Hyperlink at Tate Modern is a free festival of art, music and fashion taking place in the Turbine Hall and the Tanks. One of the participants is Sway, one of the leading UK rap artists, who will perform before an immersive visual backdrop that responds to the vocals of the artist and visual artist Roy LichtensteinLichtenstein is showing at the Tate Modern till 27th May 2013 in the first full-scale retrospective of the artist in over twenty years.

Volt Café: Hyperlink has been created to encourage young people to get involved in the arts. What would you say to the younger generations to convince them?
Sway: My message would be to use art as a means of expressing yourself and enjoying yourself. The best art comes from people who use their unique qualities, individual abilities and surroundings to display or convey what they are about. I think it’s great when you can merge all these things together to gain appreciation from your combination of influences.

VC: On this occasion your performance references the visual artist Roy Lichtenstein. How did his art inspire you? Have you ever worked in this way before?
S: When it comes to my music I’m inspired by everything be it art, other music, conversation, scenery, pictures, phrases…..so many different ways, so I’m always open to be inspired. I haven’t worked in this way before but I’m looking forward to it and it possibly won’t be the last time.

VC: This festival brings together visual artists, designers, gastronomists and musicians. If not a rap artist, what other form of art would you have embraced?
S: If I hadn’t fallen into the occupation of being a rap artist I would have definitely have been an actor! As a rapper I like to take on different personalities and different roles to suit the subject matter. I feel as though actors do this in the same way but most of the time without music so that would have been a natural 2nd option for me

VC: While image is essential for many artists, to be involved in fashion sounds like a discredit to some rappers. What do you think about it?
S: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with merging music and fashion because they both relate to expression. Clothing is obviously something we need for everyday life in order to present ourselves in public but how we choose to dress can heavily be influenced by what we listen to and the cultures we engulf ourselves in and music does help mold culture so I believe they have a strong relationship. I don’t think it should be frowned upon for artist to be forthcoming in this situation.

VC: Many artists claim that hard times are the more creative ones. What’s your source of creativity? Do you agree with that statement?
S: I believe that hard times in all forms can do one of two things: push/motivate you to break through or crumble and de-motivate you. I find that most people that go far in life often come across situations that harden them and allow them to excel above others around them. Hard times can be anything, it doesn’t have to be ‘I never had any money growing up’ or ‘I’m from a poor background or council estate environment’; a hard time can be your parents getting divorced when you’re used to having two parents in the house or domestic violence, or having a medical problem that you have to overcome, there’s so many things being hard on you as a person that can help you to excel.


VC: Rap was born as en expression of counterculture but is nowadays adopting very sharp marketing strategies. If you can’t beat them, join them?
S: The first thing every artist should think about when they’re making their music is ‘Am I providing something for people that they don’t already have at this point in time? Am I providing something unique that people will be able to enjoy for years to come? Am I expressing to the best of my abilities my creative mind state and representing my influences to the best of my degree?’ If you can answer yes to all of these questions and make money on top of that then you’ve definitely cracked it. If you can answer yes to these questions and don’t make money at least you can walk away with the dignity in knowing that you tried your best. If you can’t answer yes to these questions and still end up rich then you’re just a good marketing person and not an actual musician.

VC: Do you think art must have an educative role in society? Or should art be for art’s sake?
S: Whether art wants to or not, it’s always going to be informative. People can find an explanation for someone drawing or rapping about a brick and make that creative. It’s all down to the individual and how they perceive the art. There’s always a lesson to learn form every form of art.

27th April 2013, 20.30 – 21.30
Entry FREE on a first come, first served basis
Tate Modern | The Tanks
London SE1 9TG

Words by Virginia Achilli


Hyperlink at Tate Modern, Roy Lichtenstein, SWAY, Virginia Achilli,