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Discussion in 'Style' started by The Hipster, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. The Hipster

    The Hipster Member

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004 Messages: 872 Likes Received: 0
    Beinghunted website Feature Presentation on SURRENDER.


    Welcome to our Feature Presentation on SURRENDER. Over the course of 3 episodes we will let James Lavelle and Earn Chen tell us about their new venture, the concept behind it, the people involved, and everything else worth talking about. Each part will be launched after three days.

    The following conversations with James Lavelle and Earn Chen were held at different locations and dates. Thus questions and subjects might differentiate. The speaker is always identified by his initials - JL or EC.

    How did you hear about Beinghunted ?

    JL: Will Bankhead...

    EC: To be honest, I can't remember how I got know about Beinghunted.com. I suppose it's one of those things that you will know if you're with it.

    What sort of time have you been viewing the website ?
    JL: Pretty recent to be honest - I don't really pay much attention to the Internet thing. I don't really pay much attention because I find it gets over-whelming to be honest. And it's why I don't really get too involved in press and all that kind of stuff. I just find it can sometimes have a negative influence on what you are doing.

    Is there anything that you are hunting for ?

    JL: I mean there's always bits and pieces but it's more... it tends to be quite unusual pieces of artwork or clothes you know - I'm trying to think what am I hunting...?

    EC: There isn't any material stuff that I'm hunting for locally. But my favourite hunting ground would have to be Zouk Club (check: www.zoukclub.com). There isn't anyone or anything that I hunt there but it's the vibe and music that I'm going for.

    Anything you'd buy right away if you saw it - no matter what ?

    JL: I haven't really got anything like that at the moment. I've got to be honest, but I'm not in a hugely materialistic phase of my life at the moment. I'm quite overwhelmed by everything to the point where I'm not so... JL: If I saw some old vintage Major Force clothing or some certain kind of Warhol things - I would really like some of the old Warhol T-shirts. I love a few things from Buffalo, that I've been buying recently, and some old Westwood stuff.
    If I see something very random to do with something I'm interested in - say if I'm thrift shopping in America - something to do with 2001 or a film prop or something like that - but I wouldn't necessarily be looking for it.

    So it would be something you just came across ?
    JL: Yes. I like one-off things like prototype toys or just something kind of unusual in that way, but there's nothing specific I'm rooting for.

    How, when and where did you guys meet up ?

    JL: I met Earn through clubbing originally. I met him in Fabric, and then I met him in Singapore when I played there for the first time about 4 years ago, and we just clicked really. He was a person who was into similar aspects of music that I was.
    Because a lot of the street-scene tends to be very image and fashion led. And essentially my background is music, so to meet someone who was coming from that perspective was really interesting.
    Because of Zouk in Singapore it was much more full on clubbing, and a lot of kids into the street-scene tend to be more into the indie/hip-hop thing. He was more into the clubbing thing, so there was a good relationship there, and it kind of came from that really.

    EC: I met James at Fabric in London 4 years ago. Then he came to Singapore during his tour, we hooked up again.



    Often, it is a particular subject that gets a conversation going when meeting someone for the first time. What was/is yours ?

    JL: It tends to be more spiritual than materialistic.
    For most people I've ended up working with, whether it's music or art, it was more of an emotional context or relationship. Earn and me have a more personal relationship in that way, that's how it developed into doing what we did - it wasn't a business idea.
    For me that's the most important thing to have an organic style of relationship. Whether that's with Ben (Drury), or Will (Bankhead) or 3D or Shadow, or any of those people - it tended to be much more about that.

    EC: James is very similar to myself. We discussed about the art, toys, music, fashion and most importantly about LIFE. EC: James is a very spiritual person and we connected on that spiritual level. In a way, he has inspired me to do what I do now and just being around him, I have absorbed a lot of positive energy in a creative way.

    James, people have been waiting for you to start your own clothing label or art gallery... what took you so long ?!

    JL: What took me so long? I've just been busy doing other things really.

    You must have had it pitched to you a thousand times ?

    I didn't though! That's the weird thing with Earn, because Earn asked me and it sounded like a good idea. And I suppose fear... you know, I haven't grasped it completely yet.

    JL: I also think that I have been focusing more on music. Also with my associations has meant I haven't really needed to, I suppose that when you're with APE, and all those relationships. I think I just got to the point where I looked and thought I'm really just associated with other people, and not really doing my own thing. Now I want to get back to trying to do my own thing.
    And I think that after Mo' Wax there's this slight fear, and hesitance.

    Not surprising, as you went so far so quickly, and then it turned into 'let's pick on James week' ...

    JL: I got quite nervous about putting myself in the firing line again. I've found the last few years incredibly negative, and I suppose for me that feeling of being at an age where I could escape from all that stuff really.

    Earn, your store ambush is already well established. What was your motivation to start 'anew' with SURRENDER ?
    EC: Well, I have been running Ambush for the past 4 years. To be honest, I was quite bored of retail and thought going into my own production would be the next level. I have always wanted to start my own label since day 1 of ambush. However, I had no direction or inspiration to do so. Until I met James, he had this vision. To me that was a direction, the calling.

    As two partners - who is doing what for SURRENDER ?

    JL: For me it's more about the design and the aesthetic of what we're trying to do. It's not meant to be a James Lavelle shop - we've done this project as a collaboration. It's important that what we do is something that is culturally relevant to what's going on in their environment. We started off by making it an UNKLE associated thing, but we're not really basing it on that for the future.


    JL: The fact that there were really nice interesting kids there who wanted to do something, and by association I hope that it's helped them out.

    EC: SURRENDER is a collective of people. In a way, there are more than 2 partners in SURRENDER. Everyone involved is a partner. James is the founder that gives us the direction, concept and idea then leaves us the freedom to interprete it. Once that's done, we run by him again then execute it.

    On to SURRENDER then - surrender to what ?

    Both: SURRENDER to life.

    JL: After all that I have felt I had been through it just became difficult, and I learnt about this whole concept of having to surrender yourself to what happens in the world - not constantly trying to push, and knocking your head against a brick wall. It's about letting go and let the thing happen organically.

    The old 'shit happens' scenario ?

    JL: Yeah let things happen. I suppose there's a slightly more spiritual connotation to what's going on rather than the fact that everything is so super military or core or this or that or pop art. I didn't want to have it so specific in that way - I wanted it quite open. But it is really about surrendering yourself to life.

    There's London, New York, Paris, Berlin... why Singapore ?

    JL: Because it's just the way it happened!

    Nothing more premeditated ?

    JL: No, not at all. JL: Earn wanted to do this thing - I'm pretty erratic in that way and it just sounded like a good idea, and something kind of nice to do. And as a friend it was nice to be involved in something together. The problem is people may say it's next big thing or whatever - I can't really think like that. It's the same with Mo' Wax, it wasn't really that thought out.

    EC: We started in Singapore because this is my home. Besides, it is always good to go against the grain and do something different. I bet most of the people who start out wants to have a store in Tokyo, I mean who doesn't? But to us, we just want to do something against what everyone else is doing.

    How did you decide on the interior for the store. Who was involved with its design ?

    JL: A guy called Jasper and myself. He's a local architect who now lives over here - he's brilliant. It was an opportunity to work with local, talented people, and he really pulled in a lot to achieve what he did. But I sort of came up with the initial idea of it being an experience - somewhere you had to walk through - not just a materialistic shop - something a little bit more interesting in that way, not too bright, and not so clinical. A lot of shops now are clean cut, we wanted it a lot darker - I suppose it's like going to the cinema really.

    EC: James had an idea of what he wants the store to be... a dark walk thru whereby you can experience the artworks, music, visuals and lastly our products. This allows a full introduction to what we're doing. We want to capture the same feeling when you walked into a movie cinema : Almost like a cinematic experience. Then I have an old architect friend, Jasper from FUUR Architects who is based in London to do it. He's a very creative person and understands where James is coming from so getting things together wasn't hard.


    If we took two extremes - Union/NYC on the one side, very low-key, very subtle and BWS/Tokyo, very tech and upscale, where would you see SURRENDER ?

    JL: I don't know whether it is in the middle because it is kind of high-tech, but it's not so clean in that way. I mean it's not like The Hideout or Union; it's not so organic so I suppose it lends itself more to Bathing Ape or Japan. If Bathing Ape was Yin and Union would be Yang then it would be a little bit of both, but it's dark. What I loved about those Japanese shops was the whole... and it doesn't exist so much at the moment, but at the time when it first started happening was this whole period of discovery, and of having to go there, and it not being so obvious. That's something that was really important to the way we did the shop. JL: That's why we put it in the mall in Far East Plaza, which is kind of street, and it's not expensive, and it's a bit dirty and a bit fucked up. It's not high-tech - not near the Louis Vuitton store... I mean it's next to a fucking brothel!

    And that's the allure ?

    JL: I don't want it so elitist that you have to ring the bell to get in - I like Lara's shop on Hoxton - she designs jewellery, and it's a bit more underground, and it's like you've discovered something. I just felt with this place it was more important to kind of keep it in a more youthful environment, and a slightly more street environment, but do something more high-tech and mental - but try and do something that is more of an experience.


    You're going to be selling your own products, but what other brands will you be carrying ?
    JL: We've worked a bit with Supreme, we've done some stuff with Head Porter, there's some Medicom stuff, Neighborhood and Acronym.

    EC: We carry Neighborhood, Visvim, Headporter, Acronym and any other one-offs collaboration that may come our way.

    JL: there's also some collaborations with people. But I'd like to build up as much as our own stuff as possible.

    Will Bankhead designs for you, correct ?

    JL: Some of it. Will, Ben, Andy and Kazuki is doing a bit. Then me, Earn, Andy from Singapore.

    If you could describe or characterise the merchandise sold in SURRENDER how would you do that ?

    JL: I think it's a little bit more classic, and a little bit more subtle in that way - what we're doing is to bring a little more of our own feeling of individualism. Especially with t-shirts, what we're doing is a lot more screen printing going back to a more arty way of doing stuff... and more hands-on.
    For me it's about being more hands-on with stuff, and a little bit more boutique about it. Because everything's exploded again - like with A Bathing Ape. I mean I still wear and I love Nigo's designs, and I have a great relationship with them, but it's got to a point where it has become so big.

    EC: Individualism and Imperfection.


    Which product are you most fond of to have at Surrender, or most keen on getting ?

    EC: It has to be a tee from the upcoming season. We called it the "WILLIE" tee. It is a tribute to John Willie (RIP). He is a Briton born in Singapore in 1920, he moved to London and then New York during the 1920's. He created a very twisted bondage art for his publications. Basically, he is a genius ahead of his times. In a way, we are very inspired by his work and I can relate that to Surrender considering he was a Brit born in Singapore.
    Other than that, I'm also very excited about the re-constructed "Frankenstein" raglan tee. The concept behind it is to put pieces together and bring it back to life. So every piece of the garment is hand stitched and different.
    And also the hand screend UNKLE rainbow tee that we did. We like the imperfection and irregularity of it so it's more personal in that way. We try to do that to each and every piece of our garment, that explains why our basic tees labels are all hand screened.


    You have reached the end of Episode I.



  2. The Hipster

    The Hipster Member

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004 Messages: 872 Likes Received: 0
    Surrender is definitely more of a gallery first and foremost....steel doors guard the prison-like storefront (very nondescript, bare concrete with only a couple of flyers pasted on doorway to announce your entry). Street wear fan boys staredt the queue about 2 hours ahead of opening to be let in at 10 persons a time. Yours truly only dropped by much later in evening (more to avoid the crowd) once inside the dark realm of a short pathway to the main store area, chill-out tunes greet you, with showcases on the walls displaying UNKLE paraphernalia,


    Kubricks, Dunkle low FT sample(not for sale)...and then a huge almost 8 x 10 foot graphic display of the Neverland album cover, with adjoining flat-screen tv showing UNKLE videos...1000% black UNKLE kubricksits silently in a corner leading to their storage room. main interior is mostly bare, with only 2 clothes rack, displaying the maharishi colab pants, acronym jackets(dope as hell) and headporter accessories.


    Yet another huge glass cabinet displays more items for sale, as well as Dunkle high FT sample, medicom UNKLE sets. a sliding rack houses UNKLE, futura amongst others' artwork. Definitely a place to check out, should expect more stuff to drop in the coming days. a must-see for UNKLE fans.

    These tees dropped on launch day. James Lavelle was on hand to sign a couple...


  3. The Hipster

    The Hipster Member

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004 Messages: 872 Likes Received: 0

    After a bit of a discourse into the madness of this whole 'industry' - our interview with James went a bit offtrack from our usual questioning... Earn will join back in a bit later on, too.

    Do you ever sit down with James Jebbia or Nigo, or any of those guys and think, 'fucking hell things are way out of control, and this scene is going crazy' ?

    JL: (Laughs) Yeah all the time! That's it for me, it's not the same anymore, and you know it's just different.
    Well the thing is - it was a very scenic based thing. There was a lot of unity, and great deal of camaraderie, but like everything it changes, and everyone moves on. The way things have gone are not necessarily the way I thought it would. I didn't think it would become the size it has. But I think the way things like APE have gone... it's weird when your identity has suddenly become a mass thing.

    [We talk about Nigo appearing in The Neptune's video, Red Camo, and A Bathing Ape's spiralling popularity along with it's quality production...]

    JL: I think it's at a difficult stage now because it either going to blow-up or it's going to...

    Blow over ?

    JL: I think there are difficult areas to street culture in the fact that you have your brands, which represent the older viewpoint. If you want to wear Neighborhood it tends to be slightly subtler, and more of our generation who got into it in the initial phase - an alternative to designer culture, but it still has that aesthetic. Whereas with things like BAPE it's gone much more for the youth market.

    What sort of customers have you been getting at Surrender ?

    JL: Mainly over there its kids man, but this is the problem, it's at a weird stage because it's incredibly materialistic. It's the whole thing of buying T-shirts and ebaying them. We've just done a trainer with Sabotage, and I just spoke to my brother, and they're £400 which is a lot of money I think for a pair of sneakers anyway - there's only 24 pairs.

    A pair has been seen on eBay for 3.5 K ...

    JL: £400 is a lot for me. And the only reason they're that amount of money is because they're handmade. We're not making profit out of it, because by the time you've given a couple of mates a pair then that's it. But I find it's incredibly materialistic. The next step is to do something over here, and have more control. What I've realised is that there is a demand and interest in what you're doing - I did it very much on a whim, and it was like 'Yeah cool let's do a store!'. Then you realise that because of the Internet - information travelling so quickly that suddenly it's like 'oh my god you've created another thing!'. But the potential for people who are interested would mean it would be good to do something over here, and be more in control of what you are doing. But you can't control your market, and for me at the end of the day what I realised is that I have become a brand.
    This is not about ego or anything like that - this is not about James Lavelle, it's not about what people perceive, this is not about me. People don't know who I am, but they're buying into this historical brand, and what I have difficulty dealing with is whether you take advantage of it or not, and how to do that. So most of the people who are into that are kids, and on one level that's great because there's an audience out there who is stimulated, and excited.

    I get the impression that you feel... not responsible in terms for what has happened, but there is a massive interest in what you do as an individual - by breaking A Bathing Ape over here, and the music thing - do you feel a certain responsibility to tell the people who you are from your perspective ?

    JL: I do, but then I'm not a particularly communicative person, so I think I probably seem quite difficult in that way; but I also have to retain some of my own self.
    I have been going through a lot of change on my life - there are things that are more important to me than clothes - I'm obsessed as everyone else, I'm not like 'is this the be all and end all'. I'm at a period when I'm trying to make a record, and I'm in that sort of headspace, and it's much more about an emotional context rather than a material context. I think that is something that's more important for the future - to embrace more.
    I feel that I've had a lot of fear because of the press, and now what I realise is that I can still go to most places and play to a large amount of people who are interested in what you do, and there's a lot of goodwill out there. But it's not media orientated, which is great because it's about kids, and about people, and about history. It's probably time for me to embrace that more, and try and learn much more about connecting with people through the Internet, or alternative means of media. I didn't grow up in that environment, and I never really embraced it at the time. I don't think Mo' Wax could have existed if the Internet had existed - I don't think it would have been what it was. I still think that I had an upbringing of a certain amount of discovery and individualism.
    In the long term with Surrender I'd like to make more one-off type things - not to be elitist - like hand-printed tees, because there are going to be imperfections. Once you start looking through your T-shirts I bet the ones you keep are going to be slightly different or one-offs, or something that has a much more personal meaning.



    JL: This hand printed T-shirt was done by Kazuki, and is a real one-off, which is why I love it more, so that's more what I'm into at the moment. I could eat my words in 10 years time, but I don't have any desire for it. In the same way as Mo' Wax - I never really had the desire for it to become this massive multi-national corporation.
    For me at this point in my life, if I can do the things that I like doing, and earn a living which allows me to be involved... I don't have any desire to be where Pharell or those types of people are - it's not really where I'm at.
    I think the way James Jebbia has done it, or Silas has done it is slightly more interesting for me. It's different with music, as I'd like to sell 20 million records if I could but I don't see that as such an individualist thing.

    JL: Whereas walking down the street - the difference is when we were kids - if you wore the kind of clothes we are wearing now you'd probably be into hip-hop or funk or skateboarding, and that was it. Now you could be into whatever, it doesn't have to be that specific.

    It's not like a uniform say if you wore a biker's leather, you were a Rocker or a Goth ?

    Yeah and I think it's important for youth culture to have that - I think there's a period in life when it's important to be obsessive about something, and then it's important to open your mind and learn about other things. It's the kind of educational process in life.


    JL: I think that slightly doesn't exist anymore - say you can put 'I want to be cool' into the Internet, and then you get a list of clothes - if you have the money you can get it.
    What I don't think a lot of people realise with people like me or with Fraser (Cooke), is we didn't come from money - we didn't have anything more than anybody else. We were just stupidly obsessive enough to get on flight to New York, and go and buy trainers... instead of food... it was that ridiculous. The debt's I had then, and I'm still paying them off now from Mo' Wax - it was like the lunatics running the asylum!

    [We talk about days of discovery - innocence - will it ever be there for the kids of today. The Internet age]

    JL: I think there will be something that will come out of reaction to where we are now with the street-scene side of things because at the moment we are rehashing a lot of things, and the street art aspect of things is not exactly particularly new - it's got to the point where it is saturated.

    You must get hit by millions of new T-shirt brands, and toy producers. Who is responsible for decisions on that level ?

    JL: I've got to be really honest with you; I'm just really saturated with it all. I like Neighborhood - I have my relationship with APE, and I have my relationship with Nigo, where there are things that I see, and he does on a different level. I don't think I'm as on it as maybe people would expect me to be. I've taken a bit of a back seat. It's like with toys, do I go out and buy a load of new toys, or do I find something a bit more unique. I thought it was interesting when Kubrick did 1000% - is that it was suddenly taking it to a more sculpted art orientation - slightly more individual. So it's that side of things that I'm more interested in at the moment. It's the same with sneakers - I bought every other pair of Nikes for years, and now I find I wear the same pairs (points to Neighborhood Superstars).

    EC: I have been buying for Ambush for the past 4-5 years, Ambush carries more than 16-17 lines all together. But for Surrender, we tend to be more selective as in the style has to be a bit more matured and subtle and at the sametime, focus on the quality and construction of the garment. Most importantly, it has to go with what we're doing.

    Besides the store, what other extra-curricular activities do you have planned ?

    JL: Doing the record, and working on some soundtracks, stuff like that.

    EC: Within this year, we would like to have a few exhibitions at the gallery that features our favourite artists.


    You have reached the end of quite an intense Episode II.

    The final part of our SURRENDER feature will be launched Sunday, June 26th.
  4. The Hipster

    The Hipster Member

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004 Messages: 872 Likes Received: 0

    For our final Episode, Earn Chen joins in, again. Sure enough, we'll drift off with James here and there...

    Any interesting collaborations on your new album ?

    JL: Yeah there is. At the moment it's really early days, we're just starting to work on new tracks, but there will be yeah. I'm not really thinking about it, people who are friends, and people we have met along the way - some new people, and some older people... we'll see what comes of it. The one thing I'll say it that we will probably record it in LA, and try and explore things in a different way. The record will hopefully be somewhere in between the last two - something a little bit rawer, and still more song orientated, and hopefully more cohesive... so we shall see.

    Will you take the concept of SURRENDER to other cities, too ?

    JL: We've talked about doing a travelling exhibition. Do a week in each major city - A sort of tour, with me Djing, and maybe do events, and do a whole experience. I'm definitely inspired by that whole Comme Des Garcons guerrilla store aesthetic, but doing it like a band on tour where you can buy the merchandise, you can buy SURRENDER, and there's a gallery show. The next step would be to do something here.

    EC: It is only natural that we should bring SURRENDER back to London. In fact, we're working on a travelling store that goes on tour in London, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, etc. James will DJ, showcase his collection of artworks, his archives of "never been seen before" promos and prototypes, and of course the SURRENDER products. Each city will have different exclusive one-off products. Something on that scale.
    We need to plan it carefully so it takes time. We want to do it and do it right.


    Who would you like to work with - anybody from the past or the present ?

    JL: I suppose a more diverse range of artists. Somebody I'm working with at the moment and somebody I love is 3D. And if it's somebody from the past it would have to be Kubrick, or people like Avedon.

    EC: I would like to see more of 3D's work.

    We've asked Earn this earlier on - which product are you most proud of to have at SURRENDER ?

    JL: The thing I like doing most is doing screen-printed T-shirts. I know its really simple but it's the thing I look most, because its hands on. I love the feeling of it because its like making a piece of artwork or painting, but its on a piece of clothing - I like the quality of all that.
    We're doing some collaborations with Neighborhood, which I'm really looking forward to.

    What about Mo'Wax arts ?

    JL: Its all being set up at the moment, we're giving it a bit more focus, but that's more toys and related projects to Mo'Wax. It should be launched within the next two months.

    Earn, besides SURRENDER, what other projects are you involved with at the moment ?

    EC: I am trying to settle down, get married and make babies.


    What are your five most beloved items ?

    JL: That's really difficult! I suppose my paintings I have a Basquiat painting that I'm really very fond of, and a lot of Futura and 3D paintings. I have a photo that Avedon took of me, which is really sort of personal on that level. And an original Ramon C and K-Rob - Basquiat record. The one-off BAPE screen printed Tees and Nigo's first ever Bathing Ape ‘Last Orgy' baseball jacket, just because its got his name on it and that it's the first thing I saw, and I thought ‘Oh my God'!
    A pair of one-off shoes Nike made me, just things like that - that are one-off things.
    EC: Well, I definitely have more than 5... They change from time to time... But if it's now, it has to be my vintage Eames rocking chair, the KAWS packaged paintings I bought from him a few years ago, My GORO's necklace, hand screened APE x UNKLE tee (gift from James), adidas Neighborhood Superstar (Gift from Kazuki), a bunch of UNKLE promo records, Stone Roses Fools Gold 12" LE Gold Vinyl, Joy Division Live Bootleg LP (LE of 400pcs), Bauhaus Bela Lugosi's Dead 12" Glow in the dark Picture Vinyl, The Clash Combat Rock LP (Inner sleeve designed by Futura) and Rose of Avalanche Velveteen 12" single and all these records I bought when I was fourteen.
    And the list goes on...



    What makes you really angry, and conversely what makes you happy at the moment ?
    JL: My daughter makes me happy, and meeting interesting people always makes me happy. What makes me angry? The past sometimes makes me angry...

    And in terms of Mo'Wax ?

    JL: think I make myself angry, because I never really... maybe I didn't take where I could have, but I don't think I would have been capable of it. Politics makes me angry.

    The state of Politics in the UK? You were very vocal on your anti-war stance ?
    JL: Yeah I was, I think it was terrible.
    JL: I think this Country makes me angry because its financially retarded. I don't see why it has to be so expensive, and I find that mind blowing and I think it's sad. I think the way we are in the world is sad in that way.
    My daughter is someone who makes me happy, Politics and the way we are in the world making me angry is more important that worrying about press, or the past or whatever, but you can't help yourself.

    How do you feel about the overt Americanisation of the UK ?
    JL: It's just a lack of individuality that I find sad, but I think things will come and I think things will change. Things are cyclical, and things will change - good things will happen, and you have to embrace that. You can only hope that things will change.


    ust one last thing to say: thank you guys for this in-depth feature. We've enjoyed it and we wish you all the best for your coming projects !