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Teddy Jackson isn’t afraid to make a statement. Following the release of his single “Pretty Runaways”, the young artist and producer move away from the dreamy pop tones of his debut to deliver his politically poignant single “Pull Up”. In reference to Rihanna’s powerful NAACP speech in February 2020 in which she tells people of other races to “pull up” for black issues, the track clocks in at just over a minute long – filled with blistering rhythms and bold soundscapes. 

Assembling a cast that highlights the vibrancy and diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community, the video opens with billowing clouds of flushed pink smoke – filling the urban landscape with soft touches of rouge. Sweeping the scenery with the colors of the transgender flag, Teddy’s face is also painted to highlight the urgency of fighting for trans rights in a culture that continues to deny them basic human rights. 

Moving the fight away from social media platforms and instead of forcing people to focus on making real change through protests, education, and the dismantlement of systemic racism, “Pull Up” is a unifying rally cry. Calling out performative activism as well as the lack of media coverage for LGBTQIA+ rights – “We can only combat and dismantle these oppressive systems if we are united, which is what the track is about, it is a call to action.” 

We chatted with Teddy to find out more about the track’s influences and the importance of commemorating the Stonewall Riots. 

All proceeds from ‘Pull Up’ will be donated to UK Black Pride.

Ola (@glow_with_ola), Honey (@honeythefoxx), CeCe (@cececooks4u)

The track comes in at just over a minute long – why did you choose to keep the song so brief?

The track is only a minute long because that’s all it needed to be. It is a statement track and I wanted it to be to the point and hit hard and fast – to slap you in the face then leave. When I was producing the track, I drew inspiration from the 70s punk movement, which I believe shares a lot of commonalities with the movements we are seeing today especially, in regards to being anti-establishment. A lot of punk music tends to be quite short and to the point.

The visuals and sentiment of the song are incredibly powerful and inclusive – what was the main message you wanted to get across with this project?

PULL UP! The track is a call to action and I wanted to get across the message that if you are silent you are complicit. People who are complicit support the systemic oppression of the black, LGBTQIA+ and other minority communities. They are supporting racism. They are supporting homophobia. They are supporting transphobia. They are supporting xenophobia. They ARE the problem! 

You touch on areas such as performative activism which has been rightly criticized by active members of the BLM movement. What do you think people can do to be a true ally? 

I have such reservations about the term “ally”. It alludes to a sort of ‘white savior’ complex. It gives the impression that white people are there to help or aid the black community in their fight against racism. However, racism is not a black issue. Racism is a white issue. Racism was created by white people, so why is it the black community’s job to get rid of it? We made the mess, so it is our job to clean it up.

If you support the BLM movement, that’s great, you believe in equality and human rights but what are you doing that is actively working towards furthering the movement and combating the systemic oppression of the black community and other minorities? Posting on your Instagram story is a start but to actively contribute to the BLM movement, you need to do a bit more than that. You need to be anti-racist. You need to be attending protests, you need to be calling out racism and racial bias when you see it, you need to be questioning lack of diversity in workplaces, in shows, and in the media. You need to be continuing the conversation about racism offline. You need to be donating to causes that are fighting the fight like UK Black Pride and funds set up by the likes of Tanya Compas, AZ Mag, and more. It is also imperative that you educate yourself. Racism is a complex issue and it comes in many forms. Many people are unaware of their own bias or just how much racism has ingrained itself into our society. In summary: Pull up, Callout, Donate and Educate. 

The video’s cast is representative of the vibrancy and diversity within the LGBTQ+ community – do you think this is still lacking in mainstream popular culture?

Definitely! I say this not only because I had the hardest time trying to promote this due to YouTube claiming the video contained shocking content (which it doesn’t) but also because LGBTQIA+ visibility in media and popular culture seems to always be through a heteronormative lens. LGBTQIA+ representation is usually stereotypical and mainly centered around cis-gendered white men. Black and minority members of the community, especially trans and intersex people, are still severely underrepresented and when they are, it is usually in a negative way. It’s great to have representation, but how much does it matter if it’s not an accurate depiction of the whole community? And to YouTube – what’s so shocking about a group of beautiful queer people looking good, having fun, standing up for themselves, and asking those outsides of the community to stand with them? Really – what’s so bad about that?

How did you come up with the aesthetic for the video? What was the main set of images you wanted to convey?

The process was actually a really organic one. I started working with Darkwah Kyei-Darkwah who is now creative directing projects with me. I pitched the track and some broad visual ideas to him and he helped refine these ideas whilst adding his own stylistic touch. Darkwah, being a comic book fan and very active in the LGBTQIA+ community, wanted to create a new ‘queer super squad’. We also incorporated references that people would identify with: the slow-motion walks and solo shots from Beyonce’s ‘Yonce’ video, color grading reminiscent of promo material for Birds of Prey and the general vibe of urgency that we see in footage covering protests. We really wanted to create something that got people excited and made them want to do the work we are calling them to do. Stand up. Use your voice. Be an active ally. Fight for change.

With pride festivals being canceled this June due to lockdown restrictions, have you found alternate ways to commemorate the Stonewall riots?

The Stonewall riots were started by black trans women, so I believe the best way to commemorate Stonewall and celebrate pride is to fight for the rights of our black trans sisters and brothers. They fought for us, for the rights we have today, so now it’s time for us to fight for them. The short shorts, glitter, and Kylie Minogue can wait – right now we have work to do! 

Natalie Harvey & Viktoria Zuziak (@viktoriazuziak) Teddy Jackson (teddyjackson_)
Natalie Harvey
NEO 10Y (@neo10y) & Honey Foxx (@honeythefoxx)
Darkwah (@hausofdarkwah)

Left to right: Darkwah – Creative Director (@hausofdarkwah), Teddy Jackson – Artist (@teddyjackson_) and Robert Daglish – Videographer (@robertdaglish)



story / Bryony Holdsworth

BTS Imagery / Kelly Rankin

creative direction / Darkwah Kyei-Darkwah

styling / Darkwah Kyei-Darkwah & Viktoria Zuziak

videography / Rob Daglish

video edit / Iolo Lewis Edwards



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