Feature: The Ingredients of Smash Hits, Vol. 1 with Lynks Afrikka

Monday, July 20, 2020
Photo: @tilly_pearson_ph


Soaring queer icon Lynks Afrikka (the drag persona of Bristol's Elliot Brett) first caught our attention after sharing ’Str8 Acting’ last year, since then, we’ve been absolutely hooked — anyone who describes their art as “deodorant deity, antiperspirant perfection” is a winner in our eyes. 

During the initial stages of the pandemic, Lynks kept spirits up with engaging and energetic live stream shows on Youtube — backed by a £9 green screen from Amazon, the shows became a weekly favourite of ours. During this time, Lynks shared ‘Pandemic!’, which reigns supreme as the best pandemic-themed song to be released. There was also the very London ‘Arts & London’, which is full of humorous satirical takes.

Continuing the momentum, Lynks has unleashed Smash Hits, Vol. 1 into the world, which features six (including ‘Pandemic!’ as a bonus track) addictive earworms. Though there are some clear comedic moments throughout the lyrics, the tracks also capture the mundanity of growing up and the perils of adulthood. There's ‘How to Be Successful’, which takes listeners through the milestones they're often pushed to pursue by society. ‘Rise + Shine’ reflects on morning dread, reminding us the importance of getting 8 hours of sleep. The EP is also home to much-loved previous offerings such as ’Str8 Acting’ and ‘I Don’t Know What I Want’. Smash Hits, Vol. 1 gives listeners everything they could possibly want with a shiny bow on top. 

To celebrate the release of Smash Hits, Vol. 1, Lynks Afrikka took some time to walk us through the story behind each track and the apps that represent them the most. 

Grindr
Dating apps play a weirdly large part in the EP. Well, maybe not that weird when you consider I was spending ~2-3 hours per day on them at the height of my obsession… Dark times, guys.

For any heteros out there who aren’t versed in Grindr lingo, I must come clean: I didn’t come up with the term ‘Str8 Acting’. It is, in fact, a common phrase some gay people use in their bios on such apps. For example, someone may write ‘Str8 acting looking for the same’ meaning they are looking for a ‘typically masculine’ man to have some aggressive, bro-ish, no-homo anal with. I wish I could say there was a degree of irony to this, but sadly there is not.

When writing ‘Str8 Acting’ I wanted to dismantle what that term really means. Queer people are as variable, brilliant and flawed as straight people, and yet we’re brainwashed to see our identity as a one-dimensional stereotype. So it’s no wonder we want to distance ourselves from it. But when you look at the straight world through the same warped lens that society makes us gay people look at ourselves through, it looks just as undesirable. So then; “why the fuck should I ever want to be ‘Str8 Acting’?”


Linkedin
Like practically everyone else who graduated uni this summer, I spent my Autumn chaotically sending out my CV to any grad job that would take it. None of them did. I think I sent out more than 100 applications and only got one rejection. The rest didn’t reply. This, coupled with the social-comedown going from three years of uni to living in the attic of my parents house again, led to a pretty negative vibe. Thank God I had Lynks to pour all my interest in to.

I wrote ‘How to Be Successful’ around this time as a reminder to not get too obsessed with ‘the ladder’; school, job, marriage, children, death. I’ve heard it said that queer people don’t have to conform to this life structure. If anything though, I think I used to feel more pressure to fulfil it, if only to buck that expectation and prove my normality. Writing this song helped me get over that.


Alarm
A big revelation of my 20s has been the importance of waking up quickly. I believe the speed with which you get out of bed informs your mood for the whole rest of the day. I have no evidence for this, just a hunch.

My alarm has, for about a year now, been titled “GET OUT OF BED”. One day when this was proving to be a particularly difficult task, I had the idea to write my train of thought into a song. This ended up being ‘Rise + Shine’, which is lowkey my favourite song off the EP. Not the best, but my favourite. I feel like it perfectly captures that lesson of ‘get the fuck up and you won’t regret it’.

Tinder
‘Desperate and Lovely, in Desperate Need of Love’ is about trying to write a Tinder profile after a breakup. Writing these profiles is such a mindfuck. It’s a constant push and pull between being interesting or inoffensive, honest or appealing, self-aware or confident. 

The song begins by listing the most generic, cookie-cutter, bullshit Tinder-isms I could think of (“I’m into dogs/And coffee/And drinking gin and tonics”). It then switches to an overly self-aware arrogance (“I’m sure you’ll like me/My friends all like me/My parents all like me”) and then finally an outpour of pure, ugly honesty (“I still think about my ex every time I masturbate/I have got no plans for after I graduate”). 

It’s something that I think happens a lot in relationships, but is particularly easy on dating apps; creating a perfect version of yourself while covering up your ugly parts, only for them to spill out twice as hard somewhere down the line.

Just Eat
‘I Dont Know What I Want’ was born from ordering Chinese food off of Just Eat with my mates. I had been scrolling through the endless menu for what felt like hours when I started absentmindedly singing what would become the song’s chorus to myself. I got up, went to the bathroom and recorded the foundation of entire song in my phone’s voice notes within about 5 minutes. The next day I produced the whole thing. Considering it’s a song about indecisiveness and choice paralysis, it was probably the most efficient, kinetic songwriting I’ve ever managed! Thanks Just Eat.


Stream Smash Hits, Vol. 1 by Lynks Afrikka below:

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