Teezo Touchdown seems like the wildest musician to have permeated the fashion world in a long time. His music spans—not blends—rap, emo, and power pop. He makes lo-fi videos of life on the road and in his native Texas and posts them to Instagram, all part of a campaign he calls “rid the mid” to remove mediocrity from his life and strive for greatness. And every morning, he and his team stud his hair with almost 15 pounds of construction nails. Throughout the day, a pound or two’s worth will fall out. I wondered: is the style heavy?
“Life is heavy,” he said in a phone call last week. “I get that question a lot. I also get, ‘How do you sleep?’ But I never get, ‘Hey, those nails are gonna take you to the top.’ Which I wish that I would, because every time everyone says something like, ‘Yo, does your neck or back hurt?’, I don’t notice it til they say it. So I would like to put out: please start saying positive things about my nails. ‘Cause whatever gets spoken on the nails, it happens.”
Teezo’s manifestation of nail-driven success appears coming to fruition. He had a feature on Tyler, The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost, and will join the rapper on tour in early 2022. And on Saturday, he performed at an intimate show for Matthew Williams’s latest collaboration with Moncler, as a part of the Italian luxury line’s ongoing Genius partnership with his brand 1017 Alyx 9SM. “Teezo is really unique, in so many ways but especially in his approach to music and visuals,” Williams wrote in an email. “And being [able] to exchange and create together is one of the things that makes the Moncler Genius presentation such a special moment.”
The show was one part of a global festival called Mondo Genius—a five-city presentation of collaborations with the eleven designers who, under Moncler’s Genius program, bring their runway edge to the brand’s puffy performance wear. Jonathan Anderson showed a short film directed by Luca Guadagnino in Milan, for example, while Veronica Leoni hosted a concert with Solange on New York’s Upper East Side. Williams created a film with Teezo that debuted on Saturday, focusing on the “dystopian uniform,” as the designer put it, that he has continued to evolve for Moncler. “We have new shapes, like the sleeveless pieces and the thigh high boots and eyewear that are new and completing the evolution of the previous collection silhouette,” Williams added.
With Williams’s hard edge and focus on the tactile, and Teezo’s dogmatic commitment to originality, the pair found a quick rapport. They first connected about a year ago, but finally met in person earlier this month. “We had a conversation over some water,” Teezo said, laughing. “I was like, it’s crazy that I’m sitting in your kitchen, dropping nails everywhere, and then you’re across the table, doing this rockstar thing as far as the fashion. But here we are, sitting calmly over this glass of water!”
And Williams’s apocalyptic vibe suits Teezo well. He describes his own style, which includes the nails as well as black suits, standup collar shirts, and industrial chains draped like neckties, as “very DIY.” Fashion, he said, is a world he’s come to only recently, and his own style is “original, and I want to just keep it that way. If you’re going into something, don’t really read into the rulebooks. Make your own rules. Respect the elders, of course—if you’re able to get in reach of the elders and people who do the fashion, have conversations with them, and ask for tips along the way. Really just follow your own path.” He said he hates—“Well, ‘hate’ is a strong word”—when he hears someone say there’s “nothing new under the sun. Every time I hear that, I really just strive to challenge that. I don’t want to cut off the imagination and the possibilities by saying there’s nothing new under the sun.”
But there is plenty of “mid” under the sun, and it is Teezo’s aim to leave it all behind. One plank of his campaign, for example, is an attempt to get everyone to return lighters they’ve stolen from others. He explains his approach to Instagram as simply a product of his age (though the number of years Teezo has been on earth is a matter of great mystery). “It’s the sign of the times,” he said. “If you would have dropped off Instagram back on Abbey Road to the Beatles, no telling what they would have done with it, you know?”
The “rid the mid” movement is more of a spiritual quest to be your best and defy the merely average, he said, describing it as “more of a self-reflecting campaign,” or “quality control of yourself. Looking at yourself in the mirror and [asking] yourself, ‘Is this the best product I can put out? Am I being the best person that I can be?’” It’s not about calling out other peoples’ flaws so much as beginning to fix your own.
Between the Moncler show and his tour with Tyler, Teezo said he feels things taking off. “I can definitely tell this slippery slope with just how fast my career is going,” he said. “I just always have to stop, smell the roses, and be very, very present even in the smallest detail. I do this crazy rock star thing, but you are never more of an artist than you are a human being.” He added, “There’s always going to be way more quote-unquote regular, normal everyday people than celebrities.”