Last Friday, Dazed hosted it's biannual London fashion week party at Selfridges, which saw the unveiling of 7 of I.T’s new brands, showcased the new #tripping issue, and invited some of the most thrilling musicians from London and NY to play.
With the marriage of some of the most out-there characters from the music and fashion world, party-goers saw Selfridges transform into a fantasy world in the space of a few hours as it gained a stage, lights and psychedelic clusters of mylar balloons by set designer Gary Card, which eventually broke free of their restraints and danced around the room as the night went on.
The Kills’ Alison Mosshart opened the night and chatted about her DJ process before she went on: “I didn’t plan the set, I never do – I think I’ll just scope out the vibe from and play what makes sense. Maybe something heavy and awesome!” In the end, she opted for throbbing indie and electronica, while male waiters in dungarees served champagne.
The main perfomance, NY rapper Ojay Morgan, aka Zebra (fucking) Katz, topped off the night. If you’re still new to the New Yorker, whose debut single “Ima Read” was the soundtrack to last year’s Paris fashion week courtesy of Rick Owens, rest assured that watching him don a black leather mask, straddle a speaker and soak the crowd in champagne mid-energetic thrust is a pretty fitting introduction.
Playing with Night Slugs DJ L-Vis 1990, he vogued, sashayed and scowled as we heard him deliver his brand of seductive (and menacing) rap. Playing thrilling hits like “W8WTF”, his new track “It’s My Party” (soon to be released with Icona Pop, we hear) and screaming about the bitches he doesn’t like, Zebra is the best example of the new wave of mesmerising hip hop eccentrics. While the crowd geared up, following him into the early hours were R&B refixes from Work IT, kaleidoscopic electronica from Hudson Mohawke and breakneck bass from Sega Bodega. Amidst all the mayhem, we grabbed Zebra Katz for a catch-up.
Dazed Digital: You’ve become synonymous with fashion week following ‘Ima Read’ hitting the Paris catwalks…
Zebra Katz: That’s exactly how it happened. With Rick Owens attracting a lot of attention to the track in Paris, it really helped spark a relationship I have with the fashion brands, magazines and other designers.
DD: What was it about that track specifically that caught people’s attention?
Zebra Katz: I think it was the attitude and simplicity behind it, paired with what people think about ballroom and vogue culture. They think ‘high fashion’ or fashion houses, and Rick really saw something which really helped support the song that I did.
DD: Were you bothered by people not understanding exactly what “Ima Read” meant?
Zebra Katz: I loved people not understanding! Some people still don’t understand what ‘Ima Read’ means, but they’ll continue reading on and on forever just because, so its pretty great. People are still learning and that’s great.
DD: Is there still a thriving Vogue scene in NY?
Zebra Katz: Yes, and its becoming more and more present in our daily culture. With Vogue Knights and MikeQ, there are a lot of artists that are making great waves and it's been a long time coming.
DD: Is there a resurgence of the ballroom aesthetic in mainstream culture?
Zebra Katz: Definitely. It never really left but people are just paying attention to it. I’ve always known about ballroom and I think within the last 4 years, from Vogue Evolution being on America’s Next Top Dance Crew, to Leiomy Maldonado being in the "Whip My Hair" video by Willow Smith, it’s everywhere.
DD: What’s your vogue move of choice?
Zebra Katz: I think it’s definitely the ‘death drop’ or a ‘dip’ which is really dramatic and it kind of steals a show. It’s one of my favourite moves.
DD: How have you evolved from that dance foundation of vogue-house to the more hard-edged sound of hip hop?
Zebra Katz: I think there’s a nice mix. I try to stay anti-genre. But I think my sound is still developing. Right now, it’s very dark, daring and minimal. But hip hop has been very influential to me, and has been encouraging to me as an artist, and that’s great because a lot of people think that I shouldn’t be making music. I’m an unconventional artist making music in an unconventional way and that’s okay. I never want to be restricted by form about what rap should or shouldn’t be. Hip hop is totally dark right now. It’s psychedelic and it’s changing at a rapid pace.
DD: The "W8WTF" video was also kind of dark moment…
Zebra Katz: I shot it at the Tribeca Grand Hotel and it was very DIY. We just made it happen. I introduced this gimp mask I got when I was in San Francisco and it really helped me bring that dreamy, menacing world to life.
DD: Do you consider yourself and people like Mykki Blanco, LE1f and MikeQ as part of a movement?
Zebra Katz: Yeah there is something. The timing had everything to do with it. They are making music that speaks to our generation which set us apart from anything else out there. I was lucky enough to have Mad Decent back my track and then Rick Owens back my track and then the New York Times back my track. The scene is just a grouping of a lot of artists together and it works because we’re all from NYC and we know each other but we’re all different.