Interviews

Twelve'Len Wants to Make Room for Other Artists

Twelve'Len
Twelve'Len Photo by Angel Roman
Working as a creative can be a lonely and grueling endeavor. The toll taken on the mind to create a piece of art that evokes emotions of any kind is steep. Having to flesh out your vision alone and accept that you can't galvanize a tribe until you finish that vision.

Just getting off the ground to begin a creative voyage is hard enough, and to do it alone is even more challenging.

And Twelve'Len knows the feeling all too well.

Having dropped his well-received album, Sugar Hill Express, last year, the Carol City native is now focused on being more than a musician. If the spotlight were to illuminate his platform solely, it'd be a failure on Twelve'Len's end. At this point, his calling is pushing him to be more than an artist.

"It's a tool, an accessory for a bigger goal," he says. "People get so caught up in what they want to be that they overlook what they have to be in that moment to get there."

For Twelve'Len, the bigger goal has taken shape in the form of Heaven Angels Living on Earth (HALOE). One Thursday of every month, artists are invited to play two records for Twelve'Len and other artists to listen and gain feedback. After its debut last year during Miami Art Week with over 200 people in attendance, the second installment took place at his store, Velvet Velour, in Allapattah with over 60 attendees. Twelve'Len plans to move his studio from Little Havana to the store, providing a one-stop shop for emerging artists to bond and create.

But music isn't HALOE's sole focus. The event showcases Twelve'Len's passion for his city. "I just want to give back to the city," he says.

HALOE is also a call back to the past. Twelve'Len wants to get back into an environment where strangers come together and create magic.

"I remember back when I would go on Twitter every Sunday and ask for beats," he explains. "Producers would DM me their work, and I would literally give them my address and say, 'Let's work.'"

With the upcoming Florida-only HALOE Tour, featuring Zya and a surprise guest, slated to start later this month, Twelve'Len's generosity is again at the forefront. Effusive in his praise of Zya, a fellow up-and-coming artist from Miami, his belief in her is evident, as he says "she's gonna be special" nearly every time her name is mentioned.
Both Zya and Twelve'Len will perform at Backroom Sessions' 4 Lover Only concert on Friday, February 11, at Oasis Wynwood, along with local R&B acts Kaylan Arnold, Franki Amour, Kerby Collins, and Tony Collins.

Last year, as an artist, Twelve'Len took more control of his sound, as well as the visuals and the concepts behind them. This year, he aims to be more of a supplier, lending a hand to anyone with a dream, expanding the platform he built by himself for others to use.

Getting to this point wasn't easy.

"It's fucking hard," he says, then pauses before continuing. "I'm doing this all without a team, and it's hard. I have the music side on lock, but it'll be easier if I had a team around."

Outside of HALOE, Twelve'Len has other community and creative projects in development, starting with his upcoming short film, Don't Die Waiting, which is scheduled to begin filming this month. While the details around the film are scarce, Twelve'Len promises the project will be "crazy."

On the community aspect, he is working with his mother on a nonprofit called Legacy Light, centered on renovating parks in underprivileged areas so kids have access to play sports. He has also taken a role as a guidance counselor at Brownsville Middle School.

Twelve'Len's goal in 2022 is to build a movement. Providing opportunities to others is a deeply personal project to him. You can hear the passion, love, and pain he has experienced on this journey. As an artist, all he sought was a space to feel heard and be comfortable. Through projects like HALOE, he constructed a space for other creatives searching for the same kind of validation.

"We tend to focus on the macro, caught up in what we think we should be," he says. "I feel like right now, with HALOE and everything else, this is what I have to do right now to reach where I want to be."

4 Lover Only. With Twelve'Len, Kaylan Arnold, Franki Amour, and others. 8 p.m. Friday, February 11, at Oasis Wynwood, 2335 N. Miami Ave., Miami; oasiswynwood.com. Admission is free with RSVP via tixr.com.
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