram.
I mean I’m not mad at it. I suppose rental fashion is better than fast fashion. If people want to wear something for one night, cool, so be it… that’s on you. But, I just don’t want people to think that that’s their identity.
Not to bash influencers or content creators, but recently we’ve seen those that will rent pieces just to wear for one picture, rather than for that night out. What do you think about that side of things? Because that would suggest that they are trying to keep up to some kind of standard.
I mean… Nah, I don’t think so. I think it is that or you have a stylist.. stylists rent pieces all the time. If they want to do a snap in an outfit and never wear it again, then do your thing. It’s an art to an extent. I mean people can argue about the parameters of art but ultimately looking dope in a photograph is art… there are ways in which you can increase or decrease that in other people’s minds. Sometimes it can be about the set-up of the photo, the quality of the photo, and who took it. If they want to bash a selfie with a colour-coordinated outfit, cool, do your thing man.
Okay cool. Speaking of the industry that we’re in which is obviously entertainment, and with fashion being intertwined with that… I want to ask, with things tending to be hectic in the world that we live in, is there something that you would consider a missing piece in your puzzle of Peace vs. Chaos?
Umm, yeah. So, for me at the moment I feel strong. It’s part of me growing up, I’m starting to take responsibility and not victimise myself in my mind and hold myself accountable, and I think there are two things that aid that process. One is exercise… I like feeling strong. I think people should feel strong because I think it helps with mentality, like If you can feel your body working and your body feels like you can run up a flight of stairs and not get out of breath. Or you can lift something when you’re moving house, you know what I’m saying? It’s important to feel strong and feel in your body. Exercise does that. The second is teaching plants, respectfully. I don’t believe in a world where people are doing psychedelics without there being no ceremony or no ritual… there has to be a positive intention or there has to be a pure intention. I do believe that just being in nature holds so many keys, just to breathe in the world around us. Trees and plants are f*cking incredible.
I mean I think a version of me died about two weeks ago and I can’t explain why, but I changed my mind on a few things and I consciously changed my mind and said I was going to stop doing some things. “I’m going to start telling myself these messages”… “I’m going to start working out every day”… “I’m going to start eating right”.
Truly. Well, speaking of bodies I really wanted to speak about this album named ‘Let Me Die Inside You’. Let’s unpick that.
It’s funny because when I originally named it I kind of wanted to do that artist thing of “That’s the title. Make of it what you will.” But, I obviously do have reasons for why it’s called that. I think in society one of our greatest fears and drives us is the fear of death. We’re all trying to do the best we can before the time comes, and I wonder if death is more of a spectrum than we give it, you know, it’s not just physical. So, there’s not just one endpoint and that’s when you die.
It’s the impact you leave after as well…
It’s the impact you leave, that’s true. But also, a person can die multiple times in their life and that’s really important.
When you say that, do you mean the death of the soul? Death of the spirit?
Well, death of the ego ideally but that’s f*cking hard, trust me. I mean I think a version of me died about two weeks ago and I can’t explain why, but I changed my mind on a few things and I consciously changed my mind and said I was going to stop doing some things. “I’m going to start telling myself these messages”… “I’m going to start working out every day”… “I’m going to start eating right”. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah! But I feel like, with those choices, a previous version of me that existed before didn’t have much strength and I think they died. And it’s okay for that to die. ‘Let Me Die Inside You’ obviously sounds sexual, and there is that element too. I find it fascinating that when a person orgasms, that is a small part of the bliss you experience when you die and considering sex is where we’re attempting to create life, I find that paradox completely fascinating. That life and death can just be contained in this one thing. Also, I feel like sex is one of, if not the driving force of existence. Whether that’s why we’re earning money, whether we’re trying to get a nice house, whether that’s why we’re attracted to this person, how we present ourselves… you know? I think there’s a massive driving force there and to say it like that, just gives sex the depth and spirituality that it can reach. We’re in an age of casual sex, and I have no issue with that, but again it’s another spectrum. Sex can be f*cking phenomenal if there’s understanding, love…
And a high frequency!
For real! Also, I’m saying ‘Let Me Die Inside You’ to somebody else, say an ex-partner for example, or an ex-friend. It’s like, “I’ve got to die inside you now” because your ideas of me have to go because I’ll probably be a new person too. And then finally, maybe people who don’t know me or people who make judgements, assumptions, or do guesswork on who I am as a person, are perhaps listening to this album and then their idea of me would die. Their previous idea of me.