From the moment we’re born we’re put into boxes and given labels that by default start defining us, sometimes against our will. Media plays a great role in it as well, where people of a certain culture have stereotypes assigned to them in the stories that are told about them. This was at its peak when TV was the only entertainment for people but since social media has become the primary medium of communication things are beginning to change. Through its platforms, people across cultures are finding their voice, carving their individual identities and using self-expression to tear those boxes that tried to contain them.
I’m talking about Angelina Nayyar, a Punjabi DJ and content creator based in Toronto. She goes by Angel Phroot on Instagram and TikTok and for those who know her, she’s a snazzy, iconic raver that spreads positivity through her content bringing awareness to mental health and disability with humour.
When Angelina was 17 she was diagnosed with immunocompromising ulcerative colitis which is a highly disruptive long-term condition where abnormal reactions of the immune system cause inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of your large intestine. UC is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissue in the body.
Angel started creating content in the lockdown at her house diving into fashion and showcasing her exceptional outfits that paid homage to alternative subcultures like Riot grrrl - an underground feminist punk movement that began during the early 1990s that believed in girls actively engaging in cultural production, creating their own music and fanzines rather than following existing materials, Scemo - a combination of scene and emo subcultures, Cybergoth - deriving from elements of goth, raver, rivethead and cyberpunk fashion, Kandi kid - a part of a subculture of California’s most devoted ravers, and Yami kawaii - a Japanese aesthetic that was derived from the cute, playful colours of Yume Kawaii with a stronger emphasis on dark themes of mental health.
Angel amassed a following of over 200,000 followers on TikTok through her unique style combining the aesthetics of these global subcultures with her South Asian heritage. She had been an avid fan of music in general, sharing tracks with her posts and being known for raving. Consequently, she turned to DJing, creating high-energy dance music with bold genre-blending skills with inspiration from the sounds of alternative subcultures and movements, fusing classics with whatever kids are listening to these days. She released an Acid/Hardstyle with Obskur Music, a Queer-run independent Canadian underground Techno label and Radio a few months ago, and another called ‘Bambeenophroot’ independently, mixing tracks across Jersey, Hyperpop, Brazilian Funk, Drill, Happy Hardcore and Dnb because “Music is beautiful and shouldn't be gatekept.”
Angelina is the epitome of a global citizen who cannot be defined by where she comes from and what she’s going through. Whether it’s fashion or music, she has created her own style gathering influences from all over the world without discarding or ignoring her own ethnicity. If the name wasn’t proof enough, Angel is a boundless being taking shapes of whatever inspires her, playing with constructs of identity and championing mental health and radical self-acceptance by fearlessly being herself.
Follow her here.
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