FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Interesting combination don’t you think?
The two individuals here above represent one of the finest sounds from the land of the rising sun and one of the sharpest flows from the deep dirty swampy south.
Let me take you to the beginning of this story….
A few months ago I received an email with the question if I would be interested in doing a blog collaboration with the Japanese brand ONITSUKA TIGER.
If I had the time to come to Berlin Fashion Week during summer for the ONITSUKA TIGER & ASICS FRIENDS AND FAMILY event?
If it would be possible to cover the event, the brand and spotlight the international musical guests DONNIS and DE DE MOUSE who would be performing together for the very first time to celebrate the launch of NIPPON SOUNDS, a musical project they joined forces on?
I was very honoured to be even considered for this and I happily took the invitation and said YES with all my heart like a new bride tying the knot.
True, I may not be your classic sneaker freak nor am I a sneaker connoisseur, but I can now share with you guys that the only pair of sneakers I ever owned and enjoyed wearing were these ones.
I have a thing for black and gold and a phobic fear for wearing shoes that make my massive feet look even more massive and these are the only pair of sneakers I own untill this day that match those criteria. you know. black, gold & cute.
So a few days ago I arrived in Berlin ready for a new german adventure. Last time I was in Berlin I was chasing this ‘Be Stupid Story’ and the city was entirely covered with a white frosty layer caused by severe temperatures below zero. This time however, I arrived in a smoking hot Berlin, you might aswell call it the german tropics, because boy o boy, that city was HEI§!
First thing on the agenda was an ONITSUKA TIGER team diner in a classic German restaurant, you know, where they serve you humongous kartoffeln, schnitzels und schweinefleisch with big fat glasses filled to the top with german beer and desert is synonymous for Jägermeister.
(pictures by Jack Morgan)
It was a fun, relaxed and laid back way for everybody to get to know each other a bit more and maybe a bare necessity to work towards an event that is called FAMILY AND FRIENDS
But before going any further, let me introduce you real quick to the two men boldly posing on the 2 Polaroids displayed at the top of this story.
‘Ladonnis Decurtis Crump’ or simply DONNIS is a young rapper hailing from Atlanta, Georgia.
Donnis has currently 3 mixtapes written to his name, SOUTHERN LIGHTS being the most recent and was on the XXL Freshman list of 2010 amongst J.Cole, Wiz Khalifa & Fashawn to name a few.
Definitely check out this RING MY BELL track from his latest mixtape. This song needs a video. (STAT!)
However, the first time Donnis caught my attention was in this excellent short video
but you might know him from his collaboration hit single GONE with A-Trak’s Fools Gold label.
Moving over to DE DE MOUSE
I wasn’t familiar with DE DE MOUSE untill just a few months ago.
Daisuke Endo or DE DE MOUSE is a much respected DJ and producer based in the Tokyo electronic music scene. He is mostly known for (and I quote) “a sound characterized by feather-light vocals, housey beats, infectious synth melodies, and lush production values.”
“Mixing tribal music from Tibet and Indonesia and sounds of children’s voices with a touch of soul, he creates influential melodies by chipping and editing the sounds. A mix of synthesizer sounds which intertwines with a unique chord, he creates an intense beat that fits in the breakcore genre.
From Acid House to Amen Break, and Hip Hop to Fusion, he links keywords together to produce new sounds for the Electric Scene. A unique individual with his original style, known as DE DE MOUSE. His concert style consists of individuality and is full of energy, with a creative imagination and aggressive band ensembles which includes twin drums; he dramatically edits dance remixes to produce one-a-kind soundtracks.
Being a DJ is not his only act, though he also collaborates with many artists and creators from all over the world in the fashion, game, and graphic industry.”
Honestly? I could not have said this any better.
Definitely check out this little video where he talks about his music.
Back to the story.
After a very interesting night tasting Berlin nightlife filled with classic ‘Party & Bullshit’ moments, I woke up slightly dizzy but foremost all excited for the coming adventure the next morning.
First stop of the day was the temporary ONITSUKA TIGER & ASICS gallery space.
The gallery space was very impressive to say the least and executed with eye for detail,
Reality Studio x Onitsuka Tiger suede sneakers. My favorites!
In the meantime I could spy a little bit on DONNIS & DE DE MOUSE while they were sound checking
DJ Hot Sauce. Donnis his tour DJ. Never not spinning.
Marco Dolo, Donnis his camera man. Never not filming.
DE DE MOUSE never not fine tuning
and a final team meeting to dot the i….
Next on schedule was a small chat with both artists about the NIPPON SOUNDS collaboration.
But not before Donnis took the time to use the amazing zen video wall in the gallery space for some of his own visuals for his next video.
First in line to have a little chat with me was the véry charming character that is DONNIS.
Donnis, as a rapper you are doing pretty good in the states. How would you introduce yourself to some of my readers who might not yet be familiar with you? What would you say?
“I’d say…HEY READERS! (laughs)
I’m Donnis. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. Born in California, raised in Georgia. Lived in Atlanta untill I was 18. I started doing music when I was nine. always been inspired by the likes of Kris Kross, Outkast & The Dungeon Family movement.
When I was 19 I decided to join the airforce, rather than going to college. I tried college for a little while (I studied business) but it was just not for me and I decided that music was something that I really wanted to do. Being in the entertainment field.
But before that, I went to join the airforce, who took me all the way to Tokyo. By that time I stopped making music for a second, but moving to Tokyo definitely got me inspired to start making music again. I started doing more and more shows.
The rest is history. I made my way back to the states and currently working on making the dream a reality.”
Tell me about your personal relationship with Japan. How does this country influence you on the daily.
“Japan influences me because I feel that there is a certain freedom out there. The way they are structured in their art, I feel that they really do what they want to do, whether it is fashion or music. It’s just something in the air out there. People want to create and they are free to create. It doesn’t feel forced. “
How was the process of NIPPON SOUNDS. How did it come together?
“It was something I was definitely interested in. The combination of fashion with music is something I like to….dabble in.
At first it was a little difficult, because everyone is in all these different places, so it’s a bit harder to keep the creative juices flowing. But once we got the communication rolling, things started to go a lot smoother and we ended up with some hot records there.”
So they ( DE DE MOUSE) send over some records and me and my producer Luke Walker tweaked them a little, and made everything a little bit more our style, adding some soul into the records.
What was the main challenge doing this project?
“The main challenge was just being in different places and the language barrier perhaps. But we beat all of that to make a great album.”
What does Onitsuka Tiger as a brand mean to you?
“Keeping things traditional while adding a new flavour to it. Like for example, cool stuff your dad would have, and you use it again and bring it into the -now- and bring your own style to it.”
If you could create an ONITSUKATIGER/ASICS sneaker. What element should the shoe have to represent you?
“Hmmm…it would definitely have to have something comfortable. I like to dress comfortable. I would try to add something fashion forward because fashion tends to repeat itself so I would try to look for something not to many people have done before. I’d figure something out, whether it would be like a different type of leather, or a certain colorway. It’s important to always push the envelope. I try to do that with my music, this would be no different.”
What are your expectation for tonight?
“No expectations, I try to take everything how it comes, but I think it’s going to be awesome, man! We have a lot of talented individuals in one room and we are here to celebrate something big and everybody is very excited that we are releasing new material. It has been a month or two since I released some new music. This is a huge event and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
After my little chat with Donnis it was time to get that necessary Polaroid picture.
I asked Donnis to give me two different expressions, aimed my camera and….
Next in line was a talk with Daisuko Endo aka DE DE MOUSE
(My first interview with an actual interpreter! Very funny experience.)
First thing DE DE MOUSE said to me was:
“So! Good ring!” while pointing at my golden Atelier 11 ‘Scarabee’ ring.
I was slightly nervous to do this interview for some reason and I was flattered he began our conversation with a compliment.
You are quite big in Japan. Yesterday I was sharing a little bus with 3 bloggers from Japan and they reacted pretty excited when I told them I was going to have a little conversation with you….
– interpreter translates and DE DE MOUSE starts laughing –
….but can you please tell my readers who might not know you, who you are and what you do in life?
“I make music. I give life and music to different places all over the world. Whenever I have the time I always make music. I’m sleeping. I’m eating. I make music. That is my life.”
What are your daily influences/inspirations in order for you to make your art.
“The place I live in Japan is an inspiration. I like walking around and be inspired by a certain view. Childhood memories are also an influence.
Now I am in Berlin and I look around. This too influences my music.”
What made you decide to become an artist.
“I got bored. I started to play the guitar and I quit right away. Then I started to play the keyboard. “
How did the process go, making NIPPON SOUNDS?
“I have a song called ‘baby ‘s star jam‘. Donnis liked it and wanted to use the music. And I agreed.”
So first I made some tracks and send them to Donnis. Donnis told me then that the music didn’t really fit his groove, but he really liked Baby Star Jam.
The communication was via email, that was a challenge. “
What does ONITSUKA TIGER as a brand mean to you?
“It’s something very close to me. I normally like sport shoes. For Japanese people ONITSUKA TIGER & ASICS are really part of the daily life.
In elementary school boys and girls wear it. It’s really comfortable to wear and it has a casual feel.”
If you could create an ASICS / ONITSUKA TIGER sneaker. What element should the shoe have to represent you.
“That a funny question. (smiles and thinks deep) I like…turquoise. That’s my single (favorite) colour.
So when I walk with the turquoise shoes, the shoes must make sound.” (starts laughing)
What are your expectations for tonight?
“I am very happy to be invited by Onitsuka Tiger and to be here in Berlin. That’s already enough.”
Final question. This is a Belgian blog. If I say Belgium, what 3 words pop up in your head.
(suddenly reacts very enthusiastic)
“WAFFLES. WAFFLES. CHOCOLATE.”
At first the management of DE DE MOUSE was slightly hesitant towards taking a Polaroid picture, so I suggested that we would just try it and I promised that if they didn’t like it, I would not use them.
So, needless to say, I was very flattered when they decided that they liked the pictures and I could use them for my blog.
and there you go…
And then after a quick and much-needed nap in the hotel it was time to head toward the festivities of an amazing evening.
Here are a few exhibits too portray the night. (I’m not the best event photographer, but hey)
I suggest you try and experience some of that DONNIS x DE DE MOUSE – NIPPON SOUND :
Definitely check out this lovely video coverage of the night.
And that my dear friends is the end of this sweet story….
Doing this blog for almost three years now, and living through the recent downfalls I had, I suddenly came across this new experience of what people call ‘writersblock’. Writing became very hard for me the last few months. Words didn’t come easy anymore, the story got stuck in my head and the screen remained blank.
This trip was a breath of fresh air for me and came at the right time.
I felt very welcomed by the ONITSUKA TIGER & ASICS family aswell as by Donnis and his crew. I’m very grateful of meeting all these new faces. Faces I hope to see once in a while in the near future.
Doing this blog took me to a lot of places and made it possible to travel the world. Miami, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin…
I feel that this blog is going through a certain transition. When I look back and re-read some of my early stories, I feel that some of that young naivetivity is gone and is replaced for a more grown up view on music, artists, tourlife and the music industry.
I’m very grateful for the trust that a Japanese brand like ONITSUKA TIGER gave me and I’m very humbled to be their eyes and voice and talk about this special occasion. This trip opened my eyes and made me look back to all the work and love I have put in this project, and the feedback I got in Berlin from people from all over the world encouraged me to pick up my pen again.
This story was more an experience for me rather than it was a traditional chase for a polaroid with lots of difficulties and juicy details.
For me personally, this story is about creating something together and sharing your work, your project, your art, your devotion with friends and family.
So lets toast. to family and friends.
The new ànd the old.
Caring is sharing and because I like to share my experiences with my loyal readers who care enough about this blog to spread the word about it I decided to give the following away to 1 reader…
1 of the 250 limited edition NIPPON SOUNDS by DONNIS (digi) mixtape.
First one to hit me with the right answer to this question gets the above freshness in the mailbox.
Question: What does my name mean in japanese?
Mail answer to: email@example.com
* The NIPPONS SOUNDS by DONNIS mixtape give-away is closed. Thanks for your participation!
The A to the Q was: sea urchin
and last but not least.
special thanks to Mutaurwa Mapondera