I'm honestly very happy to welcome you again to the fourth season of 'Energy Transmission'. Today, we're in Düsseldorf, Germany. Hope you're all doing great! This again is a pretty long one. Maybe split your read in two or more sessions ;) Plus, this is a premier as well, since it's the first time I have two guests at once. I'm sure you will enjoy the following interview and the listicles of 'new energy sources'.
In this monthly 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.
Reminder: This season has its focus on Germany. People from Munich, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin. First stop was in Munich as we're now approaching Düsseldorf and a shooting star of an agency: THE AMBITION. What they are doing with and for the (Hip Hop) Culture in Germany and within the spheres of German marketing and advertising is very unique and inspiring. Having worked with them on several projects – most recently on this successful campaign for Hennessy with Billa Joe – I had to get these inspiring women on the newsletter: Lara and Lisa. Hip Hop enthusiasts for decades and now not only turning heads in the ad world but also turning their passion into their dream jobs. I was very happy to sit down with both of them in person at THE AMBITION HQ and we had a great session. Enjoy the issue! 💞
Lisa: "Very short: Consultant and Culture Expert. Writing a lot of mails, being on the phone a lot. I'm acting as the interface between the culture and the clients. They always want to have and do a lot; I try to provide the right angle even before our so-called 'Culture Identity Guides'."
Lara: "Since recently 'Head of Strategy'. I used to be responsible for strategy only, but at THE AMBITION it's so much more than that; How brands can gain a foothold in hip hop culture and become an authentic part of it. Mostly, I observe society and culture a lot. I look at the trends that are emerging. And I also do the conception and supervision of the projects so that everything fits the core strategy."
Lara: "We analyze the brand. We look at what it stands for and where we place it in our own brand model, and then we do extensive cultural research. We talk to people from the culture qualitatively; how they relate to a brand. About 10 people. And then quantitative surveys with up to 1,000 people and a questionnaire. Plus, our databases. All the information then leads us to the Culture Character that describes the role a brand has to take within the culture. Then culture experts like Lisa recommend artists, other brands and collaboration partners. Ideas can finally be developed on this basis."
Lisa: "We give brands a catalog tailored to their needs, which they can then look at again and again. And we also like to develop it further after let's say half a year. It's very important to consult the culture network again and again, and to provide constant advice."
What I like about this way of working is that THE AMBITION doesn't make assumptions, but instead directly talks to people and has talked to the artists they propose before.
Lisa: "With Hennessy, we managed to do it all because everyone involved was really into it. And they didn't just do it for the money, but wanted to create an authentic piece of marketing. And we managed to do that."
Lisa: "Stereotypes often have negative connotations. That's why I want to put it in a positive way. It's true that hip hop determines what's cool! In the past, the hip hop kids were the cool ones. But it's not just individuals, it's the whole spectrum of hip hop. And it inspires all other areas."
Hip Hop and the openness it naturally comes with makes it cool and applicable to everyone.
Lara: "Prejudices arise from truths. Even if shaped by a very strong individual view. But to every prejudice there is also the opposite, which is true. There is a part of Hip Hop that is unprofessional and there is the opposite. There are parts of hip hop that are sexist. But there are also parts that are just the opposite. I find this juxtaposition very interesting about the culture. For every negative trend there is a positive counter movement!"
So, Hip Hop remains in a state of flux - and doesn't fight it either. Always new people, new trends, new movements.
Lara: "It depends a lot on who says it. With some, I'm very sensitive. With others, not so much. And the context determines even more whether it's disgusting or whether it's empowering. Fortunately, it's no longer the norm to listen to sexist lyrics. Today you have the choice, and that's good!"
Lisa: "I also think especially female artists use the words consciously. They take that back and reclaim it - that's super important! The expressions are part of the culture, but should be used as a stylistic device and not as a degradation. That's hip hop."
It's about context and common sense.
Lisa: "Basically, and in general, the industry and the culture has become much much more open. I feel like women are more accepted in hip hop. Especially behind the scenes as well. At the labels and managements. And that's probably changing faster in hip hop, fortunately, than in the managements of any big company. They urgently need to follow suit."
Lara: "Even if there are characters like UFO361 in this country, who just showed himself wearing heels, internationally of course super big Lil Nas X, there are still the people who stop. The gatekeepers. And these are unfortunately mostly older men who resist learning and relearning."
Maybe this is due to the fear of losing his power and then expresses itself with Hate...
Lisa: "Take a closer look at the next generation, the New Wave kids. They all have a cool look. And the gang is mixed and naturally cool. No one is degraded; everyone is equal. That's very cool!"
Lara: "It's obligatory to listen to the latest releases in the office and to subscribe to a few specific channels on Instagram, but I don't really have a ritual. I prefer to do things differently and intuitively every day. When I think of something specific I also look for the specific and appropriate channels. Or then also podcasts with certain people who give me a lot."
Lisa: "What we do here is just our passion. Everyone here loves hip hop. I don't feel trapped in the 9-to-5 hamster wheel here because what I do was my life before, so to speak. Everything I read and consume here, I liked before. And now I get even more direct insights from the culture and get paid for my passion. That gives me a lot of energy."
I have to admit, the contacts and the growing network of THE AMBITION is impressive. Energy and inspiration comes quite a bit through the conversations they have. Really digging this :)
Lara: "Not in terms of hip hop, but more in a technical sense. I'm more interested in fashion, for example, than in dance. I want to dig deeper into the world of fashion and streetwear. But here in the team we have other people who care more about dancing and have the plan for this subcategory."
Lisa: "Also no personal goal. If I don't speak as THE AMBITION, but in general about our mission. And that is to professionalize Hip Hop and make the cake a little bigger. For everybody! That's the most important thing. We want to enable everybody. And get new people on the radar. And if the pie is bigger, even for people from the second and third tier, then everybody gets more out of it. That's where we're doing a great piece of work."
I like that a lot: 'Opening doors. Making cakes bigger'; FOR EVERYONE. No more keeping gates, but ripping open doors and enablers. Win Win for all. 🔓
Lisa: "The dissolution of the ego - haha. Still, when thinking about work, we don't presume to be able to do everything. We need the right specialists. From the culture."
Before ending our lovely interview-sesh, I wanted to know what other things got them both excited lately. It's a ping pong of things. I try to keep it short! 📝
"Hand painted, awesome craftsmanship. And you only recognize them on the street if you really know them. Everyone flexes with the big brands, but Goyard is not so loud and still insanely great."
"After Jordan 1s and AF1s, they are now bringing other models back into focus. And again and again they adapt the portfolio from their heritage to the Zeitgeist. I just read the book 'Emotion by Design' by Greg Hoffman, the last CMO of Nike. And there's so much in it; even if everyone knows the brand, you can learn so much as they reinvent themselves constantly."
"Young people who make cool fashion for other young people. They have personalities as their head and talk openly about their feelings and their processes. You identify with the authentic person and then start vibing with the brand."
4. Selfcare moments and matching products
"Brands like Byredo, which created special candles for self-care at Corona peaks, now get to use the freer times as well. And a brand like Byredo suddenly starts making make-up. Or Off-White started creating beauty and home products. Theoretically the first authentic hip hop brand to release premium beauty products."
"Very young moms making rad music. And it's so nice to see: more than balancing being a mom and a job like rap artist. They spread really good energy! Much more than a rapper who shows himself on a yacht or in a Lambo every other day."
Finally, my very last question: What is the culture of tomorrow?
Both agreed with the following words:
"The Culture of Tomorrow is for the Culture - the culture of tomorrow will be so small-scaled, diverse and different that you can't even imagine it today. Every current will be even more small-scale. Everything influences everything. The Hip Hop culture in Germany especially has to think long term and about long partnerships to grow together. Not the fast money, but the bigger picture."
And then again make the cake bigger for everyone. 🍰
For Lara & Lisa from THE AMBITION the culture of tomorrow is – for the culture!
Thank you so so much, you two, for this session of Energy Transmission! 🙏
To everyone else, thanks for reading our interview and keep scrolling through my 'New Energy Sources'.
Every month, after the interview section, I share with you some personal things I found on the Internet or in streets, that infused me with good vibes.
These are my new energy sources – trying to keep it short as well:
The NYC photographer captures the excess of late-stage capitalism in real life pictures from across the USA. I love his style of humorous critique on our consumerist world. His '21 project 'Scenes of the Last Day on Planet Earth' recently was featured in the Zeit magazin. How Chris himself puts it: 'Often exploring the quotidian details of American cities and their tourism, my documentary practice sits at the intersection of both observational and staged photography.'
I'm sure you already had this song stuck in your head: Lil Yachty's new viral sensation is merely one and a half minutes long but had us all putting on repeat and vibing to the addictive beat and chorus. The official video was made by genius Cole Bennett on Lyrical Lemonade and provoked some meme-worthy comments under it. The official cover is a fan art that Yachty found on Twitter. And the best thing: after the 100th listen, check out this TikTok by Dissect explaining there's something else hidden in the song 🤯
Hands down, the best ambient sound creator I have ever used. It's the perfect replacement for Lo-Fi Studying Girl on YouTube. As I am writing this, it's rocking a Halloween-style theme. You can listen to chill lo-fi beats while turning up the volume of rain or city noises and much much more. 'With a growing library of 20+ original interactive illustrations, 15+ calming ambient sounds and powerful but still easy-to-use tools like our timer with time tracked tasks, we are now building what aims to be the go to platform for everyone working at their computer, with the goal of making productivity less stressful.'
All the funny and weird stuff that former Chinatown Market, now only Market, is known for has a new home: Random Workshop. Their insta bio explains it best. 'we're just having fun!' - Indeed they do. What infuses me most with energy and good vibes is how much fun it can be to upcycle and play around with clothing, with materials and shapes. This is the best possible way of thinking outside the box. I mean, just look at these 'Toe-tes'. Love it!
One of my favorite German rappers is back teasing a new project with a cineastic short film of a music video: Ufuk Bayraktar. He lately really deep dives into the world of fashion and leveled up his artistry like few others do. I really love the vibe he is transporting with this video, which is also very personal and emotional. The beat is as addictive as energizing. Starting out with old film footage from his personal family archives and then showing him in his hometown Berlin in some of the hardest outfits and poses he ever showed. Maria Koch brought me here and I am not disappointed. Really looking forward to Ufo's next project. Can't wait! Or as the top commentor nailed it down: 'Gänsehaut an Eier' 😁
I launched a little something on Halloween, just cause I felt like it. Please see the Instagram post and read the caption carefully:
That's it for now. I hope you feel inspired or energized in any way by this newsletter and make the most of it!
Get out there, enjoy the sunny days, the rainy days, the colder days – doesn't matter. ✊
Season Four is half done. Two more to go! I'm proud to announce my next guests of 'Energy Transmission':
Releasing in December, we dive into the Metaverse with
Jürgen Alker, Head of NFT Studio at Highsnobiety 🤖
As I said, the ongoing season will be Germany-only and may or may not feature some original audio content from the interviews 👀
For all international readers, I'll keep all the text English of course.
See you. 🫂
Have a great one - sending good vibes to you all!