Music

friendlychemistFriendly Chemist Touch of Jupiter album artwork by Sharona Franklin

We’re locked into a Vancouver, B.C., groove right now, anticipating our new store in that beautiful Canadian harbor city on September 18.

One of our favorite things to do while in Vancouver is jog around Stanley Park. Smack dab in the city, it’s also a place to see orcas in the water. As we struggle to stay on our fitness regimen this summer/fall, we’re bumping Vancouver music in our headphones and visualizing Stanley Park, aiming to move as swiftly as an orca or perhaps soar like one of the local bald eagles.

Our running soundtrack comes courtesy of Vancouver resident Richard MacFarlane, who operates one of our favorite independent music labels, 1080p. Read our Q&A with MacFarlane here. For jogging he recommends the steady beat of Friendly Chemist, aka Van-city’s Jean Brazeau.

Read his comments and listen below to the sounds of the True North, strong and free.

–Andrew Matson

“If you’re running in Vancouver, or anywhere, you should be listening to Friendly Chemist–he’s from here. His music is this kind of spacey techno. Not super high-energy, but enough to keep you coasting for sure.”

–Richard MacFarlane

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richardmacfarlaneipadImages by Andrew Volk

Since we’re opening our third Canadian store on September 18th in Vancouver, B.C., we’ve been renewing our love affair with the city, draping ourselves in wings + horns gear (it’s designed there) and cruising around with 1080p Collection music bumping in our headphones.

That would be the internationally respected dance music label run out of Vancouver by Richard MacFarlane, who releases cassette tapes and floods the Internet with chill vibes. (Sorry we just said “chill vibes” but it had to be done.)

We spoke to MacFarlane about the natural beauty and the music scene in his adopted hometown–he left New Zealand because he felt the country wasn’t cool enough, musically–and which 1080p releases convey the most Vancouverishness.

Check the interview and see images from 1080p headquarters below.

–Andrew Matson

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chastity-belt-team-shotPhoto by Jesse Codling

It’s been a breakout year for Chastity Belt, the Seattle band which has grown into its voice in the past few years and was recently written up in the New Yorker on the strength of its album Time To Go Home.

Musically, that voice is droning and jangly. Ideologically, Chastity Belt is feminist, with a viewpoint that is often funny but with songs that can also be serious and direct about everyday existential crises.

We took pictures at Capitol Hill Block Party and later phoned guitarist and sometime singer Lydia Lund (far right in the photo) to talk about “Lydia,” a what-does-it-all-mean song which lands someplace…indistinct.

Other topics of conversation included avoiding seasonal affective disorder by gardening, feeling the ocean’s power while surfing–and we learned about the taste of the Peperomia plant.

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conversechuckIIRedesigning the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star is a risky proposition. We’re talking about the most classic American sneaker, whose design has gone relatively untouched since 1917. A true shoe of the people.

Think about it. Which other garment is worn by young and old folks alike so prevalently? And in various stages of pristine or tattered? Chucks are like Levi’s 501s for your feet.

And yet: Converse designer Damion Silver was faced with a problem. Foot fatigue was an issue. Especially if you’re trying to wear them every day, All Stars have always been a little hard on your dogs.

Enter Lunarlon, Nike cushioning technology.

That’s just one way Silver–a visual artist who shows his own paintings at galleries all over the world–created the Chuck II, a stellar and more comfortable sequel to Chuck Taylor All Star.

We spoke with Silver on the phone at Converse headquarters in Boston proper about shoveling snow, his unrealistic fantasy of one day skateboarding on a frozen golf course–and the pressures of redesigning the brand’s #1 seller worldwide.

converselunarlonShop: Chuck II high | Chuck II low

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tuxedo700
Photo by Kyle Johnson

Parties crack and moods lift to the sounds of Tuxedo, the west coast duo whose 1980s funk is inspired by the past and crystalized in the present by Mayer Hawthorne (Andrew Cohen) and Jake One (Jake Dutton). If the group’s eponymous album is not in your summer music rotation already, we recommend it.

The singer and producer are old friends and hip-hop collaborators. They’re both deejays, too, and initially bonded over mixtapes each had made focusing on artists like Bernard Wright and David Grusin. The shared affinity is central to Tuxedo.

We spoke to them on tour about how Tuxedo fits into this current retro moment in pop (Mark Ronson, Daft Punk) and which piece from their custom Klein Epstein Parker tuxedos Jake One accidentally left at home with 30 minutes to showtime.

Shop: tuxedos

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varvatos-head-shotIf New York Fashion Week: Men’s were a music festival, John Varvatos would have been the headliner. The American menswear designer went last and went big at #NYFWM, with a rockin’ runway show which people jostled to get into beforehand and fought during to take photos.

We meet Varvatos backstage to talk about the England-meets-SoCal inspiration behind his stripe-y spring/summer 2016 collection–a lot of it had to do with a guitar player whose name rhymes with Beef Pritchards–and why he forewent his regular runway show in Milan in favor of New York.

Shop: John Varvatos

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billy-reid-headshotBilly Reid was one of the designers we looked forward to meeting most at #NYFWM, whose stuff we love (both his excellent every day clothes and subtly radical runway collections) and whose whole perspective is on-point, culturally and socially.

Click here for images of Reid’s spring/summer 2016 collection.

We caught up with the designer backstage before his runway show at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea. He told us all about his collection and which music he listened to while designing it–and opened up about his special connection to Charleston, SC, and being moved to take action after the tragic church shooting there.

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MARK_RONSON_PICS_0012_Layer 1Mark Ronson and Shomi Patwary on the set

The best party nobody went to might’ve been 12 years ago in Norfolk, Virginia, when producers who would change the sound of hip-hop and R&B deejayed to basically nobody.

We’ll let our music video director friend Shomi Patwary tell you about that one.

Long story short, Patwary and British star Mark Ronson go way back, and we now have the video for “I Can’t Lose.” It’s more zesty funk from Ronson–whom we shall never fail to mention without hyperlinking to his and Aaliyah’s classic Hilfiger ad–and bigger-budget moves from Patwary, best known for A$AP Rocky’s “Multiply.”

Check out behind-the-scenes images below from “I Can’t Lose” and an edited transcript of our phone call with Patwary.

We talked about Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” Dick Tracy, Blade Runner, the cameo from Waris Ahluwalia–and what happens when the zeitgeist moves post- ‘90s retromania.

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freedomfresh-dressedpuff1

Fresh Dressed is the first-ever documentary about the history of hip-hop fashion, out now in theaters all over the U.S. We recommend you see it. You will be entertained and educated, and perhaps inspired to decorate your jacket.

Energy and insights in Fresh Dressed come from music and fashion leaders including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Dapper Dan, André Leon Talley, Riccardo Tisci and the duo of Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne from Public School.

But the overall product is excellent mostly because it was directed by Sacha Jenkins, a 20-years-deep veteran of journalism with Beat Downego trip and Mass Appeal magazines. Mainstream America remembers his The (White) Rapper Show on VH1Some Pratt Institute students call him their professor.

Now you will know him from his interview with the Nordstrom blogs.

Check our interview with Jenkins and the trailer for Fresh Dressed below. And if you’re already feeling TL;DR, check this audio clip from Jenkins about how hip-hop style relates to freedom:

 

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NoJoy_KJ-9750-700
L-R: Laura Lloyd and Jasamine White-Gluz

Images by Kyle Johnson

Listening to Montreal rock band No Joy gives us visions of a professional snowboarder on a sunny day, flying off a jump, doing something complex and elegant midair.

Not something we necessarily understand. But we’re into it.

We do know that No Joy leaders Laura Lloyd and Jasamine White-Gluz derive their looped and soaring music from guitars and effects pedals. The rest of their new album More Faithful is a mystery to us. We’re cool with that–and highly recommend it as a soundtrack to summer road-tripping, camping, head-banging and zoning out.

We spoke to guitarist Laura Lloyd after a recent concert in Seattle about Tevas, tinnitus, complicated time signatures and chia seeds.

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