THE BRILLIANCE! > A-ron the Downtown Don… Please tell us what’s really good?
A-RON! > “in the hood”? it’s the life we live, support from the creative community’s, the summer 2005, it’s heating up and i don’t got enough amps to power an A/C and its hot like desert storm, but i ain’t complaining. a new chapter is forming in my life and it’s time to attack.
TB! > How’s your day going so far? What did you have for breakfast?
A! > it’s going steady, it’s going far. 9am: the kids in the school across the street are hanging out in the schoolyard and they are going bananas - they wake me up pretty early these days. better it be some LES kids than the old rehab junkies i used to live across the street from when i was up all night on the bowery. they were just as loud.
as for breakfast i went to this little cafe on st. marks, got up early trying to get me 3 meals a day, even though i don’t like eating too much in the summer. I’d rather fast.
TB! > If this interview had a theme song or soundtrack, what would it be?
A! > it would start mellow with Hans zimmer - the beach song from True Romance - then as we go on to about the middle we get to Giorgio Moroder - the chase from the movie midnight express and as we close out the interview we end it with a triumph song like Gary Glitter - rock and roll 2 during the shout outs you will hear the benny hill theme and than when you think about the interview later you will hear popcorn by hot butter
TB! > Before we get too far into this. Tell the people who you are and why your important right now. Past to present.
A! > i think you guys should tell me why i am important. i never said that, but i would love to hear it. past and present (the line don’t draw) brought up from the city in brooklyn, 15 it’s my first year in high school and i drop out, at this time i get caught trying to steal a t shirt from union where chappy and jakuan(360 toys) catch me and throw me out the store, then i moved out of my family house when i was 17 and moved in with SSUR up on madison ave. turned 18 and moved into STASH’s old apartment in brooklyn where LEE was living. i took it over and that was my first apartment - it was on!, good looking out stash. after that i moved into my partner k-dogs studio under the manhatten bridge in d.u.m.b.o. that was nuts cause he would be up late painting with toxic shit and i would be trying to sleep while he would be blasting some jazz at like 8in the morning. i got kicked out there and moved in with my bro’ Nemo’s apartment on ludlow and stanton. he would be letting all type of homeless fools sleep there - we stop paying rent and squatted there for a while till my boy got caught climbing the fire escape to break in. then i hit the couch scene for a minute, my back still hurts from those days.after that i got lucky moved to Joey Ramone Place on the bowery, a co-op for lower east side residents - i was paying basically nothing. that was a sublet on a crazy block, convicts junkies adolescent derelicts, one of the last OG LES blocks in the city. i moved out and Dave Quality Meats moves in literally in the ground floor of my old building. HA! now its the early thousand and i live in the gangs of new york hood: the LES surrounded by jews, chinese and puerto ricans - classic NY. i live on top of a temple. i’m blessed, mazel tov! in all this moving to different locations and time past and present, i was involved with this city, hands got dirty from time to time. i learned hustles, i pushed movements, and still roll with the momentum. supported by the local lifestyles
TB! > Would you call yourself a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of guy?
A! > im behind a lot of different scenes but yet i face the realities of being on the front line too. a role-model when i was younger.
MATT HOLLIS! > Aron’s the conduit, the can-do-it man. Things run through him or by the wayside. Putting a pretty face or a trumped up chest out there brings nothing of substance to the table. People out here are trying to eat, build something on up like a little nation. Too many indians can steal the scene. What people need is an architect for their inventions, a sum holding each individual in our place, further adding to the intricate grand dimension. Inside Aron lies the equation: the quotients get plugged in, and out comes the only answer.
TB! > I want to talk about the scene a little bit here. The whole niche scene. A lot of people have tried to name/dub the scene, give it some sort of identity. I’m interested in your definition of the scene. What it is, what it means to you, where you see it going?
A! > first off we have to pay respect to all the scenes that past whether it was your thing or not. they gave us the room to create and contribute scenes today. i guess i am supposed to speak on the niche scene: the niche scene is expanding daily, so many people getting hipped to the exclusive whether its major brand or some little scraped up cash crew that creates products of there lifestyles. it is a crazy time with all the shops opening up, all the different blogs and websites networking the scene, all the different magazine, zine and books being published by the scene, all the different type of brands from the scene, independent movies, tv shows, music and artist coming up from the scene. the Downtowns of the world are getting smaller with all the information and product reaching niche spots and niche scenes. this is a time where we should all support each other and use one another area district to spread your vision, a grass root retail network cutting out the middle mens. straight hand to hand business kind of like drug dealing.
TB! > I know you were heavy at Supreme. Tell us about what your role was there and where everything stands right now.
JAMES JEBBIA! > Aaron is Part of the original crew who basically set the tone & image,it was real though, not fake like hyped shit these days, its just how we lived. There’s mutual respect & friendship between us so we are down for the cause whenever needed.
A! > Supreme is for life for some of us out here, a tight community of characters from the city, rolling thru the city lurking for the come up. beside all the business, the crew is a recognizable outfit of the city. my role was when i was young - i helped manage the store with gio, chappy, pooky and alex. the days of snapping i caught it mad times and i still do. the back of the store which was legendary, after 7pm when the store was closed. if you didn’t make it in before the gates came down you where banging on the door all night trying to get into the mix - serious social club of skaters and inner city street heroes. they used to say the clothing sold so well cause of the smell of liquor, cigarettes and all the weed that used to get burnt in the back, absorbing rite into the garments. RIP VANILLA. did that for a while it was cool but i had to hit the streets knowing the city is bigger than the back of supreme, on the streets hanging repping the block. i start helping with producing press for suprillz, going overseas, representer of the team. ran out of dough, max out my credit card i left the soho office of supreme to focus on my vision aNYthing! and moved myself and operations to the lower east side to be a part of crew of locals pioneering a new neighborhood. since soho kind of turned into a midtown consumer neighborhood and little italy became nolitia, an outdoor mall, i lay low in my new hood but im still active with projects with supreme it is for life whether im here or there.
TB! > What about the record label. I don’t know a whole lot about what your doing with that, but I have heard mentions of both hip-hop and punk rock. Two classic music styles from the whole downtown demographic.
A! > as the youth we are realizing from making products from clothes to art, a lot of the artist been changing there medium and expressing themselves in the music form, for me to be a label is a lot of work and i can’t give artist attention they need, what i do is round up the troops and release albums acting as the platform. giving the artist a world wide distribution hoping they get recognition and possibly deals, if that happens i would be so happy for the artist, to be part of authentic creativity is a blessing - in hip-hop we created a new sound called “gallery rap” since hip hop became such a commercial business it’s lost it’s edge and doesn’t exist in the parks no more but a small community of MC’s who are art related found galleries to support there music kind of like the old days of rap, finding a outlet and a venue. this scene is emerging fast, watch. punk rock is the attitude we posses naturally taking chances putting ourselves out there, plus the new breed of kid today comes from so many different genres like graffiti, skate, punk, hip hop, it is all blended into to this new attitude called “genre now”
TB! > The Kid America thing. Since I’m not in NYC, Alex from Neverstop put Chuck and I onto this whole thing. What is your involvement with that whole project?
A! > alex from neverstop, the velvet mafia seattle steez - they started grunge, another scene that came and went. wanting to do some more creative projects and the supreme crew kind of kinged the downtown scene on some deral shit, i started checking out the weirdo nerd scene which was more live than the kool guy scene i was fucking with. post 9 / 11, a time when people came together and did projects like it could of been your last. i was wanting to do a talk show for a while i joined the kid america show which is already airing on cable access channel Manhattan neighborhood network which was a local broadcast station. this project was one of my first vouches of a community approved project. in the beginning i helped produce it - Supreme was giving some funds for tapes and equipment, the talk show was shot in the basement of the supreme store. i was merchandising and doing press for it, giving it a international and national fame. my friend Sammy built us a site to give more creditability. it was on lectures at art schools flying around hosting and djing parties for our little variety show. these days im not as involved of the creative side of it but, they are dropping a DVD this fall and i am acting in it, no talk show. i will be putting out a single of there rap crew BANDY on my music label this fall as well.
TB! > On another note, I have heard you say you will vouch for brands. The whole idea of standing behind a brand/product both as a scene and as a person. How did that come about? Do you feel like there is a lack of that right now? Maybe no accountability?
A! > there is an all time abundance of everything from mags to brands to artist to stores to websites. it is out of control, so many new faces, no one knows who’s who anymore. i only push things that will better the movement and help keep the legacy’s alive. New York is not for sale! This house will burn before we ever give the block up. So if someone catches feelings they probably should - it undoubtedly was intended.
TB! > Let’s talk about aNYthing both as a brand and as a clothing label. It seems like it’s more of a lifestyle brand than just another clothing label. Just the name ‘A New York Thing.’ Tell us about the brand, exactly what it is in a tangible sense and then more of the lifestyle/branding end of it. The official definition of aNYthing.
A! > branding is a touchy subject in my eyes, i don’t like the major companies branding and causing kids to become victims of marketing so i try not to brand projects with a business approach more of a friendship or a alliance. we are a crew or a gang of visionaries attracted to same beat of things, from the ground up, no handouts - it’s so natural, unforced, it happened because it had too. this brand got so much life on it’s own. this is a strong community of friends out here and we all play a role in the city, and this city is a big one. and it could eat you up alive, i’ve seen it before. i am intrigued by creativity especially in it’s beginning stages watching something form is the shit, being apart of it is even better. we have scenes out here in the city, i want to show the world what we do and how we the keep tradition.
TB! > How long has the brand aNYthing been around?
A! > the early thousands, pre 9/11 but it was post 9/11when it all came together.
TB! > Who all is involved with running aNYthing?
A! > all the downtown’s of the world, the list is long, i got OG’s that i respect and who contribute to the movie, my colleagues, the city, i could list names for days, eric elms, ryan mcginley, dan colen, matt hollis, greg naw, simon curtis, roxy cottontail, top creative crews from downtown, supreme, retail mafia, jen brillz, west cost legends, paul takahasi, sarcastic, one gram, dash snow,, the attitude the lifestyle, mordichai, kiernen costello, kid america and fatboy, espo, alife, the “genre now”, jaime story J$, rub n tug - eric duncan & thomas bulock, andrew kou, james jebbia, eddie cruz, ssur, the youth, red topps, the good bad the ugly, sammy splay, scope coma crew.
TB! > You have said on splay and in interviews that ‘aNYthing is the only brand that matters.’ It seems like that’s more than just you being head-strong about your brand. What does that phrase mean to you? What does it really represent?
A! > in all reality there is only one brand that really matters to me and that’s my brand, the ultimate vouch. and in my vision there aint no crews or brands in the city that got the history and energy that we bring to the table. the streets know what’s up. we are apart of the evolution of this city, from the ground up waiting for no handouts, competition is impossible.
TB! > You might not be able to answer this. But if you could compare your brand to one other brand in terms of it being similar…which one(s) would it be? Does anything compare?
A! > im sure if we sit down and compare we could find something but who got the time for that, i aint claiming that i’m the inventor of this style all i do is try to keep my blinders on and charge forward with no distractions. plus i don’t got to many references. i didn’t go to school, i dropped out of high school in my freshman year. i got no formal education, what i do is all instinct, natural ability to survive in the city and to keep up and surpass the people who come here and go to college and get there degrees and claim to have the knowledge, this is my backyard, so i don’t want to answer this one.
TB! > With the actual clothing, you have the classic t-shirts, hoodies, and the sneakers… What else does your line have right now in terms of pieces? What other pieces are in the future for aNYthing?
A! > this September we got a lot of projects to products coming. we started a new line of T shirts that are designed by a good friend of mine and a true artist Ryan Mcginley, we also have a cut and sew line dropping a more mature approach to street wear, got to grow up sometime. we got a cd compilation coming out with 20 groups from downtown, also got a box set of music from the As Four fashion shows, got a punk rock blues album by joey semz, got a couple of concerts coming up in the fall, a couple of book projects i like to keep under the wraps but been working with my friend alex corporan on a book of the skateboard timeline of nyc, the new Rub N Tug mix will be dropping too, a bunch of DVD projects, we got our own network in the city soon the world will be able to experience it come September when the new shop opens.
TB! > The actual designs. You have the classic logo shirt. But you also have some fresh stuff that takes from other logos while really repping the more ‘gritty’ street culture. The ‘Red Topps’, the ‘2 for $5’, ‘Crack is Back’... All that. What is the inspiration behind that whole aesthetic? I love it.
A! > with some of the logo bites i use, they bring back memory’s of my childhood and how i see these images today, they translate a little bit - different in my older years - new york city: all my life you are exposed to a lot of different hings, positive and negative - this comes with the territory. i did get high in my day with some of the illest junkies, its hard living sometimes you get caught up in your name and the image you create for your self and people expect you to be a certain way, the late night jams, waking up underneath cars really hitting the pavement. my brand is a hard lifestyle 24 hours, all day all night, we live this shit
TB! > Where can people buy your clothing right now? Any future plans for a store / gallery of any sort?
A! > you could get the product only in the best retail / boutiques in the world and when i say the best i mean the best spots in the world who lead the pack and been supporting this movement for years. yes we have plans of contributing to the retail game in new york this September in the lower east side of the city- we are opening the a-new-york-thing the housing project, the platform of the creative community a place where you find products of the lifestyle. don’t want to talk too much about it, i want to wait for it to open than i could talk a lot more shit, for now i got to keep cool and hustle.
TB! > Off the subject a bit. Since your in the thick of it everyday, what are your thoughts on the stores that have popped up in past few years? Not just NYC, but every city. Why don’t they last? Why are they…corny?
A! > i want a list of the ones you guys think are corny - seems you guys have opinions too. im sure the audience would love to hear what you guys think too, since you guys are the roving reporters of this community. to answer your questions, in new york lately everybody is doing the same shit: bullshit sneaker accounts that don’t matter any more, a bunch of 3rd generation t shirt brands that have no impact. nobody has changed the game. most stores are off springs of Supreme in a sort of way and nobody surpassed supreme so they all get son’ed out. i do love the fact that heads are taking matters into there own hands. business is about chances and some of these fools be taking chances with their visions and products. a few stores came up on their own during the supreme era. they get props for sure - ssur, stash, futura, and alife which was way later in the game… also without corny you can’t have dope. you need that contrast.
TB! > In general. What brands, in your mind, are really doing their thing? Both in the scene you reside in, and then in general? Anything from cars, clothes, record labels, anything industry.
A! > i don’t care. i don’t want to list things so people don’t catch feelings
TB! > What brands should quit while they are behind? Who is wack right now? Name names, the crowd loves it.
A! > it’s tuff to put me in this situation, to expose motherfuckers. to vouch for things i got to be positive - i can’t mention mostly everybody that is wack and give free press. bad press is waste of my breathe so i’d rather talk about the solid brands and not the wack, because if you are wack at the end of the day you got to deal with yourself, and to go home being wack and that got to suck. but keep the art in the galleries and off the t shirts. and try to create a lifestyle behind your vision, it is crazy in the early thousands how everybody surrendered to making t shirts. but in reality fuck everybody at the end of the day people want to see people fail so fuck you too.
TB! > Alright, we have to do our fun questions too. How many minutes in your cell phone plan?
A! > i haven’t paid a cell phone bill or seen a plan in like 6 years, i think supreme still pays that for me, and im on the phone like im one of jerry lewis kids.
TB! > Nikes or Adidas? Range Rover or G-Wagon? A nice loft or a beach house? Edamame or French Fries? Treo or Blackberry?
A! > i was going to sue nike for being Wack a couple of years ago but they settled, adidas “fuck you pay me” to them too. i once had a “baby loft” on the bowery i called it the B.L.T that’s gone but i still got a bungalow in the rockaway’s by the beach where there is a surf spot and skate park in front of these projects in queens, the new dogtown. i got a blackberry, what’s your pin#?, cars i rent, to much of a hassle to find parking in this city, edamame from nobu or megu in nyc, and french fries from freshness burger or mos burger in japan.
TB! > You are organizing a concert; you can pick five acts, dead or alive. Who are they?
A! > dead - johnny thunders, john coltrane, biggie & tupac, nirvana (kurt cobain), otis redding
alive - (my friends)- blue label, barr, gang gang dance, plastic little, joey semz, kudu, the color scheme. battle axe, bandy, ave. d, map of africa
TB! > Favorite travel destination?
A! > it depends - we got the Caribbean on the east coast - my boy is a raw food chef on maui so there too. i do love going up state to the woods like the catskills all the way to vermont. i never been to middle america, couldn’t even imagine what that’s like. colombia when im with my cartel crew. i do love all the downtowns of the world tokyo, paris, london, milan, berlin, my brothers and sisters from different cities.
TB! > Favorite websites? What are your daily visits?
A! > i just got hip to the internet. I am only 5 years in- but check out my boy’s website, he just got out of jail: http://come.to/~o
TB! > The random part. Anything here. Something wild that happened to you in last week, what color socks you have one, what your doing tomorrow, shout outs…anything random. Give it to them.
A! > did a 24 hour water melon fast, i hate wearing socks in the summer, id much rather be bare foot but not on these dirty streets, aNYthing the movement, its here, so much happens in my life, the streets always got a good story and it’s how you tell it, behind the scenes in the laboratory where we mix the potions to create steez, some fools cant handle the whole weight and have breakdowns, hospital bills, competitive ego’s, so many people come and go in this social setting, sometimes you got to say fuck feelings and try to numb it out. don’t be bitter be better, nyc the rat race roller coaster ride, to be broke in this city is expensive, not for everybody. shout outs; art damage, parent haters, hookers sluts, faggots, niggas, spics, kikes, dot heads, wigros, wops, socials, greasers, baldies, dick riders, new blood, crumbs, visionaries, daryl strawberry, peter rose, eazy e, lawernece taylor, rowdy roddy piper, wilt chamberlin, doc ellis, pistol pete, alfred e. newman, the drug dealers of st. marks, dr.broners, the astor place cube, harold hunter, nast neel, rip justin pierce, kennan milton, mike cardona, eric vanilla, pook star, gio, peanut, chappy, ivan perez, harry jumunji, steven cales, jake the snake, javes, NA, hickey, leo fitzpatrick, punk rock jake, silly lily, slizzy, baggette agathe, rainer, soraya, jordan bennet, simon jumex, rockers nyc, uxa, dqm, greg situation normal, huf, kind, ed powers, 323, earsnot, frank151, turk 182, guess, wise, running from cops, jason dill, pj, mikey p, living room johnson, the pirhanas, pirhana 2: the spawning, david s, mark hundley, stella & lola schanabel, greys papaya, lucky lorenzo, ak, jacky pu, loki, sue kwon, sammy islands, sammy the bull, rainbow swastika, ben kser, kracka jack kent, cinik, irak, daggers drawn, billy valdes, dj harvey, julian paris, acyde, steve b, dumbo, jon one 156, ari marcoplous, cool calm pete, priceless, greg naw, wade yelp, krispy kier, shamara & alexis, brooklyn, the rockaways, the runaways, chris apple, billy waldman, ricky powell, shadi perez, june, as four, funky four plus one more, bill spector, phil spector, kimmy, vashtie, freezer, sammy the jew, jen brillz, chrissie m, kieichi, luke, gaby, diego, augie, jest, kr, donald eric cumming, heron, tyler, ricky, kyle, bdk aaron, dan, scope, dexa, nuke, jecks, topa, Brooklyn body tossers, ps war, risk 9, mz, clientele, teamworks, 360 toy group, jakaun, stash, futura, pete smoke, supreme LA crew, supreme tokyo crew, peter bici, jeff pang, peter h, malvin, gee, comatoast crew, my mother my father, mouse arrest, i am leaving a lot of people out sorry i tried to remember but you know how my mind is, shot down
TB! > To close out…where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Where do you want to be at?
A! > it’s like rehab, day to day homie’s- can’t get too far ahead of yourself or you will O.D on the style. plus you guys shouldn’t be asking questions like this, we are promoting “genre now” let’s enjoy what we got and what we are doing, there is a lot going on and the new wave is about to break on that ass.
TB! > What are your thoughts on THE BRILLIANCE? Why did you do an interview with us?
A! > because we are all media whores!