MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Tuelo’s “Canary” Video

Tuelo actually set in motion the narrative for the “Canary” video back in November 2021. It was with “Saint Margaret,” the clip for the first single from her debut album, The Life Of Margaret Cornelius, due to be self-released on February 11.

“I just wanted simple storylines that tie into each other in an odd sort of a way,” says Tuelo of the boxing theme that links both. “The videos are about the day of the big fight, which I suppose could be any major moment or event you’ve been working toward. But I didn’t want the video to end in victory—because even if you’re down, you can get up again.”

A native of the Tswana and Khoikhoi tribes, Tuelo is the product of a remote and not-always-peaceful upbringing in post-apartheid Mafikeng, South Africa, where a mining war brought tumult and instability to the family farm. She found her way to the United States at age 17, landing work as a backup singer for Angélique Kidjo and others. Tuelo frequented open-mic nights in New York City to hone her own music, a mesmerizing cross-cultural mashup of punk, rock, soul and the Afro strains of her homeland.

In 2017, Tuelo partnered with producer Kevin Wenzel for the Saint Margaret EP. Since, she’s led a transient existence, bouncing between New York, Berlin, Johannesburg and Medellín. The one constant has been Tuelo’s collaboration with Wenzel, which continues on The Life Of Margaret Cornelius, a series of vibrant vignettes that embody her genre-bending activist alter ego. Oddly enough, Tuelo had no interest in fleshing out that character in video form, tapping Wenzel to play the lead instead.

“He’s beautiful and brilliant—the twin I never had,” she says. “I wanted him to live out his boxing dream while portraying the feeling of a caged bird that continues to sing no matter what the obstacle—fighting to the end.”

—Hobart Rowland