SVA graduate Sonny Gindi is a bit of a romantic. He believes anyone can do anything, and that nothing is more beautiful than the world we already occupy. It was that rose-tinted way of thinking that influenced his Instagram page, Vibes.
With over 200k followers, Vibes captures the organic moments of New York city denizens, as well as beautifully designed spaces and those singular moments where art, fashion and culture intersect.
Recently, Gindi also found himself pitching a public music and arts activation to New York City’s mayor. Spoiler: it worked. The result was Concrete Series, a five-day free mini-concert series right outside the Bowling Green Subway station.
We caught up with Gindi to talk about curating new experiences, and how good vibes can cultivate creativity.
How old are you?
Where are you from and where are you currently based?
I’m from Brooklyn but now I live in Manhattan.
When and how did you start Vibes?
I started Vibes a couple of years ago with my friend Elliot Tebele. I forget what we were talking about but we fuck with each other and wanted to collaborate, so we made the Vibes account. It started out with both of us posting, but as he [Elliot] focused on growing FuckJerry I just made Vibes my own.
How did you first become interested in art?
I grew up in a house of music. My father really helped shape my taste. As a kid he would take me to see all of his favorite bands: Clapton, Sting, Santana, The Rolling Stones. Yes, I saw the Stones once and it was awesome. The B52’s opened for them and it was LIT.
Music was the bridge but everything changed when I was introduced to Bob Dylan. Dylan really influenced me; he gave me perspective from a very young age. Perspective is everything, especially with art.
Who are some of your art influences?
Bob Dylan is my hero, Lou Reed too – everything about him. His style, voice, attitude, the sound and his words. Sometimes I think I was Lou Reed in my past life. I love James Turrell because I love light. I believe that beauty is air because it’s undefined and taken in differently by every person.
There’s no artist I respect more than Kanye West though. Everything and everyone he touches turns to gold. He is the ultimate influencer and trendsetter. He pushes boundaries and that’s really all that matters today. I also love Donald Glover, he’s a renaissance man and I believe in that too.
What kind of person were you hoping would take an interest in Vibes?
I really wasn’t thinking of anyone when I started Vibes. I was just thinking about what I wanted to see. If people liked it, it was a plus, but with Vibes it was always just about spreading beauty. I also have a lot of cool friends who do a lot of cool things, so whenever I have a chance to support them I do.
What’s the story with the headless themes we see in your art?
We’re all headless aren’t we? We’re all looking for oxygen, for something to hold on to; for balance; for wisdom; for air, we all want to feel, but sometimes we don’t let ourselves.
How did the Subway series kick off?
I was waiting for the subway at Fulton Street Station – it’s a beautiful station. I said to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to hear a magnificent symphony right now?’
I called my friend whose father works with the mayor and half jokingly said, ‘Hey I got an idea, get me in front of the mayor.’ He said, ‘Well, he’s coming to my house tomorrow, come talk to him. So I went, pitched him the idea, and he liked it.
From there he connected me with the right people and Concrete Series took off.
Why did you want to combine music and art?
Well, I love music and I love people. I have number of friends who are musicians or manage musicians. An example is JIL, a group of kids I consistently work with.
My friend Andre manages them and everything about them is next. They’re good people and their music is special. I’m lucky that I have talented friends within arm’s reach.
With Concrete Series it made sense to bring them on board because they are modern classical musicians. Pairing them with traditional classical musicians and having them perform on opposite rush hours felt right.
Last year you named an art show “The Absent Generation.” Why?
The show was supposed to be three days but the installation actually ended up lasting a few weeks. We are the absent generation because we walk around headless. We’re always looking down, never looking up. The world is beautiful and we should pay more attention to it. Look at the sky, it’s a perfect shade of blue, isn’t that incredible?
What do you want people to take away from your Instagram page?
I want people to participate with some of the larger experiences Vibes is producing. I want them to see what is really behind the Vibes’ voice. I no longer only care about curating photos. I’ll continue to do it, but going forward I’m going to showcase more of what I’m doing IRL.
What advice do you have for other young creatives who want to make a career from their passions?
Do it. The truth is, if you’re an artist it isn’t a choice. You have it in you and you need to create because that’s how we survive. Keep surviving, keep creating, and stay honest.
Also, find out what your fears are. Chance are if you’re scared of it you were meant to do it. I also believing in doing everything. I hate when people say focus on one thing. No, don’t focus on one thing. We live in a time where we can do everything and anything with our two thumbs, why wait?
For more features with creatives trying to blaze new trails read our interview with Boston rapper Michael Christmas here.