This is the final piece for the first year of tobi.energy – This is the end of a season of what once was my monthly newsletter. Being the sixth issue of Energy Transmission, one goal is pretty clear: level up in terms of quantity. And maybe mix up the format a bit. Still, in this not-monthly-anymore newsletter I explore the question “what is the culture of tomorrow?” together with those who are close to the fire. I have conversations with people I crossed paths with, or who's work inspires me and pair it with stuff we both think is worth checking out.
This month: Various People. From Los Angeles.
If everything worked out as planned, I would have been in LA from November 1 to 9, visiting ComplexCon in Long Beach and running the LA Marathon down Sunset Strip. But, the US Government had other plans and lifted the travel ban from November 8. The crazy thing is, it would have been a completely other trip than I had now. One week later. It was an amazing research journey that took a bit of planning, a lot of saying yes and a decent amount of energy! What I got from it: a ton of inspiration, insights, new friends and the plan to do that more often. I still met a bunch of people, went to another Con and want to infuse you with some other energy sources. This now is more of a photo journey with some personal notes. Let's go!
I discovered BlacklistLA, of course, through Instagram. Looking ahead I started browsing running clubs and meetups that you can easily join. What then drew my attention to Blacklist was that they seemed so inclusive and still had a straight training schedule. And on Monday, the day I arrived in LA, they had this thing called "community art run". Ever since they're founding in 2013 they would eventually not only start taking pictures of all participants but started to bring them closer to culture. Hence the art run. On this very Monday it was a >5 miles run through Downtown with a stop in the middle at a new street art piece directly at the newest Apple store in the traditional Tower Cinema. Their name derives from showcasing pieces from artists that are blacklisted in galleries. This is such a great idea and I'd love to see more of that in Germany! I joined another run on Saturday around Griffith Park to have another chat with Erik - their running director. If you're in LA, make sure to check out these guys and feel free to join a run. And if you want to know more about Erik, check this article.
On to another amazing guy in the running universe: Nils Arend. We met on a very sunny morning in Venice, grabbed a coffee and hang in what he calls his "office" (see picture). I think I already linked to Nils in one way or the other. Adoring his project "The Speed Project", where teams of runners join a race from LA to Las Vegas, we talked about the Covid situation and how it "drained energy from LA" how he depicted it. What they managed to achieve with TSP is to change it to a virtual race with the very same attitude that make it like the skate-punk-event it is. When it comes to sponsoring or merchandise they also look for other ways that are punk on the one hand and effortlessly sustainable on the other. To participate as a brand/sponsor you actually have to participate as a registered team. So that's that. And for merchandise, I can't write down a spoiler, but it involves vintage pieces from each team customized in LA by an artist. There are always paths to rethink stuff without loosing the DNA and what made the event what it is. If you haven't seen "Out On A Wire" yet, a film about TSP by Satisfy Running I linked here before, make sure to do so over the holidays.
Then I met this crazy man: Kb3ach. The homie Simon Brown (remember from the 3rd issue?) threw us in this Instagram group chat and we took it from there. Originally we wanted to meet at the Pharmacy Boardshop in Long Beach. Kb3ach is part of their crew and naturally often hangs there. This store is owned by Boo Johnson – I'm sure you've seen him anywhere on the web. Anyways, we actually met at Kb3ach's house in East LA. And we sat down in his room where he played me his upcoming single with a beat by Hit-Boy. This hopefully is a major step for him! He was busy shooting the video for the track, which you'll find here once it's out. You might've guessed by now, he is a busy dude trying to make it. Rapping, skating, designing... he is an original artist. A "real one" how he depicts it. If you talk about real Hip Hop. This is it right here. He's also part of the collective Deathproof Inc. with other musicians and crazy artists worth your time - check them out! And meanwhile, I'm hoping to see Kb3ach at the next ComplexCon for sure! The energy he invests into things and the appreciation for my visit was amazing.
Another one of Simon's peers and I'm glad he introduced us: Jeff Franklin. The two of them worked together on Virgil Abloh's catalog book for "Figures of Speech". He is one of the two founders of Playlab Inc. – the studio that frequently worked with Virgil on his Louis Vuitton fashion shows. I always looked up to these guys pulling off these amazing shows and ever since admire their work. So, I was so excited to meet Jeff. When I asked him what the culture of tomorrow might be, he smiled and replied "Once you define it, it already changed again." To me, they are actual culture makers and give a direction. Little did we know what happened later in November. I will come to that at the end of this month's newsletter...
Playlab have their studio in LA's arts district, which is where we met. Grabbed a coffee from Maru and then went to their latest exhibition. Located at Santa Fe Avenue 909, they introduced their own exhibition space called 909 Archive directly in front of their studio rooms. I was lucky to be there for their "Not For Sale" exhibition. An exhibition of chairs. With an astonishing lineup. That would have been a major show here in Germany. The briefing was: "You have 909$. Make a chair." - and sure they did. Reese Cooper, Benjamin Edgar, JJJJound, Jasmine Monsegue, Something Fantastic and many more; and of course Virgil. Check out their instagram to get a glimpse of every chair.
I took a bunch of pictures there, but don't want to overload this newsletter with them, so here you can see how many of beautiful chairs where there. My favorite was the one from Jim Joe and this one from Benjamin Edgar called "Literally". What is yours?
Yeah, the LA trip was not complete and I could not leave without making it to at least one 'Con. So I saw this billboard of DesignerCon and immediately booked tickets, drove down to Anaheim Convention Center, next to Disney World and visited this convention without any expectations.
It was an interesting mix of people, of artists and their artworks, of brands and of toys and collectibles being more than just that. What really intrigued me was the mix of streetwear-enthusiasts, anime-fans, comic-nerds and just overall creative people. From all ages. And the exhibitors really put love into what they presented there which was very nice to see. I love these bootleg toys. And I've been thinking about doing my own toy line ever since (haha). So beyond Bearbrick and KAWS there is a huge community of independent designers and collectible makers that wait to be discovered.
This was one of my favorite pieces by artist Rodrigo Rojii and his latest project RRAR - "a project where toys, art and fashion meet". In the size on the picture it's about 3.000$ but it will soon drop in smaller sizes on their webshop, they assured me. I will keep you posted.
Another thing I loved their besides watching people waiting for hours to get their Bearbricks signed, was the beautiful blend of vintage, memorabilia and nostalgic vibes mixing with state of the art and people finding their next thing. I think, that is exactly where I act in my practice. Appreciate nostalgia yet always going forward and not standing still. Change and disruption, but also making "tiger leaps" back.
I would recommend checking out the Designercon, but only if you're in LA anyways. But keep an eye out for it online!
If you want to know more about my trip and all the findings in LA, I have a whole presentation prepared to talk about it for about an hour. So just holla at me. You know where to find me. And if you're interested in some of my photographic work from this journey click here to have a look at the prints that are available for purchase.
The photo above was taken at Burgerlords, my new favorite 100% plant-based burger joint.
Normally, my last question for every guest is: What is the culture of tomorrow?
This issue I again asked myself and found the answer in keep things running, no matter the circumstances.
Adapt, overcome, react. And keep it running!
For us this month the culture of tomorrow is KEEP IT RUNNING.
Every issue, after the main section, I share with you some things I found on the Internet or in streets, that infused me with good vibes.
These are my new energy sources:
When delving into the world of subcultures we all have to also treat the weirder ones with respect to understand the idea behind it and find inspiration in it. This is the case for all things "Furry." I was fascinated by people dressing up and identifying as cartoony animals ever since I saw the first video about it. I recently stumbled upon this documentary from 2020 which is online on YouTube for free and with subtitles. So if you feel like learning what all the furr is about, go watch it. It definitely makes you understand the motivation and ideas behind it. And treats the community with respect and even appreciation. At the beginning one guy describes it as "it's a social space that is largely queer and gravitates around using art as the vehicle to explore identity."
This right here has to be the best video of a live show of the past year! Yes, there were not too much during Covid, but man this is so energizing and motivating. Playboi Carti made us wait way too long for his controversial LP "Whole Lotta Red". I found myself enjoying this record very much. But when I watched Carti come out at Rolling Loud with THIS set... this is how it's supposed to sound! The guitar riff transitions, his voice, his energy and then bringing out Uzi. Perfection.
Talking about nostalgia, yet moving things forward: Hyundai made the perfect approach with their concept Grandeur EV. An all-electric vehicle that could easily be the wagon of a super villain in a Batman movie. This thing just looks so breathtaking from every angle and has the latest tech inside. Why make it always look like a spaceship, why so otherworldly, when it can just have this level of style?!
I'm proud to present this one: investment specialist Creutz & Partners teamed up with Berlin-based fragrance house D.L. Roelen to create a line up of three luxurious scented candles that are now available to purchase. They are meant to be an investment into future well-being and translate the art of asset management into the space of scents.
These three scents Peruvian Poison, Indonesian Incense and 2070 are 80€ each.
An another one, I'm very proud of: we launched Supremo to be constantly available yet always freshly roasted and shipped. What once was a limited edition run in reference to a popular brand and paying hommage to scarcity and hype marketing, we now offer Premium Espresso and Filter Coffee for everyone to buy. And keep in mind, that we are not Amazon. We work closely together with a Columbian family business and a local, traditional roaster here in Hamburg. We roast every once in a while and always ship fresh coffee! You gotta try it.☕️
EXTRA: "VIRGIL WAS HERE"
I planned on integrating the LV Miami show since I spoke to Jeff in LA, because Playlab was working on it. But then, the sad and devastating news of Virgil's passing dominated social media and still does. I find it difficult to find the right words, but one thing is for sure: Virgil was a creative master, a visionary. And his legacy will now take over. So many sprouts are still to bloom and he gave us all so much.
All the love, energy and strength to Virgil's family, friends, coworkers, peers and everyone emotionally involved with his work or admiring it. 🕊
That show in Miami was just beautiful. So emotional, so wonderful. And it ended with fireworks and drones sign a VA and then:
This right here always was my favorite quote by Virgil. I've been following him since Been Trill and always hoped to one day work with him on any project or matter.
But I will forever think of this quote. This can make you whole drive:
... and of course I had to change the title of this month's newsletter to this. Because this is what we will see undfold very soon:
Nevertheless, I hope you feel inspired or energized in any way by this newsletter and just keep going!
Make the most out of the upcoming Christmas time and start off well in 2022. See you on the other side.✨
The next issues will start some time around February or March. I have lots of ideas and things in mind.
See you. 🎄