• photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG

    An interview with Damian Ardestani

    Written by Michaela Widergren

    XOV – who used to kick it with Lucifer

    Do you know anyone who spends his or her time between LA and the Swedish archipelago? No? Didn't think so. There's quite the contrast between the sleepy and empty islands outside of Stockholm and the dreamy Hollywood hills in the USA. Two years ago Damian Ardestani isolated himself in a cabin, started writing, playing the piano and created what will be his first EP.

    We meet at the Odalisque Magazine studio space, grab some coffee and take our seats in the kitchen area. I had just finished reading an interview with Damian in the largest daily newspaper in Sweden and I've been listening like crazy to his songs Lucifer and Boy's don't cry. This guy's got a fantastic sore voice and writes melancholic and miserable lyrics.

    MM: First I thought you might tell me some about your EP that's being released on the 14th this month; what are people going to hear? I've already heard it all, but for those who haven't, what are they in for?

    DA: You will be listening to the last five years of my life. The EP's a journey starting out in a darkness that evolves into anger and sorrow but finally in the end becomes something positive and at parts even joyful. All of the songs contains different parts of my life, none of them are alike or about the same thing in any way.

    MM: Did you also produce it all by yourself?

    DA: I produce everything with a friend of mine, Jonas; he's also called Kono. I would love for him to finally get some credit, it's really a great collaboration. Kono has been essential for the entire project and he pushes me in becoming a better producer and artist. I can get hung up on one tiny detail for days but he's got a good overlooking eye and I think that's what made us able to make this music. We have got a good balance. Also he's got a background in pop music and I've got my roots in hip hop.

    MM: I notice that, I wasn't sure if I was listening to pop music or R'n'b when I was going through your songs.

    DA: I know, I've got the music on a fine line. Is it commercial, is it indie, is it pop or even hip hop? I don't know but it's a result of our collaboration coming from different musical backgrounds. I think it keeps the music dynamic and original.

    MM: How did you meet Kono?

    DA: We met at an event seven years ago. At that point I hadn't started pursuing a career in music, so no one really knew I was a musician back then. When I'd decided to make myself a name in the industry I contacted the only guy I knew working in the business and that was him.

    MM: Growing up were you always into music or did that interest evolve later in your life?

    DA: For as long as I can remember I've had an interest in music. As soon as I learned how to write I started making poetry. When I was only nine years old I got my first poem published in a children’s poetry book and already then my writing was dark and metaphorical. For me writing is a way to ventilate; it's like therapy. If I don't write I get consumed by my feelings. I later learned how to play the piano which turned into singing and at the age of eleven, when singing wasn't considered cool enough, I started rapping. Music's always been a natural part of my life.

    When you've been working on something for two years and then finally it gets ready for the public, it must be some kind of experience, good or bad. Damian tells me the feeling's painful but of course also liberating in a way. When we have our talk it's exactly one week before the EP's being published. There's no room for changes. Damian's a perfectionist and being both artist, songwriter and producer gives him a control that's hard to let go of. He says he's probably a pain in the ass to work with, since the work never ends when you're looking for what's just perfect. But sometimes being done is better than being perfect.

    MM: How come you only write in English and not Swedish?

    DA: I grew up listening to American hip hop and most of my family lives in the states, so it comes naturally. I've always spent a lot of time there, holidays and school breaks, I never really felt I was Swedish until about two years ago. I felt as I was a citizen of the world.

    MM: But you grew up in Sweden right?

    DA: I always lived in Sweden but since I travelled a lot I never really thought of myself as a Swede. Until now.

    Damian splits his time between LA and Sweden, spending three months at a time in each place, I'm not convinced he chose the right months for being up in the north since it's raining / snowing outside and I'm pretty sure the weather situation's much better in California at the moment. It seems like a struggle living on an island with only boat connections in the middle of winter.

    MM: What happened two years ago when you moved to the archipelago?

    DA: You know, things have a tendency to always happen at once. When things are good, it all happens at once and when things go bad, it all happens at once.

    My company and therefor my economy crashed, my relationship crashed and I found myself completely in chaos. It's easy for people to judge you and I felt I had to get away from being victimized. Everyone thought I was screwed, they thought my music career was over. No one thought I was going to make it. I felt I had to cut the chords with all the negative people in my life, so I just left.

    Growing up in Tensta, a close suburb to Stockholm it wasn't really as if Damian was used to being outdoors and all alone surrounded by nothing but the forest. But with some inspiration from the movie Into the Wild he saw his chance for change. For the first six months he only went into the city twice, the only one who visited was his mother and once in a while a close friend came by. Nowadays he actually has more journalists visiting than friends.

    MM: Will you move in to the city now?

    DA: No, I will always keep the cabin. It keeps me grounded.

  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG 
    stylist MEGHAN SCOTT
    Felix wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    boots FELIX’S OWN
    Carl wears
    Jacket DEADWOOD
    t-shirt, jeans & boots CARL’S OWN

    An interview with Deadwood

    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    Deadwood started two years ago and ever since the main focus has been on creating leather jackets made of recycled materials. It's a windy morning when I'm meeting up Felix von Bahder and Carl Ollson, the guys behind the brand, at their office at St:Eriksgatan. We talked about following your heart and how to create clothing that never goes out of style.

    FE: Tell me about how you two met each other?

    FvB: We met back in 2007 at SOLO (a Swedish clothing store, editor's note) where I had worked for a couple of months. I later met Calle who had started working in the same shop. I was working some extra hours alongside my studies and Calle worked there full time. During those hours we spent side by side, mostly at the jeans section, we felt a good vibe between us and we started to hang out even outside of work.

    After a year at the shop we started to think about creating something ever better than the clothes we were working with every day and do something by ourselves. First we thought about opening our own store, because when you're working under someone else's rules, you just want to prove that you can do it even better. And then all of a sudden we ran into this empty place at Söder (the southern parts of Stockholm, editor's note) and we opened a second hand store without knowing anything about what we were doing except that we both knew what we liked. So without any budget or knowledge we put our hearts in this project.

    FE: Why a second hand store?

    FvB: I guess we were fans of vintage even before we opened and had a lot of vintage clothes already in our wardrobes so we tried to get rid of all of that and then we also got a reason to shop even more, but not only for ourselves. We continued for almost two and a half years and we had a lot of fun even though we failed sometimes. At that time we started to build some kind of fan base with friends and people around us who came by our store and just hung out over a cup of coffee or a beer and bought our clothes. We also started to work with remakes and patchworks like these classic punk remakes and then we contacted people who knew how to work with recycled leather and that’s how it all began.

    FE: Was leather something you wanted to work with from the start?

    CO: The most difficult part for us was to find good looking vintage leather jackets to sell in the store. The material was often in good condition but most of the time the model and fit was just

    lame. The shoulders were broad and sharp and the jacket short. So we thought about the idea of producing new leather jackets, with a slightly more up to date feeling; of old patent leather that still was in useable shape. We started to sell these patch worked jackets in our store without any label on them and people liked them.

    FE: Were you both interested in fashion before you started at SOLO?

    FvB: For me the jeans and denim part was the most interesting thing about working there. There are a lot of techniques and history to learn about jeans so I just dived in to all of that and really enjoyed it.

    CO: I would say the same, at that time when we both worked there, the shop was selling a lot of jeans with high quality like vintage Levi's and that was really exciting.

    FvB: There was a good vibe at SOLO back then. We could play the music that we liked and sell good looking clothes.

    FE: And that's when you realized that you wanted to take this interest to the next level?

    FvB: Yeah, it was the creative part during that time, the rock'n'roll spirit, and the band who came by the store and played music who made us think about taking it to the next level with our own names. It's something special about having a place of your own, no matter if it's you own apartment or a café you have the possibility to create your personal little world.

    FE: How important is the recycling process for both of you? Is the thought about the environment and the global warming something that's on top of your list?

    FvB: Yes, that's one of the main reasons we opened up a vintage store. It's a combination between the environmental aspects and the feeling of finding something unique. By that time I was studying a course at the University about sustainable development and that made me even more interested in taking care of all the resources that already existed. Because when you start to think about these things it's hard to ignore them and when you know how the industry works you can't just delete that insight. Even though it's hard to produce anything at all without leaving any traces on our earth we're trying to do the best we can in our way. We want to make people think in a different way and inspire to small changes.

    FE: Your idea is to use leftover pieces from the leather industry to produce your jackets? Felix is walking across the room and showing me a black jacket.

    FvB: As you can see this has a patchwork structure, its smaller parts of different leather from old garments. So it's definitely a creative process to find all these pieces and make them fit together so the jacket will feel symmetric and coherent. Right now we're looking for old lambskin that gives the jacket a perfect weight but also a light and airy feeling. It's been a long process of finding someone who gets the idea of what we’re doing and how we want to work. Finally we found this amazing team in Bangkok that works with agents all across Southeast Asian that “scouting” these old leather pieces for us. Once the leather arrives to our workshop and to our team they examines what’s usable or not. Because of the distance, it's impossible for us to be there as often as we might want to but it's comforting that we found these people who understand our aesthetics.

    FE: When you first started did you feel that there was request for recycled leather products? It feels like there's a lot of enlightened people who thinks about the ethical aspects of buying second hand leather today?

    CO: Not really, but I guess this increasing awareness has affected people and their consumer habits. But in the beginning it was just us who had the desire to create these jackets so no… Before that we didn't feel any request at all.

    FvB: We're not the first in the world who works with recycled leather but I think we might be the first to work in this scale and with this ambition. People have this thought about the leather jacket as the most expensive garment in the wardrobe but we don't think that’s necessary. We want to make pieces that will last for many years for an affordable price. The best thing is when we actually see our design walking down the streets instead of just hanging in some fancy stores.

    FE: When I'm looking through your web shop I get a specific picture in my head about the typical Deadwood customer. It somehow feels like Deadwood leather is about a lifestyle?

    CO: We've grown together with Deadwood, from the start we had this clear idea about our customers but meanwhile as the collections grew bigger, we noticed that our idea was wrong. I think we had this flattering picture of ourselves as a bit more alternative and cooler then we actually were. We see a mix of ages, nationalities and subcultures that are buying Deadwood and we realized that we're more commercial than we thought. I never thought that our design would appeal to so many people, but when you think about it, it's really awesome.

    FvB: I think there are certain kinds of people who are drawn to our brand and they are people who like the same things as we do. Our passion for music and especially for soul and punk has influenced our aesthetic values and there’re a lot of musicians who really like our stuff. It's

    always fun to see your design come alive on television or at a stage. There's this universal image of the leather jacket as something sexy and as this classic rock n' roll piece which should be found in every artists wardrobe and yeah… we're making fucking good leather jackets. But it's not all about the jackets. We're making jackets, jeans, t­shirts, and jewelry as well. Once you started you can't stop. Your soul is screaming for new ideas all the time.

    FE: I get this feeling of an androgynous look in your clothes and somehow it feels like the thought about unisex clothes, which can be used by anyone, is linked to the thought about the recycling process and the classic leather jacket that never goes out of time?

    FvB: The most we design are unisex and can both be worn by women and men and yeah… that might seem like an androgynous look. But of course it's hard to ignore the expectations from the fashion industry that you should have this division between men and women. We might have to do a pair of jeans with a model for women just because the market need it. It's always a struggle between the industry and your own heart.

    FE: You work with the concept of collection for each season?

    CO: When we started we didn't like the idea of working with collection but… as the time went by we realized that it's necessary if we want to expand. When you travel around the world and visit fairs in Copenhagen or Berlin you need to have a collection. So I think it became important for us to present two collections each year, otherwise we might just have stand still. But even though we work with the concept of collections it doesn't mean that we want to create new trends. We’re pretty classic in our design so we're looking for inspiration in the past instead of standing on the front line and try to create some innovative design for the high fashion customers.

    FvB: Yeah, like Carl is saying, we want to keep our clothes away from that desperate search for new trends and just stick to the thought about garments that will be usable for a long time.

    FE: Whats next up for DEADWOOD?

    CO: We've just produced our first beer. FvB: Yeah, we like beer. This Sunday we will have a releasefor this beer that we created in a collaboration with a brewery at Södermalm. Besides that we're in the middle of the process of finishing the last things for fall 2015 and hopefully be able to present the collection for our agents in January, and of

    course get as many orders as possible. There will be a lot of focus on t­shirts and shirts made of 100 % recycled cotton and that’s very exciting.

    FvB: The future feels bright! Next autumn Deadwood definitely going to strike hard and people will know who we are. 

    Felix wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    boots FELIX’S OWN
    Carl wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    boots CARL’S OWN
    Carl wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD 
    hat CARL’S OWN
    Felix wears 
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    hat CARL’S OWN
  • 6.12.14

    I was looking for Park Hyatt Tokyo

    Written by Jörgen Axelvall

    I wasn’t really looking for Park Hyatt Tokyo. I never even stayed there. I was on a budget and I was sleeping on my friend’s sofa in Shinjuku, not far from the hotel of my dreams. I was a tourist and my mode of transportation was a bicycle. Biking in a new city can very quickly take you far and beyond your familiar route. That happened, and I was happily lost most of the time. As long as I could see the at least the tip of Park Hyatt Tokyo, I could find my way home. I was looking at Park Hyatt Tokyo.

    As a newcomer and foreigner, Tokyo can be quite overwhelming. It is after all the world’s largest metropolitan area. When I started photographing Park Hyatt Tokyo my real home was NYCJust like when I first moved to NYC, the old World Trade Center served me in the same way, as a charismatic and recognizable landmark.

    I would imagine it’s not easy to design an attractive 52-story building, a skyscraper that is a harmonious part of the skyline, yet truly unique and effortlessly becomes the center of attention. But the architect Kenzo Tange got it right. Without being lit up in all the colors of the rainbow or even being the tallest*, the Shinjuku Park Tower, its official name, stands out. The three-element structure has a different profile depending on from where you look at it, yet it is always recognizable.

    When Sofia Coppola’s movie “Lost in Translation” came out in 2003, it also brought attention, in a very sublime way, to Park Hyatt Tokyo. I love that movie. When you watch “Lost in Translation” you get a sense that Park Hyatt Tokyo is the place to stay in Tokyo. Although the actual Park Hyatt Tokyo name is mentioned only two times throughout the movie, it plays the important role as safe house from the bustling and chaotic Tokyo. You can feel the tranquility and beauty of the John Morford designed interiors. I was in awe and wanted to be part of it.

    That is why, when I arrived for a month long stay in 2008, it was the only familiar place in Tokyo and as soon as I saw the building I had to photograph it. I took the very first photograph of Park Hyatt Tokyo from the bus coming into Tokyo from Narita airport. Being a photographer I soon took picture number two and three from different angels just to make sure I got it. When I pointed my camera at the building for the fourth time, the tower was already my guiding star and I thought to myself: “Hey, this would make a great book”.

    The following years I spent at least a month every year in Tokyo and in 2011 I finally made it my new home. Throughout the years I kept photographing Park Hyatt Tokyo. Randomly, whenever the building popped into view. I highly doubt I will stop, even after this book is published.

    Thank you Mr. Tange and Mr. Morford, creators of the body and a soul of Park Hyatt Tokyo, and thank you Mrs. Coppola for giving it a life of its own.

    *currently the Shinjuku Park Tower ranks as Tokyo’s 7th tallest building.