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Uprising: The “Yin-Yang Vibe” of Directing Duo Meeks + Frost

Uprising 198 Add to collection

The Untold Studios photographers and directors on being brothers, their international upbringing and striving to leave “a golden trail” behind them, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Uprising: The “Yin-Yang Vibe” of Directing Duo Meeks + Frost

Describing each other as “Fearless” and “A Warrior”, it’s clear that the photography and directing duo Meeks + Frost have mutual respect for each other, which translates into their craft. Meeting as Frost “came out of the womb”, the London based Jamaican-British brothers debuted with the music video for British rapper and singer Pa Salieu’s ‘Frontline’ in January 2020 and have been paving their path ever since.

“An all-rounder, ambitious. Always striving for pole position,” says Meeks, describing his childhood self. With a camera in hand at age 14, it was no surprise to those around him that he would wind up following a creative path. “Commonly putting together football compilation videos or shooting friends, family and travels. It was always between the arts and sports for me so here I am.” And it’s no doubt that this passion for the arts rubbed off on his brother too.

Growing up in West Africa and Eastern Europe before finding their home in South London, the pair now work together creating content, which is what inspired Frost. “As a kid we moved around quite a bit, living in different countries throughout our childhood. I’ve been surrounded by different cultures, different people and different rules whilst growing up. So my interests and hobbies were always changing as different interests and influences found me. Especially the creative interests that grew over time,” he says. With ‘Frost’ being the name of his alter-ego, he describes it as his true personality.

The pair both have sporting pursuits, particularly football in common, which they indulged in watching and playing during their childhood. Meeks says, “I was also a sports scholar so I had to maintain my athleticism and still carry this with me today,” while Frost deems himself “pretty good at football.” Watching the games on TV, Meeks came across the Nike Joga Bonito ads as well as stumbling upon videos that featured on MTV Base, while Frost delved into video games where creating his own journey was a fascinating concept. Less like two peas in a pod and more like having complementary skill sets, the boys at that age didn’t realise they’d end up working as a pair. 

As Frost mentions he “wouldn’t change being Jamaican for anything”, the pair reflect on their British-Jamaican heritage which shaped their identity over the 11 years they spent in South London and in other countries. The duo also spent time in West Africa and Eastern Europe, travelling with their mother whose work took her around the world. Meeks reflects, “To me, there is nothing greater than having perspective and it’s definitely impacted how I carry myself and my outlook on life.” 

Hearing about their educational experiences, Meeks studying Sports Science at Exeter University and Frost embarking on Psychology, Business Studies and Applied Science at college, you wouldn’t think the duo were set on creative careers. Meeks enjoyed his experience at university and with a lack of understanding of how to get into the creative space, spent his free time honing his skills. “I took a lot of time to work on my creative skillset whilst studying. Shooting events for various societies and test shooting people I’d meet on campus to get a portfolio up and running for myself,” he says. By comparison, as Frost began to study he didn’t gel with the course, switching to Film Studies within the first few months. He says, “Didn’t feel that either. Plus I knew quite a lot about film at that time so I dropped out fully to pursue my career as a creative. Keyword, creative.”

“I was always at a crossroads between a creative hustle and a career in the sports industry,” says Meeks explaining his journey into the industry, “Networking was the true key but it was more accidental than planned. I was just hungry to create and people could see I was passionate about this. I guess that opened up doors and gave me the exposure I needed to get to where I am today.” Then, when it came time for Frost to embark on his creative journey, it was Meeks that steered him onto this particular path. “Meeks + Frost only exists today because of my brother’s bring in,” says Frost. 

The creative duo learnt several vital lessons early on in their journey, Frost says, “Listen to yourself and follow your intuition.” With an idea of where he wanted to steer his career, Meeks adds, “People will try to box you in if you don’t assert a career path for yourself. Many times in my career I’ve been in environments where I’ve felt I’m only good at one particular thing, but when pushing the boat out I have found you can evolve and succeed wherever your ambition takes you.” He also mentions having patience and honing as many transferable skills as possible, which have supported him when undertaking new projects.

While challenges are inevitable, it’s compromising that’s tough for Meeks and sticking to a “true vision” for Frost. “As a creator you always want the end product to mirror the initial vision to the highest degree,” says Meeks, speaking about how achieving an exacting vision is more difficult than it looks. With the number of people on set and various logistics to factor in, it’s a difficult space for a perfectionist to conquer. “I still love the end product but it’s just that, ‘could’ve been’ feeling. The ‘what ifs’. Definitely need to work on maximising the presence of the original vision,” says Frost. 

Though the brothers have similar frustrations with wanting their creative vision to come to life, they are total opposites in many ways. “Let’s just say, often it’s a yin-yang vibe,” says Meeks, “I’m a ‘90s baby. My brother ’00s. We carry two different outlooks and I think this makes us stronger as it’s like two minds coming together from slightly different eras, bringing different references to the table.” Frost also mentions that while having the bond of being brothers, the pair have a telepathic frequency, “No words are needed. I trust him and he trusts me. Also, it’s the openness and there’s no hierarchy between us. We equally attack things and we equally understand and accept things, just in our own special ways.” 

While Frost acknowledges that opposites attract, they definitely do support each other's contribution to the process. It was during a photo shoot for Nike NBX x Air Force that Meeks first asked Frost to be “eyes and ears assisting with the creative direction” while he shot the campaign. It was after this that they did the music video for Pa Salieu’s ‘Dem A Lie’. “It was a great experience. Nervous yes, but a great feeling of gratitude. Knowing this was a new chapter for us,” Frost reminisces. Complimenting Meeks’ persistence and Frost’s passion, the limitless creativity, decisiveness and lack of compromise pushes the brothers to strive towards more. 

Agreeing on their proudest achievement to date, Swindle’s ‘The New World’ came to mind, taking the audience on a visual journey that reminisced on Kanye West’s ‘Runway’ film. The 20-minute video with various artists, stories, ideas and projects was something Frost didn’t think would happen so early on in his career, while Meeks hoped they would be approached for this type of work and that it continues into their careers. Watching the final piece, Frost says, “That was magic.”

As they tackle challenges together, Frost mentions, ‘New Seasons’ by Max Richter as a particularly significant piece. The creative challenge was turning one room into four different aesthetics and styles to represent Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. You really need to be innovative or you’ll hit a wall. The rest isn’t out yet but you’ll see the magic soon enough!” Part of their innovation and desire to evolve comes from creative inspirations who help to inform their direction. Meeks mentions director and photographer Joshua Kissi in particular, “I’ve followed his work since the beginning and see myself in him. He encompasses the kind of work I want to create and be involved in. It’s inspiring to see his career progress.” Comparatively, Frost looks to Kanye West, “The work ethic, the variety, diversity, inspiration. Mindset. Feeling like a black sheep but being proud that you’re different. That’s me. I’m proud that I’m not the same as anyone and I relish in that thought.”

Aside from being creative, Meeks still keeps up with sporting pursuits, calling himself a “fitness freak” and describing the meditative process of training his body and mind to be as resilient as possible. With a more relaxed attitude, Frost spends his time playing on his PS4 “with the mandem”, taking him out of reality into an entirely different headspace, perhaps one that he’d like to get into in the future. But of course, the brothers have a common interest in cinematography and spend time watching films together, discussing why they may or may not be a fan of the work they’ve seen. 

Being part of an industry that has tough competition, Meeks’ motivation comes from having his voice heard, “I wasn’t the loudest child but have found an avenue whereby I feel my voice can be heard through my work and that’s what drives me to keep creating.” While Frost is pushed forward by his fear of failure, “Failure to provide for the family, support myself, achieve my goals. All types. When I get to the end of that marathon I don’t want to see all the ghosts of potential that I left behind. I can’t let that happen. Keeps me up and looking.”

The brothers want to be remembered for both inspiring and creating a legacy for their community. Meeks says, “The brothers that made their dreams their reality and left behind some iconic work that lives beyond them and inspires others. The same way the young me used to watch visuals and be inspired, I’d like the same for the youth after me. Inspiration beyond visuals specifically, inspiration to create and use your ideas to fulfil your ambitions.”

Frost’s goal for their legacy is simple: “The two Black boys who came and left greatness behind them. A golden trail.”

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Untold Studios, Fri, 29 Apr 2022 14:55:00 GMT