Every day this week we’re bigging up inspirational young Londoners. We’ll show you 24 under-24s who, through their creativity and industry, are shaping the future of the city. We’re releasing our list in batches this week, so come back every day to find someone new...
Snoochie Shy, 23
Shy hails from Eltham, south-east London, but hangs out in Shoreditch, where she’s a resident DJ at all-girl clubnight CreamSoda, playing “a bit of hip-hop, bit of garage, bit of grime.” She scours the area’s charity shops and vintage boutiques (her favourite shop is Vintage Basement)
You can express yourself in east London. People don’t bother you. If I walk down the street dressed like this in Eltham, I get funny looks.
She has been known to follow anyone whose jacket she likes, take their photo and post it on her blog.
Lamarr Golding, 19
Combine a passion for parkour, urban exploring and a love of photography and you get Lamarr Golding, a Clapham-based photographer taking incredible shots of London from angles that you’ve never seen before.
“Because I do parkour I can get over really high walls and places that you wouldn’t expect someone to get to. There’s such a broad amount of architecture around, especially the post-modern architecture around central London – it gives room for a lot of inspiration.”
Lamarr has just graduated from a Creative Media diploma at Kingston University and is forging a career in photography and filmmaking. He’s done work for Time Out, Blood Brother, Culture Trip London and Arsenic magazine.
Ben Akhtar, 16
“Once I saw paragliders near my home, I knew it was what I wanted to do,” says self-professed aviation nut and British Accuracy Paraglider, Ben Akhtar. He’s just returned from flying in the World Championships in Indonesia – all in his school holidays.
When he was nine, Ben made a three ring release system (what skydivers use to cut away from their canopies). When he was 10, he tried to get off the ground by kiting with an old sewn-up skydiving canopy bought off eBay. However, by 14 there was lift-off – he qualified as a paraglider (the youngest in the UK at the time) with his flying club, the Green Dragons.
“As you fly over the Green Dragons you can see the London skyline. I’d love to fly straight down the Thames, around the Shard, and under Tower Bridge. That would be amazing, but obviously the airspace is pretty chock-a-block!”
Amir Miah, 20
Amir Miah used to sell stolen bikes. Now he and some fellow ex-bike thieves are selling them - legally - at their shop in Poplar, east London.
Your Bike, the youth led social enterprise that he helped to build, provides opportunities for young people in need of a break. Ex-offenders, those involved in serious organised crime, gang violence, or those who are not in employment, education, or training have the chance to swap the streets for bike grease.
“We get bikes from the Met Police. We upcycle those and then we sell them on to provide the training. We get our trainees to learn the retail side of things as well, to learn customer service skills and the value of bikes.”
An ironic fact for you… Amir has had his own bike stolen from outside the bike shop.
I think that’s probably karma. I was just opposite getting coffee – the kids there are quick!
Your Bike is due to open an online shop in 2016.
Thanks to the increasing popularity of spectator eSports events like London’s Gfinity, the UK scene is growing rapidly. Mike ‘Snipedrone’ Juchau is at the vanguard. The Halo player is a key member of Epsilon Sports, the current European Champions.
At Gamescom in Germany last month, Epsilon beat one of the biggest teams in the world, OpTic Gaming, and scooped £7,000. The stakes will soon be far higher as he'll be competing for over $1m at the Halo World Championships (expected to be in US) which are launching this winter.
“I’ll probably get a bit nervous if I’ve got a shot to win it!” he says. “You’ve just got to brush the nerves off.”
As you’d expect from his screen-name, Snipedrone is only really good at shooting games.
I’m terrible at FIFA. I’ll admit I’ve broken a controller. I try to steer clear!
Bertie Gilbert, 18
“I’ve lived in London all my life,” says Bertie. “The city inspires me; when I’m creating, the first thing that pops into my head is usually a London landmark of some kind.”
His latest short film is Blue Sushi, which tells the story of a trans male musician and how he comes out.
“[The film features] a long shot of a man in the back of a car. The inspiration was taken from being in the back of Ubers late at night, gliding through the city.”
Bertie’s short films have won acclaim from the BFI, while one magazine enthusiastically suggested he could become the new Wes Anderson.
It’s nice to be compared, though the connections to Wes are quite tenuous. I don’t find myself to be that similar stylistically – but I’d love to get to his level.
Tim Davies, 23
University College London alumni Tim Davies is a budding Bear Grylls. He’s already been to Namibia with the British Exploring Society on a six-week leadership training programme, while last year Land Rover selected him to compete in their 'Next Generation Explorer' competition. Then there’s his mountain survival trips to Norway, two English Channel relay swims and a bike ride from London to Chamonix in the Alps. We’re exhausted just thinking about it.
“The thing I love about London is the amount of opportunity you get,” says Tim.
Tim now organises unsupported two or three week treks with donkeys in Spain’s Almería province for adventurous holidaymakers. He’s also raising money to take part in the Ice Warrior challenge, an expedition to the centre of the Arctic Ocean – or ‘the inaccessible Pole’ as it’s known. Phew.
Sophie Mayanne, 22
Sophie Mayanne graduated in June from a Fashion, Communications and Styling degree at Middlesex University. Her artistic portraits have earned her work with Boys by Girls Magazine, and an army of admirers.
“I always used to get told off as a kid for staring at people,” she says. “This is going to sound so creepy, but on the tube it’s just interesting to see all the different people. I’ll sit there and be like: ‘Their face isn’t symmetrical’; ‘They’ve got an interesting spot or mole’, or ‘They’re really freckly’. I don’t read books on the tube, there are just so many people and everyone has a different story.”
If I hadn’t have come to London I probably wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing.
Luke Hood, 23
Somerset boy Luke started UKF.com, a tastemaking electronic music site, when he was 16.
“It was just easier to upload stuff onto YouTube and share a link, rather than file-share over MSN. When Facebook came about, people started posting our stuff on their walls and it grew really quickly.”
At 19, he moved to London and things “skyrocketed”.
“All the labels, media and tech companies are here. It just meant I could get everything done much quicker.”
UKF has hosted Brixton Academy’s New Year’s Eve parties for the last two years, while their clubnights are nationwide. This year, they teamed up with EXIT and entertained 100,000 people over four days at Sea Dance festival in Montenegro.
Despite the overseas success, Luke is at home in London.
I’d be nowhere else in the world. It’s the number one place in music; greater even than LA and New York. It’s the hub. It’s where everyone is.
Elf Kid, 19
Elf Kid is the latest MC talent to spring from the ranks of The Square, the South London grime crew that spawned breakout star Novelist. The Square came together as youngers spitting bars in a Lewisham park, inspired by the likes of teenage MCs like Chipmunk and Ice Kid. But now, says Elf, “the community is onto us, they’re repping what we’re doing.”
For a glimpse of what Elf can do, check his recent freestyle over Jamie xx’s Gosh, a perfect encapsulation of his witty flow and boundless energy. There’s more where that came from, with a full Square album on the horizon and the streets buzzing with a new generation of talent.
“Right now London is exciting - for music, culture, but especially for grime, what we’re doing. This year’s been mad - there’s people getting success, like Skepta, and there’s names coming through, too. Grime has gone back to what it was before, with the tracksuits, radio, young kids spitting on the streets. It’s fun again!”
Keep your eyes peeled for the video for Elf Kid’s new single Golden Boy, out later this month.
Follow Elf Kid:
Cora Delaney, 21
Cora is getting a rep for her direct brand of on-camera interviews; brazenly shoving a mic into famous peoples’ faces and asking them rubbish.
“Once I went up to Shorty and I was like, ‘Shorty, if Skepta was a trainer, what trainer would he be?’”
When not terrorising members of BBK, she’s out and about.
“Everyone my age is coming together; supporting one another and hanging out with each other. We all go to the same things and collaborate on stuff. Grime coming back is sick, too.”
If you’re looking for a cool late bar, she recommends Visions in Dalston.
Visions is a spot now. That’s where everyone hangs out.
What’s good about it?
“Nothing. It’s a shithole, but everyone goes there. It’s open til 6am. Alexander Wang was in there. Skepta was in there. It’s a dingy basement full of plastic cups. It’s so horrible, all the toilet doors are hanging off and stuff.”
Connie Constance, 20
Connie only releases her debut EP, In The Grass, this month – but this young songwriter has already turned heads with her dreamy, twilit take on London soul music.
Connie grew up in Watford on the outskirts of London, and moved to Hoxton at the age of 16, when she started studying contemporary dance. But it was another artform, poetry, that really moved her. “I would write love poems, and later I’d turn them into songs. I used to perform around Kings Cross, Hackney Wick – and soon I was like, I don’t want to dance any more, I want to do this.”
The lead track from Connie’s debut EP, Stars, was produced by rising producer Blue Daisy, and to repay the favour she’s also appeared on his debut album Darker Than Blue.
For now, she’s moved back to Watford, where she lives with her parents – but she’s looking to move back to Hackney Wick any day now.
“I like it there, it’s a nice environment. London can be the best and the worst – it can be a stressful place to live, but there’s so many opportunities, there’s so much to write about.”
Michael Driver, 23
In the 11 weeks since Michael graduated from Kingston University he’s landed commissions for Wired, the Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph. He’s currently working on an impressionistic map of London.
“I do a lot of walking. I often try to draw upon people and situations I’ve observed in the streets. London makes me work harder. There are so many other creative people that it creates an atmosphere of friendly competition.”
Ross Bailey, 23
“London has a here today, gone tomorrow pulse that other cities lack,” says Ross, founder of Appear Here.
The online marketplace for short-term space has revolutionised commercial lets across the country, placing 1000 stores in the last 12 months. Having successfully filled all the shop space in Old Street tube station with a series of pop-ups, Appear Here are working on filling several more stations across the Underground network.
“We’ve also done a deal with Topshop and Topman to find young people who want to start their own businesses,” says Ross, who left school at 16 and never bothered with A-levels. “We’ve got market stalls going into Topshop that you can book to sell your own stuff.”
He sees a bright future for tech startups in the capital, too.
Silicon Valley is obviously the leader, but London is now a close second; everyone’s talking about tech and it’s an amazing city to be in right now.
Meltem Avcil, 21
When she was just 13, Meltem Avcil and her mother were locked in Bedfordshire’s Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. Having fled Turkey for being of Kurdish origin, Meltem found herself behind bars in the UK for three months. Now, as well as studying for a degree in psychology at Goldsmiths University, Meltem campaigns for an end to the practise of detaining women seeking asylum in the UK.
"Women are sexually assaulted in there – they're not treated well," she says. “I saw what women go through."
“The refugee situation at the moment is heartbreaking. Why do we need to see a dead baby just to act? There’s a mentality that 'these refugees are lying' – well, they're not lying anymore. Sometimes I think people need to see devastating pictures for them to believe you. Coming from Turkey, I think London is the best place to campaign and to speak for your activism. It's multicultural and people tend to understand here – they can sympathise. People want to listen. Every time I speak out, every time I do an interview, I know that one person is going to take it in and it can change a generation. For me, that's more than enough."
Little Simz, 21
Simz – real name, Simbi Ajikawo – is the North London MC who’s making 2015 her own.
She’s only 21, but Simz has packed a lot into her time on earth. Aged 11, she was spitting rhymes onstage at Islington Academy as part of the same youth club as Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke. Then she turned to acting, starring in E4 youth drama Youngers, before refocusing her attentions on music. Her Blank Canvas mixtape was debuted on Jay Z’s Life + Times website, while her debut album proper A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons – out later this month – is a dense, deep character piece that explores success, growth and the demands of fame. Check the eerie video for Dead Body here.
“North London is where I feel most at home,” says Simz. “I grew up there, my family are there and my friends are there. London is so multicultural – there’s so much life here, so much to take in. It’s a great place to be.”
Aisling Fahey, 22
Aisling Fahey grew up in Walthamstow. She was appointed the Young Poet Laureate for London last October.
“As young poet laureate for London I’ve been working in lots of different communities across the city. Not only do the people inspire me but the place where you grow up has a lasting impact on you. If you’re interested in poetry in London, you’re so lucky; there are nights like Chill Pill, Bang Said The Gun, and there’s an interesting new collective called SXWKS. Honestly, you could schedule in an event every single night.”
Jack Battleday, 19
Joe Battleday, 16
The Battledays are aspiring to become full-time pro wakeboarders like their heroes, Nick Davies and Dominic Hernler. The brothers – whose training centre backs onto Thorpe Park, just inside the M25 – are already well on their way. Elder brother Jack is the reigning WWA Junior world champion, having triumphed at the WWA world championships in Abu Dhabi last November. “I was seriously cacking myself on the dock beforehand,” he says, “But it felt amazing to win.”
Joe, meanwhile, has just turned 16 and signed on as a Red Bull athlete. According to Parks Bonifay – the world’s finest wakeboarder – he has an exciting future:
It's crazy to see someone so freaking good at that age. You'll see his name for years to come.
Musician, HER Records co-founder
Meet Sudanim, rising producer and co-head and founder of Her Records – a South London label-cum-collective that seems set to join the likes of Hyperdub and Hessle in the pantheon of forward-thinking UK dance imprints.
Pinning down what Her do isn’t easy. There are swirling synth washes, skewed grime melodies and drum patterns that point out to dancehall and Jersey club, all assembled with an ear for crisp, rhythmic minimalism. “We put out records that we like,” grins Sudanim.
It’s more about family, bouncing off each other. Becoming more than the sum of its parts.
The founding members of the label – Sudanim, MM and CYPHR – met at The Charter School in South East London, and the Her Records name came into being, Sudanim remembers, to throw a warehouse New Year’s Eve party. “We had a proper venue on wet hire, but they cancelled two weeks before. We nearly had to refund tickets but we found this arch in Loughborough Junction, cleared it out, built a stage and bar, brought in our own sound, lights, drinks, everything – and somehow nothing went wrong! It felt refreshing to do NYE in a non-commercial space and it was the birth of the label in many ways. We’ve been planning to replicate that idea ever since but finding a great location like that now is a challenge.”
Her Records have since expanded to include members Fraxinus, NKC, Kid Antoine and US mastering engineer Jeremy Cox – and with support from names like Hyperdub artist Scratcha DVA, they’re making moves in London clubland, staging a full label takeover of FWD>> last month.
Sudanim wanted to bring his dog Maus to the photoshoot, but she was unwell on the day of shooting, so luckily we found a replacement. This is Ralphy.
Arthur Kay, 24
Arthur trained for three years as an Architect, before turning his attention to renewable energies. His company, biobean, aims to make London buses run on used coffee.
“From a single tonne of waste coffee grounds, biobean’s technology saves 6.8 tonnes in CO2 emissions,” he says. “That’s the equivalent of driving from London to Beijing. Twice!”
This year, biobean opened the world’s first coffee recycling factory, based near Cambridge. Their London-based lab conducts biochemical research.
Arthur has some grand ideas for the capital: “The biggest public space in London is completely unused – the Thames. I’d like to see it used better.”
Molly Thompson-Smith, 17
She’s just back from Italy but it wasn’t pasta and pizza on Molly Thompson-Smith’s mind. She was competing in the World Youth Climbing Championships as captain of the GB Junior Lead Climbing team. Ever since she tried climbing on her seventh birthday she’s been hooked.
“For indoor climbing London is great – although there isn’t much rock around here for outdoor climbing! Definitely check out the Westway Sports and Fitness Club – it’s my local wall and I’ve climbed there since I’ve started. There’s a really friendly climbing scene in London. I’ll go to the wall and I’ll make three new friends every time I go.
People help each other out; we’ll be trying the same boulder problem and someone will offer some help if I’m struggling, or I can help other people. It’s such a nice community.
Molly is now in her final year of school, so when she’s not at the top of the climbing wall, you can find her revising at the bottom of it...
Adam Keane, 21
When he first moved from Middlesex to London, Adam Keane would often mistakenly cycle in the wrong direction to where he was trying to head. But after being a cycle courier for three years, few now know the city as well as he does. His love for the tight-knit courier community has recently led him to organise alley cats – informal street bike races through the city.
“It gives you that adrenalin you need everyday. It’s not boring – being normal is boring. There’s nothing better than doing your own thing and having a bit of fear in your life. But I also want people to know and understand that we’re professionals at what we do – we do it 10 hours a day. I don’t want everyone to think we’re just riding recklessly to put ourselves in danger, we’re riding with skills. It’s obviously fun for us but we don’t want people getting the wrong idea and thinking we’re hooligans and racing through the street with a death wish.”
Like many cycle couriers, Adam is also pushing for better pay for the community.
“Some companies pay £2.50 a job, so if you stopped at every red light and obeyed every traffic law you would earn well under the living wage. Because it’s so low, it does give you an incentive to cut red lights and really push how many jobs you do a day.”
Rob Savage, 23
“I used to pretend that I lived in London,” says Rob, who is originally from Shropshire. “I used my mate’s address because I was worried that if people thought I lived somewhere else, I wouldn’t get the job.”
Rob has been heavily tipped as a filmmaker since his teens, winning a BFI Future Film Award in 2009, and earning plaudits across the board for his feature-length film, Strings, which scooped a prestigious British Independent Film Award in 2012. He has lived (legitimately) in London since 2011.
I love walking around and discovering new pockets of the place. If I see something I like and it gives me an idea, I note it down in my pad.
His newest short, Absence, stars Paul McGann (Withnail & I).
The very talented Kate Bones created all these wonderful gifs. Say hey and congratulate her on all her hard work...