By Olivia Melkonian
The synthpop artist highlights how men are oftentimes victims of vulnerability and toxic masculinity but living within the Middle Eastern region leaves them without coping mechanisms or awareness at the least. Khodor Ellaik, the mind and the music behind Kid Fourteen aims to represent the difficulty that men in the region face when it comes to even expressing emotions like vulnerability. His most recent full-length album Love at first tackled the twelve stages of love as devised in Arabic literature, but during its course of production it came to explore the complexity of human intimacy and focusing on what vulnerability feels and sounds like in the abandonment of all other expression. Syncing up with motifs from the album, the documentary is an invitation for an inward look at what it feels like to be seen as somebody you are not.
Directed by Jackson Allers and Produced by Clap Clap Studio, the documentary is set to debut via Factory People’s Late Knights YouTube channel on Friday, October 16 at 5:00PM (GMT+3). Factory People are a Beirut-based organisation of artists and music enthusiasts dedicated to bringing together positive communities of music and art lovers across their venues and digital platforms. Their online platform, Late Knights, was created to display the diverse cultural landscape of Lebanon and the wider region, and divert the mainstream narrative of the place to showcase what really goes on.
We caught up with the artist to find out a little bit more about the message, how he tackles current gender roles within society, and why music is his medium of choice.
If by this you mean toxic masculinity/vulnerability, then it’s something I’ve been carrying with me since before Kid Fourteen. It was a natural inclination for it to be included in the creative process, because I was growing as a person, growing out of certain norms that I grew up with, even though my relationship with masculinity and gender roles has always been on the questionable side.
I wouldn’t say that I’m the messenger of the cause, it’s just something that I feel I personally want to express, because that’s the only way I know how and I feel comfortable doing it now. If someone picks up this message then I’d be grateful. The message is to be comfortable in your own skin in whatever form possible.
You know in this day and age everything has a category and an identity that goes with it. Where do you place a cis queer Arab male wearing makeup and a dress with cowboy boots? I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s not something I do on a daily basis, but when I feel like doing it I do it. Most people tell me that I give the impression of a typical tough guy, and I don’t mind tough guys. The idea is to be able to express the other side in whatever way that works for you.
This stopped working for me a long time, but it’s a process. You find yourself slipping into these roles unknowingly and find people assigning these roles to you unknowingly – so it’s a continuous conversation that almost always has to be conscious. I do believe that there should be more engagement regarding male gender roles and how to break out of it in a supportive community that relates to that narrative, as opposed to pointing fingers.
It’s always easier with music, and when you have the stage you can do literally whatever you want under the guise of ‘performance’. So it definitely makes things more comfortable.
Listen to Kid Fourteen, here !