AT WORK W/ NIKEISHA ANDERSSON
At work is our new editorial series in which we speak to inspiring and interesting people about their day-to-day occupations. Meet Nikeisha Andersson, Swedish film director, ‘child prodigy’ and head of her own management agency out of Ghana and Sweden.
Nikeisha Andersson has an otherworldly resume for a 28 year old with her own feature film ‘Para Knas’, music videos for artists such as Zara Larsson and Sabina Ddumba and collabs with UEFA, Warner Music and Pernod Ricard. Her mentor from an early age is the well-renowned director Jonas Åkerlund.
How did it all start?
For some reason, it all started with Super 8 films, back when I was like 13, with my friend Alexi.
We were really strange kids, I remember he dyed his hair blue and I dyed mine super blonde.
It was like we were high but we didn’t take any drugs. We were just really weird. We actually filmed
a lot of things with our Super 8 and I remember how we struggled for money since the film is so
expensive to develop.
I didn’t want to watch any movies because I wanted to create from scratch. I just started watching movies like two years ago and, before that the only movies I watched were Hitchcock and Lynch, just to “get it over with” and to know who they are. And if I ever watch a film or a music video I always choose the bad ones just to see how I could make them better, like a do’s and don’t’s thing maybe. Pretty weird for a young kid, I guess [laughs].
“At the time I was doing this at my grandfather's house because I didn’t have a computer myself and after a while his computer got overloaded with my material so he had to start to delete the raw files, which led me to having to skip school like ‘oh, shit I need to finish this before he deletes my files’.”
After all the Super 8 stuff, right about when Youtube came, I started to do visuals and music videos for my favourite songs, uploaded them and after a while I started to get a lot of views, which was crazy to me. At the time I was doing this at my grandfather's house because I didn’t have a computer myself and after a while his computer got overloaded with my material so he had to start to delete the raw files, which led me to having to skip school like “oh, shit I need to finish this before he deletes my files”. Today I can see the benefits of that because I’m a very fast editor, like very fast [laughs].
I don’t think we really understood how much it educated us from the start. It was just innocent love for the craft and a kind of learning by doing.
“… after a while someone came up to me and said ‘holy shit, congratulations!’ and apparently the case movies that I had made had won five prizes or nominations in the Sabre Awards.”
And then you got a job at Sony Music, right?
I actually started high school studying engineering but felt kind of “what am I doing here?” so after
a year I changed schools and started to study media and just after two weeks at my new school
I got offered a job at Sony, I was 16 at the time.
I remember one of my first assignments at Sony, it was just before Spotify was about to launch in the US and they needed a pitch video to present in the states. And they were like “can you do it?” and I did. When I think back on it now, I’m like “Spotify is pretty big now”. But back then, I think I wasn’t really aware of things. I guess I was too young. I also filmed the Swedish Idol commercials.
At that time I also did a lot of work for a big PR and marketing agency and I didn’t enjoy it. I was a young emo kid surrounded by men in suits and I can’t to this day understand why they hired me [laughs]. I only did boring case movies, which I hardly even knew what they were for and after a while someone came up to me and said “holy shit, congratulations!” and apparently the case movies that I had made had won five prizes or nominations in the Sabre Awards [the world's biggest PR awards programme]. I think it was five, maybe more. At some point I will Google it.
What I’m trying to say is that I was very young coming into the industry and that was of course trying at times but was mainly a good thing. I’ve learned a lot and I always felt cared for. People, especially young people, always ask me, “I want to do film and I’ve read that you didn’t really go to film school, how did you do it?” and my answer is always that I was lucky because I’ve always had very good people around me, especially at Sony Music. When people think of big companies they tend to think of them as the big, bad guys but for me that hasn't been the case. I’ve learned a lot from them. And when I was 22, my mentor, Jonas Åkerlund, which I’ve been a fan of for as long as I can remember, came into my life. He’s always had my back and truly taught me a lot.
Some years back you did your first feature film ‘Para Knas’, which is crazy by the way – tell us about that.
A friend of mine said, pretty early on, “you know you’re going to get shit for this one” and I knew that
because it’s not your average, boring film. But I knew it was good and I knew it was going to be
relatable, especially when I was done with the casting for it. I took some famous actors but I didn’t
place them in leading roles because I wanted the leading roles to feel real, to feel relatable and they
did an amazing job.
A funny story actually, I was going to do an interview just prior to the release of the film with one of the big Swedish newspapers but I didn’t like the guy’s approach and at that point I was in the middle of my creative process and maybe was a bit rude to him and also ended up not doing the interview. And as it happened that same journalist was the one doing the first review of my film which wasn’t very flattering and very personal too. But I didn’t really care, such a low blow. Asshole.
“I really don’t hang out with people from the industry, I know a few but I think that’s because I don’t make films for them or for the industry, I don’t see myself as a part of that world.”
And then the film came out in December of 2017, two weeks before the voting for Guldbaggegalan [Swedish Movie Awards] closed and it actually got two nominations [best movie and best costume] and one of them was the people’s nomination. So basically during the last two weeks of voting my film ended up at top three. I guess that saved my ass a bit [laughs].
I really don’t hang out with people from the industry, I know a few but I think that’s because I don’t make films for them or for the industry, I don’t see myself as a part of that world. I want to make my own thing, as long as it’s good I’m happy. I mean you’ll always get shit for what you do in this line of business, you just have to ignore it or learn to deal with it, I guess.
Tell us about your management agency.
I’ve always had a lot of friends and contacts within the music industry, but I’ve never really
done anything with them, except making like a million music videos [laughs]. Music has
always been around me and after my first feature film I had grown tired of film, or at least
felt that I needed a break from it and I there was this girl that I banged at one and she had
recently been to Ghana and showed me some music that she’d discovered over there.
One of the artists was Tsoobi and I was like “how can this not be streamed more” and right
then and there I kind of decided that I had to be her manager. So I contacted her.
Then I tried to get her to come to Sweden but there were a lot of issues with the paperwork so I took the plane to Ghana myself and actually ended up buying a house there where Tsoobi, her family and her producer, Awaga, whom I also manage, live and produce music now. Then Robin [K.O] from Stockholm and Boy Safe from Ghana came in. I’ve had the management for two years now so it’s still in the beginning stages for me and the artists but things are going good, better than expected. Things are looking up.
What’s happening in the near future?
I’m doing a documentary for K Special [Swedish Television] which I really can’t talk about but it
will be released later this year and all of the artists in my management agency will release new,
fucking awesome music.