Cecily pie crust collar dress in Cream by r a b b i t

Flowerovlove on Putting the Planet First

Words and photographs by Daphne Chouliaraki Milner

styling by caitlin moriarty

The 16-year-old singer, who is spreading love and mindfulness through her music and lifestyle, speaks with Atmos about practicing radical self-love and curates a Spotify playlist exclusively for the second edition of EarthTones.

Follow Atmos on Spotify here to keep up to date with monthly EarthTones playlists.

 

Flowerovlove, also known as Joyce Cisse, is just 16 years old.

 

On weekdays she attends a college in central London where she studies English, French and History in preparation for her A-Level exams next year. But on weeknights and weekends, she spends all her time in a nearby music studio, where she records a lo-fi blend of dreampop, trap and indie rock tracks often with the help of her tailor-trained musically-minded brother, Wilfred Cisse. The most recent example is Saturday Yawning, a synth-driven single punctuated by live drums and vintage sample drum machines that she released last week.

 

It comes as little surprise, then, that Flowerovlove’s ambitions are big. “My plan for music is world domination,” she told Atmos after a cold afternoon of shooting. (She had spent the morning in class learning about French grammar.) But Flowerovlove doesn’t stop there. Alongside her music work, she is a determined advocate on issues surrounding ethical and sustainable fashion. Her entire outfit, down to her oversized 1970s-inspired reading glasses, is thrifted. Even the pair of wide-leg denim trousers she has on she made herself using scraps of old jeans. “I wanted flares that fit me like these do, but I couldn’t find anyone that sells them that wasn’t fast fashion,” she said. “So I just made them.”

 

Read on for Flowerovlove’s take on what it means to love fashion outside extractive cycles of consumption and practice radical self-love instead. Also below is the funk and soul-inspired Spotify playlist she curated exclusively for the second edition of Atmos’ EarthTones series.

Daphne

What inspired the playlist?

Flowerovlove

Let me get the playlist up real quick. I was thinking about the name [of the column], EarthTones, and the song “Mrs. Magic” by Strawberry Guy came to mind. The various components that inform the song remind me of nature, like the whistling at the beginning and halfway through, which I understand to be representative of birds. Whenever I hear that song, I see a dark forest with one tree house [because] I visualize things when I listen to music.

 

Also, indie just seems like the most natural-sounding genre to me. Other genres can easily feel more industrialized. Take rock, for example: so many elements feed into the final sound. But an indie track might just be made up of one instrumental with a drum beat. It just feels like nature.

Draped georgette and lace print dress WED
Draped georgette and lace print dress WED

Daphne

I guess it can feel quite honest.

Flowerovlove

That’s a good way to put it.

Daphne

Let’s talk about your name: Flowerovlove. How did it come about?

Flowerovlove

To begin with, it was just an interim Instagram handle—I wanted it to be Flower of Love, but of was taken. This was before I was even doing music. Now, Flowerovlove feels representative of womanhood; of the act of blossoming and growing as a person. And the love part has stayed because I really love love. Within my music, I want to spread love and, specifically, self love. It’s important to see yourself as a flower. You need to take care of yourself, to always tend to yourself and make time for yourself.

“You need to take care of yourself, to always tend to and make time for yourself.”

Flowerovlove

Daphne

It reminds me of the proverb, if you love a flower don’t pick it up. We usually hear it spoken about others—mostly romantic partners—but it is just as applicable to the relationship with ourselves. Nurture what makes you unique, celebrate it. Don’t change it.

Flowerovlove

Exactly. And every flower looks different—they grow at different rates in different climates. I also like the idea of picking a flower and giving it to someone that you love. I’m all about spreading love.

Daphne

It’s clear you have a strong connection with nature from how you talk about your surroundings. How does the natural world inspire or inform the music that you make?

Flowerovlove

I do a lot of my most creative thinking on walks. I just find myself being like, Wow, I really want to make a song right now. So, on a very basic level, a lot of my songs are born from the outdoors. That is what helps to create the sound.

 

But—if we’re really getting into it—the nature of music is Black people because we created most sounds. They’ve since been taken and utilized in a range of ways, but Black culture is at the root of all music. And Black people are nature. African people were the first humans on Earth. So it all ties back to us being in and a part of nature. That ties into my hair as well. We need to make sure that we know our culture and our history, and that we keep it going.

Wool bodysuit in cream, cotton bubble shorts and wool-mix floral leg warmers FIDAN NOVRUZOVA

Daphne

And tell me about your EP, Think Flower. What does the title mean? How do you think flower?

Flowerovlove

That’s such a good question. First off, thinking flower can be whatever you want it to be. I want people to feel empowered to interpret the title in whatever way speaks to them.

 

To me, thinking flower means thinking about the Earth in relation to yourself. I want people to be selfish, to take care of and prioritize themselves. I’m quite a selfish person in that I do what’s best for me. And that’s not a bad thing. If anything, it’s good, it’s powerful. I’m always ready to help others, but I know when I need to prioritize my needs. Thinking flower also means living in line with sustainable and ethical values, like thinking about how your actions impact the Earth. For example: you’re not thinking flower when you’re dropping plastic on the ground. You’re not thinking flower if you leave your plastic water bottle lying around.

Daphne

Those acts of selfishness you describe—taking time out for yourself to assess and prioritize your needs— are radical, especially in a world that places so little value on happiness and on leisure.

“Thinking flower means living in line with sustainable and ethical values, like thinking about how your actions impact the Earth.”

Flowerovlove

Flowerovlove

Yeah. You also get to know yourself better. It’s easy to forget who you are amid all the social media noise. But when you prioritize yourself, even for just 15 minutes a day, you get closer to yourself. This is quite off topic, but a lot of people take on and adopt someone else’s personality because they’re not too sure who they are. So they just behave like their friends or behave like someone they see on TikTok.

Daphne

I think that’s something most people can relate to. Going back to thinking flower, [your manager] Jesse and I were talking earlier about the ways you’ve influenced him and helped him think more sustainably, in particular about consumption and fast fashion. Can you talk about your shopping habits?

Flowerovlove

Everything I wear is thrifted or secondhand. I don’t participate in fast fashion systems. I actually gag [while] walking past Primark or H&M. Their mindset is only focused on money, not people. Brandy Melville is similar. They stock only one size, and hire primarily young, white, skinny and blonde teenage girls. That’s not a sustainable way of living or thinking—it puts pressure on young, impressionable people to look like that.

Draped georgette and lace print dress WED

Daphne

So, what does refusing to participate in fast fashion look like for you?

Flowerovlove

For me, it means going to charity shops, going to thrift stores. I get things from eBay instead of Amazon. It also means doing your research on where your items are from. Avoid shopping from shops just because they’re cheap. Wouldn’t you rather own something that’s going to last instead of wearing it for only one outfit? We also need to keep remembering the amount of people who are doing labor and are not getting paid for their work. Imagine if that was your mom. That’s what you should do. Imagine if it was your mom.

Daphne

What are your plans for the next couple of years? And how will your connection with the Earth continue to inform the work you do?

Flowerovlove

My plan for music is world domination. But my effect on the Earth informs everything I do. I will do whatever I can to help the planet. I want to continue to advocate for slow fashion—it’s important to consider what people can afford, but honestly, thrifting is way cheaper than buying new stuff. I want to spread that message. Secondhand is a win-win. You can get a really good sweater for 50p. And the Earth’s happy. It just makes sense.

Cecily pie crust collar dress in Cream by r a b b i t

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

 

Photographer: Daphne Chouliaraki Milner; Stylist: Caitlin Moriarty; Stylist Assistant: Hollie Cooper; Makeup: Marisol Steward at Stella Creative Artists using Glossier; Hair: Joe Burwin using Oribe; Producer: Marcel McKenzie.

60SecondsOnEarth,AnthropoceneNow,ArtWorld,BeyondBorders,BlackFuturity,ClimateChampions,DemocracyEarth,EarthEquity,Earthscapes,EchoSphere,EarthTones,HolisticNature,Indigeneity,QueerEcology,ReFashion,RisingTides,TEKToTech,TheFrontline,TheOverview,WildLife,