Have you ever met someone who is so focussed and clear on what they want that being around them just infects you with a drive to get on the wave? Keep that person in your mind and now imagine there was a male and female version of that person. If you’ve got that in your mind then that’s exactly what it was like being around Ling Hussle and Giovanni XDREAMS on this shoot day. Despite it being a themed magazine cover shoot featuring them, the couple wanted to take as much creative control as possible with it. To show the levels of care they have about everything associated with their branding, they even wanted to know if they could select the fonts used. They couldn’t but that’s the level of care they have for what they attach their names too, let alone the care they clearly have for each other.
Love is a topic that gets a lot of coverage. Whether it’s on TV shows like Love Island, celebrity gossip magazines, or even social media it is a topic that can’t be escaped. Love is a principle that seems to fascinate people across the globe, and has done for centuries. Now the most common look at it is from the perspective of romance because it’s the one we have in our faces the most, and the one that has been tied to human connection the most. But love is more than just a romantic emotion, love can definitely be platonic and beyond that it doesn’t just apply to people. Love can be what connects people, but it can also be what connects people to their calling and less intensely their hobbies.
Ling and Giovanni hit all of these notes on love. We interviewed them during the cover shoot and on and off set they embodied this. From styling, lighting suggestions and more they contributed to the shoot just as much as the team and you could tell it was from a standpoint of passion and in pursuit of perfection. They styled themselves, which was arguably to be expected with Giovanni being a designer and the founder of the successful XDREAMS brand. But beyond that even in terms of direction on the shoot they didn’t need much, they had their posing and interaction down with little to no instruction. Even after a long day of shooting all it took was putting on a few of Ling’s tracks getting played and the mood and energy just lifted.
Ling Hussle is the ever-elusive artist who refuses to be defined. When discussing her music as some of her older songs play out she says “I hate it when I get categorised as R&B. My music is so much more than that.”. If you listen to her music this is a very fair point as she touches multiple styles including Rap across her catalogue. What you can say is that her music is a wave, one that differentiates her from her contemporaries and makes her stand out. This is evidenced by the fact that not only does she have almost 300,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone, she also organised and sold out her own headline show. Those are all the fruits of her labour, which is a labour of passion. The next fruit that this will bear is her new project Spirit Soul which she has recently announced and begun promoting.
Giovanni is equally passionate about XDREAMS. He comes up with the original designs, the slogans are his own words – usually his own personal mantras. One of his favourite’s and one you can find on the brand’s website is “Direction over speed.”. He values the journey and putting yourself in the right positions over what may often look like quick successes. But more than that he believes that “Success doesn’t have an expiry date.” and that’s just one way to remind himself of that. He has had several sold out Pop-Up shops and is in the midst of arranging his next one to go alongside the drop of his new collection.
Just ahead of the interview getting recorded, the pair wanted to see what questions they had coming up and what the interview format would be. With love being so prominent a topic it only made sense for the couple to interview each other to really allow their relationship to take centre stage. As they ran through the questions there were a whole host of dynamics at play ranging from playful banter, blunt and unfiltered honesty, and of course love.
One of the best moments before the interview took place was the two arguing over who would get to have their best side facing the camera during the interview. They both went with their right sides being their better sides but went with completely different approaches towards getting their way. Ling listed out the features that made her right side better in a self confident but logical fashion. Gio, as Ling prefers to call him, went with the less nuanced approach of calling shotgun. A playful argument ensued with neither side wanting to back down. It was during this that it was pointed out to them that just moments before when thinking about how to answer the question of how they would define love, “compromise” was an answer thrown out. This got some laughs from everyone on set and eventually Ling conceded and let Gio go with his right side to camera. In just this brief interaction that lasted probably less than 2 minutes you can see why they work so well together in everything that they do.
Whilst navigating completely different creative spaces, the pairs approaches and outlooks are incredibly similar. They carry a belief and confidence in themselves that is admirable, and it is this that sets their work apart from the crowds. Clearly they love what they do, they aren’t the type of people to do things that they don’t want to – as evidenced by Ling’s choice to remain an independent artist. But more than that they don’t seek external inspiration or validation. When asked who inspires their style they simply answered “Us” and that was the end of that. Yet when you look at them it’s hard to argue with that, they aren’t like anyone else but themselves.