Connecticut’s own artist collective known as 7evenam talks with Aislin Magazine about their brotherhood, their future, and how being from Hartford has been an inspiration for them, rather than a setback.
Written & Photographed by
Do not try to put 7evenam in a box. Are they musicians? Are they designers? Models or photographers? The young Connecticut based artist collective can’t be tied down to just any one of those labels, but it isn’t because they’re indecisive.
Founded by Native and Devante, the duo was looking for a brotherhood, as they call it, a creative team to support one another and simply create work, regardless of the medium. 7evenam (pronounced Seven-A.M.) began while both were still in high school, originally as a music group with a couple of friends who are no longer apart of the team. Rather than giving up when that fell through, Native and Devante kept working and eventually got the right people involved.
Native was enrolled at New England College at the time on a soccer scholarship, winning the NAC (North Atlantic Conference), while Devante was attending Southern University. Both decided to make 7evenam a priority and took a gap year. “I was usually with Stix and Tommy,” Native recalls, “Then I started bringing Kurt along, too.” Devante brought his core group as Native brought his own and they meshed them together. The group’s chemistry continued to build from there.
"It’s a collective to showcase our talents within each other; To help and push one another. 7evenam is like a brotherhood to us."
7evenam consists of 8 members, all between the ages of 18-22, and each bringing their own talents and personalities to the table. Both cofounders do a little bit of everything - Native is a creative director, clothing designer, photographer, graphic designer, and producer. Devante takes on whatever role that’s necessary for the group. “Whether it’s designing something, becoming the photographer, or having to model the clothes. Whatever needs to be done, I’ll do it.” Along with being a designer and stylist, Tommy runs the business aspect of the group, which ties into their consignment shop, Famous Fits, where they buy and resell vintage apparel and goods. Kay is a graphic designer, and also helps with Famous Fits. Stix is a model and clothing designer. Kurt is a model, stylist, and creative director. JV helps with the business decisions, helping run Famous Fits and organizing/directing shoots, while Stretch has been one of the core models in the group.
Since they all do a little bit of everything, I ask them, what exactly is 7evenam? “To me,” Native explains, “It’s a collective to showcase our talents within each other; To help and push one another. 7evenam is like a brotherhood to us. We want to showcase ourselves like a lifestyle, to just say, this is how we’re living, this is what we do. For me, these are the people I’m going to grow with for the rest of my life.”
Growing as a team, as well as individuals, is key for the members of 7evenam. Native encourages everyone to pursue their own personal goals, as the group was created to uplift and encourage one another to grow as artists. He states that they always “emphasize individual growth”. “Do your own thing. Obviously when people think of us, we are a group, but as an artist, as a creative person, you’re going to want to do your own things, so step into your own land, if necessary.”
And that is exactly what Native has done with the two extensions of 7evenam, Moneys in Art and 40%. He was introduced to a music group called Moneys in Art by his good friend, Dax, who is also happens to be the founder and one of the producers of the group. From there, the two groups were introduced and Native became a rapper and producer for Moneys in Art. 40% is the newer addition, starting as a subgroup and growing into a magazine idea. They’ve just completed a photo shoot for Converse, and now they’re focused on growing their brand. They’ve been working on editorials for the magazine, trying to engage the Connecticut and East Coast Scene. They see 7evenam, Moneys in Art, and 40% as one big family. “They’re like our cousins,” Kay describes it.
When it comes to their location, being from Connecticut definitely has an affect on them as creatives.
Kay: It’s easier to be an artist in a bigger city. You have more exposure, you’re in a bigger market.
Devante: Connecticut doesn’t have a night life.
Stix: There’s no life, period.
Kay: That’s what we’re trying to bring to the table.
Devante: That’s why artists from Florida, places like that, there’s more of a nightlife so they have more to work with. There are a lot of clubs for artist to perform at and there are a lot of people listening. Same with Texas — Houston, Dallas, these big cities. Connecticut is very small. Rich people come here to escape the fast life over there.
Native: Connecticut makes it a little harder because the resources are bigger in Atlanta, Houston, etc. But Connecticut doesn’t use it to potential as a state. There’s a gap between the 860–203, that scene just doesn’t mesh. And the 860 area, if you’re looked at as something other than the average, I go to school, I go to college, you’re looked at as weird, like you’re not doing anything. No one is supporting self made people. It’s like, Connecticut is known for insurance. That’s terrible.
Devante: And tobacco fields.
Native: It’s harder when people ask us where we’re from, but it makes it more genuine. Diddy even said it, people don’t come out of Connecticut.
Devante: I felt that one, I felt that right here (hand over his heart).
Tommy: But that motivates me.
Stix: Yeah, that makes us want to work harder.
Regarding the reason for the name 7evenam:
Native: We wanted people to wake up to what we’re doing. Connecticut doesn’t really have that creative scene. It’s kind of been popping off this year, but before, nobody talked about creative things. Nobody talked about photographers or modeling. I kind of feel like we made that a thing... we definitely did, what am I saying, we definitely did. We’re taking credit for that.
Devante: No one’s beating us, if we’re being honest.
Tommy: Controversy, right here.
Native: Our aesthetic speaks for itself. Our big thing is content.
Stix: There are so many different personalities in the group.