“On a mission to put creatives back in the driver’s seat, Backyard Group is incessant on ‘making noise, not friends’. Leveraging an impressive list of creators and innovators at the forefront of shifting culture in South Africa”. And now, the multidisciplinary collective and creative agency is back with a Levi’s Haus of Strauss collaboration. Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak within our own country, Backyard has shifted their focus to screen printing and creative collaboration crystallised in a range of T-shirts and hoodies created with the intention of further pushing their statement of being cultural and aesthetic “Noise Makers”. The collective’s latest offering sees them partnered with Levi’s Haus of Strauss’ Amy Zama to co-curate and style their new Fuck The Neighbours T-shirt range. Founded in 2018 with a focus on creating platforms for artists and creatives to come together through their events and listening sessions by DJ and Photographer YAN Solo (Shadin Kara), Graphic Designer and brand consultant Brandon Tau and internet model Kurt Trompetter (Pretty Kurt) — Backyard’s Fuck The Neighbours stands as a homage to all the young creatives who continue to blaze their own trails, amplifying the sentiment of following in one’s own path despite the naysayers. I caught up with the collective to discuss their design and editorial collaboration with Haus of Strauss’ Amy Zama for their latest release.
The editorial and visual language for Fuck The Neighbours, reminds me of something out of an after school special. It takes me back to a certain adolescent fever dream nostalgia. Days after school spent watching Degrassi The Next Generation, The Tribe, Pepper Ann andandand. Perhaps it is in the the colours, or the comic book-like aesthetics, it could even be from some of the styling choices. Can you tell me more about the story and vision behind its creation?
Backyard Group: The main inspiration behind the editorial was to create our own universe where we show its okay to “Make Noise” ( be different). Drawing [from] comic books in our many influences always gave the idea of escapism into a parallel universe for us. We wanted the editorial to give the audience a first person perspective of our noise-filled universe as Backyard; where each character isn’t afraid to be bold and express themselves fully and wholeheartedly.
How did the opportunity/space for this collaboration and co-curation come about?
Backyard Group: As a group of young creatives ourselves, we always felt that collaboration equals the ultimate creative output and [it] has always been at the forefront of our parties, our designs and our merchandise. The collaboration between Haus Africa emerged in early 2020, when Levi’s offered us the opportunity to host one of our events at Haus of Strauss Africa — and we invited a few of our closest Backyard members to come and experience the space alongside us. When the Fuck The Neighbours editorial came to surface, we decided to partner up with the Haus team as they best understood our vision and have always supported us through our growing relationship. It allowed for Backyard to grow within the Haus space in our visual communication through our Tees and [simultaneously allowed] for style curator Amy Zama to exercise her style curation and art direction skills.
The Fuck The Neighbours T-shirt range is said to “stand as homage to all the young creatives who continue to blaze their own trails and (send) through message(s) of following your own path despite people pulling you down”. Is this spirit of trailblazing and audacious creative individuality something you tried to capture/encompass in both the T-shirt designs and editorial itself?
Backyard Group: Definitely. Its an important message to continue to drive especially more so now than ever. The T-shirt design and editorial acts as a constant reminder of fighting for your creative liberation and our constant slogan of “Make Noise, Not Friends” serves to that as well. All our designs and creative output are centred on rebelling against anyone who thinks you are not good enough and showing your creative identity and worth.
Who are some of the “young trailblazing creatives” you think encompass the aesthetic and energy of Fuck The Neighbours?
Backyard Group: There are so many at this moment that it would be unfair to only name a few. But any creative who is doing shit on their own terms and fearlessly following their creative journey basically encompasses the Fuck The Neighbours energy.
Creative Direction: Backyard Group & Amy Zama
Photography: Shadin Kara
Style Curator: Amy Zama
Hair & Makeup: Zoë Speelman
Muses: Money Badoo, Lesedi Seleke, Kurt Trompetter, Vukosi Nkuna, William Phala & Leli Mucambe
Production: Levi’s Haus of Strauss
Wardrobe: Stylist Own