The Stööki 'Self-Made' Spotlight Series shines a spotlight on independent creatives who are doing bits with their craft.
The third installment in our 2021 'Self-Made' Spotlight Series continues with the mad talented Knighthood Society. We linked up with the music makers and the best dressed duo @NickiKnightz & @HennyKnightz 👑 🏰🔥We chilled in Hackney and found out why being self-made artists is important to the duo. Check out the photoshoot and Q&A below… ⚡🔦👀
Name: Henny Knightz (Left) Nicki Knightz (Right)
1. What’s your craft?
NK: I am Nicki Knightz, an artist and songwriter who uses rap to express herself.
HK: I am Henny Knightz 1 ½ of The Knighthood Society. I am a rapper, a producer, designer and amateur pro Bmxer.
2. What’s your story?
NK: I’m a young female, who grew up like a lot of other people, really, in the ends – Hackney, single parent household etc. I grew up fighting a lot of inner demons and often feeling out of place and misunderstood. I started off using poetry as a way to express myself and to somewhat help with situations I was going through, which led into spoken word and then into music.
HK: I started off as a graphic designer and illustrator, when I was younger I was fixated in escapism and the idea of vocalising the voiceless, so things like an idea In your mind or feeling, I was hyped to try turn that into a character or a logo. Slowly that evolved into designing clothes. I started rapping because I was tired of being unseen. I was the outcast who wasn’t troublesome enough to be neither noticed nor academically brilliant enough to be praised. I generally felt voiceless and without purpose. Growing up in Hackney at the time no one was really talking about what I was going through in music. It was either hood or pop music. So I started rapping about silly mischievous things my friends and I was getting up to. Do not get me wrong. I was SUPER TRASH, but I finally had a reason to get out of bed other than, school/college or chilling on road. I started producing because well, everyone thought I was trash and didn’t see anything in me. Which honestly, finding a producer was the best thing that never happened to me.
3. How did the Knighthood collective come about?
NK:Lol. I feel like I’ve retold this story about a million times. Well, Henny and me actually went to the same schools both primary and secondary, he’s a few years older than me so we never really spoke during both. I remember back in the days when everyone used to add everyone mutual on Facebook, we somehow became “friends”. I’m not sure if he added me or I added him, but I remember I put my BB pin on my status asking people to add me etc, which Henny did. At the time of him adding me I had a status as “writing a song”, he then sent me a message. He told me he was putting together a team and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. I agreed and he sent me loads of “Knighthood” imagery. Fast forward ten years and here we are.
HK: The Knighthood Society came about because I wanted to create something for other likeminded outcasts who longed for a family or a sense of purpose. At the time people were being recruited in gangs left right and centre it was like the cool thing to do. I also went for the job but I was declined because my street CV didn’t hold enough references. So group less and rejected by what seemed to be the societal norms at the time I found myself listening to Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt in my older brothers apartment in Chobham road Leyton (I think its Leyton) Hearing Roc-A-Fella records being mentioned in the songs inspired me. I had to create that, a label that people were proud to stand with, a family. The Knighthood Society was born. The group was originally myself, Caj Knightz and S.K. Then shortly after I bought Nicki, Krem and a few others. After Caj passed away people started to distance themselves and Nicki was the only one who remained so yeah. That’s a short version of the story.
4. What is your creative / writing process as a duo?
NK:Normally, I’ll go to Henny’s with a juice, and we’ll have a conversation about whatever it is that is on our minds. He’ll then make a beat, I’ll listen in, we’ll find out what works and what doesn’t and from that there is normally a skeleton, that I’ll have to write lyrics to. When we’re making Knighthood tracks, we bounce off each other. If I’m struggling, he’ll show me his verse so I can get a better idea of where to go and vice versa.
HK:Usually I’ll make a beat and we create a vibe from that. A lot of songs and ideas come from several hours of conversation. It’s funny because sometimes people think being a rapper is everyone’s heads rocking and drinks are flowing, like a mini party every time. We’ve had sessions where we’ve been sitting in silence for a few hours lol. Once the beat is made it really dictates where we go from there. Then Nicki and I will talk, build an idea then we’ll start humming or writing something.
5. How would you describe your dynamic working with each other?
NK:I’ll say in terms of working with each other we’re very similar yet also very different. We’re like Yin and Yang, there’s a balance. Henny is very much the ‘dreamer’ and I’m more ‘action’ based and about bringing these sometimes crazy ideas into fruition- mix both together it normally creates an amazing product.
HK: The best way I can describe it is it’s like Yin and Yang, Nick helps keep me grounded. Like I can be driven by emotion a lot, I’ll do things for the feeling then the logic catches up. So when I’m off on my stream of emotion, feeling and creativity Nicki helps decipher what’s actually good and what’s utter nonsense. But in turn I like to help encourage Nick’s ideas and help turn them into a reality. I really get on board with it until the point her project becomes my project. We’ve also broke the roles into I’ll worry about the musical process and output and Nicki focuses on the styling, social and visual process.
6. What’s important to you about being Self-Made?
NK:Being Self-Made is important to us because it gives you control over your product. It also gives you the freedom to make and to create without the pressure of say a label etc. Everything we have done to this point has been very much us, with no backing, no management. Whilst it may be difficult at times to be your own manager, your own PR, your own stylist etc, there are a lot of pros. We don’t have to wait for anyone to tell us when or when not to go. Everything we do is on our time.
HK:Being self-made is important because that’s when you can have the truest representation of yourself. You worked on your craft and worked through the good and the bad. It teaches you to trust the process and pretty much that you get out what you put in. You answer to yourself and it can really test your love and faith in what you’re doing but when you get to the finished product and you’re proud of it that is a feeling like no other. A negative that can come with it though is you don’t ever really switch off. A lot of us have to start out of our homes so being able to disconnect and setting boundaries is something that you need to establish quite early.
7. What’s your main source of inspiration?
NK:For me, I get inspiration from a lot of different places. If I had to answer what my main one is, it will be from be from experiences. A lot of the best songs I’ve made are from significant moments in my life. ‘India Arie’ for example was about my parents dealing with their child’s ‘untamed’ hair. Experiences 9/10 make the best songs because you as an artist just write it thinking you’re just telling your truth without even acknowledging that a lot of people might potentially be able to relate to this. It’s always pretty cool when someone tells you they can relate to a song you wrote sitting in your bedroom.
HK: Honestly, at this moment it’s been a lot of art and fashion documentaries. Learning about iconic art movements or how people can take a concept and create some of the most mind warping things out of it inspires me. I’ve also become obsessed with rock music and the macabre, how you can take something that is often labelled as gross or dark and creating beauty out of it.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? & What advice would you pass forward?
NK:I would say the best piece of advice I’ve been given is to stop acting like a fiat punto when you have the engine of a Lamborghini. Lol that’s the first one that came to mind but it’s real shit. I’ve grown up often minimising my greatness by either being timid or living in this misfit box the world created for me. I no longer want to give the world less than I am. Every day I wake up and am learning more and more that the more you humble yourself and be modest, that’s when people start to believe you. That isn’t the case with me or with Knighthood. There’s something here that is undeniably great and when it does catch on, it won’t ever leave. It will be forever.
HK: The best advice I was given was “Do you and learn from every mistake” I read a book recently that spoke about not giving people advice. Like you can want the absolute best for someone and tell them everything that you’ll think will benefit them the most but you’ll never really know what’s best for someone. Encourage people to be themselves and encourage failing and learning from it. It’s not failing a thousand times its finding a thousand ways not to do something.
9. Describe your personal styles + influences?
NK:My fashion style is ever-changing. I like to take elements from what is trending to blend in with my own style. I’m a person who goes through a lot of different phases from new hairstyles to tattoos to taking out piercings to having new ones done. I have my own style. I take influence for my fashion from Pinterest, Instagram and from certain artists also, my current style inspo icon is Brent Faiyaz. I like keeping it fresh, clean and I pay attention to detail. I love playing with different textures, silhouettes and colours.
HK: My personal style is I dress the way I rap, comfortable. I love big flannel shirts and my tucked in band tees. Slightly ripped and worn I feel that’s a story, an extension of myself. We live in a time now where everything has to be fresh, creaseless, void of character and personality. Drip is defiantly killing my people. Some people think they’re drowning in drip nah you’re just drowning lol. Nah all things serious, my styles a mixture between vintage home made and cosy. I like clothes that tell a story not something that just gives me a false sense of validation. I Bmx so my vans are a little worn I’ve done art all my life so some of my clothes are genuinely damaged or stained. That’s cool (sometimes). It’s about finding “pieces”. What influence my fashion is rocks stars. Fashion icons like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and the carefree I don’t give a fuck attitude that comes with it. Clothes are for you; you don’t belong to the clothes.
NK: I would say my musical style is poetic and prominent. I like using husky tones over Henny’s left-field instrumentals because it sits so well, I feel. I like telling stories, I like getting deep but sometimes I like to just catch a vibe and not have to be so lyrical which is also something that I’m currently learning. A variety of different artists I grew up listening to and have subconsciously I would say have influenced me are Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill and a lot of the Channel U Era; N Dubz, Mz Bratt, Lady Soverign, Baby Blue, Chip. It’s funny when I get asked this because there’s never been one said artist that some people have that was their main even though I had 232433 posters of Nicki Minaj hanging on my bedroom walls as a teenager. I guess she would be my main if that’s the case. I was a MASSIVE Nicki fan and still am a Barb.
HK: Musically, I think I can be quite left field, I like to play with my vocal tones and add a melodic element to my flow. I do not mean that in the sense of like sing rap I mean actually trying to bring melody into my spoken words. It’s hard to explain. I like to be 100% raw and unfiltered. So much so that I most likely have to play the song back to Nick and ask her is this ok to release or too far. The beats I make is 100 feeling. I never go in thinking “im gonna make this kind of beat” its really down to my personal feeling that day or a conversation I had with Nicki. Musicians that inspire me consist of Ijah Royal, Timbaland, Havoc, Alchemist, The White Stripes, Amy Hurford, Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller, Ivohé, Andre 3000, D.Tail but it’s hard because they’re so many for different reasons that ill be typing forever.
10. What's your favourite genre of music? Song you can’t get out of your head right now…
NK:My go to’s have always been R’N’B & HipHop. Fave song right now would have to be Brent Faiyaz – Show you off. That’s my guy. He has vibes for days.
HK:Hip Hop will always be my number one. What’s beautiful about hip Hop is it takes from over genres, through sampling and references I’ve had my mind opened up to some of the most amazing obscure artists that I never wouldn’t known without it. A Song I can’t get out of my head, well its more an adlib. I’ve got Westside Gunn’s “Boom boom boom!” adlib stuck in my head. I wish I thought of it first to be honest.
11. What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard?
NK:Lol. That’s difficult to answer. I’m laughing all the time really about a multitude of different things. I have a really dry sense of humour though; I’ve never been big on stand-up comedy etc. where you’re supposed to laugh. TikTok is the new place that has been making me laugh a lot recently. @Otakoyakisoba on Instagram our hilarious, it’s a mother and son duo that create these really funny vids. There’s one where the mum always calls celebrities the wrong names; LIPA DUA instead of Dua Lipa was a classic one!
HK: One of the funniest things I’ve seen recently is on TikTok, I can’t lie I’ve given in and I’ve found some of the funniest things on that app. I’m also watching Parks & Rec for the first time and I’ve laughed through every episode.
12. How would you describe the Stööki Movement?
NK:The Stööki movement is something that I’m proud to have been somewhat apart of. I think their doing amazing things with the brand. I always invest a lot more in a brand when there is a sense of quality control down to every small detail from socials to the most important of it all – the product. They’ve allowed us to use their pieces in a lot of our music videos, and I’ll always support their ting because they are selective with who they want seen in their brand and they’re from Hackney which is dope.
HK: I’ll describe the Stööki movement as home team. Its always quality over quantity and you can see that in the jewellery. Hand made creative pieces that don’t chase the trend they focus on the art of it and in this day and age that’s hard to see. Also this is Hackney’s own. That goes without saying.
13. What are your plans for 2021/2022?
NK:I plan on releasing a longer length EP than my previous one and also making a video to every song on the project. We plan on putting on our own nights when things open back up too which is very exciting. We’ll also be dropping weekly vlogs on our channel to just give fans and anyone who cares really an insight into the lifestyle behind the glitz and glam lol.
HK: Music and growing the brand, I’ve got a Henny Knightz project in the works, A Nicki Knightz project a Ivohé project and a Knighthood project. Not to mention the Saddest House Party In London project. So things are good right now
14. What would you like your Legacy to be?
NK:A legacy to me is why I do what I do. I think about my legacy a lot actually. When my physical is no longer here, I do not want to be forgotten. I want to of left such a mark that I live forever. I want people to remember me as someone that changed the game. Someone who was bold enough to be herself in a world that forces you to be like everyone else. I want to create change. I want little girls and boy to grow up and have a voice even when their being muted. I want people to be able to listen to me and be reminded how important it is to create your own wave.
HK: To be an innovator, an artist that inspires people to do things there way and to bet on themselves but also someone who’s music lives on and connects with people and transcends generations. To be known as someone who make timeless art/music and great products. An so much more.