From ‘ADHD kid’ and creative polymath Campbell Addy to underground musical artist Gaika – we profile emerging creators from adidas Originals’ new streetwear zine
It’s September, which, for those unfamiliar with RJ Cutler’s 2009 Vogue documentary or the tenets of the publishing world, means one thing for fashion magazines: time for their biggest, best and most phonebook-thick issue of the year. In light of this phenomenon and in resistance to it, we teamed up with adidas Originals to create the very antithesis to the September issue – the September Non-Issue. Inspired by the spirit of punk zines and printed ephemera of previous eras, we scrapped the idea of a cover star, cut the trend reports and dropped the celebrity interviews. Instead, we approached six agenda-setting creative talents and asked them to talk about their world – in their own words, unfiltered and unfettered. Together forming a portrait of contemporary street culture in New York, London and LA, this group included basketball player Damian Lillard, rap collective RAAA, photographer Campbell Addy, New York’s underground it-teen Manon Macasaet, and musicians Gaika and Rina Sawayama. Pick up the zine inside copies of Dazed’s 25th anniversary issue, on shelves from today – in the meantime, we hear from a selection of the zine’s talents below.
I’m that ADHD kid that never got diagnosed, but got told he could do anything. I love to take photos, as well as casting. Why can’t I do it all? I’m from a place called New Addington – it’s 40 minutes from Croydon. It’s really suburban, but I love it. I believe we had a Tesco once – that was the talk of the town. I was often in detention at school, and one time I picked up a book and I was really taken aback by a picture taken by Irving Penn entitled “Large Nude Woman Seated (Epic Proportions)”. She’s a very large woman, sitting there almost lifeless, but there’s such beauty resonating from her. I was this scandalised kid, brought to tears by an image. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and it spurred me on to take pictures to the point where I’d said to myself, “Fuck it, I’m going to take pictures.” That moment was life changing. I left home due to complications, being gay and my family being very religious – and I had nothing to fall back on. So I just took pictures – I didn’t know how else to communicate; it was very therapeutic.
In the summer of 2015, I went to New York and witnessed the intensity of the Black Lives Matter movement first hand. During my time there, I went to a Labour Day march in Harlem, where I saw a massive float created from the faces of people victimised by police brutality. Most of the faces I’d never seen in the news, most of them were under the age of 28 at the time of death. It shook me to the core – these are my peers, my cousins, my brothers, who are being killed for no reason. I’m standing there witnessing this event and thinking to myself, “There’s no way I can go back to Central Saint Martins and make a project that’s just going to be a willy-nilly project – I owe it to my brothers, I owe it to the conversation that’s happening. I thought: “This is what Nii Journal is going to be.” I want it to be very subtle, I want my photos to whisper, not shout. People aren’t going to hear me if I scream, they’re just gonna see a black face screaming. So Nii has a softer approach, it subtly trickles into your mind – and you won’t get it until it’s too late. That’s why the slogan for the issue was: ‘We’re here to educate, not irritate.’
“I want my photos to whisper, not shout. People aren’t going to hear me if I scream, they’re just gonna see a black face screaming” – Campbell Addy
Nii Agency is another outlet, because a lot of my personal photography I cast myself. When I started shooting, people would comment on the casting and say things like, “Oh, I love your casting. Who are these boys you’re shooting?” Then, one time, I was shooting a very striking looking boy and I advised him to visit some agencies. Being 16, he was quite young and he came back to me in quite an emotional state because the agency had told him they had “one of him already”. Obviously I was shocked, but it inspired me to start Nii Agency.
My six-year-old little sister is the source of my inspiration. Our lives are so far apart: when I was six, there weren’t movements like Black Lives Matter, there weren’t any talks surrounding black people and people of colour. Growing up with my family, I would often ask what they wanted to be or achieve when they were younger. Most of them would express there love for something, but answer “Oh, I couldn’t do it”. This frustrated me as a child. Why can’t you do something? I want my sister to look back in 10 years and have the courage to do what she wants because her older brother did exactly what he wanted to do.
@campbelladdy | @niijournal | @niiagency
I’m all the way south. I grew up in Brixton, around Streatham Hill. Brixton in the 90s and 00s was quite a unique place, and it’s definitely had an impact on me; it was a melting pot, and everybody had to get along. I’ve come to realise, especially in the face of everything that is happening now, that I am actually a real supporter of multiculturalism. Now people are saying, “Look at the world, multiculturalism has failed.” But it hasn’t – I believe in it and am going to fight for it, because it’s what I grew up in.
When I was 14 or 15, my friends bought some old turntables, and we tried to be a DJ-MC combo. I could MC, but I gave it up after about ten minutes and decided to be a promoter, and then I got into pirate radio. Now I’m a filmmaker who raps. I’m not a rapper who makes films, because I was making films first – and rappers who make films are never any good, except Belly, of course.
My music is influenced by dancehall; I like the idea of music as a form of social commentary – that comes from the genre, and the vibe, too. Jamaican music is all about melody, about the top line – that’s why Céline Dion, Air Supply and Michael Bolton are heroes in Jamaica.
I don’t really know how to describe my music, I’ve given up on attempting to do that. There’s definitely an otherness to it, and it sits between darkness and a ray of light that carries you through. It’s optimism among darkness. People say it’s trippy – all of the work I do, people say it’s trippy, but I don’t think it is. I guess that’s just how I see the world. I think my brain works properly, but maybe it doesn’t.
“People say (the work I do is) trippy, but I don’t think it is. I guess that’s just how I see the world” – Gaika
One day I’ll be dressed super-indie, and the next I’ll be dressed like a fucking badman. I don’t identify with any fashion subculture; I’m a bit of a hermit. I like wearing jewellery – who doesn’t like jewels? I want to feel like a king. I probably wear more than most men, but less than most rappers.
I like wearing masks, too. There’s a guy who makes masks out of trainers, and they look sick. Batman has got a mask; Zorro has got a sick mask – you can tell it’s him, but it doesn’t matter. I like masks because they’re cool, and I like ninjas, but also because I have something to say about fame – it gets in the way of doing stuff that lasts forever. Not everybody can be famous – I’d rather be good at something than famous. I don’t think that’s wrong of me to say, I think it’s logical.
I wanna do some IRL shit, like a load of free parties, because it’s time – it’s all got a bit grim. There needs to be some sort of counter for all this negativity. I wanna create spaces where people can be who they wanna be, and do what they wanna do, with no sense of being an outsider. I believe in love, and that if people get together, good shit happens.
I’ve lived in the West Village since I was born.
I have a love/hate relationship with the fashion industry. I want to be an all-around creative director and be able to go into any industry that I want to. Music, photography, doing it all – that’s the future. Because I’m in high school, the only pressure I have comes from me, because I want to go somewhere and I’m motivated. There really is no actual pressure, so I can experiment how I want. That’s why I try to do a lot now, not just focus on one thing. I’m never really in one place for too long or on one thing for too long!
All of my friends teach me something different. I like so many people because I like at least one thing about them, and the same goes for cultures – I always find something I enjoy or can take from it and keep with me. You either have an open mind and want to keep it open, or you’re just timid; it comes from a place of not being judgmental, (but) being open, and just wanting to know more. I feel like my mind moves a mile a minute because I’m always thinking about everything from every angle, and that definitely has a lot to do with who I keep around me. Everyone opens me up in unique ways – with this kind of mindset, it’s important that I know myself at all times.
It’s cool to reference things and be inspired, but when that’s all you’re doing, it’s not really a personal style, it’s just a collage of everyone else’s. If you don’t know, then maybe it’s good to shut yourself off, stop looking to other people, and stop thinking about what’s ‘cool’. It’s OK to like something that not everyone likes. It just has to come from you and be organic.
“Doing it all – that’s the future” – Manon
I literally always wear men’s clothes. It’s honestly 50 per cent of what I wear. I like how I feel in boys’ clothes; I like what’s on them more. People think that you have to have a skinnier fit or a girlier graphic if you’re designing for girls. I just wear the boys’ tees, and I wear them XL because that’s how I feel good.
I admire brands like X-Girl, and other skate brands, because I know they were truly important to the culture that they were a part of. They were really essential, and it came from a real place – there’s a story behind it, and that’s what I really like. Even though I wasn’t alive when all of these brands were really what they were at the beginning, I think I love them because, in a way, I wish I was. I like most things how they were, not how they are now. I have an appreciation for stories, I guess…
Last summer, I kept making a point of walking down the river down by my house and making wishes with pennies – I don’t know why, I would just go there. If something bad was happening and I was freaking out at my house, I’d just run there really fast. It’s pretty empty sometimes, and when me and friends pulled our first all-nighter, we were there eating strawberry pops. I like having a million things to do in one day.
I love New York, forever and always.
I’ve become fascinated by the psychology of (a) the people who have loads of followers and (b) the followers of the people who have lots of followers. I just became so sucked into it, and I thought that no one was talking about it. No one’s discussing this really new technology that almost everyone is engaged in… Why not?
I don’t want to just observe from the outside and criticise what is going on, because it’s so much deeper than that. People are starting to become way more aware of themselves, that’s the new counterculture. A reflection of yourself in the face of all these screens… It’s the new reality.
“As a woman, your image can get taken away from you very easily. It’s important to write your own narrative” – Rina
My next body of work after I wrap up this narrative that I’ve got on this study of the internet is the study of identity, or dual identity, that is personal to me. Sometimes I want to be like, ‘I’m Japanese and whatever,’ but then some days I’m not OK with it, and I think that’s OK.
Living in a multicultural city like London, I think it’s OK to sometimes feel like an outsider and then sometimes to feel like an insider. I’m inspired by Naomi Shimada, who is half-Japanese. We met once and we always talk on the internet. We talk about the issues that affect us as Japanese women, and she really inspires me with what she’s doing with body-positivity. (There are) just so many inspiring women doing things and that, to me, is true empowerment. You know: working, collaborating with other women and bringing them up. As a woman, your image can get taken away from you very easily. It’s important to write your own narrative.
Jamie Reid art-directed. Javier Sola designed. Claire Marie Healy edited. Lauren Ford and Saorla Houston produced. Claire and Ted Stansfield had conversations.
Rina Sawayama, London. Josh Gordon shot, Ben Schofield styled.
Campbell Addy, London. Bafic shot, Anna Pesonen styled.
Gaika, London. Hanna Moon shot, Anna Pesonen styled.
Manon Macasaet, New York. Bibi Borthwick shot, Alison Isbell styled.
RAAA Collective, New York. Grace Ahlbom shot, Alison Isbell styled.
Damian Lillard, Los Angeles. Dan Regan shot, Sara Paulsen styled.