A lot has gone on since we arrived three weeks ago in Japan. We settled into our apartment and made it our home – even though it’s worlds apart from our cozy apartment in New York, which was furnished with antiques and nice findings from 25th Street flea markets and decorated with our own art and the art of very talented friends of ours, such as Ulrike Theusner.
Meanwhile our temporary home in Tokyo is the exact opposite: furnished with average objects that serve their purpose and lack decor. The 130 sq. ft. abode has a washing machine, a kitchen, a fridge with a freezer, a small table, two chairs and a single bed. The bathroom comes with a Japanese styled bathtub – which means it’s at capacity with one person in it, and there’s hardly a finger’s breadth between the two of us. In spite of the diminutiveness, we feel comfy here, as we’ve worked to decorate the place with any interesting things we find: posters of manga characters, kitty postcards, polaroids, and miniature baby doll key chains found in the street. We’ve definitely adapted to our new place.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to make us sound ungrateful– but we both have a strong visual eye, which is why I wanted to start this week’s column by talking about our apartment and its halfway-Bauhaus appeal. For this week’s column, there’s a smattering of videos and aesthetic projects that me and Allegra have started or that we’re involved in while in Tokyo: a short movie (that we filmed and acted in), a band project that I joined, and an upcoming art show featuring Allegra’s work. So in no particular order:
‘LIKE A BOY’
For my first video offering, I turned to Frey Mudd, a good friend of Allegra’s and mine.He spent the first week with us before he headed back to New York, and he wrote a script during one of his earlier visits to Tokyo. Like a Boy is his story. We all loved the multi-layered juvenility that could be found in his script and decided to actually make it into a movie. We didn’t have much equipment– just a 5D with a 50mm lense and a crew of friends and actors. For the set, we used the city itself.Frey and I play the main characters, Joey and Travis,that are temporarily working in Tokyo. You never find out how long they know each other, or for that matter, the narrative of the story. The “plot” lives inside of Joey.
We only had 3 days to wrap up the filming, because Frey was NY bound. Neither of us had any experience with acting, so the project was especially exciting. We got every scene filmed just in time – one of the last scenes was shot a few hours before Frey had to leave for the airport. We have no idea what the project is going to look like in the end – the editing is the next big chapter of Like a Boy. Stay tuned.
‘SUSPEREAL – TRY DEAD and Me’
Secondly, I scored my first jam session and interview with the multi-talented Norman, a clothing designer at Suspereal who’s also in the aptly named band Susperial-Try Dead.
Paul Boche: Tell me about Suspereal–Try Dead and your style of music.
STD: In 1989, I was in Seattle for a student exchange program. Obviously there was a lot of grunge, but a lot of those bands were inspired by what was happening in Germany at that time: Industrial punk-rock. That’s definitely been our influence – grunge and german industrial punk. But there is more that makes the sound of Suspereal. I also love Russian Folklore, and native music, too.
Then the city (Tokyo) is a large influence. I had a part time job which was counting people for the government census’ on Odaiba Island. Odaiba is an artificial island near Tokyo Bay. Odaiba feels like a future city: Neo-Tokyo. You have a wonderful view of Tokyo just across the water. Red lights are flashing at night from the tops of buildings in the distance. We used the repetitive flashing as orientation and set our bpm the same tempo. Our music is the attempt to escape from the madness of reality – our form of meditation.
How did you get involved with music and how long have you played with Suspereal – Try Dead?
I bought my first guitar when I was 16 and really just reenacted music from bands I liked. My older brother already played in a band at that time, Hellbent, and I started writing songs and guitar riffs for him and his band. Then I started my own projects, mostly with my schoolmates, and in 1999 we formed Suspereal – Try Dead.
Have you been to New York?
I went for two weeks in 2000 to skateboard in the city. I love the skateboard culture, which is like a big, worldwide community and New York has many amazing skate spots.
What is your favorite skate spot in New York?
The Brooklyn Banks. I love that spot. It smells like shit, but it has a real NYC feeling to it.
You also have a clothing company of the same name, tell me about it?
The clothing is inspired by the skateboard culture. We started with simple designs for t-shirts and sweaters and slowly grew and made ourselves a name in the underground scene. Now Suspereal is at its 22nd season and constantly growing. Me and my brother are currently working on a high fashion line of Suspereal, Fall/Winter 2013.
This is the name of Allegra’s solo exhibition in Tokyo, at Just Another Space. My friend Markus, transformed the 3rd floor of an old Public School into his office, bar, add exhibition area, working with clients such as Marc Jacobs, United Leisure & Music and Hendrick’s Gin, among others.’Tokyo-Scapes’ is a series of drawings by Allegra that reflect her view on the city- mainly the particular architectural language that only Tokyo speaks. These drawings don’t claim to be exact, but, do show another side of Tokyo altogether.
The show in Naka-Meguro will make its debut with the sounds of Suspereal- Try Dead on December, 14th.