A mind melting new video from Tokyo’s progressive audio visual collective
September 9, 2011
A two part interview with the inspired experimental art, music and literature label connection Tokyo and London
- Text by Terence Teh
blackmaps is the Tokyo and London-based creative powerhouse, independent label that expands the parameters of the record label, with its focus dilating from music to experimental film, private press literature, design commissions, textile works, events and beyond. Founded by Stuart Souter and Max Mackee in 2009, blackmaps celebrates craft and the collectible nature of art, music and literature by artists whose work inhabits a tangiable space that deserves to be showcased in the inimitable blackmaps manner.
With artists including The Berg Sans Nipple and the "Anna" trilogy, a print and audio series by writer Geoff Cox and illustraor Rohan Daniel Eason. Satellite Voices caught up with Max and Stuart from blackmaps for the concluding part of a two-part interview.
Satellite Voices: Where do you live in Tokyo and what inspires you about that area of town?
Max Mackee: I live in Tomigaya at the moment, which is right next to Yoyogi Park. It's very close to Shibuya and Harajuku. If anything inspires me here it's the access to nature, which is very hard to come by in central Tokyo. I love cities but nature has to be my ultimate inspiration. Japan has some of the most serene and easily accessible nature in the world.
SV: What are some of your favorite hidden city spots?
Max Mackee: Until last year, I used to live in Nakameguro which is probably my favourite hidden spot (if you can still call it that). It's a little sanctuary within Tokyo, located just near the madness of Shibuya and the high-end shopping of Daikanyama, but it’s managed to keep a ‘local’ vibe despite recent development. Some great bars (Kinfolk, Higashiyama), restaurants (see below), galleries and shops. The Meguro river runs through the area and is lined with cherry blossoms and if you wander around the area you’re bound to run into something interesting. Its also where some great Japanese artists are based, like Keigo Oyamada (Cornelius).
SV: Where are some of your favourite food spots?
Max Mackee: Nakameguro has the best spots without a doubt. Korean barbeque (Shu-en, Yakiniku Champion), Sicillian pizza (Trattoria Da Isa), Yakitori (Toriyoshi), Soba/Tempura (Baguzanpo), Burgers (Golden Brown) and Japanese Izakaya (Kan). We’re really spoiled in Tokyo and I truly miss living in the area. Everything is on your doorstep.
SV: Can you talk about how Tokyo supports creative youth cultures? How do you feel the cultural scenes differ from London?
Max Mackee: I think there’s an interesting difference there. Compared to London, there’s not as much public funding for new arts/culture in Japan. Institutions like the Barbican or the South Bank Centre which has been supporting creative youth culture in the UK for years don't exist to the same extent in Tokyo. That kind of support only seems to be available to established artists or within established genres.
I look at it as another reflection of how disconnected the Japanese administration is to youth culture. On the other hand, there are a lot of sponsorship opportunities available for new arts/culture in the private sector if you know how to work the system and access it from Japanese and international companies. Companies understand that they need to access youth culture so are always looking for a “way in” whereas the administration just don't seem to be interested. If anything is going to push this country forward it’s going to be Japanese companies. The Japanese government is useless.
Stuart Souter: London can be kind of complacent and is actually pretty mainstream – I definitely feel that avant garde creativity has more space to breathe in Japan and that art isn’t such an unusual social choice or focus of young people.
SV: What artists in Tokyo are doing it big for you right now?
Stuart Souter: I really like the Home Normal label and whilst I know Hisham Bharoocha isn’t strictly as Tokyo artist, maybe he qualifies on account of his links with the city?! His design work is astonishing and I also really dig his Soft Circle recordings, especially the synch/soundtrack work he’s been doing recently.
Max Mackee: I would love to be able to name some younger artists but for me it's still dominated by the old guard. People like Ryuichi Sakamoto (YMO), Cornelius and Aoki Takamasa. DJ-wise, people like Eye (Boredoms) and Kenji Takimi (Crue-l Records). It definitely feels like there a need for an injection of new blood.
All cities, worldwide - the third and final film in our series of locally inspired shorts celebrating youth, created by Fashion Promotion & Communication students at Central Saint Martins
The independent art curator with an eye on the explosive development of East Asian art