I direct music videos because I love music. There are a lot of great things about being a director and some not so great things. But we're going to keep it positive around these parts because that's what we're all about. One of the perks about being a director is visiting Los Angeles and meeting with all the great music video commissioners at the labels. They introduce you to amazing artists that you would probably never hear of for many reasons. What I love about it is the vast spectrum of musical genres. They literally open up their library to you and give you the music of the artists they want you to make videos for or just check out because they're new and fresh.
You get home with piles of CDs like it's the holidays and it's pretty fucking cool. So I thought I'd share with you some of the real standouts that I love across all genres, thanks to being a director. All of these relatively new artists have many things in common even though sonically their music sounds so different from each other. These artists speak the truth from their hearts and sometimes that's the most difficult thing to do...
Once upon a time there was a store that made you feel complete. It wasn't just the clothes. It was the look. The feel. The style. It made you proud to be from New York. You could walk a couple blocks from your apartment and you were home. Over a decade later you have to get on a plane and fly across the country to feel home again.
Union is the meaning of dope. The standard to which everything else is measured. The wolf among the sheep. And it's no surprise that soon after Chris Gibbs became the owner of the remaining Los Angeles store he would find a way to get an exclusive on the most mythical brand in all of streetwear. In the late nineties you heard murmurs about Carhartt, one of the greatest American workwear brands, having all this amazing exclusive European product from chore jackets to chambray shirts. They designed with you in mind. Sharper fits. Better fabrics. Higher quality. You could never get your hands on it. You could only imagine what you were missing out on until now.
Somethings are truly worth the wait... Like reuniting with a great friend or meeting a new one. I don't know what I got more excited about... Seeing Chris or Union. I suppose they're one in the same now. But to me they always were.
Union is the only place in all of America that you can pick up the legendary European Carhartt line that features much more than chambray and denim. But come on... It's me. And I like what I like... If you're tired of walking down the street and seeing some guy wearing the exact same chambray as you here's your chance at something a little different. But quantities are limited so don't sleep...
Union | 110 S. La Brea Ave. | Los Angeles, CA 90036 | 323 549 6950
Well, I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don't fly too well in the American high school.
- Keith Nelson
Amanda Jones wears a beautiful chambray just right. Watts in that perfect black leather Schott Perfecto. How do you choose? No easy task for Keith Nelson in a classic black t-shirt, those amazing worn-out denim jeans splattered in paint and a pair of Chucks. Here's another one of those films that has this amazing staying power decades later and looks so current it's kind of amazing... The Elvis cover of Can't Help Falling In Love over the credits by Lick the Tins seals the deal...
I just came across the amazing book Made For Skate which is a definitive look at the culture of skate footwear. Each brand has their own unique identity and story told through the insiders of the sport. It's a fantastic exploration into the history and evolution of the world's most stylish sport through its shoes. This looks like the perfect book for you guys to pick up, so take a look at their website for more amazing photographs, information, and see if you agree...
You used to call Raida a living legend whenever you talked about him. The only good friend of yours deserving of that title. Listening to Hot 97 on Saturday afternoon driving back to the city from the beach the news came in... Your good friend is now a legend. It seemed like the most insincere way to find out... Nonetheless all these incredible memories started cycling through your head. And of course you think about the last conversation you had. And you think about all the things you never got to say... Which always sounded so cliche to you before you had a good friend pass away.
Raida put you on... The first artist you directed videos for. The first artist to invite you on tour. The first artist to bring you into their world. And that meant a lot to you. But most importantly he taught you that friendship is what makes business so much fun.
You clicked immediately... Sneakers, action figures, and of course hip-hop brought you together. Raida loved your collections. And whenever you copped a new pair of uptowns from a downtown hook up you had to buy a 7 1/2 for Raida. Before 360 Toy Group and Kid Robot opened you went shopping for action figures at dingy comic bookstores in the village on some true nerd shit... You guys loved it. And it was alright that kids and moms looked at you weird. Record shopping with Raida in New York was your favorite. You felt important because you were rolling with the god. For you, walking up the stairs of Fat Beats with Raida was like walking into Chicago Stadium with Michael Jordan.
It’s hard for you to write this and think about all those memories and in what seems like a really short amount of time so much has changed. Turntablism is basically a dead art. Sneaker collecting is done on the internet not the streets. And your friend is gone.
Raida taught you a lot but the one lesson that stands out is when you were like 17. You just finished your first video for him and delivered it ahead of schedule. And shit you would’ve done it for free. But he paid you more than you agreed upon because he loved it so much. Because you exceeded his expectations. With the extra money you bought a gift for Raida; a 12 inch Bruce Lee action figure and a thank you. It was a small gesture but it meant a lot to him. You just wanted to show your appreciation and that’s what you did... If you work hard you will be rewarded, sometimes in ways you would never think imaginable. In this case a friendship that will stay with you forever.
As another important friend told you recently... You have to take moments for the moments...
Jake Davis photograph from the Woodstock Times in 1984
I get asked in interviews a lot what it feels like to be a style icon or influential in style. And to be completely honest, I feel kinda like a phoney. I'm just wearing what I've always worn. Flannel, cuffed denim, pair of shit kickers or mocs, and sunnies in the breast pocket. Okay, most kids don't have a pair of sunglasses resting in their breast pocket. My parents were kinda next level...
It's good to be in the woods. If only for a brief stay...
Martin Sheen in Badlands directed by Terrence Malick
Most of my influence comes from film. Whenever something happens in real life I always compare it to a scene in a movie. I know it's kind of crazy but sometimes it takes a reflection of real life to understand real life. I've always related to misunderstood rebellious lead characters and Martin Sheen's Kit from Badlands is no exception. No one has worn a denim jacket on screen as well as him.
Every season I look for the perfect denim jacket and never pull the trigger. Levi's, Lee, RRL, or Wrangler? Is the rinse right? Are the sleeves too long? Are the arm holes too big?
When I spotted this perfectly fitted jacket on my man Oliver, I figured it for one of the aforementioned brands. But no it's Ransom. I was incredibly impressed by this great piece definitely worth picking up.
"How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again."
- James Agee
I've been obsessed with the clothing brand Kapital for a couple weeks now. Here are my favorite looks from their archives. How could Japan capture my home of Woodstock, New York so well? From the models to the style to the landscapes it's spot on. But done in an intellectual and reverent way. I hope I'm not the only person that thinks this stuff is next level dope.
Maybe I've just been in the city too long, working too hard and need a break... I think I need to go Home...
“It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.” - Malcolm X
Julian Plenti is... Paul Banks of Interpol. One of my go to bands when I find myself staring at the wall looking for inspiration. I didn't want his solo debut to fall through the cracks like so many incredible albums do these days. The cover art is a photograph by Matthew Salacuse taken at the Beatrice Inn. Does anybody else miss the Beatrice? I mean the Jane is dope but it's not quite the same.
Anyhow... here are two of my go to tracks... Be sure to pick up the latest from one of our generation's great songwriters on Matador Records.
"New York is a city where one can get a more intense view of our society than any other place in the world."
- Alan J. Pakula
New York state of mind today for obvious reasons. Been thumbing through two of my loves... New York and filmmaking. Filled with so many beautiful pictures, quotes, and stories, Scenes From the City: Filmmaking in New York captures the essence of my beloved city as well as the films and directors it features. An amazing book from James Sanders and Rizzoli, which never disappoints.
Sometimes this city is tough. Sometimes this city shows no remorse. Sometimes this city is the most beautiful thing I know... New York...