for marco shuttle, music is a work of art. the italian-born, london-based DJ, producer and label boss has always had an eye for aesthetics — a graduate of central saint martins with a background in visuals and fashion, his interest in beauty runs more than skin deep. “whenever you make a decision, whenever you create, it always has something to do with beauty,” he says, “besides if something sounds good, it’s about dealing with what you think is beautiful.” that much is clear; everything from eerie, his self-run label since 2012, to his productions and journey-like DJ sets speak to the foundation of his creative philosophy: aesthetics. such a loyalty to his vision is often what sets him apart from other djs; you might not always know what you’ll get with a marco shuttle set, but you know it’s going to be good.
akiko kiyama is not your average techno artist. she speaks softly and moves quietly. you’ll rarely find her on the dancefloor. she prefers the studio to the club scene. her music, likewise, is not your average techno endeavor. she never creates with an end result in mind. she favours weird samples and strange sounds. her label, kebko music, releases cassette tapes, not vinyl. but her innate eccentricity is exactly what makes her so capable. born and raised in japan, she shares her time between berlin and tokyo, making music both for her own imprint and for labels like nerv music, lick my deck, and sleep is commercial. during her last visit to berlin, we sat down at a cafe in mitte to talk kebko, musical expression, anti-conceptualism, and the value of weirdness.
mutek has always been the kind of festival you experience with your whole self. you don’t go to mutek to simply hear music, you go to mutek to listen. you don’t go to mutek to watch visuals or art installations, you go to mutek to see. mutek is an anomaly in that way; one of the few festivals where you’re acutely aware that everyone is present for the same reasons, and it all boils down to a love of music. when the opportunity to attend the 6th annual mutek es in barcelona, spain, arose, i couldn’t pass it up. needless to say, mutek es was an experience for all five senses — being in a new city often does that to a person. the music was absolutely stand-out incredible, the visuals were captivating, and the people were warm, grounded, and welcoming. a good analogy for the festival as a whole. here are the ways i experienced mutek barcelona.
“music that moves you has a lot of different contexts. i can be moved at home, i can be moved on the dancefloor,” sarah lamb is explaining the philosophy behind the hushlamb mantra, “ the natural reaction to music is to shake and move your body. it brings community together. we all become a part of it.” certainly we do, particularly when it comes to the kind of music delivered by the event crew that she runs with her longtime friend and business partner, DJ/producer alicia hush. they affectionately call it their musical lovechild.
when i first arrive at sarah’s house on the outskirts of montreal’s gay village, she’s sitting in a chair on her balcony, and alicia is cutting her hair with a pair of kitchen scissors. there’s sangria. sarah and alicia have known each other for years, but it doesn’t stop them from being incredibly open and welcoming — qualities that extend entirely to the way they throw parties and the way they distribute music. there’s no politics here.
of all the interviews i’ve done, this was, surprisingly, the interview where i spoke the least and asked the fewest questions. sarah has a poetic way of speaking, of putting into words the exact answer you want without you even asking. by contrast and as her moniker would suggest, alicia is shy. a girl of few words. but like her music, when she speaks, it is impactful — less is definitely more. they balance one another. it’s been almost a decade since they first started going out together in toronto, meeting up on the dancefloor in much the same way that they do today, an experience they hope to bring to with their parties and events as hushlamb.
black is more than just a colour. it’s a state of mind. in fashion, black is effortless chic, inimitable edge – it’s classic but it’s of the moment. there are few brands that embody that state of mind better than flor serani’s italian label, blackblessed. a lifelong interest in fashion that started with a love of drawing and art, serani’s curiosity quickly grew into what has become one of the most interesting cult labels in rome. merchants of the weird, blackblessed is notorious for their one-of-a-kind cuts, prints, and directional use of fabrication – always emphasizing a dark, goth-tinged aesthetic and a love for uniqueness. i was lucky enough to catch up with blackblessed founder and creative director, flor serani, to talk creativity and design, the importance of instagram, and american horror story.