Interview
Photo: Demola Mako

Interview: Ashley Okoli, the Creative Director Behind Your Favorite Alté Music Videos

We sat down with the Nigerian creative director and stylist to talk about her journey, as well as working on videos for Lady Donli, Santi, Nonso Amadi and more.

Lagos' creative and alté scenes are held together by a small band of city youth who are pushing and making experimental art, music and videos. At the center of this scene is Ashley Okoli. When I meet Ashley two days after our first interview at an art party attended by young writers, photographers and artists, this is more obvious than ever.

As she makes her way across the hall where the exhibition and party is taking place, several people rush to her side attempting to take selfies. Ashley, who is wearing a black crop top and jeans, seems to not mind making videos and taking pictures. Under the blue light surrounded with the bubbling energy, she looks at home in a scene similar to the ones she's directed for your favorite singers.

Ashely is many things and she is good at all of them: her clothing line Sillet is a favorite among Lagos youth, she has styled several artists and is credited as a stylist and creative director for Santi's "Raw Dinner," Nonso Amadi's "Comfortable," and more recently, Lady Donli's "Corner" video among several others. ''I like to work on projects that have stories behind them.'' Ashley tells me. ''Even if they don't look like they have stories, I like to give them stories. I like to give characters to my cast, I like to give characters to projects. I like to see life in things I work with, I like to like the things I work on. I like when they also connect with me.''

We sat down with the multi-faceted creative to talk about her journey as a creative director, working on "Corner" and more.

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Music
Emefa Smith and Wavy the Creator. Photo: Chuchu Ojekwe for OkayAfrica.

Photos: A Look Inside Nigeria's Alté Subculture

We speak with four of the people shaping Nigeria's alté scene: musicians Wavy The Creator & Teezee, creative director/stylist Ashley Okoli and fashion entrepeneur Emefa Smith.

Just like most cultural waves that come from Nigeria, the roots of the alté subculture can be traced back to Lagos. The bubbling populous city is home to innovative hustlers and a large youth population which leads to a lot of experimentation and creation of new sounds and subcultures happening within.

While afro-fusion transcends international borders to become a regular fixture on top of the global charts and a permanent presence in UK airwaves—and as afropop stars like Wizkid and Davido collaborate with global hitmakers like Drake and Skepta—a smaller community of artists in Nigeria is creating a sound and style that is harder to define: it's inherently more experimental and subverts expectations of what it means to create in Nigeria.

By crafting out a style that plays on gendered fashion and refuses to follow conventions, and a sound that fuses varying textures of different genres together, these alté artists have created a disruptive subculture that has earned and grown a significant following.

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