Interview with Soull Ogun - Part 2.
by Herb Essntls
A year ago
This is Part 2 of an in-depth interview with Soull Ogun, Artist/Jeweler/Magi. Soull is a New York native who creates unique wearable pieces of art - that are all handmade.
Soull is, together with her twin sister Dynasty, the Co-founders of Brooklyn based lifestyle brand L’Enchanteur. She has created bespoke jewelry for artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and recently, custom pieces for Beyoncé, featured in her newly released Black Is King.
You are self taught and have put in a ton of work. Where does that ambition come from?
Soull: I'm already having the spiritual experience by having this human physical experience. So it's like the different physical things I can do changes me in a way. How can I teach myself how to do something? There is a lot of energy in self teaching. I think you have to do double the duty. So I didn't finish college or university. So I'm going to have to read more books. I decided I made it a point to not go to school which means I have to read more. Work harder.
Because I'm choosing to not be just given knowledge everywhere I turn. So looking at myself. I have to get on that level because I'm still going to be in the workforce.
I know exactly what I need to do, now. I know exactly what I do because of all the prework that I have put in. I can now spend time and energy on all the little bits of meditation that I would do throughout the day. Nowadays I don’t have to be making shit all the time. I can sit and meditate because I need to go and access shit. If you want to see some dope stuff happening, I have to go and access it. And now I can do that because I put all that work in before.
What do you think New York does to people who move here?
Soull: I think that when people come here they leave a part of themselves behind. And I think that’s why you’re not going to find as many radical people in New York City because it’s one of the aspects they are leaving behind when they assimilate to this city.
People are drawn to here like moths to a flame. New York is so bright and all our squares are a bit different from what city squares usually are. You usually find a big empty square with a statue of someone who conquered it at some point, or it’s sacred for this or that religious reason. New York's squares are more about the people. It’s all about the people.
I also believe that food is a big part of what sets New York apart. You can find all kinds of foods all over the city and most of it is authentic and great. Just being bombarded with the experience of food from all over the world, I think changes people too.
That’s interesting! What kind of food did you eat growing up?
Soull: All kinds except American! I didn’t have my first grilled cheese sandwich until I was in my 20s. My mother cooked every day and in the neighborhoods where we were hanging out there was all kinds of different ethnic food. So having KFC or McDonalds or something like that wasn’t part of the normality. It was more like a delicacy, you know?.
In high school, we always went and ate all this Jewish kosher food. We always connect to the Jewish communities in my family for some reason. We grew up in a neighborhood that used to be Jewish before it became predominantly Caribbean.
What has growing up in New York meant for you?
Soull: When my mother sent us to the school, it was like this awakening. Like, “oh my God,” all these other people live in Brooklyn. There was Polish kids, Italian kids, here's Chinese and Korean kids, you know what I’m saying? It wasn’t just one or two types of people. You quickly realize how real cultural diversity looks like. That there’s a pretty big difference between Chinese, Korean, and Thai, for example. And the Asian kids learn that there are a number of different black people and that’s just the way it is from an early age.
It’s the old melting pot metaphor, but it’s really the best way to describe it.
I just became, at a young age, awakened by the world. I didn't have to go to college for it. I didn’t have to leave to explore all the different versions of the world and we did it at a young age.
And then there's this other aspect of being an immigrant or first generation in Brooklyn when you’re going into the world. When you’re around in Brooklyn, you're a 2nd generation immigrant from Flatbush. But when you’re in other parts you might be from Brooklyn. But then when you go outside of New York it’s like you’re not from Brooklyn anymore… I can be from West Bumblefuck Queens, and they say, “You’re from New York.”.
So it has given me multiple masks, or multiple forms of consciousness; Afro-Caribbean, Brooklynite, New Yorker and then “American”, when I’m in Europe. Multiple layers from the start. And they’re all real.
And then there was the years when crime was a thing. All the time on TV. And then when Brooklyn started changing was when they did the Real World in Brooklyn and that changed it from nobody ever wanted to move to Brookly to people moving here because now Brooklyn is cute. So also the ruggedness and this “diamond in the rough” kind of thing. The ruggedness, to me, and Brooklyn, and all the other boroughs - is New York.
So what sets New York apart from other cities that are also considered “Melting pots”?
Soull: You know, I think they are all different. LA is different because the landscape isn't as developed and then most of all the transportation. In most other American cities you drive. But in New York, the way that can access to the whole city just by getting on the train and go anywhere. That makes it special.
The fact that the train will drop you off in front of your house and that you can go anywhere, your whole life revolves around the train growing up. And you see the entire city, every part. You don’t have the same segregation because of the train.
There’s clearly a connection between Arts & Creativity in New York. Did that help you put you on your path?
Soull: I mean I feel that we were taught that if we did creative work we're going to be poor - like we’re eating out of cans. I think there is a financial aspect of becoming a creative or an artist that makes you hesitant. Rather than it being like an accountant. Our father's goal for us was probably more like becoming a Doctor, maybe a Lawyer, you know, the things that you think are going to make a lot of money. So the thing is that we just happen to be talented in art. So even though my father probably had an idea, or both my parents, they never would be like “You can't do art!”.
They never said things like “oh, if you're not a Doctor you're banished from the family or I'll be so disappointed.” It was never that it was it was more of you can be a Doctor to know you can be this rather than you can be an artist. Because I think why I chose art was because of something that was so innate.
Do you think the City helped you be able to pursue that goal instead of a more traditional one?
Soull: I mean I learn from a young age, this is where everyone comes so I'm already, no matter what I do, I’m already in the spot that people are coming to make it happen. I'm already here.
I probably didn't get that when I was really young, because I did all the other things that you do in New York - like party and shit instead of just working and thinking about what I could be in my work life.
And because I'm in the spot where everyone comes to, I can thrive in it, you know. I mean, I don't know if I did...if I was living in, like, Arkansas, “Ah, I’m gonna be a jeweler. I'm gonna be a rapper.” (I was rapping at one point..) You know what I'm saying?
Like, I don't know if I'd be thinking that or if my soul was really calling for it, but a lot of people come here to pursue art.
Art is what made New York, New York. That's the reason why art is always superior here - it is what makes the Lower East Side, the Lower East Side, What makes, Bushwick, Bushwick. And so on.
Go here for Part 1 - on Soull's Art, inspiration and Creative process.
Part 3 - on Fashion & Style, and working with high profile clients will drop early next week.