Life's Great Mystery? It's in the Swank
Recently we had the unique privilege to chat with an uber-talented artist, Master Fluent. If you've been to a Jidenna concert or Wondaland production, then you know exactly who we're talking about. If not, then allow us to introduce to you to the “Master of Swank”, an East Palo Alto native now based in New York City, who also happens to be a champion of the arts, renaissance man, dancer, choreographer, and then some. Journey with us through a conversation about Master Fluent's life, background, motivations and a new sauce for life: swank.
Tell us, who are you?
I am Master Fluent, the Godfather of Swank! I’m known for my contagious energy and show stopping dance moves. Essentially, being the master of all my fluid movements through life. We are all a glimpse of a bigger vibration and I'm here to remind us all to love, live, and stay Swanky!
How did you get connected with Toasted Life?
I got a chance to meet with Matt a couple times while I was in the Bay Area. [Wondaland] did an event with Toasted Life before. I see a lot going on back home and I think TL is a great outlet for those in my generation and younger.
Tell me the story about how you and Jidenna were able to connect?
I've known Jidenna since I was about 12 years old. During my high school years he was one of my hip-hop instructors at the Mural Music & Arts Project back home in EPA. He's a good friend of mine and I have learned a lot from working with him over the years. I moved to NYC Fall of 2012 and I was there on my own for a bit of time. I was working at a Starbucks in Manhattan and staying in a basement in Brooklyn at the time. I get a phone calI one day, it's Thanksgiving. It's Jidenna! He invited me over to spend the holiday with his family. Because I hadn’t seen him in years, I figured it would be a good idea to accept the invitation. We ate, drank, and laughed and we haven't stopped collaborating since.
So, wait, when you moved to NYC, the idea was to be an artist?
My idea was just to get lost in life. And just figure it out for myself. That was important to me coming from a small city and not going to college. Well, I went to community college for a little while, but I knew I needed to give my passions a chance, a full kick. So, I began to get more involved in dance and joining various dance and artistic communities to make my name. On top of that, I started making music outside of the non-profit I was working for at the time. I kind of gave it a break for a few years because I was making music that didn't speak to me, but what I thought folks wanted to hear. From there, I took the time to get lost in myself and my art.
How did you get your name?
Originally, I just went by Fluent. I use to dance with a popular group in Oakland and a few of the members suggested that I needed a new name. They were like, "Yo, you look like water when you dance. A fluid movement." And that was that.
You mentioned you're a dancer and a hype man, as well?
I'm a dancer and a Movement Specialist for Jidenna on the road at performances.
My bad, my bad, Movement Specialist. Is there one role you prefer than the other?
No, but the balance is knowing where my energy lies. I'm big on vibrations and what your energy, my entity, can do for a large gathering of people. I like going by the title, Movement Specialist, because I do have this contagious energy that I can control and share with crowds. For example, if me and Jidenna aren't rockin' proper or in sync, then the people won't feel the music and vibes as they should. They need to feel it. Jidenna and I come up with moves together, it's a joint process, the exchange of energy, flow and vibrations. I enjoy it all. I wouldn't say I like one aspect of my work more than the other because it all fits together.
Do you have any fear, at this point, when you get on stage?
No, no fear. It's more of a realization of being on stage and knowing you're being recorded for a national audience now. I've been dancing or performing since I was 12. I feel like I'm in charge of a movement, creating this style of movement. Not everybody knows how to swank, we have to make swank accessible to everyone from a 98 year old man to a 2 year old baby and have them be like, "I'm swanking [laughs]!"
What are the fundamental elements to swank properly?
You have to have footwork, funk and finesse. Finesse is the elegance of your moves. Anybody can chop an apple, but that slice is finesse, it makes the all difference. Now funk is that groove, from one boogie to another boogie. Everybody has to have their own groove. You have to find that groove. If it don't stank it don't swank. Now footwork... every body can walk but not every one can strut. Swank involves a bounce.
Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
The movement will take me to different places, collaborating with all types of individuals. Being a swank artist and continuing to define swank through dance, music, film and various cultural platforms.
Follow Master Fluent on Instagram to see what he is up to next.