Interview: Photographer Jackie Nickerson by Metropolitan Society

We've decided to release partial interview content from the first issue of our print magazine, Persons of Interest. The interview below is with photographer Jackie Nickerson. Jackie is very well known for several of her solo bodies of work, as well as photography and creative direction for every Yeezy Season lookbook, and other projects for Kanye West and Donda. To read the complete interview you may purchase the full magazine issue from our online store.

"Jackie Nickerson’s extensive body of photography has been exhibited in some of the most world-renowned museums— including the Museum of Modern Art; Palais des Beaux-Arts; Irish Museum of Modern Art; and the Vatican Museums. Jackie had been photographing in the commercial fashion industry for a several years until her career took a turn after a traveling to Africa in 1997. She left behind her commercial career to dedicate her time to personal projects and fine art work. By using a camera as an investigative tool, Jackie has photographed farm workers in Southern and Eastern Africa in some of her most well-known works, Terrain and Farm. Jackie has also worked with hip-hop artist and fashion designer Kayne West for the Yeezy Season One and Two lookbooks and was commissioned to photograph Ebola Fighters in Monrovia, Liberia for TIME magazine." 

In your latest book, Terrain, you photograph Eastern and Southern African agricultural laborers in several different farms and locations. How does lifestyle change on each of these different farms? Is there a particular place you felt more attached to than any other? How did your experience photographing Terrain differ from your prior work, Farm?

I visited all kinds of farms and locations. Some were family farms, some commercial and some were farmers were working at a subsistence level. So there was a huge diversity. As to the experience of photographing in the 1990’s and today, well, the cultural connection to the land hasn’t really changed, but the politics around agriculture have. The power of land and nature in context with political power are inextricably linked. Most of the farms that I photographed in Terrain were owned by indigenous Africans. I think everyone agrees that land distribution is an essential part of the decolonization process and empowering indigenous farmers is an important part of that. In Zimbabwe I also visited lots of resettled farms, many of which, for practical reasons, were growing tobacco. The main problem going forward is investment in infrastructure because the new farmers are only given a six month rolling lease and can be evicted at any time.

In your book, Terrain, you photograph Eastern and Southern African agricultural laborers in several different farms and locations. How does lifestyle change on each of these different farms? Is there a particular place you felt more attached to than any other? How did your experience photographing Terrain differ from your prior work, Farm?

In 1997 I was living in Zimbabwe and felt that the society there was divided. The global North often stereotypes Africans in a negative way so I set out to try to photograph individuals to try to challenge this perception. I ended up photographing working people who had made their clothes solely for the purpose of protecting themselves in the workplace. It was a way of concentrating on individual identity. Farm is about personal identity through improvisation—a very personal exploration into perception and individuality. It was my first personal project. I think it’s true to say that, whether you like it or not, no matter where you are in the world, your clothes help people to define your status. Saying that, I think we should wear things that make us feel good about ourselves and help to encourage a positive self-image and I think that means being true to yourself.

In the late 1990’s, you spent upwards of three years exploring Southern Africa for the first time, and you have said in a prior interview that the experience changed your life. What about this specific region held your devoted interest for this period of time? How did it change your perspective on the way you shoot?

Yes, I was based in Zimbabwe for about four years in the 1990’s and traveled all over southern Africa. I’m from an urban background, where I’ve lived in confined spaces and environments made up of concrete. For me, space has always been a precious commodity. So living in rural Africa gave me a feeling of space and freedom and a different perspective on life. I exchanged an indoor life for an outdoor life.

Read the full interview with Jackie Nickerson in the first issue of our in-house magazine Persons of Interest

All images courtesy of Jackie Nickerson and Jack Shainman Gallery.

Interview: Julien Boudet | Bleumode by Jerry Perez

Oscar Wilde once said, "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable it has to be altered every 6 months." In addition to its extremely high barriers to entry, one must constantly offer something new to the ever-hungry fashion industry just to stay in the game. Born in the South of France, now emigrated to New York City, comes Julien Boudet; a photographer known for capturing the “decisive moment.” Julien is relatively new to fashion photography, but, following his father's photographic lead, he has created exemplary studies which have earned instant renown. Inspired by minimalism and surrealism, Julien has a sharp eye for detail and composition. He has shot for Rick Owens, Louis Vuitton, Haider Ackermann, Thom Browne, and Daniel Anderson, to name a few. Not only is julien inspired by fashion, but he also takes cues from architecture, design and modern art. Metropolitan Society had a chance to interview Julien, to gain some insight into current fashion, street-style, architecture, film, and his other creative endeavors.

How do you approach street style photography in comparison to editorials/industry projects? What is it like behind the scenes of an editorial?

The main difference between these two is that before shooting an editorial, you get some time to prepare yourself, and even while shooting, you're supposed to have the time to think twice before pressing the shutter; you have a theme, a mood-board, a stylist, a model to work with, a team to help creating these images. In street style, obviously, it's the opposite; you are by yourself (although some informal “teams” seem to have been created lately), you have literally between 1 and 5 seconds to find your subject, to figure out what you want to focus on (pants, top, shoes, or the whole outfit), frame it, and capture it before it is too late. Everything happens so fast, and once you got the shot, you have to be back on track in order to shoot the next person you find interesting. You have to be ready all the time, which is pretty fun actually. There is a lot of excitement, I enjoy doing it. Personally, I see street style as a training for editorial/commercial projects, in that sense that you have to do everything so quick, over and over all day every day for a month, that is really challenging. Afterwards, you are on set for an editorial, and it all seems so slow, “easy” in a way that you can actually take your time.

How has fashion week, and street style evolved from when you first began? How has your work evolved with it?

I haven't been doing this for very long so I can't really answer that question like someone who's been around for more than 6-7 years, but from what I've seen for the past 2 years that I've been working non-stop, I can say that it has become more and more crowded with new photographers in front of shows. Clearly, people have noticed new opportunities out there and try to get their piece of the cake. It is not that easy though, a lot of photographers have been there for years doing that job already. If you want to come in and start right now, you'd better come up with something new in order to stand out right away. As far as I'm concerned, I had to adapt myself to this new market. When I first started, I was taking “regular” street style pictures, just like everyone else, without really expressing my point of view. Back then I was just trying to get nice and clean shots. Once I was able to take correct images, little by little, I found my own way of framing, finding a different angle, editing my own way, capturing certain styles only...It takes a lot of practice but finally you find your own vision - if you have one. A lot of people have been telling me lately that they recognize my images right away when scrolling down their Instagram news feed, without even looking at my name, I take it as a compliment.

What do you like and dislike seeing during fashion week’s streetstyle, or streetstyle in general?

During fashion week, I like to see guests coming to shows wearing what they wear on a daily basis, to have that genuine vibe that is becoming more and more rare throughout the seasons. That being said, I do enjoy seeing two or three “crazy” outfits a day (only when they are well worn), it's cool to capture some amazing pieces as a photographer. My favorite things to photograph right now are layers details and oversized outfits that look like big shapes... I don't really like when people try too much to get our attention to get their photo taken, it is a bit annoying for us when it's very obvious. I've even had people asking me straight up to take their picture, and I was like “mhhh well now this is very awkward...”

In your portrait or street style photos, often times the subject is someone from another creative discipline, ie hip­hop artist, musician, etc. Can you touch upon what you think street style’s role is, in pop culture today? In fashion today?

Well, first of all I have to say that I grew up listening to hip-hop. I still listen to hip-hop a lot, so obviously when I've seen that rappers started attending fashion shows in Paris, I thought it was great because it's a bit as if two worlds that I thought were opposite were finally colliding; fashion and hip-hop. I think street style allows artists' audience to keep track of their favorite singer/rapper's personal style. When I saw A$AP Rocky going to Rick Owens show in Paris wearing full Rick or Kanye West attending Haider Ackermann in Paris, I think it is a good thing for their fans because they are introduced to avant-garde designers they wouldn't have heard of otherwise, i.e not known by the average guy who has no interest in fashion.

You’ve said before that some of your favorite designers are Rick Owens, Damir Doma, and Yohji Yamamoto. Can you share with us why you're attracted to their works and its influence on your photography?

You must have found this info in an old interview because I eventually got a bit tired of two of these designers you just mentioned (laughs). Basically I am attracted to their works because they fit my personal aesthetics as well as my photographic vision. Attending their fashion shows is very inspiring to me. Looking at these monochrome outfits has forced me to pay more attention to details, in opposition to being distracted by colorful and flashy patterns printed all over a piece. Thanks to their works I've enhanced my personal vision, making it more edgy in a way.

Documenting your travels around the world is there a particular city you have a deeper attraction to than any other? Why?

I would say Paris is the city where I feel the more at home, I guess because I am French, but not only. I love the atmosphere there, it is very relaxing and it's definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I love the culture there, there is a lot going on. I like New York a lot, but after 7 years there I am starting to realize I wouldn't be able to live there another 10 years; it is a bit too stressful and loud...

Are there specific architectural styles that speak out to you as a photographer more than others?

Without hesitating, brutalism is my favorite type of architecture. I have been documenting myself a lot about this movement, particularly on Le Corbusier work. Whenever I get a chance I go spend some time on the rooftop of his masterpiece in Marseille, “la Cite Radieuse,” it is a magical place!

How does shooting with film change your overall approach when shooting? What are your staple film cameras and lens you use when working?

Shooting with film is very different, mainly because of the fact that you can't check your images right after you shot them on the digital screen. It makes a big difference, it makes you think more before pressing the shutter. Also, I love nice black and white grainy images, it adds a dramatic mood that you don't have with DSLR's. Analog photographs feel definitely more authentic, more “real.” I shoot a lot with my Mamiya pro 7 ii (medium format) with a 80mm 4 lens and more recently with my Voigtlander Bessa-R4A (35mm) with a 50mm 1.1 lens.

What do you see for the future of Bleumode? Are there any big projects you're working on right now that you can share with us?

I have a lot of things in mind for the future of Bleu Mode. Basically I want it go grow into something that goes beyond photography, more like a very specific aesthetics that can be applied to other contexts as well, such as clothing, books, magazines...I want to collaborate with designers, artists, in order to create new work with that same Bleu Mode signature. As of right now I am working on a couple different projects like that so I'm very excited to share them with my audience soon. It should be cool!

Thank you for your time Julien. Is there a message you would like to leave for our readers?

I'll just end this interview with a quote from Camus, for those who feel a bit lost in life (we've all been through this): “En vérité le chemin importe peu, la volonté d'arriver suffit à tout.”

Interview: Uyama Hiroto by Stephen Hopkins


Downtempo/ambient jazz hip-hop has an affluent fan base around the world, and will likely turn you into a fiend from the first time you hear an Uyama Hiroto production. Often laced with lyrics from some of the best MC's in the underground scene, Hiroto-san's music links jazz-hop artists, producers, and listeners, from across the planet, with the common interest of a beautiful sound and conscious lyrics. We were recently able to talk to Hiroto-san about his inspiration, influences, and newest album, Freedom of the Sun. MS: When did your love for music begin? UH: My love for music started when I was about 3, since my parents were always listening to jazz. 私は3歳くらいから、音楽が好きだったと思います。いつも父と母がソウルやジャズを聴かせてくれていました。

MS: How did you start to make music? UH: I started composing when I was about 10 for a school festival. At that time I had a Casio family keyboard and made simple sequences. Around 13, I bought CBX-T3 and started DTM. At that time I had to use MS-DOS which took me a while to learn how to use and get used to it. 10歳位に学校の文化祭の為に作曲を始めました。その時はカシオのファミリーキーボードを使って簡単にシーケンスを組んでいました。 13歳の頃には、CBX-T3を買ってDTMを始めていました。まだMS-DOSの時代で、コンピューターのプログラムを覚えるのが大変でした。

MS: What are some of the best experiences you’ve had through music? UH: It is amazing how I can connect with people's feelings and emotions through music. It is definitely a one and only experience. 音楽を作って人の感情や心の中の情景とシンクロできる事が、とても素晴らしい。最大の経験だと思います。

MS: Your music is full of soothing brass instruments and smooth key riffs that send a sensation of wonder to the listeners’ ear. Who are some of your biggest influences within the music industry? UH: Artists' like John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, John Hicks, Keith Jarrett has inspired me, but it would be an endless list to name all of my inspirational artists. 影響を受けたのは、john coltrane、pharoah sanders、john hicks、keith jarrettなど、他にも沢山のアーティストがいますが、全てを挙げるのは難しいです。

MS: Who or what inspires you outside of the music realm? UH: I love riding my motorcycle to somewhere with an amazing view; physically experiencing nature inspires me a lot. 音楽以外では、バイクで景色の良い場所に走りに行ったりします。身体で体感できる自然の素晴らしさには、とても影響を受けています。

MS: Are there any creative outlets other than music in which you partake in? UH: Of course, just like the cover of waltz, I draw, I take photos, and customize bikes. I'm the kind of person that immerses myself into something that I enjoy doing. Check my instagram, and you'll see! もちろん、waltzのジャケットの様に、絵も描くし、写真なんかも好きです。バイクをカスタムするのも好きだし、好きなものにはとことん没頭します。 インスタグラムをチェックすると、その様子が分かりますよ。

MS: You have just released your second album, “Freedom of the Son.” Can you tell us a little bit about the thought process and ideologies behind this album? UH: Music is freedom and thinking about that I symbolized my music as my son. There are things that symbolizes "freedom" hidden in this album. 音楽は自由、それを僕の音楽(息子)に当てはめました。自由な思想はこのアルバムの様々な部分に表れていると思います。

Is there an overall message the album portrays? UH: I wrote this message on the back of my album.

"Music is air. Scene and feeling that is in my mind. Air becomes the vibration that moves the waves, and creates new scenes and senses. Music has no shape. Music is something that resonates in my soul. They change their shapes into something more obvious and becomes new emotion in your mind. Behind that mirror of the disk, There is a bridge and it connects my specially scene and senses to your soul. You've taken them, A great thanks to you

Music is vibrates with you..."


“音楽は空気。 自分の中にある情景や感覚。 空気は振動し波となり、あなたの中で新しい情景や感覚となる。 音楽は無形。 自分の魂と共鳴する自由な音楽達。 それらは有形なものへと変化し、 あなたの手元で新しい温もりとなる。 この円盤の鏡の向こう側には、 自分の特別な情景や感覚と、あなたの心を繋げる架け橋がある。 手にとってくれたあなたに最大限の感謝と共に、、


Ms: You've worked closely with artists such as Pase Rock and Cise Starr, lead vocalist of C.Y.N.E. What is it like creating with them? UH: I've been working with them for a long time, so it's very easy to work with them. They have a sensitivity like a Japanese person and even without telling them exactly what I want, they will rap something that goes perfectly with what I had imagined. 彼らとは長い付き合いで、とても共作しやすいです。凄く日本人的な感性を持っていて、こちらの意図している事を細かく伝えなくても、私の頭の中にあるイメージのままでラップしてくれます。私の作ったビートに命を吹き込んでくれる最高のアーティスト達です。

MS: How do you produce a track differently when someone has lyrics for it? UH: In my case, I don’t create music thinking this is for a rap song or instrumental. I just send my music to an artist that I think would go well with what I've created and ask them to write lyrics based on what they thought listening to my music. 私の場合、これはラップ用とか、インストとかは特に意識して作っていません。これに誰かのラップが乗ったら良いなと思ったものを、アーティストに送り、 それを聴いてもらって感じてもらった事をリリックにしてもらっています。

MS: Deep reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges have been used for both albums “Freedom of the Son” and “A Son of the Sun.” Why are these colors always used? UH: Simply because the image of this album just made me think of warm colors, and this album is a continuation of my 1st album’s world. 単純にアルバム全体を通して感じた色が暖色系だったからです。また、前作の世界観からの続編的な意味合いも持たせているので、このような色使いとなりました。

MS: Who are the artists that created the covers? How did each album cover relate to the music on each album? UH: FJD is the artist who created the covers. He listened prior to completion of the album and he painted from music of my spiritual world. これを描いてくれたのはFJDです。「各タイトルともに音楽を先に聴いてもらって、音楽で表現した精神世界を絵で具現化してもらいました」

MS: The words sun and son play a consist theme within your album titles and album artwork. What does this symbolize to you? UH: Sun means exactly what it sounds like; the warmth and the light of the sun. Son, symbolizes myself, music and the air. 太陽は、まさに太陽の光や暖かみなど。息子は、私自身、そして私が作った音楽、空気などを比喩表現しています。

MS: Are there any other underlying themes or messages laced within your music? UH: All the love I have for the music I've listened to, and how that became a base and an inspiration for me to create my own music. It makes me feel like things just made a full circle. 根底には、私の聴いてきた音楽達への愛があり、それらが私なりのフィルターを通して羽ばたいていく、輪廻のようなものを感じています。

Interview: Abdul Abasi by Stephen Hopkins


If you have ever ventured through the myriad menswear and street style blogs that have emerged in the last 5-10 years then odds are you have seen many pictures of Abdul Abasi. Tall, thin, and with his unmistakable top knot of dreads, he has certainly made his mark on the street style blogosphere (enough so that Complex Magazine voted him one of NYC's 50 most stylish). If you have dug even further into the world of menswear and fashion you may even know that Abdul is the shop manager of one of the most revered store's in the world- Nepenthes NYC. What you may not know is that Abdul is one half of the brand Abasi Rosborough which has evolved in the past few years to become one of fashions most interesting and unique new labels. After cutting his teeth with cult label's Patrick Ervell and Engineered Garments, Abdul joined forces with his current partner Greg Rosborough to form Abasi Rosborough. The aim was to shake up the menswear industry, introducing a new way of designing men's clothing that was firmly rooted in the experience of the modern, urban man. Most of Abdul and Greg's work seems to follow the modernist architectural mantra of form following function, and being able to render beauty through the process of reduction. With functionality at its core and a conscious desire to move away from the archetypical shapes and patterns of men's fashion, Abdul and Greg are designing pieces that function for the man of today. They are developing these new shapes in accordance with the evolving lifestyle of the modern urban man, but still maintaining the tradition of excellence in craft that comes with making all of their pieces in NYC. What's even more amazing, is that, like many young creatives, Abdul has been quietly building the brand all while he works his day job at Nepenthes.

We catch up with Abdul to ask him about what inspires him to change the way we create clothing and what we should expect from our clothes, how Abasi Rosborough approaches their design process, where he sees his brand going, and how the hell he balances it all.

You are going into your 4th collection with S/S 15. How would you assess the growth of your brand so far? Where do you want to be in the next 2 years?

So far the growth has been organic, we've picked up a few stores here and there, and the awareness of what we are doing is spreading. So right now I think we're in a decent place. Obviously we are still working other jobs so we are not a total autonomous or self-sufficient company. But as far as our designs and aesthetics we're refining the process. The production process is getting better and the design process is getting more streamlined by using analytics to see what works and what doesn't work. Our vocabulary is getting larger, so I think we're moving at a nice pace and hopefully within the next two years we'll be even further along. More distribution, more stores, more of a story to tell, more of a lifestyle brand, having sportswear and opening more categories within what we do.

You seem to drive your design process through addressing problems or flaws in functionality. How do you decide which problems to deal with and what pieces to design? What is your process for designing a new piece?

Well essentially when we first started Greg and I proposed the idea of pushing men’s suiting forward. The model that we use now is antiquated, it was designed in the late 1800s on Saville Row. The use back then is totally different the use of a suit now. The reason why we started with the suit is because its archetypical garments that signify dignity, sophistication, strength, class, etc. So we started with something that everyone knew and decided how we could push it forward while still maintaining the same aesthetic. Design is problem solving, so Greg and I decided that for our first for way into fashion what we would do is tackle some of these problems. How come when you put on a suit jacket it always feels restrictive? How come when something is tailored it's also very stiff? We took elements of active wear such as knit panels, with consideration of the anatomy of the body and how muscles and ligaments move, and applied that to tailoring. Modern techniques with tried and true Saville Row tailoring and canvasing. Any time we conserve a product, it's trying to solve a problem or void that exists. When you start from that pure standpoint, it always guides you to something that has a reason. We strip away anything that is superfluous or unnecessary and we keep the essence of what it is so that it looks like a garment that you've already seen, but it always works and functions better.


You and Greg have said in interviews that you have spent a lot of time working through prototypes and adjusting pieces until you reach the right response to a problem. This model for creation seems to be hard to adapt to the traditional fashion calendar where collections are released so quickly and consistently. Do you feel pressure to always be creating new pieces to fall in line with this format of seasonal collections?

We wanted to ashu the whole seasonal calendar and that cyclical treadmill, but as a small company there is an issue of cash flow. The reason why there is so many seasons is because that means you can sell and you can buy and you can have this transference of money and this cash flow always coming through your company. We spent so long in development because we wanted to create a foundation, our own archetypes, our own blocks, our own patterns. Then based on that we would tweak it every season. At the core the collection is always based around tailoring. But now we are refining those aspects and expanding it into newer silhouettes, easier pieces and looking at sportswear and active wear, and putting our own take on it. Because we did so much ground work at the beginning it’s allowed us to stay with what we're doing and slowly iterate all of our processes. Although we are another seasonal brand, when you look at our collection you will always see the core, and then you will see some of the experiments that we do that revolve around the core and compliment what we do. It's never going to be a drastic change from season to season, but it is always going to iterate, refine, and get better. Whether it's out first collection, or tenth collection, all of the pieces will be able to be wore together and there won't be a drastic difference in what’s being made or created.

Does this format also need to change? You have talked about creating a new paradigm with your clothing, do you think the entire industry needs to look at alternative ways of doing things? Can there really continue to be true innovation at the pace of the fashion industry as it is set up right now?

I think what Greg and I realized in our short tenure as designers for our own company and for our history with other companies is that the only advantage fashion has in newness. That is the only reason fashion exists. Fashion, in itself, is not meant to be innovative, it is meant to create desire. The jacket you have in your closet works perfectly well, but my job as a fashion designer is to create something that makes you think that you don't need that jacket in your closet, you need my jacket. Innovation from fashion is probably not something on the forefront of most fashion designers minds but as we mentioned before, Greg and I look at what we do more as more product design. We are more attune to industrial design or architecture. We are taking codes and we're taking archetypes that already exist and we're pushing those forward. We're trying to create something that is timeless. The fashion industry revolves around a cyclical nature because it is about cash flow, creating desires, creating something that you want even though you don't necessarily need. It's a shame, but then again, it's a product of our society. If you go to H&M or Zara for instance, it looks like a zoo, things are thrown all over the ground, everything is 80% off and people really don't cherish what they buy. We have these fast fashion stores that allow people to buy things at an inexpensive cost to stay in fashion, and then after a few months, they can go back and buy something else and discard what they already have. It's a very wasteful way to do fashion, but at the end of the day materialism, capitalism, and commercialism are what reigns supreme in America and most first-world countries, at the end of the day. It's not a time where you buy one suit and wear it for twenty years, and you mend it when it is wore, then you continue to wear it. Now people are consuming as much as possible. It is about quantity, rather than quality. Unfortunately, Greg and I have to play in this playground, be a part of it, but we are trying to create a product made with integrity, a product made to last, and a product made to be timeless. At large, I don't fashion is going to change. I think it is going to continue the way it is going. Things happen in extremes, so I think it is going to go back to a time wear people bought a few staple pieces that were of higher quality and maybe cost a little bit more, but then they revolved the trendier pieces within their wardrobe to stay up to date, but the basics were always staple pieces. At AR, we hope to be those staple garments and if someone wants to dip their toe into a trend, that's fine. But they won't necessarily have to come to us for that trend. We are going to be there for the things that don't really change, just evolve. The nature of fashion in itself is to change, and it's very superfluous. At the end of the day, it's also exciting. That is why there is an emotional response when you see a dress or a jacket on a rack and you don't need that, you have one on your back that functions just fine. But you look at it and you need it and want it. There is something to be said about that desire and I'm not saying it is something that is irrelevant but the mindset of the customer and the mindset of society has to change before the wastefulness and consumerism subsides. There has to be a paradigm shift in the thinking.

As an outsider looking in I would describe your process at Abasi Roborough as something closer to an architect or an industrial designer. Do you ever see yourselves producing work outside of fashion/clothing, and translating your ability to provide functional responses to problems to different mediums?

Yeah, absolutely. Before Greg wanted to be a fashion designer, he wanted to be an architect. Personally, I've grown up all my life with drawing and design. I think that with creatives, it all comes from the same part of the brain. Whether you’re an architect, industrial designer, fashion designer, painter, etc., I think it's all the same. It's just a matter of applying it to a certain discipline. Greg and I do everything for AR. Everything as far as the photography, website, styling, PR, sales, and we quite enjoy it that way. It gives a congruence to our visual aesthetic and our design aesthetic. We want to create products that are better. I would love to work on other projects, and collaborate with people that may have more knowledge of the nuts and bolts of certain things, but could use a different viewpoint from another designer. People I grew up admiring are people like Syd Mead, Le Corbusier, and Jean Prouvé. These people were all self-taught designers, architects, furniture makers, etc. It's all from the same part of the brain and it all has the same basic foundation, as far as golden ratio and design that is considered from a basic geometry. This day and age everything is about specialization, but I think that if you really think about designers of the past it was more about the way you thought about the things rather than what they did. They came to each discipline with a thought process that informed what they created. I would to dabble in many things and I think that clothing and apparel is not the only thing that we will do. Hopefully in fifty years, when all is said and done, you may say AR did XYZ and that we tried a lot of things and brought newness and a new a thinking to many different mediums.

If you could do any other job other than what you already do, what would it be?

There are so many things. I'm completely into photography, but I’m also into art. I love using my hands to create things. Sculpture, painting, even products like industrial design would be really interesting or furniture design. I think the beauty about life is that you set your own limits. I don't class myself as anything but someone that is insatiably curious. I'm not a designer or an artist; I'm just curious about everything. If I feel the need to try something I'll do it and if it holds my attention I'll continue and if it doesn't I'll try something else. I love creating things myself using my own handwriting, so to speak, to create my own world. There's so many things I would like to do, I can't narrow it down.

Who/what inspires you one daily basis?

I'm not sure if I can pinpoint it to one thing. If anyone opens their eyes, there's something inspiring everywhere. You can be inspired by so many things if you are open to it. If you remove the context of what it is, and just look at it for the beauty of nature, the beauty of light, conversation, the way someone wears something, the way someone talks. There's so many things that you can be inspired from. I wouldn't necessarily say there is one thing or one person that inspires me, I think that being alive at this day and age, in this present form, and this present location is inspiring. It's all a matter of observation and opening your mind to see what's in front of you.

When did you first know that you wanted to design clothes or create things?

Well create things, since before I could even talk. Every kid has that sort of nack whether it's taking their building blocks and stacking them up or taking that crayon to the paper and scribbling. As human beings, it's innate for us to create and to shape our environment. In my formative years, when I was in high school I really looked at the possibilities of finding a career and I was always drawn to art and design. Initially I was probably more in tune with graphic design but, it wasn't until I moved to Europe that I really thought about clothing as a medium for expression and when I solidified my idea of being a fashion "designer".

Complex has named you as one of NYC's 50 most stylish people and you are often photographed by the street style bloggers and photographers in NYC. How do feel about the entire street style culture? What has its impact been on fashion?

People think that street-style photography or documentation is a new thing but people have been documenting the way of dress for centuries. If you look August Sander or National Geographic, it's just now due to the nature and democratization of the internet now everyone has the same voice and everyone has the same amount of power. Now you have the ability to shape your own personal brand and it's a beautiful time, but when everybody can do something there is a lot of rubbish and there's a lot of noise. Street-style in itself, at least in the third or fourth wave of The Sartorialist, when people were less self-aware, was a beautiful thing. It was really capturing an honesty and truth on how people actually dressed. Now-a-days people are dressing with the knowledge that they are going into an environment where they're going to photographed for certain publications. So they go out with that conception beforehand, which I think is inauthentic. Not to bash any of these, Pitti Uomo, street-style peacocks but, I'm a big fan of being yourself and being consistent and authentic. If you wear a three-piece suit every day in Idaho then if you go to Florence and you wear a three-piece suit that's great. But if you wear a t-shirt and jeans in Idaho but then when you go to Florence you are wearing a three-piece suit, I think there is something wrong about that. Anytime you dress up for a camera, I think it's a bit silly. Of course I'm flattered that I was chosen as the 50 most stylish men but I really take it with a grain of salt, because it's all a matter of taste, and I'm just being myself. Whether I would be photographed or not, that's the way I would dress. I urge everyone to dress with the consideration of being themselves, because I believe that confidence is the best accessory and the most import attribute to have when wearing clothes. When you are overly aware of what is going on, it loses the charm of what it is meant to be. I don't think street-style is going to continue but I don't think it is as pure as it once was. People are now dressing up for the camera and to create some sort of buzz or personal branding to market that, and I don't know if I'm a big fan.

ar ss5
ar ss5

I think it's impacted it greatly. It's one thing for a designer to send something down the runway in certain style, but when you see it on the street it's a much fresher interpretation because it's mixed with high and low; it's mixed with older clothes and newer clothes and has a degree of function. People are wearing things because they need it to function in a certain weather or a certain climate. Street-style in its essence, when you compare it to runway is much more authentic and realistic. Designers send something down the runway in a certain style, and it is then interpenetrated by the audience in a different style in which a designer looks at, and then copies. Everyone is influenced by everyone else and everyone is looking. Whether it is the designer looking at the street-style photographer or the person being shot by the photographer is looking at the designer. I think it's beautiful because the community and the audience becomes one. Even Greg and I look at some of these blogs and some of the combinations are really fresh, some of them you may have never thought of. It becomes inspiration for us, as far how do we dress this or how would the modern man or woman wear their clothes in the wild. It's all useful information. As I mentioned before, the entire world is if inspiring if you open your eyes. Whether you garner this from a photograph or out in Times Square or SoHo and you see someone wearing something; if you open your eyes you will see something that will trigger something else.

The internet in General has become an amazing platform for young independent brands. But it is also an extremely crowded market. How do you guys address this at AR? How do you approach the issue of standing out in the crowd?

When everyone yells we whisper. I think that the cream always rises to the top. When you have a bunch of people making a lot of noise, that's what it becomes, noise. It is a beautiful democratic time, anyone and everyone can brand. Everything is valuable and everything is relevant but, I think for the discerning customer, they're always going to find like-minded individuals. AR doesn't scream. AR is very quiet. Ar is about quality, it's about design, it's about research. People that love quality, design, research, and consideration will find us. At the end of the day, you connect with like-minded people. What we do is authentic to ourselves. We only post things we believe are interesting. Everything we do is very authentic to us. Most of the people that have responded to us have been people that dig a bit deeper to find the interesting things, the things are not so known. It is a slower process, but I think it is also a more valuable process because the people and the followers that you do gain from this more considered approach, are the people that stay with you longer. The trend oriented, or the people that are hyped up become flash in the pans and they don't last. We're all about the slow burn, not the quick flame.

Your brand has a very strong visual presence/identity. How do you approach and create the visuals for your brand? Do you guys create in-house?

Yes, out of necessity Greg and I do everything. I have an interest in art and photography, so I kind of shape the visual identity of AR. It's a beautiful thing because it adds a congruency. Obviously, we design and make the product, but we also consider the way it is conveyed to the public. A lot goes into our photography. Of course it's not perfect or it's not the best or whatever, but I think it's very true to what we believe in. Ideally if we had the budget maybe we'd hire the Craig McDean’s or the Steven Meisel’s, but then again if we hired them it might look like every other Prada ad. So I think that by doing it ourselves we really create an original voice. Brands that we love, like Comme Des Garcons and Maison Martin Margiela, have a really strong visual identity that was very congruent to what they did as products. That's one thing that all lot of brands don't consider because everything is so compartmentalized. You have an art director from one firm to do one thing, and a photographer from another firm to do something else, and a graphic designer from one firm to do something else. They're all bringing their individual voices to something and the result is never congruent. But when you have art director, designer, and photographer all in one, or all in the same group, then everything they produce has a common thread and a common look to it and for us, we are happy to cultivate that.


Both you and your partner at AR have built this brand while working at other jobs. What advice would you give to other creatives that are looking to boot strap a small business or creative endeavor in addition to working full time?

With anything you have to put in the work and the hours. It's not like Greg and I wanted to do it this way. Ideally, we would have wanted to have investment or some sort of capital. There's a beauty in going through a struggle and embracing this obscurity. We still work our 9-5 and days and weekends we do AR. It's a passion project. It's something that we really believe in and as long as you have passion for it and if you’re willing to be poor or willing to eat Ramen or whatever the case maybe. If you are willing to sacrifice all of that, then it is not work to you. You have to believe that what you are doing is important and it will pay off in the future. It's not glamorous and a lot of people may give up or may not be able to make it through, but if you can make it through the hard times then when you get on your feet and when you do have that capital and that audience, you'll be so much more skillful with everything; with money, resources, production and you'll have a good grasp because you've done it all. It's a beautiful thing to go through struggle, as long as you are doing it from an honest place. When you're doing it from a place of passion and it's something that you really want to do, then the struggle is not too difficult. Not to sound cliché but if you have a dream to do something, you have to do it. But be willing to sacrifice for it and be willing to endure a certain amount of discomfort. If you put enough work into it, and if you believe in it and you have enough passion for it, it'll pay off in the future.

Something that we believe fully at Metropolitan Society is that for a brand or product to be viable and successful it doesn't necessarily have to appeal to a wide variety of consumers or end users but it needs to connect deeply with a small and passionate audience who is able to buy into the identity your brand has created and the story your brand has told. What has been your experience thus far with AR? Do you think this is a valid ideology? What do you want people to know about AR? I would agree sincerely with what you say. There's almost 8 billion people on Earth, there is bound to some people that think the same way that you do, but everything isn't for everybody. You can't please everyone so you shouldn't try. The most important thing is to be true to yourself and to be true to your beliefs, and hope that there is other people that think the same, and that's what we are doing with a AR. We started this with the idea of changing the way clothes are made, pushing clothing and apparel design forward. Maybe it won't be done in our incarnation, maybe it will be done in a different way. But the conversation has started. With the influx of cell phone technology and tech design and things becoming small at the scale of computers and tablets, and phones getting smaller, quicker and having more storage. I feel as though this consideration hasn't yet been applied to clothing and the way clothing is made and that's what AR is trying to do. That's our legacy if anything else, it's just to push that forward as well. Not necessarily wearable tech or some sort of gizmo, or space-age suit. More about the blocks and the way that the fabric wraps around the body, gives and takes, and pushes and pulls. That is more so where we are coming from. It's not a matter of trying to make a product that every single person on Earth gets, understands, or wants. It's about making a product that is true and authentic, and that people that are like-minded also understand. When discussing the over-saturation of brands and digital age, I wouldn't say that any of them need to go away. It's like junk food. Sometimes you want something quick, sometimes you want fine-dining, and they are all relevant. I think it is all necessary and things will die and fall away at their own time. It's not a matter of trying to please everyone, it's trying to be true to yourself and hopefully having other people that are also into what you do. Eventually we'd love to do a brand, maybe supplemental line or something that is a bit more affordable, that allows other people to engage, or access what we do. But we are not trying to become the next Wal-Mart or Google, we're just make clothes that it better, work better, function better, and are timeless.

Principles from early modernist architecture and thought seem to flow throughout your work with AR. Have you been influenced in the development of the brand by anyone or anything outside the world of fashion?

I would say most of our influences have been outside of fashion. Fashion with a capital F, is kind of the enemy of what we do. It's superfluous, it's wasteful, but it is relevant because it does create desire. People want newness and beautiful things around them; they want an emotional response. But, when you try to make something that stands the test of time, you have to look outside of fashion. You have to look at architecture for instance. Structures are built to last of centuries and to house people; to be part of the landscape, but also to provide shelter and comfort. Those people have to design with more of a purity. When you look at the building blocks of design, you look at geometry. I'm a big fan geometry and of things that basically are the essence of what humans or nature is created by. So we look at industrial design, architecture, graphic design; we look at timeless design, thoughtful and considerate design. I think by employing those ideologies into what we do, and to apparel and to "fashion", we are able to have a more pure form of creation. You name it, we've probably looked them up. Off the top of our heads I think the whole Bauhaus movement, Max Bill, Dieter Rams has been a huge influence. Not necessarily for his product but for his ten rules of design and giving yourself a constrain and limitation. Also rules to live by when you create things. When you have that tension and that constraint, it forces you to get rid of all superfluous details, and to get down to the essence. A lot of Japanese and Eastern culture has had a large influence on me. We are big fans of Kenya Hara, Muji, and that whole aesthetic. But fashion designers also have been people we take influence from. I'm a huge Yohji fan as well. A lot of things that he does are very Romantic, but they also have a sense of timelessness. I remember he mentioned a photograph he saw by August Sander, there was a gypsy man who was wearing a suit, that may have been one or two sizes too big for him, but the way we wore it with such confidence and Romanticism, is something that Yohji always strives for. He designs a feeling or emotion into clothing, which is a timeless attribute. Anything that is timeless or pure, is what AR is inspired by.

One of things we have noticed about your pieces is that they are beautiful on the inside. You took this one step further with your ARC Jacket/blazer which is reversible. What do you think the inside of a garment says about the brand/designer/creator?

They say that beauty is only skin deep. In this Instagram world, everything is very 2-D and it's all about the shell or the outside, but true design is 3-D. It's 360°, it's inside its outside; it's detail specific. Everything we created was considered. We started the block from ground zero. The way we create our patterns and the way we fuse things together is done in the most impactful way so that we can create something that functions properly. When we create things it's all about the details disappearing so that the essence of the garment is all that remains. Although Greg and I are design nerds, if a person has no idea why the garment feels better, that's a better compliment to us. That all of that stuff falls away and they put the garment on and it feels better and works better; that's all we want people to notice. If you look at any of the design legends, its 3-D design, it's considered from the inside to the outside. If you look at the Guggenheim for instance, it was created from the inside to the outside. It's not all about the shell, it's about what lies beneath, and it's about everything working in harmony together.

What was the most important thing you learned at either EG or Patrick Ervell in terms of either design or running a business? Both being very small companies, you learn to be very resourceful, to where many hats, to be able to multitask. You learn that it is possible. You don't need a million dollars to create something. If you have a great idea and you have the passion, you can actually do it on a smaller scale. With Patrick Ervell, it was pretty much him and I at some point and a lot of what designs goes on in his head. It wasn't really sketched out or there wasn't any mood boards or anything like that; it was very much in his head. Sometimes I admire that, to have a very concise idea of how you want to create something to the point that you don't even have to write it down or sketch it, it's in your brain. With Engineered Garments, Daiki is a great designer; his knowledge of clothing and clothing history is expansive and encyclopedic. He is someone that really taught me the Japanese way, which is very apprentice, master, sit back and watch, ask questions, learn, "not yet", maybe in a year, take your time, think about the soul and integrity of what you are doing. That is something that is really beautiful and really poetic, and I think it doesn't really exist in the Western world. Obviously, in Japan, when you go work for a company, you're normally in that company for life. They nurture not only the way you look at things, but the way you feel about the company. It's no longer a company, it's more like a family. It was a blessing to be there and it was blessing to see the inner workings of a brand like Engineered Garments, who had a humble start, but after a decade finally started to see some recognition, and at one point was one of the highest tattered in the menswear arena. These lessons have helped inform the way AR looks at the world. I think that whenever you work at a job, whether you hate it, or love it, there's something that you can gain, some reward, some sort of information or something you can gain from the experience, that you can take to your next job, or next endeavor. Those have been great looks at companies, and great experiences. I think they have informed the way that I look at AR, and I think there is a piece of them in what we do now. Whether it's through the way we think or the way we source items. People in your life leaves traces with you and as you move forward you always bring a part of them with what you do.

With the time you have spent in retail at Nepenthes do you think that you are ready to take on a retail store for AR? If so, how involved would you want to be in design and selection of the space?

Ideally it would great to open a store, but I think AR is not at a point where it is feasible. Being in retail, and my prior experience in that will defiantly inform the way I'd consider making a store. Because we are so hands on with everything, we have heavy amount of influence on the way it is designed and merchandised and conveyed to the public. Us being AR, we would defiantly consider, what is next as far a retail. Online retailing is blowing up. If you look at Sneaker boy and the way they approach retail; I would really love to think of a new way to present goods and to present an experience, and our shop a destination. We do have an online store, which is very cut and dry, very simple to navigate. A physical store with employee interaction, would be an ideal situation. Whether we get a space with a telly in the back and the store in the front, that remains to be seen; but we'd love present AR in a space completely created by AR, so you get the purest example of AR.

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Courtesy of Brian McCarthy and Stephen Hopkins

Interview: Victor Enrich by Stephen Hopkins

Born in Barcelona, Spain, Victor Enrich is an architectural photographer and media artist. With the underlying theme of the city displayed through his work, Enrich recently created a photo series of manipulated buildings in Munich. Enrich always toys with the idea of shape and dimension of buildings and structures throughout his CAD work and photos. We recently caught up with Victor for a Q&A regarding his work and the thought processes behind it.

How has architecture and design changed your way of thinking? Architecture has always been a very important companion in my life. Even though I've never worked as an architect, I've been working for and with architects for several years. Definitely designing a building is such a complex process that above all, needs a clear and structured mind, capable to anticipate eventual problems and get them solved before they show up. However, I also consider this foreseeing attribute sometimes a bit unneeded as, most of our problems are already solved, and, in a world without problems, maybe architects will not be necessary at all. On the other hand, I must admit that these two disciplines have led me to enjoy growing my sensitivity, which is crucial when it's time to be update in this constantly evolving contemporary culture that we're in.

Do you have any new projects in the works? Yes. I tend to work on several projects at the same time. They take important amounts of time so I have to rethink them again and again. This means that some of them need to be sent to the freezer while I resume other ones that were kept frozen for some months. For instance, now I'm working on a project that will use the White House in Washington D.C. For this project I need to make a 3d model of not only the White House itself but everything nearby also because this project is expected to use aerial views. However, I'm not sure yet if this will be my next project but I can't permit myself to start working on it once I'm sure it will be, I just try to work constantly every day and make decisions show up at the most appropriate time.

Stitched Panorama
Stitched Panorama

What motivates you to manipulate the buildings in the ways you do? I think it is a combination of a research about the possibilities of the form and a personal will to do something different, hopefully never seen before. I have a strong commitment with creativity, not only the one of my own, but the one of any one of us, humans, and in extension animals and plants. Creativity is a process that, by re-connecting several corners of our brains, strives to contribute to the common consciousness and intelligence of nature.

Is there anything specific you want the viewer to take away from your work? Not really, at least explicitly. The world is full of messages, inscribed in the form of art pieces, ads, books, tv shows...etc..People so saturated with messages, in particular those that want you to buy something. My goal is to stimulate people's curiosity and critical profile. And in a world with such amount of visual stimuli, there's no other way than trying to impact as much as you can, otherwise, all your work will not reach the surface and thus will be forgot.

Who are your biggest influences when it comes to your work? Since I was a kid I was always very fond of tall and big structures. It really overwhelms me to see how humans can sculpt the horizon; introducing forms that are hundreds or even thousand times larger than we are, and among all these structures, cities acquire an important role, especially for its labyrinthine condition. So, every geometric formation, used to organize the lives of the people within a community of any size is relevant for me, and if there are some skyscrapers or suspension bridges...even better. The first time I got in contact with these elements was through a picture book about geography that my father bought when I was just a little kid.

What was the hardest thing you have faced while shooting? Believe it or not, I suffer from a bit of claustrophobia. Something that I try to fight exposing myself to unusual situations, especially when I go shooting, as a sort of impact therapy. So the hardest experience for me was when I climbed to the top of the first suspension bridge of the Bosphorus, in Istanbul, accompanied by the Bridge Police chief, who granted me access, together with some friends of his. To get up there I needed to use a prehistoric elevator of half a square meter that goes up for 150 meters within the metallic structure of one of the took 2 minutes to get to the top, no windows and only a creepy sound of the chain pulling up the elevator. Once at the top, just a tiny handrail separated us from the abyss...however, I managed to enjoy the view all over the strait, it was amazing.

What is your favorite building that you have shot, and why? Hard to say. I prefer to say that my favorite building is the one I haven't shot yet. However, to pick an overwhelming spot, I guess that the first prize goes for the Hagia Sofia Mosque in Istanbul that I managed to shoot in the midst of the roofs of the Gran Bazaar. It was like all those books I read and movies I watched about the middle East came back to live. However, the sad thing is that the picture never acquired the specialty of the moment as it had to be shot in few seconds and without instrumental.

To view more of Enrich's work, or to purchase your own print be sure to check out

C.Y.N.E. Interview by Stephen Hopkins


For those who don’t know, Cultivating Your New Experience, or C.Y.N.E., is truly one of the most underrated and underappreciated hip-hop groups currently making music. Sprouted from Gainesville, Florida,they have been together for upwards of 15 years. Jazz and blues inspired instrumentals produced by Speck and Enoch pay homage to past soul artists all the way to golden age hip-hop producers. Philosophical and humanist themed lyrics laced within tracks, vocalized by Cise Starr, paint vivid images for the listener to experience; these combined talents give C.Y.N.E. their unique sound and flavor that can’t be emulated.Below is a Q&A delving into the minds of the underground hip-hop artists and how they got to where they are today.

Who are your biggest inspirations? Cise: In the hip hop realm I would have to say the artists that had the most profound impact on me lyrically were Nas, Rakim, Black Thought, Wu-Tang, Camp Lo, De la Soul, Grand Puba, and Das EFX to name a few. I always loved smooth tight lyrical flows with genuine individualism and always tried to incorporate that into my own style.

Enoch: We all listen to a wide variety of artists from different genres, and we pull inspiration from all over the place - from John Carpenter to At the Gates to Aretha Franklin. It might not be obvious in our music sometimes, but our music is informed by this synthesis of different influences. As far as hip hop goes, I personally count RZA, Prince Paul, DJ Premier, Organized Noise and El-P as the producers that had the most profound impact on me, each for different reasons. There were so many great hip hop producers when I was growing up, but those are the ones that I always go back to.

Speck: We could also claim a huge list of films, books, art, and other pop culture / political / spiritual media as direct influences on what CYNE is and what CYNE sounds like. For me personally, the act of hunting for and listening to records — all of the dollar bins, thrift stores, and garage sales — has been one of the biggest influences on me. I’ve gone down endless rabbit holes of genres, eras, countries, musicians, entire label catalogs, etc… all in searching for samples. As a result, I’ve been turned on to so many great artists and records, have met amazing musicians and/or collectors, have grown and educated myself as a listener, and have built up my own personal archive of music.

When did each of you individually start making music? Cise: I really started writing rhymes around '95. I was about 15 or so at that time. I would write over Wu-Tang tracks, especially GZA's "Liquid Swords", putting my own words to it or just writing things without a beat. My early attempts at rhyming were heavily Wu-Tang influenced. I was way too insecure at the time to actually say my rhymes to people until a friend of mine who was more into the local hip hop scene tried to clown me and challenged me to battle, thinking I couldn't hold my own but his surprise I actually had material, and for that time I guess a decent flow. From there he and some other high school friends at the time, including Akin, formed a crew called Phalanx and performed local shows and such. As life goes, after some time everybody went their separate ways after high school. Akin and I stayed in touch though and eventually linked back up to form CYNE with Speck and Enoch.

Enoch: Speck and I started producing beats together around 1997 or 1998. I had taken piano lessons and had a couple other pretty basic experiences with the fundamentals of music at a younger age, but didn’t really start making music until I was about 16 or so.

Speck: Pretty much the same story. I always wanted to play music, but didn’t have the patience or focus to get really good at it. So I gave up many times, until I was about 13 or 14, when I started playing in bands. By the time Dave and I met in 1997, I had gotten my hands on a Yamaha SU-10 portable sampler (so shitty, but so good), and had access to a four track. Over time, our skills and our gear improved, especially after we started working with Clyde and Akin.

How did CYNE start? Speck: Once out of high school, Enoch and I continued working on beats and recording. We also started DJing and hosting an open mic night at the original Common Grounds venue (in Gainesville, FL). There, we happened to meet a giant rap crew called Phalanx, and they pretty much took over the venue for the night in what seemed like an endless cypher. That’s where we first heard Clyde and Akin. Then, a short while later, we were coincidentally introduced by a mutual friend of ours. He knew that they were looking for beats and that we were looking for an MC. Dave had shared a few beats with them, and soon after we all met at my place to record the first four track demos for the “Language” EP (Get it? CYNE language? Very clever), which was the foundation for our first few releases (“African Elephants,” “Paradise,” and “Octagon” were all recorded during that Summer) in 2001. To bring it full circle, we had our first show at Common Grounds, then started playing around Gainesville and other Florida cities. At the time, we collaborated with Rice and Beans, Must!Delicious, and Botanica Del Jibaro (all Miami-based labels) to put out our first 12” records (“African Elephants,” “Midas,” and “Movements”) before releasing our first full length album (“Time Being”) and a Japan-only compilation of older and unreleased material (“Collection” on P-Vine) in 2003.

How do you guys put yourselves in the creative mindset? Enoch: I don’t have any particular method for putting myself in a creative mindset, but a lot of times if I hear a great new album or song by someone, it can get me going in the right direction. Other times it can just strike out of nowhere. It can be frustrating though because sometimes you have the free time available to work on music but aren’t inspired, or the other way around. I have spent hours working on tracks that ended up getting deleted because I didn’t like them and have also come up with some of my better material in 10 minutes. Each song or beat is different.

Speck: For sure, a great live show or impressive record immediately makes me want to get back to work. It reminds me of why I love and make music. I recently read this inspiring quote that talks about (and, I’m paraphrasing here) music as a tool of communication and enlightenment, as a teacher, and as truth. Like Enoch mentioned, time is precious, and you can’t force productivity. So, aside from taking more time to really listen to more music, I’ve been working on ways to better accommodate the moments when inspiration strikes. I’ve got ProTools on my work computer for my lunch hour, I’ve migrated my production to a laptop (so there’s no excuse, even if I don’t want to go down to my basement to work on music), I’m switching up my sampling approach, and I’m minimizing my gear set up. Aside from that, it really can be something as simple as a rad record cover or an old album write up that will remind me to get back to work.

Cise: Mainly what I try to do is listen to the beat and see what it inspires, and free write until a topic forms. Once I have a general idea where the track is going I expound from there. Like Enoch stated every track is different and sometimes inspiration comes from when and where you least expect it.

What were your experiences like while working with Haruka Nakamura, Re:Plus, Nujabes, etc? Cise: Working with Nujabes was one of those eye opening experiences in the sense that it was my first time out of the country and first time really venturing out on my own to make music. Excited as hell but at the same time really nervous because I didn't know what to expect. At that time I didn’t know who Nujabes was other than this shadowy figure I spoke to on the phone with a few times before he flew me out there. Glad I decided to go because working with him was a positive experience that helped me grow into my own and find my voice as an artist. He was soft spoken but at the same time was very assertive and particular about what he wanted out of a track. Nujabes was very gracious host and made the trip an enjoyable experience. I unfortunately never had the chance to meet personally with Re:Plus. We mainly communicated through emails and collaborated that way. Haruka Nakamura I met the last time I was a part of the Nujabes Tribute shows in Japan. Very talented and genuine person. Actually the track "The Sun" we collaborated on was recorded at Nujabes studio in Kamakura.

Do you guys have any works currently in the making? Enoch: We have the second installment of our Wasteland cassette series completed, and it will be released in the near future. We also may have another release or two sometime in the not too distant future. We are always working on new material, so hopefully we will have a new release out into the world soon.

Speck: We try to stay as busy as possible, even without a release or objective in mind. Enoch and I are constantly trading beats. If they pass the litmus test, we send them to Cise. He and Enoch usually meet in Gainesville to record — in that way, we keep the production process moving, building up our library of tracks…

What were some of the biggest challenges you have faced while making music? Enoch: I think in the grand scheme of things, we have been fortunate to not have had to deal with some of the major challenges that some bands have to endure…nobody has died, nobody is stealing money from us, we haven’t had to deal with any sort of legal action or lawsuits, and we just tend to not surround ourselves with much drama really. Our biggest challenge would probably be the fact that the three of us each live in different cities, which can make recording and touring difficult. We all have day jobs and other responsibilities, so that can sometimes be a factor in our level of participation we can put into the group, but in the end, we manage to sort it out as best we can, and I think it works for us.

Speck: We’re incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated and growing fan base, who respect our catalog and are patient with our recording, release, and touring process. And, as Enoch stated, we’ve found a way to stay productive and connected (as a band, as collaborators, and as friends) despite our geographical distance. We’ve also been using most of the same production tools we’ve always used (MPC, vinyl, ProTools, some other outboard/analog gear), so we haven’t really hit a ceiling there yet, either. So, I would say some of our biggest challenges have been around independently releasing music, the shift toward digital distribution, and how that all factors into PR and exposure for the group. We’re incredibly proud (and in some ways happily stubborn) about how our music still gets passed around by word of mouth, versus paid media. It’s validating to have your music get shared through networks of friends and people who are passionate about music. That said, there are some instances where having more exposure could have paved the way for things like better tours or more leverage for guest appearances and remixes, etc, etc, etc… Really, we’re pleased with our output, we’re proud of our fans, we love working together, and we still make music for ourselves, above all else. So these “challenges” are sort of irrelevant in the world of CYNE.

Check out CYNE on Soundcloud to hear some of their best work Purchase CYNE's latest album All My Angels Are Right here on their website