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.
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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.
Photography by senpaiquincy
So I started asking them questions about the personalities and talents within the group. When asked who is the best photographer, everyone agreed on it being Native, but the best in the overall group has to be senpaiquincy, who is an individual entity but has ties to the group through 40% and their longstanding friendship.
Native: He’s the best photographer in the New England area, and he’s on our team.
Asking who the best dresser is was met with a collective, “Ahh, come on!”
Stix: We can’t answer because we're all really different. We all dress differently.
Native: I have my opinions, but…
Devante: I have to say I am, he has to say he is, he has to say he is…
Ok, but let’s be honest, who’s the best dresser?
(Stix, Native, and Devante all at once)
Stix: Honestly, me, I would say me.
Native: Me, honestly.
Devante: Honestly, that’s how it is.
Kay: We have too much pride to pick, this is a brotherhood! You can’t do that.
Stix: All I’m saying, everyone in the group knows who it is.
Devante: Who is it?
Stix: It’s me!
Native: Nah, really though it’s Kurt.
Stix: It is not Kurt! It definitely isn’t Kurt.
Kurt: It’s definitely me.
Stix: It’s definitely not Tommy.
Native: (about Tommy) It hasn’t been you since junior year.
Stix: It was you in high school.
Tommy: No, it’s still me. They feel like they came up.
Devante: He’s washed.
Stix: Your prime was in high school.
Tommy: Alright, next question, next question. You see how they’re coming at me?
Who’s the best artist?
Devante: I did a little abstract painting piece... I did, it’s in my room, it’s tough.
Kay: You’re talking artist, as in music, or in general?
Kurt: I’d say the most versatile is Native because he does a lot.
Stix: He does everything. He a Swiss Army knife.
Devante: I mean, yeah... nah. You do a lot so you can have that. But, like, everyone... I don’t do things like he does, and he doesn’t do things like...
Native: Yeah, that question is hard. I think we all haven’t found our niche yet.
Devante: Everyone’s growing.
Native: When we reach out max potential, then ask us that question.
Who’s coming up with the most ideas?
Native: Kurt. No, the most ideas... I don’t know. I feel like we all bring ideas.
Who’s the shyest?
Stix: I would say Stretch. Stretch, and then me.
Tommy: Yeah, Stretch, then him.
(Kay and Tommy point to Native.)
Kurt: It depends.
Stix: What do you mean?
"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."
Stix: That would be Native.
Devante: He babbles. That’s what is it, he be babblin’.
Stix: He just talks.
Kurt: And then Devante.
Tommy: Native and Devante, yeah.
Native: I talk. I know how to talk. (Points to Devante) He be babblin’. (Points to Kurt) And then he just be babblin’.
Kurt: No, no I don’t babble.
Kay: That’s the top 3.
Devante: What did he get up and do when we were in the studio? He was babblin’. (Points to Native) He got up and started tweakin’.
Kurt: (Points to Devante) He’s a babbler, (Points to Native) and he’s a babbler.
Because so many members of the group are multi talented, I had to ask if they think it’s easy for anyone who believes they have a talent to simply start making art and be successful.
Tommy: If that’s what you do.
Native: Not even, like, you think it’s easy for anybody to pick up a camera and do what you do? I don’t think it’s easy for anyone.
Kay: You just have to make an effort.
Native: Yeah you just gotta make it a priority.
And to become successful?
Kurt: You just have to put in the effort, it’s hard work.
Native: You just have to know your level of success and what that means to you.
Devante: You need confidence.
Kay: You can’t sell yourself short.
Native: But this is not for everyone. What we do, it’s really not for everyone. Some people think going to school or working at a warehouse is just like… Yeah, I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.
Who or what inspires you?
Kurt: I don’t know who to throw it to.
Devante: I’m inspired by a lot of things.
Native: Role models or inspiration?
Stix: Well, they can be the same thing, can’t they?
Kurt: I was on Tumblr early.
Stix: Oh, real life, that was something that started it.
Native: Tumblr was like, what was cool. I think Virgil Abloh is a big inspiration.
Native: Yeah, A$AP Mob, A$AP. Yams, Steez, Rest In Peace Steez. What inspires me as an artist individually is where we come from, honestly. The fact that we wake up everyday and try to progress. Nothing is more genuine than you being able to do this with your friends.
Stix: It makes it fun.
Native: We really are all like, yo, we’re ‘bout to do this and we’re ‘bout to make it happen.
Kay: Best thing about it is, since we’re all this close, we’re going to keep it real with each other about whatever it is. If you’re doing wrong, we’re gonna say something.
Devante: Yeah, we tell you. But it’s like, because of how close we are we can’t take it personal.
Kay: It’s all out of love.
Devante: Yeah, I mean, why would I try to hurt one of my brothers maliciously? I wouldn’t do that.
Native: The fact that we constantly feel like, people will look at us and say, “Oh, my god, you’re so established,” or “You guys do so many cool things,” but they don’t know the behind the scenes, the struggle behind the scenes. We be arguing, like, it gets real. And it’s all because of that frustration...
Devante: We want to be great.
Stix: I see what his full potential could be, I see what his full potential could be. So when we’re not doing what we could be doing it’s like, seriously?
Native: If we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do, it’ll show. It’s a domino effect, that’s not what we got together and created this group for. So the inspiration comes from things I see every day. It could be water in a cup, I don’t know, anything. Anything I think is cool and I can relate to. Anything we feel we can make wavy. It’s crazy, we got known because of our pictures, just from our aesthetic, because we look cool, but they don’t even know what’s coming.
So what is the message to your viewers? What are you trying to say with your work?
Devante: OK, I like that question. Sort of to be an inspiration for others like us. At the end of the day, essentially we’re doing this for the people. We’re doing it for ourselves first, because it something we’ve all wanted to do, but we’re doing this for the people. Us creating this platform, once we're in the position where we can spread or share, we’ll do that. Once were established, we’ll be able to give back because that is the whole point.
Stix: We want people to come to CT and be like, I like this.
Native: We want people just to see that we’re from Connecticut, from the Hartford area, and we can do exactly what those dudes in L.A. are doing. And we can even do it better, to be honest. And for our audience, we just want you guys to know we have a lot of things coming, and we appreciate whoever is watching us, stays in tune with us, and hopefully our fan base will continue to grow as long as we grow. We’re going to work hard and do our best for y’all and ourselves.
What’s planned for 2018?
Kay: I don’t know if we can tell y’all that.
Devante: Alright, we’ll be very, very vague, right. So, ████████ ████████. That's it.
Tommy: I think that was too much.
Devante: That was a lot.
Stix: You should’ve just said springtime.
Native: Honestly, can you cut that out.
Kay: All we’re going to say is, content coming soon.
Stix: Real life.
Devante: Spring/Summer ‘18.
Native: Honestly, things are coming. New music. Our style is going to be different. The shoots are going to be different, very well thought out.
Devante: Not that they aren’t now.
Native: Yeah, not that they aren’t right now.
Devante: Just better.
Native: More visuals from us, the website will be out soon.
Devante: We’ve been holding that, we never dropped the url. It’s up, you can find it... but you won’t.
Native: A look book, a recap of 2017. Definitely more events, and just trying to stay connected to other people, and hopefully we can make all of our events lit. We just have a lot. It’s a long list.
Kay: Stay tuned.