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Youssef Swatt’s on creative resilience: ‘see your limits and surpass them’

Raised in Tournai and based in Brussels, artist and activist Youssef Swatt’s stars in the second episode of our new interview series. This series focuses on artists, activists, influencers, and creatives who use their social media to raise awareness about social topics. Don’t miss out on our first episode, where we talked to East-African musician and influencer Kriticos.

In this second episode, Youssef talks us through the diverse ways in which he uses his social media and his community to spread awareness about social injustice in the cultural sector. We learn how creative resilience has helped him provide content as a rapper, host writing workshops as an educator, and give Belgian artists visibility as a member of the PR agency Nonante Cinq. In short: how it has helped him to keep culture alive during these strange times.

Direction & Photography : @helenaverheye // Interview & Video Edit: @pbox116 //
Main shot:
@loicmeulenberg // Assistance shot: @faf_prod // Article: @ioniv // Chief editor: Tim Vanhaecke

THE POWER OF COMMUNITY

Swatts has been keeping busy during the pandemic. In Youssef's home town Tournai people have been asking for a new concert hall for quite a while now. Swatt’s decided to take action into his own hands by organizing a surprise outdoor concert, going against the corona regulations. During the gig, he touched on the subjects of culture and politics. This concert gained widespread attention and got the ball rolling. During ensuing talks with policymakers, Youssef made sure to bring people’s grievances and propositions to the table, using the community to bring change.

CREATIVE RESILIENCE PUT INTO ACTION

Besides physical concerts, Youssef has explored the world of live streaming during the lockdown. The concept was fairly simple: small living room concerts joined by fellow artists. Despite its simplicity, the videos of the live streams have garnered a total of over 250.000 views on YouTube. During these digital concerts, he rapped some tracks from his new album ‘Poussières d’espoir’ and treated viewers to acoustic renditions of some of his songs.

However, he didn’t stop there. What was supposed to just be a second live stream from Youssef’s living room, turned into Swipe Up festival at Palais 12, featuring Belgian artists like Loïc Nottet and Alice on the Roof. The festival was organized by Nonante Cinq, the creative agency Youssef works at. The purpose: provide a platform where Belgian artists can showcase their talent.

All of the interviews in this series were conducted in accordance with the government’s covid-19 guidelines.



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