We Are NOT Foreign! How LUVK and VenessaMichaels combat the system through music and fashion

Photographed by: Andy Sheffield

LUVK is a classically trained Black singer-songwriter whose pioneered her own unique fusion of hip-hop and rock & roll; think a hybrid of Post Malone, No Doubt, and Travis Scott. VenessaMichaels is a Queer songwriter, producer, and DJ who has performed at Camp Flog Gnaw, Splash House, SXSW, and SnowGlobe Festival. She produced the main title track for ​Dreamworks’ animated series, ​”Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts​.” Most recently, she collaborated with Kaleena Zanders on a ‘90s R&B-style summer anthem titled “Creme Brulee,” which was added as the #1 track on Spotify’s official Dance Rising playlist.

We got to sit down with them to discuss their newest project, “Moment Forever” a fusion of pop, EDM, R&B, hip-hop and soul thats emblematic of the two artists’ dynamic sonic pallets merging effortlessly (a little bit Drake and 40, a little bit Sonny and Cher).

Photographed by: Andy Sheffield

Galore: How did you meet? How does your relationship influence your music?

LUVK: Venessa and I met at a writing camp in 2018 that a mutual friend of ours curated, called aftrschlprprgm. Great things always come to you when you’re not looking for it! Funny thing is, I hadn’t planned on going but I listened to the universe and took that road trip from LA to Lake Arrowhead for the last two days of the camp and met my musical soulmate!  The stars twinkled and aligned that day!

Our relationship highly influences our music. Honest music comes from authentic spaces. We’re REAL brothers regardless of the art we make together, and because of that our music reflects that synergy. My wildest dream has always been to find a like-minded musician that spoke all the languages I speak through music.

Photographed by: 4rm Venus

VenessaMichaels: I was deep in a trance mid-session when LUVK hopped into the room out of what felt like nowhere.  There was already a bond that was created in the room of artists who were there at this writing camp.  I snapped out of that trance right when I first started to record LUVK and my head did a 180.  I was like WHO. IS. THIS!?  It was almost like an epic supernatural connection that manifested immediately.  As soon as we got back to LA, we started making songs and eventually an album together.  We talk every single day and are constantly inspiring each other to keep moving forward.  I feel like our genuine love, creativity, and respect for each other is a force.  LUVK is the yin to my yang.  

Photographed by: 4rm Venus

Galore: How does your lived experiences and the intersectionalities of your identity shape your expression and art?

LUVK: As a Black American woman, I have always felt like my voice was misunderstood. Now, I realize that the world wasn’t fully ready for my perspective. 

Photographed by: Andy Sheffield

Since I was kid, I believed in the idea that We Are NOT Foreign! It really settled heavy in my heart as a child, but even more once I started to travel the world. Even with a language barrier, it became obvious that we are all one and the same. Our souls speak the same language, the language of love and acceptance. 

Photographed by: Cherē

So I decided to make music and a brand “For Other People & For Our People.” Something that could be unisex and cater to all of humanity.  Dissolving old stereotypes in regards to race, age, gender or creed. I had to find a way to do my part. I thrive in an unorthodox space, and I am certain that everyday we have a choice to express our unique styles in a way that is honest and unapologetic. Sometimes we need to see it done, someone to show us the way. 

VenessaMichaels: Not one person is ever going to experience the same exact life, yet we can all relate to moments that bring us together.  I’ve seen the power of connecting through a song by deeply understanding someone else’s story.  Whenever I go through heartbreak, I find myself evolving into the next version of myself.  When writing a song now, I truly channel emotions I’ve felt when I’m on a high or when I’ve felt too sad to even move.  I think that when we can tell a story about ourselves, that music speaks louder than anything else.  Getting real and raw will bring out something that everyone can relate to.  

Courtesy of VenessaMichaels

Galore: Why is representation important?

LUVK: Representation is vital for our individuality, our self esteem, our vision of ourselves and our future. The revelation of our purpose will not be unveiled without it. Understanding who you are is one of the first steps in our journey on this earth. If we leave this world without it then that’s a life lived in vein. 

VenessaMichaels: We all need to feel seen.  We all need to be heard and understood.  By being true to yourself, you can spread wonders of positivity, light, and inspiration to others.  This world is meant for everyone.  Every gender, race, and life exists on this Earth for a reason.  You’d be surprised how impactful one person can be by just being true to them.  By being me, I hope I can inspire other women to pursue their passions despite life’s obstacles. 

Photographed by: Andy Sheffield

Galore: In what ways is it important to break away from the binaries of oppression and liberation? In what ways does your work seek to break from these binaries?

LUVK: It’s been important for 400 years. The disease of racism and the senseless ways that it effects and infects our people.  For centuries the system has tried to bury the heart and purity of our souls. The world is being forced to listen now, because our generation refuses to allow history to repeat itself. It’s hard though.. because at times when you are used to fighting, the noise can become so loud. You can become numb to those frequencies. 

Photographed by: Andy Sheffield

As an artist I only feel alive when I can speak my truth. Even if there is no platform, or if no one is listening. I create my own space, and I can exist there. I want my listeners to feel every emotion that makes us human when they listen to my music. Substance changes lives. It’s important to know that we’re not alone, especially the vulnerable. If I can touch or uplift one person in that way,  thats enough for me. 

VenessaMichaels: Everything we represent in music is to break away from the binaries of oppression.  In my opinion, our whole purpose in life is to find what we thrive off of creatively to live freely and walk through new doors.  The music LUVK and I make together is a complete breakdown of boundaries in regards to “genre.”  We are pulling pieces out of all kinds of different worlds and proving that they can exist in the same one.  I’m a hispanic/white, queer female producer/songwriter/DJ.  There’s already a lot of walls I’ve had to break down to prove that I belong here following my path.  Honestly, just who we naturally were born to be breaks down walls of stereotypes.

Photographed by: 4rm Venus

Galore: Apart from music, what other projects are you working on, or are hoping to put into fruition?

LUVK: I’m Working on my debut album. Also, as I mentioned, I started a unisex brand called F.O.P  “For Other People | For Our People” in 2019. My first collection was recently released at Chance Vintage, a store based in Los Angeles.

I also performed some records from my unreleased album including a performance of VenessaMichaels and my latest release “Moment Forever.” My hope is to continue to bridge the gap between music, fashion and film in the future. 

The “Moment Forever” music video up on Youtube

VenessaMichaels: I’m working on my own project that will relay a full understanding of my vision that has evolved over years of practice.  I envision a tour based off the audio/visual world I’m creating right now.  It’ll make you feel like you’re on a different planet. 

Photographed by: 4rm Venus

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