18+ explore the "sex sells" attitude of the music industry
Samia and Justin are the hard-to-google girl-boy duo from California making sensual sounds and major waves.
18+ is a musical exploration of everything superficial; from images to sounds, they are obsessed with surface, and equally the darkness that can lurk beneath. For such a conceptually led group it's no surprise that their first meeting was at art school in Chicago, their relationship later blossomed from a series of sexy Skype dates into regularly sending words and pictures back and forth across the internet. This digital exchange led to them sharing a resulting music video, Drawl, in 2011, with a few friends only for it to spread like wildfire and get picked up by Prada to soundtrack a Steven Meisel-lensed advert. The pair figured they might as well give this music thing a go and turned 18+ into an IRL band, soon mastering their live performances too.
Their set up is very simple, taking to the stage with just two microphones and a projector. "The personalities we take on while performing are very different from both ourselves and one another; we begin with stoic and impassive personas and then transform into our assumed characters as the set progresses," Justin explains. When describing their sound, he likes to keep things vague, telling people "electronic pop music" when in actual fact they shift genre from song to song purposefully. Full of glitchy electronic robotic synths and samples, there are elements of R&B, hip-hop and pop, plus plenty of naughty lyrics.
Our lyrics are a discovery of identity and sexuality; we create characters in order to come at the subject from multiple perspectives. They're projections of people we see in music today — particularly the overtly sexual female and the thug.
"For me, our lyrics are a discovery of identity and sexuality," says Samia. "We create characters in order to come at the subject from multiple perspectives. They're projections of people we see in music today — particularly the overtly sexual female and the thug." It is through these characters that 18+ explore the "sex sells" attitude of the music industry; dissecting roles and entertaining listeners simultaneously. "It's more like a mechanical sexuality," adds Justin. "Pop music conventionally uses sex to make a radio-friendly song. We take that and turn it into a zombie; a little character who thinks that way within the album."
The artists acknowledge that their visuals are key in communicating this idea, using bizarre post-internet CGI avatars to represent the superficial use of the body in music videos today. "We use video game characters and other depictions of humans that are exaggerated, surreal and fucked up. Some of them look almost real but kind of disgusting." Currently working on several projects, Samia and Justin are in the process of creating clothes and art objects under the 18+ umbrella. In the mean time, get turned up and turned on with their NSFW latest. Don't worry, they're legal… let's talk about sex, baby!
Text Francesca Dunn