The Evolution of Lynks: In Conversation With Chapter Z

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The Evolution of Lynks

One of the most propulsive names on the London music scene, Lynks sat down with Chapter Z to talk about their blossoming career and how the birth of their masked drag identity helped them realise more of themself.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

Oscar Wilde
Lynks wearing custom denim by DR.CREATUR3 //
Photography: Connor Egan //
Styling: DR.CREATUR3 //
Set Design: DR.CREATUR3 //
Production: Henry Tolley
Lynks wearing custom denim by DR.CREATUR3 //
Photography: Connor Egan //
Styling: DR.CREATUR3 //
Set Design: DR.CREATUR3 //
Production: Henry Tolley

For the majority of us, being intermittently confined to our homes for the past two years has been pretty damn dry. Apart from discovering aptitudes for crocheting and failing to make our own seitan, lockdown had our wings well and truly clipped.

However, increased time to ourselves catalysed something productive for some. Lynks, a psychology student turned alchemist of experimental sounds, enjoyed a boom in their online popularity since the beginning of the pandemic. 

I had time to reassess my look and really up my social media game,” the 24-year-old tells me. Lynks following has grown to over 11K on Instagram, up from a couple of thousand before the pandemic hit. While follower count is by no means a sole measure of success, it is a testament to the growing notoriety of their music.

This growth in followers didn’t help my mental health over lockdown. Needless to say; it was tough for us all.” Reminiscing on a time when concerts were cancelled, it’s clear this took its toll.

Lynks was born as a live act and I really missed that; the stage is where I make my best work. I love to perform.” After finding their desired stage persona during university, performing has been the primary way for Lynks to find creative catharsis. This is unsurprising as a Lynks show is truly a spectacle, with the artist donning avant-garde and downright bizarre outfits that dazzle crowds.

Since restrictions have been lifted, however, it seems that the joy of performing has flooded back for the young, gimp-suited maestro.

Being able to perform and finally translate the increase in Instagram followers to something tangible has been incredible.” Lynks has enjoyed a prolific year, completing their first tour and bringing their ‘weird alt-electronic gimp-pop Zumba class’ to Mighty Hoopla, Standon Calling, Green Man, Reading, and Download festivals to name a few.

Not to mention the fact that their sonic potpourri of a discography earned them not one, but two spots on the most recent Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes album. “The recording for Frank Carter was all done remotely from the basement of my house. It was great – very much a surprise! I got an email from my manager saying, ‘Lynks, Frank Carter wants you on their song and you have until the end of the week – can you do it?’ I said f*** yeah. I really tapped into something to produce that.”

I performed with them at Reading which was both a brilliant and strange experience. Moving through crowds of 16/17-year-olds on various different substances, them all looking not even past you but through you was a… unique experience

It was like playing a game of Space Invaders. I had had enough of 16-year-olds slapping me as I walked past. I didn’t stay to camp the night, put it that way. But being on stage with Frank Carter was absolutely insane.”

Lynks wearing custom denim by DR.CREATUR3 //
Photography: Connor Egan //
Styling: DR.CREATUR3 //
Set Design: DR.CREATUR3 //
Production: Henry Tolley
Lynks wearing their own handmade outfit //
Photography: Connor Egan //
Production: Henry Tolley

Performing at Latitude festival in 2021 was also a real highlight for Lynks, being greeted by a roaring crowd – some of whom attended as fans, but all certainly left as. “It was amazing. We couldn’t see the audience before we went out on stage and when we did, we were like what the f***. That was an amazing feeling. Seeing people in the crowd singing along to your lyrics is crazy.”

Alongside the thrill of performing, as a drag persona, ‘Lynks’ has afforded the artist beneath freedom of creative expression for the past few years. But before the stylish demon-clown persona was spawned, an entirely different artist tread the boards of Bristolian stages. “My music before Lynks was more…James Blake-esque. By that I mean me being surrounded by an obnoxious pile of keyboards that I wouldn’t actually play, in front of a crowd that wasn’t actually listening.”

At a friend’s party, I performed as Lynks and it was very much intended as a drag act. I’d written these songs that were meant to be funny and the production to be dumb. My friend came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Why is the production of your Lynks music so much cooler than your usual stuff?’ I was like, ‘What… I made this in 5 seconds.’

I realised that the intention of being silly and tongue-in-cheek actually enabled me to make the music that comes naturally to me. Before I had been thinking about what music was meant to sound like and I ended up badly impersonating other musicians.”

After performing a few more drag shows and producing around 8 of these new, ‘sillier’ songs, Lynks felt it was time to try a full-length show in this style. “That first show was in London, at Off the Cuff, themed like a fragrance launch because at that time I was still called Lynks Afrikka. I sold little bottles of mock-fragrance that were actually spray-bottles of Buckfast. My own way of being able to provide drinks at a club!

The difference between these shows and my old ones was crazy. After seeing the audience laughing and dancing at my Lynks shows, I thought, ‘There’s no going back now.’ It was infinitely more satisfying than my other music.”

Lynks says that at that point in their career, many of the people in the crowd were their supportive friends, as is often the case with new talent. Nonetheless, before they donned the persona of ‘Lynks,’ they would still get nervous. “Before, I never had that euphoric performance feeling – I always felt very self-conscious, overly aware of how I looked and how I was behaving. Should I be smiling between songs? Should I be talking to the audience more? Things like that.

Speaking to the singer, they reflected that their feelings of self-consciousness and hyper-self-awareness are quite common for queer people. “When I was at school I was considered ‘unpopular’ for quite a long time, until around sixth form. There was a clear switch for me when I realised that I could just fake it; I could act how everyone else expected me to act. I started doing that more and it started to work. When I realised I could assimilate and code-switch in my day-to-day life, it became the norm.

When being popular at school is the most important thing in your life to make each day bearable, it seems like a worthwhile thing to do. Sadly, when you grow up, it becomes something hard to unlearn. I realised that I struggled to consistently pinpoint what my sense of self was.”

Lynks wearing their own handmade outfit //
Photography: Connor Egan //
Production: Henry Tolley
Lynks wearing their own handmade outfit //
Photography: Connor Egan //
Production: Henry Tolley

Assimilation into the default heteronormative nature of society is common among queer people. It is a survival technique that Lynks tells me they learned all too well, and that performing helped them unlearn. “As soon as I performed as Lynks with my mask on, I felt liberated. Being a strange, masked gimp-creature meant that any expectations of how I should behave were removed. You can’t f*** it up, because you’re being you and it’s in your control.

Before doing Lynks, I’d watched too much RuPaul’s Drag Race and had certain ideas of how to behave in drag. I was being very grand and diva-ish. I didn’t have the full gimp mask look then either; I had a heavy face of makeup.

That was another sort of character and I realised eventually that I don’t need to do that either. I can wear a mask, take the brakes off and let my personality run wild. I found that that was much better; the audience and me were both having more fun. I thought, ‘This is probably what my personality actually is.’

A beautifully ironic story, it would seem, that donning a completely new character and persona would lead to the discovery of one’s true self. Lynks’ journey is one that many of us queers can only hope to embark on by such glamourous means.

Hearing in their voice how much joy and self-confidence Lynks’ stage persona has brought them, I wanted to know if they could spare any advice for others. They said: “We are constantly being told by society to ‘just be ourselves but that’s not always easy for queer people. We spend our teen years trying on different personalities for size and you become so good at switching that you can lose the real you.

So…to sum up, everyone should wear gimp masks! No no, for real though, we think of art as a pure reflection of ourselves but it’s very easy to end up straying from yourself. For me it was a gimp mask and a drag persona; for others, it’ll be something completely different. But we can use art to help us realise our identity, or find it again.

With talent oozing from behind that mask and a thoughtful head on those shoulders, Lynks is one to watch. As their lyrics say, they are Miss Havisham and they’ve got great expectations. Well, Lynks, so do we.

About Post Author

Henry Tolley

(he/him) Henry a previous Editor-in-Chief of Chapter Z magazine. He specialises in LGBTQ+, film and in-depth community/cultural features.
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