Page 1

РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

An Exploration of Music and Style WITH VA M P I R E WEEKEND S T. V I N C E N T JOHN M AY E R DEV HYNES

S TA R R I N G

Frank Ocean


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

CONTENTS

GQ February The Fix

Behind the Scenes with the People Who Make GQ

This Month’s Waviest New Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Contributor

The Awesome Orbit of DE V HYNE S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 The Supreme Value of Grand Seiko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Labels We Love: SIE S M AR JAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 JA ME S BA L DWIN ’S

Righteous Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

The Scruffy, Stylish Love of JE S SE RUTHERFORD AND DE VON CARL SON

. . . . . . 32

Meet the Warring Milli Vanilli of Italo Disco ...... 36

ALICE GREGORY Writer In this month’s “Meet the Warring Milli Vanilli of Italo Disco,” Alice Gregory explores a long-simmering feud between an American singer and an Italian disco star. “Generally, my indifference to music is so profound that it might count medically as a neurological abnormality,” Gregory says. “So discovering how much I loved Den Harrow songs (and Italo Disco in general) was a great sensual surprise.”

Features

Office Grails

Cover: FR A N K O CE A N Is Peerless . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Sober Musicians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Switching Lanes with S T. VINC ENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

While I was growing up, my dad’s wardrobe was 99.9 percent Carhartt snowsuits and 0.1 percent Buffalo Bills apparel. It’s shaped the way I dress—durable, hardy, over-the-top workwear.”

Is Reborn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

The Messy Business of SOUND C LOUD R AP . . . . . . . 82 J O H N M AY E R ’ S

← ASHLEE BOBB Communications associate

Greatest Fits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 ↓ AIDAN PALERMO Fashion assistant “The key is finding dope shit that reflects your personality. It doesn’t have to be designer. It just has to fit right.”

On the Cover Photograph by Alasdair MCLellan. Styled by Frank Ocean & Rita Zebdi. Turtleneck, $780, by Prada. Earrings, his own. Hair by Mo.Jay. Makeup by Allie Smith using Nars. Produced by Benjamin Bonnet for Westy Productions NY. Special thanks to Kelly McCabe and Victoria Graham.

0 8

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

“I would never describe myself as fashionable. But in this Diane von Furstenberg coat, I can (sometimes) pretend.”

FROM TOP: COURTESY OF ALICE GREGORY; KRISTA SCHLUE TER (3)

VAMPI RE WEEK EN D

↓ GABE CONTE Digital producer


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

Jim Beam Black® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 43% Alc./Vol. ©2019 James B. Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, KY. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Awarded International Wine & Spirit Competition’s 2016 Bourbon Trophy


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

CONTENTS

GQ February

Turtleneck, $780, by Prada. Pants (custom), earrings, and bracelet, his own.

1 0

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

P H O T O G R A P H

B Y

A L A S D A I R

M c L E L L A N


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

PROMOTION

Hey Handsome! We know that caring for your hair, skin, and beard isn’t easy, but you always look and smell your best. If you’re a grooming junkie, and want to sample the product first, then sign up for our Try It Program. Just fill out a grooming profile to qualify.*

Sign up now > GQ.com/tryit *Spaces and samples are limited. Products are targeted to skin and hair types and preferences where applicable.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

B AC K I N A P R I L 2 0 0 7, I got a call from Adam Rapoport,

then the style editor at GQ. I was apartment hunting in Brooklyn, and the one-bedroom I was touring rattled and shook every time the subway trundled over the Williamsburg Bridge. Adam told me they had an open spot at GQ—an associate-editor role, covering fashion and style—and that I should interview for it. At the time, I was 26 years old and working at an independent music magazine called The Fader. I specifically remember saying to Adam, “But what the hell do I know about fashion?”

1 4

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

style. Likewise, in the months ahead, we’ll be honing and refocusing everything we do here at GQ (not just the print magazine but also our website, videos, and social media) until everything we publish is infused with an undeniable and elevated stylishness. As you read this issue, I think you’ll find that all the tools of great GQ storytelling are on display: There’s deep reporting in Carrie Battan’s exploration of the big, fraught business of SoundCloud rap. There’s a weird, wild yarn in Alice Gregory’s tale about a 30-year Italo Disco feud. There’s Frank Ocean, of course. (I think history will exalt Frank Ocean. By which I mean: One day he’ll be known as the best, most boundaryshattering and timeless artist of his generation. Duh.) There are also, of course, great interviews: An array of musicians reveal their intimate truths about sobriety to Chris Heath. And in addition to the big fashion features with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend and Annie Clark of St. Vincent, there’s an entirely new kind of fashion story, in which John Mayer engages in a oneman outfit battle against the whole world. (Or at least the whole Internet—I can’t wait to unleash those photos online.) Thank you for your innovations, John. This new iteration of GQ might not be for everyone. But especially in this nichedriven era, if you try to be everything to everyone, you end up not being much of anything to anyone. So we’re making GQ less a big tent and more the only place to go when you want a rich, intelligent, and transportive plunge into all the stylishness the world has to o≠er. Times have changed, but isn’t that what GQ has always been about? I think so. Let’s dive in.

Will Welch EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

MEINKE KLEIN

Announcing a Whole New Era of GQ

That was on a Friday afternoon. First thing Monday morning, I called him back and asked what I had to do to get the job. You see, I realized a few things that weekend: (1) When you get called up to the big leagues, you don’t tell the G.M. you actually prefer life in the minors. (2) New York City apartments were expensive, and a Condé Nast magazine surely paid better than an indie one, right? (3) If you’ve ever seen a photo of Miles Davis, Dwight Yoakam, Debbie Harry, or OutKast, you know that writing about music and writing about style are basically the same thing; I could figure out the rest from there. So I went and interviewed with Jim Nelson, the great GQ editor-in-chief. A glorious amount of the conversation was about a recent trip I’d taken to Kingston for a Fader story. We talked about reggae and dancehall music. He never quizzed me on my top five favorite Italian fashion designers, or on the di≠erence between a half Windsor and a four-in-hand tie knot. I was relieved. It was awesome. I got the job. Now it’s almost 12 years later, and I’m proud to be succeeding Jim as GQ’s editorin-chief. Having served as the style editor of GQ, the editorin-chief of GQ Style, and the creative director of GQ, I can now name my top five favorite Italian designers, no problem. (I am wearing two of them as I type this.) In that way, some things have changed. In others, not so much. I still believe that music is the original act of human creative expression— and, more often than not, the source of style. So I’d like to welcome you to our 2019 music issue. It’s the opening salvo of a new era here at GQ. Feel free to read this issue as a declaration of intent about what to expect in the coming year. You’ll see that the pages are packed with dynamic storytelling and a cover-to-cover emphasis on


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

PUT TWO & TWO

TOGETHER and you could save

Have GEICO car insurance? Get home insurance through the GEICO Insurance Agency and you could get a ѴঞŊoѴb1 7bv1om|

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states, in all GEICO companies, or in all situations. Homeowners, renters and condo coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. © 2018 GEICO


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

eat like a local. even if you’re not.

bonappetit.com/city-guides

A BON APPÉTIT BRAND


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e

PROP ST YLIST: STELL A REY AT MARK EDWARD INC.

F i x

P H O T O G R A P H S

B Y

M A T T

M A R T I N

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

1 7


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

Celine Makes Menswear History When Hedi Slimane took the reins at Celine, he quickly announced that he would launch the French house’s first-ever men’s line. The ruthlessly Slimanian debut collection proved that even as fashion spins off into countless zany directions, his aesthetic has only gotten more dialed in. Meaning there’s still just one designer to call when you need a retro suede jacket with the perfect modern cut. Jacket, $5,400, by Celine by Hedi Slimane.

PREVIO US PAGE

Noten


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

Martine Rose Meets the Swoosh These days, a Nike collaboration is a milestone for fashion’s rising stars, and it’s about time Martine Rose got the call from Beaverton. Rose’s line of conceptual streetwear has become a cult favorite because she’s not afraid to get weird, and this tracksuit (check out the gathered shoulders) is no different. Track jacket, $250, and


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e

The Blood Orange maestro makes intensely personal music—but not without a little help from his friends. By ALEX FRANK

F i x

The Awesome Orbit of Dev Hynes

Clockwise from top left: Isaiah Barr, Austin Williamson, Zuri Marley, Adam Bainbridge (a.k.a. Kindness), Eva Tolkin, Dev Hynes, and Ian Isiah.

2 0

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

P H O T O G R A P H S

B Y

K A T I E

M

C

C U R D Y

ST YLISTS: KELLY MCCABE AND JON TIE T Z . HAIR AND MAKEUP: RACHEL LEIDIG.

Fashion


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The All-New Corolla Hatchback


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

perched at a babygrand piano in a Manhattan photo studio, a Kangol hat over his dreads like a crown, his dad-style Salomon sneakers pushing softly on the instrument’s pedals. The space is crowded with friends and associates, all contributors on Negro Swan, Hynes’s latest album under his music moniker, Blood Orange. His face focused and stern, he summons delicate melodies from Philip Glass, Claude Debussy, and Frédéric Chopin (Prelude in C Minor) as if there isn’t another person on earth but him. “I can make music anywhere,” he’ll tell me later. “I’m just in it. Nobody else is there.” Hynes, who goes by Dev, makes art out of aloneness, but his life is also a triumph of collaboration. In New York he often seems like the most popular kid in town—the mutual friend among the city’s art, fashion, and music worlds. And Negro Swan is stu≠ed with about DEVONTÉ HYNES IS

T h e F i x

Fashion

THR O U G H O UT THESE PAGES

O N AU S T IN WILLI A MS O N

O N DEV H Y NES

Shirt and tank top, stylist’s own. Pants, $780, by Gucci. Belt, $105, by Maximum Henry. Shoes, $245, by Engineered Garments x Weejun. Socks, $18, by Falke. Sunglasses, $175, by Sun Buddies. Watch, $195, by Seiko.

Coat, $2,180, by Marni. Sweater, $445, by Giorgio Armani. Sneakers, $220, by Salomon. Hat and scarf, his own. ON ADAM BAINBRIDGE

Jacket, $435, by Helmut Lang. Turtleneck, $602, by Raf Simons. Pants, $995, by Coach 1941. Shoes, $540, by Mr P. Socks, $18, by Falke.

ON ZURI MARLEY

Shirt, pants, and shoes, her own. O N E VA T O L K I N

ON ISAIAH BARR

Jacket, stylist’s own. Shirt, $445, by Giorgio Armani. Pants, $2,520, by Alyx. Shoes, $1,490, by Tom Ford.

Although Dev Hynes surrounds himself with creative co-conspirators on his albums, “my ultimate goal,” he says, “is to appease me.”

Blazer, her own. ON IAN ISIAH

Suit, price upon request, by Salvatore Ferragamo. Tank top, his own.

30 guest appearances, including but not limited to Sean “Diddy” Combs, A$AP Rocky, and the trans activist and writer Janet Mock. The six on set today include Austin Williamson and Isaiah Barr of the jazz troupe Onyx Collective; the singers Eva Tolkin, Ian Isiah, and Zuri Marley (granddaughter of Bob Marley); and Hynes’s longtime collaborator Adam Bainbridge, better known as Kindness. They’re dressed like they stepped out of a Benetton ad from the ’90s. The vibe in the room is ebullient, but there’s a sense of solitude, even sadness, on Negro Swan, in the plaintive jazz tones and in songs about the pernicious experience of being an outsider, which he has felt since childhood. “It’s about acknowledging where I am and looking back. I’ve always been someone who lives in his head,” he says with a sphinx-like smile. “I call Negro Swan group music made in isolation.” These days, in a wardrobe of black leather and relaxed oversize jackets, almost always a hat on his head (from kufis to baseball caps), Hynes is a picture of city cool, so much so that he was flown to Paris last summer to walk the runway for his friend Virgil Abloh’s debut show at Louis Vuitton. But what’s considered special about him now made him a target as a kid, and he grew up an odd duck in East London, a black skater/music geek who painted his nails and was also a star soccer player. He was bullied—he sings on the LP’s opening track, “Orlando,” that he’d get sucker punched down—but he also had a dreadful ache that London just wasn’t it and a feeling that New York was. He’s a classically trained cellist, but he’d read Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, about the wild history of American rock. After a few young-adult years playing music around London, one day, on a whim and a visa secured for an aborted tour with an early band, Test Icicles, Hynes came west, crashing for around $300 a month on the couch of “a friend of a friend’s ex-roommate” in Queens in 2008. He was 21. “Even now,” he says, “it matches the fantasy I had in my head. Even when I’m fuckin’ sick of New York City, it’s still cool.” Though he recorded Negro Swan traveling around and on tour in support of his last album, 2016’s Freetown Sound, it sounds like a cultural field recording of Manhattan, with streaks of R&B and hip-hop and Hynes’s lovely falsetto. Monologues are stacked on top of ambient noise on top of pretty melodies, and listening to it is like you opened an East Village window and let sidewalk chatter battle it out with a Spotify playlist from your laptop speakers. Williamson, the Onyx


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

From left: Austin Williamson of the jazz group Onyx Collective, Adam Bainbridge (a.k.a. Kindness), Zuri Marley, and Onyx Collective’s Isaiah Barr.

Collective drummer, tells me he’ ll bump into Hynes when they’re out in the world, the singer taking it all in. “I’ll see him, no headphones on, just listening,” says Williamson. “He captures the city so intimately.” Hynes has a romantic ideal of bohemian fellowship, the hard-fought reward of moving to this expensive, messy, promising city. “I think of family as community.… We are not limited by biology.… And we get to make our family,” as Mock says on Negro Swan. Hynes would try to capture his friends’ contributions wherever he could, and since he recorded much of the album on the road, he had to conjure intimacy out of thin air, often setting up mini-studios in hotel rooms. “I have a travel bag of makeshift stu≠,” he says. “Microphones, drum machine, hard drive.” Friends say he has a remarkable way of turning any place into a sacred chamber. “He makes a very safe space in the studio,” says vocalist Eva Tolkin.

She’s toured with Hynes as a backup singer and credits him with helping her find the confidence to sing in the first place: “I only realized I had a good voice when I started singing with Dev.” I ask Isiah, who is sitting on a couch in the back of the studio perfecting a blunt with sparkly fingernails, wearing a brassy lion’s mane of ombré hair and what appears to be sheer gold chain mail, if Negro Swan is something of a symphony created by an orchestra of friends, with Hynes as the conductor. “Symphony? Girl, this album is a musical,” he replies, arguing that beyond the pure allure of the sound, Hynes has something profound to say. Isiah describes it as a story of one black man’s journey to self-awareness, of finally finding a place in the world. “No one wants to be the ugly little duckling, always considered di≠erent just because you’re black,” says Isiah, whose own music is a singular blend of R&B, trap, and gospel. “Negro Swan is

another way to say: dark and lovely. It’s melanin awareness.” Still, it’s hard to square Isiah’s triumphant description with the melancholy in the music, plus the stoic Hynes playing Chopin while friends chop it up in the background. At the end of the day, Hynes has reclined onto a couch. He’s wearing a black Louis Vuitton vest over a green hoodie, all accented by pink eyeglasses and a glittering diamond bracelet and ring from Ti≠any & Co. I wonder if making songs, even with friends, is like sitting at a piano in a room full of people: The energy is everyone’s, but it’s one person at the heart of the harmonies. Hynes says he’s more like a film director—it’s his idea, but he has to hire actors and lighting people to bring it to life. “My ultimate goal is to appease me,” he says. “It’s my vision, from beginning to end.” alex frank is a freelance writer and editor based in New York.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

2 3


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

OUR NEW MONTHLY WATCH COLUMN

A $5,300 Grand Seiko GMT that looks and ticks like it costs $50K.

THE DESIGN The shape of the case is as perfect as it gets; it looks like it’s from the future and the past at the same time.

THE BUILD Unlike nearly every other watch company, Grand Seiko makes every timepiece component in-house.

THE HARDWARE The watch’s steel buckle is way more intricate than it needs to be, especially at this price.

A L L K N O W T H A T the finest watches in the world are made in Switzerland. Well, most of them are—but then there’s Grand Seiko. Back in 1960, Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko launched GS with the aim of creating timepieces on par with those of the Swiss horological houses. It worked, and GS managed to craft mechanical masterpieces for thousands of dollars less than its European counterparts. Take, for instance, this 20th-anniversary 9S Mechanical GMT (reference SBGM235). When I first saw this watch, it made me feel the same sense of awe I felt as a kid when I first saw the Death Star. Not the Millennium Falcon. Not TIE fighters. The Death Star. WE

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

It’s really all about the silver radial mosaic-patterned dial. Grand Seiko’s distinctive Old English font is one of the best parts of the brand—it makes me smile whenever I check the time—and the repeated “GS” and the sweet vintage lightning-bolt logos make this dial a sight to behold. It practically glows. I’m positive that decades from now, this watch will still kill, much like Rolexes from the 1960s when you look at them today. Everything Grand Seiko does has that priceless, timeless e≠ect, so it’s hard to believe this watch—limited to 1,000 units—retails for a tenth of the cost of watches in its class.

P H O T O G R A P H

B Y

J O Y C E

L E E

PROP ST YLIST: K AITLYN DARBY

THE MOVEMENT According to Grand Seiko, the 9S movement has a precision of –3 to +5 seconds a day. From my experience with other GS watches, they’re underestimating the accuracy.

THE STRAP There’s nothing like a blue croc strap—it’s a little unexpected, and undeniable when paired with a steel case.

2 4

THE FUNCTION GMTs are for travelers: When you’re on the road and re-set the hour hand, the GMT hand stays synced to the time back home. (It helps you get used to European 24-hour time.)


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

GREAT TASTE. ONLY 96 CALORIES. MILLER LITE. HOLD TRUE.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e

L ab els

F i x

We L ove

THE NAME

Lak didn’t want the pressure and celebrity status associated with naming a fashion line after himself, but the writing on the tag needed to be intensely personal. It had to have integrity. And a real human connection. So when he arrived in New York to launch the brand, he decided to name it after his late father, Sies, and his mother, Marjan. “I don’t care about fame or recognition,” Lak says. “I’m confident. I know what I can do, and I know what I can’t do. I don’t need to have my name on it for it to be valuable.”

Sander Lak

Sies Marjan launched in 2016 as an instant, out-of-nowhere fashion sensation, with big buzz behind Sander Lak (who previously spent five years working in Belgium for Dries Van Noten) and his ambitious upstart. The men’s line began as a small companion piece to the women’s and has since thrived, thanks in part to Lak’s vision of modern masculinity—and timing. “In the #MeToo movement, men are sort of confused,” he says. “Who they are, what they are, and how they stand. The solution, maybe, is wearing a pink fur jacket.”

Sies Marjan Will Sex Up Your Wardrobe Almost overnight, a luxury fashion house sprouted in N.Y.C., led by a peripatetic Dutch designer whose penchant for trippedout colors and extraplush fabrics is perfect for menswear’s new era.

→ Shirts (from top), $695, $795, and $595. All by Sies Marjan.

THE CLOTHES

Fashion has its camps— referential streetwear, dark European drapery, spiffy tailoring—and Sies Marjan broke out by not fitting into any of them. “I always think about what I want and what I can’t find,” says Lak. Like pajama shirts in jewel-toned silk and velvet with crinkly textures and psychedelic ombré prints: “It’s very much about the tectonics of fabric and color in styles that are really easy to work with. It’s not about over-complicating things. Sometimes a really beautiful color and a really beautiful material is enough.”— N O A H J O H N S O N

2 6

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

STILL-LIFE PHOTOGRAPHS: MAT T MARTIN (3). PROP ST YLIST: STELL A REY AT MARK EDWARD INC. OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF MICHAEL JAMES FOX /SIES MARJAN (5).

THE STORY


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

eatbasically.com

A BON APPÉTIT BRAND

can’t cook. no problem.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e F i x

Baldwin, wearing oversize shades and a scarf tie here in 1969, possessed both style and substance.

Hall of Fam e

His ideas are as resonant today as they have ever been. And his image is, too. Culture-moving DJ ACYDE shows why the prescient novelist and social critic is also a timeless style master.

J A M E S A R T H U R B A L D W I N ’ S style, prose, and critical thinking have been an ongoing obsession for me and a group of close friends. He was a Harlemite—New York–raised but a worldly black gay iconoclast who was hip to the bullshit of pre-civil-righted America. He confronted the bigotry, inequality, racial ignorance, and social despair that engulfed America with acute intelligence, a tireless egalitarian drive, a dead stare, a sardonic smile, and a series of astonishing, well-written books. He was heralded by the literary elite and loved by street-tough thinkers. Miles Davis called him “a bad motherfucka,” and he once coolly dismantled William F. Buckley Jr. on TV during a historic debate on the American Dream. All because he had style. What is style? It’s where confidence meets comfort, where anything a “motherfucka” does, wears, or says is just easy, e≠ortless, e∞cient…cool.

2 8

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

Baldwin is a true literary stylist— sharp, enigmatic, witty, and brutally honest. He writes like the best jazz-music moves: rhythmic, elegant but angular, with some spellbinding staccato. No nonsense. There’s also nothing nonsensical about this image of Baldwin in a one-button tweed blazer. It’s not an easy look to pull o≠, but he’s urbane

enough for it. It’s dandy as hell, but it’s an assured, stately kind of flamboyance. It’s East Coast swagger. It’s Harlem; it’s Cam’ron in a pink fur. It’s romantic and cool—not camp. Baldwin is projecting a self-evident truth: “I know my way with words because I know myself and I know exactly what I look like.” It’s one notch below the studied arrogance of Miles Davis yet

C TR EE PD HI TE NC RS EHDAI MT ECS R E D I T C R E D I T C R E D I T C R E D I T C R E D I T C R E D I T S

James Baldwin’s Righteous Style


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: STEVE SCHAPIRO/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES (2); CARL VAN VECHTEN/BEINECKE LIBRARY © VAN VECHTEN TRUST; BENTLEY ARCHIVE/POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES

His inherent style added sauce to regular stuff like shearling coats, skinny ties, and suede shoes.

T h e

Hall of

F i x

Fam e

Baldwin lived on and off in New York until he moved to France in self-imposed exile in 1970.

An all-time great moment in polo-shirt history— slubby, tattered, and worn with a suggestive smirk.

Like his writing, Baldwin’s elegant personal style feels intensely urgent today.

more controlled than the freewheeling closet raiding of Jimi Hendrix. Neither his style nor his writing has lost its vitality. Modern menswear has splintered o≠ in varying, fantastic new directions, but Baldwin’s scholarly look could be straight o≠ a 2019 Gucci runway. His thinking on race, social injustice, and America’s role in the modern world remains prescient and timely.

Right now we need James Baldwin and his surgical insight to tell us how it is without boring us to death. To remind us to remain calm in the face of despair, to face forces that seem way out of our control with dignity, to cry if we have to and then to keep going. More than anything else, we need his sense of style. ade ‘acyde’ odunlami is a producer and co-founder of No Vacancy Inn.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

3 1


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

he

r fo

r d an

D d

e

ON JESSE RUTHERFORD

T-shirt, vintage. Shorts by Champion. Boxer shorts by Supreme. Sneakers by Versace. Socks by Tommy Hilfiger. Hat by Kangol. Custom necklace by Chanel. ON DEVON CARLSON

T-shirt, vintage. Pants by Iamgia. Shoes by Dr. Martens.

3 2

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

P H O T O G R A P H S

B Y

T A Y L O R

R A I N B O L T

HAIR: DYL AN CHAVLES FOR ART DEPARTMENT. MAKEUP: CHARLOT TE PREVEL.

R

ut

vo n

se

Ca

Jes

rl s o n

of

ruffy c S ,

L h o s v i l y

e

The

F i x

St

Great Per s onal S t y le

T h e


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

advertisement

left to right: @johnthebaptistla, @darrenwearsitwell, @devanondeck, @rule_of_thumbs, @perkensbienaime

SCENE STEALERS

INDIVIDUALLY, THEY’RE STYLE STARS. BUT GET THESE GQ INSIDERS TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE THE NEW JUST RÉMY COLLABORATION BETWEEN RÉMY MARTIN AND DON C, AND YOU’VE GOT ONE SERIOUSLY WELLDRESSED ROOM.

Between the five of them, they have Los Angeles style covered. DevanOnDeck, art director and sneaker obsessive. José Figueroa, menswear expert. Darren Moulden, fashion influencer and world traveler. Perkens Bien-Aimé, style blogger. John Baptist, style and lifestyle influencer. Every one of them is a premier tastemaker. And when they get together, watch out: the possibilities are endless. With creative sparks flying, this group becomes more than the sum of its parts. Anything can happen. Rémy Martin and street style designer/ worldwide phenom Don C decided to collaborate for the same reason: when style icons come together, the sky’s the limit. Just Rémy is a series of luxury

FOR THE FULL COLLECTION, VISIT REMYCOLLECTORS.COM

basketball essentials: timeless lifestyle pieces that go way beyond the court. Everything in the Just Rémy capsule collection combines cultural icon Rémy Martin 1738® with the generationdefining style of Just Don streetwear. From the limited-edition black lambskin Rémy logo cap and basketball jersey to the matching leather duffel and dopp kit, the best-dressed men of Los Angeles can’t wait to incorporate the Just Don series into their personal style. The GQ Insiders are no exception. Of course, it’s best enjoyed with the ultra smooth flavor of Rémy Martin 1738®—available in a limited edition snake skin Just Rémy sneaker box. We’ll toast to that scene any day.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e F i x

ON RUTHERFORD

Great Per s onal S t y le

T-shirt, vintage. ON CARLSON

Jacket by Schott NYC.

Jesse Rutherford, frontman of the rock band the Neighbourhood, met influencer extraordinaire Devon Carlson at the mall. Now they have more than a million combined followers on Instagram and know how to wear furry Kangols with designer gear. Which is to say: They’re 2019’s most 2019 couple. B y S A M U E L H I N E ← In 2019, even the highest-end luxury goods get the DIY treatment: Carlson gave Rutherford his Louis Vuitton bag, and he added a chain strap—like Virgil Abloh would do months later for his debut LV show.

like a rock star way before he actually became one. “I shopped at Hot Topic when I was really, really young,” admits the frontman of the L.A. band the Neighbourhood. “Like, inappropriately young.” Got-sent-home-fromschool-for-wearing-a-fishnet-shirt young. (Really.) And since he grew up in Thousand Oaks, a Southern California exurb he calls the “Middle America of California,” he spent a lot of time scouring the racks at the local mall. Rutherford, 27, worked at Vans, Journeys, Urban Outfitters, and Active skate shop throughout his teen years. When his fashion ambition outpaced the selection at the various stores in The Oaks, his local mall, he simply started dipping into the women’s section. A style freak was born. “Showing up in a Target women’s blouse or something was more interesting to me than wearing normal shit,” he says. The mall isn’t just where he honed his fearless, gently grimy SoCal look. It’s also where JESSE

ON RUTHERFORD

Jacket, shirt, sneakers, and bag by Louis Vuitton. Pants by American Apparel. ON CARLSON

Dress by Are You Am I. Shoes by Unif.

3 4

G Q . C O M

↑ Finger tats, studded leather, and pins galore: Mall style and high fashion now intersect in strange and beautiful ways. And few get that better than these two.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

RUTHERFORD

DRESSED


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

ON RUTHERFORD

T h e

Jacket by Stüssy. T-shirt and sneakers by Chanel. Vintage pants by Tommy Hilfiger.

F i x

Great Per s onal S t y le

ON CARLSON

Dress by Discount Universe. Panties by Savage x Fenty. Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell.

“When it comes to streetwear, I know what I like,” Rutherford says. “I’m not going to wait in line for shit, but I’m going to get Supreme and some Stüssy”—like this leopard-print jacket—“every once in a while because they make some perfect clothing.”

“I used to change my clothes five times a day when I was 7 or 8 years old.” —JESSE RUTHERFORD

he met fellow local Devon Carlson— now a certified A-list vlogger, model, and entrepreneur—between screenings of Spring Breakers. (He was leaving, she was arriving. They’ve been dating pretty much ever since.) “We love clothes so much, it totally makes sense that we met at the mall,” says Carlson, 24, whose highly advanced cool-girl uniform involves slinky slip dresses, tiny sunglasses, and, for the time being,

a walking boot occasioned by a Dua Lipa impression gone wrong. These days, the couple share an apartment an hour’s drive east, in L.A. proper. Rutherford still wears punk tees, but the ripped jeans are now designer, and the bag’s Louis Vuitton. He has, however, put away the fishnet shirts. “It’s like wine—the older I get, the more my style matures,” he says. “But I’m also happy that I’ve taken all

the risks that I have.” So is Carlson, who says she intuitively selects outfits that coordinate with Rutherford’s. With so many garms packing their closets, they’ve got a handy rule for getting dressed in the morning: “Wherever we are,” Carlson says, “we want to make sure we look like we came together.” samuel hine is gq’s assistant style editor.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

3 5


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e F i x

D on s of

of Italo Disco

A n ew d oc cr ashe sum ent ar y one of th us into music s e crazier to ri never hee s you’ve ar d. By AL ICE GREG

3 6

G Q . C O M

ORY

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

MAGA ZINE COVERS: COURTESY OF ITALODISCOMENTARY LLC. TOP RIGHT: ANGELO DELIGIO/MONDADORI PORTFOLIO/GE T T Y IMAGES. CENTER LEF T (FACE): PIERO GUERRINI/GAMMA-RAPHO/GET T Y IMAGES. OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS: AL AMY STOCK PHOTO.

Disco


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

D on s of

F i x

Disco

CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TURN on your inner synthesizers, the ones

that teleport you to 1985; imagine yourself dancing—Fiorucci-clad, Peroni in hand—someplace dark and thumping and clouded with cigarette smoke, and then stumbling outside into a cobblestoned, chiaroscuroed alley. Tanned, Lurex-swaddled people you’ve never seen in your life are screaming buona notte as you almost trip over a Vespa kickstand. That’s the Italo Disco vibe. ¶ If you’re familiar with the pop singer Den Harrow, which you probably aren’t, you’re likely Italian and approaching retirement age. Or you’re American, maybe in your 20s, and into some pretty strange shit. For a few years in the mid-1980s, you couldn’t enter a nightclub in Europe without hearing his spooky, soaring refrains. When said fast and often, his name was meant to evoke denaro. Money. The singles—“Future Brain,” “Bad Boy,” “Don’t Break My Heart,” “Catch the Fox”—beat out David Bowie on the charts, beat out Madonna, beat out Lionel Richie, beat out Wham! Den Harrow was everywhere in Europe during those years: Calabrian concerts, Bavarian discotheques, pouring out of Fiat car radios as they zoomed down the autostrada. With Disney-blue eyes and dollblond hair, Den Harrow looked like a cross between a young Leonardo DiCaprio and a Let’s Dance–era Bowie. He was given to deconstructed crop tops and had a crow-like a∞nity for accessories: sweatbands, fingerless gloves, diamond-stud earrings, leather cu≠s. He had a wacky stage presence and the physical stamina of a testosterone-soaked eighth-grade boy, pre–soccer practice but post– parking lot Mountain Dew. Teenage girls screamed at Sicilian music festivals; they stalked him in Ibiza. When journalists asked for his real name, Den Harrow told them it was “Manuel Carry.” When they asked where he was from, he told them Boston. But sometimes he added an inadvertent a to the end: Bostona. Everyone loved him; everyone believed him. The 30-year deception he’s been half-maintaining ever since, and the insane, decadeslong, continent-spanning feud it fuels, is where we pick up our story. Jonathan Sutak, an American movie-trailer editor, found himself watching the video for “Bad Boy” in his Echo Park apartment A FEW YEARS AGO,

3 8

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

in Los Angeles. It features a tightly edited selection of senselessly violent women dressed in Paleolithic rags. There’s also a handmade-looking monster, clearly modeled after a pangolin; some torch-wielding Ben-Hur–style extras; broken glass; smoke everywhere; a few Harley-Davidsons; and a lot of frantic sprinting through a blue-lit industrial space. The whole thing is aesthetically o≠ and conceptually confounding. It’s like someone took decades’ worth of American popcultural grammar, misunderstood all of it, never learned the context,

↓ Stefano Zandri still performs dozens of shows across Europe each year, singing the mega-hit songs once sung by Tom Hooker.

reverently but anachronistically reassembled the pieces, and then was like, “Here you go—enjoy!” Though present in the opening shot, Den Harrow himself—built, bronzed, all pale eyes and dark lashes—doesn’t actually start singing until a quarter of the way into the four-and-a-halfminute video. And when he does, the atmospheric weirdness gets… weirder. How can I remember what girl I will see today / If tomorrow she’ll be gone? / Now I’m a pretender in a special kind of way. Den Harrow’s voice sounds uncanny and echoey and somehow too deep for a man with such an outrageously pretty face. But maybe I only think that because I know the story now. Jonny Sutak, 32, hadn’t thought about Den Harrow, not really, at least, for almost two decades, not since he was a 13-year-old Jadakiss fan in brownstone Brooklyn—a scrawny kid with a fade, a burgeoning weed habit, and a brand-new set of turntables (bought with bar mitzvah money). He spent his after-school hours fucking around with records from his dad’s seemingly endless collection. Most of them, admittedly, were instrumental film scores from the ’70s and ’80s, so he was psyched to find the “Bad Boy” single tucked amidst all the John Williams and Ennio Morricone. He liked the

GIAN MAT TIA D’ALBERTO/L APRESSE/ ZUMA PRESS

T h e


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e

Do ns o f

F i x

Disco

flash, paparazzi-style. “So I’m here to tell you the truth. I’m here today to tell you that I am the singer of all Den Harrow’s greatest hits.… And I can prove it to you, right now, by singing a cappella.” Tom inhales theatrically and begins to sing—quite beautifully— for 20 seconds. Stockin’ away all the details you want to know Day after day all your memories get to grow Putting all that you’ve stolen In a prison that you’ve locked forever

COURTESY OF ITALODISCOMENTARY LLC

↑ Tom Hooker lives in Las Vegas now, but the feud with Stefano Zandri burns as brightly as it did 30 years ago.

song’s lack of subtlety, its powerful drums, the way the synth layers went up the scale in this perfectly pop way. He was surprised that the lyrics were in English, and he found them, well, sick: There are blondes and brunettes just like di≠erent cigarettes All their lips are burning hot Some dress “Valentino” Others wear T-shirts to show What a shapely bust they’ve got

Fifteen years later, having just cut the trailers for both the fifth Transformers movie and Logan, Jonny—tired, bored, a little nostalgic—went on YouTube, and in that aimless, memory-excavating way you do when no better alternative immediately comes to mind, shot himself, only half purposefully, back into the past. The saccharine chord progression was delightfully familiar, and there was Den Harrow! There he was! Running through that creepy, azure, GDR-looking warehouse. As the video came to an end, Jonny noticed, on

the right-hand side of the page, something else: another video, uploaded on October 25, 2010, titled “Tom Hooker responds to Den Harrow’s threats.” “Who the hell’s Tom Hooker?” Jonny thought. He pressed “play.” “Hi, I’m Tom Hooker,” says the guy on the left, smiling into the camera. “Hi, everybody,” adds the guy on the right, in heavily accented English. “I’m Miki Chieregato.” Then Tom Hooker starts speaking. “I am here to tell you something that has never been o∞cially declared before,” he begins, and then goes on to explain that he recently joined Facebook and “in less than a year I got over 2,500 friends,” one of whom was Den Harrow. “And this,” Tom says, “is where I found out that Stefano Zandri— that’s his real name—was telling people that he was the real singer.” Tom plays three clips of Stefano performing over the years, as evidence of his lipsyncing. They end, and we go back to the ad hoc conference room. Here, lights (blatantly added in post-production)

Tom has a loving family, a beautiful home, a creative career, and lots of money. He also has a mortal enemy.

“I never really wanted to go public with this,” Tom says, sighing. “If Den was really nice about it, this day would have never come. But there is a thing called karma. After I left him alone for 25 years, I have received hate mail from his loyal fans, who don’t realize that he is lying to them every single day. And this is not right. Because I’m telling the truth, and they don’t want to hear it. I have never asked [for] or taken any money from his performances, but I want to declare today that he does not have my permission or authorization to use my voice anymore. On TV or in shows… This charade has been going on for a quarter of a century.” Tom goes on for several more minutes—listing the prizes that Stefano has won and kept, reading aloud from the Wikipedia entry for Milli Vanilli, recounting specific threats. “Enough is enough,” he concludes. “I’ve said what I have to say.” Jonny was shocked. It was almost too good to be true. An intellectualproperty dispute between two people who, for decades, everyone assumed were one? A pair of aging pop stars who, in trying to protect their individual legacies, were in fact collaborating in mutual destruction? An ontological treatise on fame and art and authenticity being co-written, spitefully, in real time, on Facebook? It was like Spinal Tap meets Shakespeare meets Cory Arcangel. Or something. Jonny watched the video again. And then again. And then a few days later, once more. And it gave him this crazy idea. What if he, Jonathan Sutak, acting in a spirit of American interventionism, could reconcile Tom and Stefano—yolk, once again, the voice and the face that together had made such beautiful,

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

4 3


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

T h e

D on s of

F i x

Disco

meaningful schlock at the peak of their careers; foster, finally, after so many turbulent years, a sense of social harmony and maybe even economic growth? It wouldn’t be his sole aim, but it was a good conceit. And anyway, after years of feuding, wasn’t it time for the Den Harrow story to close the loop and end in peace? What if he made a documentary about it? And what if the making of that documentary was the thing that reconciled them? Okay, it probably wouldn’t work. But maybe it could? And if his exceptionalism proved successful, it would be so worth it! The ultimate act of pop-detritus nation building! S O J O N N Y S E T about on his Marshall Plan–like quest. He cut back on trailer work at what was arguably the peak of his success, moved some money around, bought a camera. He went to Las Vegas and Milan and backwater Germany; he met obsessive fans AND

and nostalgic nightclub owners. It took him years. He filmed the whole thing. To understand the extent of what he found, you have to start at the beginning of Den Harrow, the creation myth, and the context in which it was hatched. From the outset, the original producers of Italo Disco conceived of the genre as an export good made with import products, namely English-language vocals, whose repetitive lyrics, often accented and malaprop-laden, were set to catchy melodies filigreed with synthesizers. With their kitschy a≠ectations, there’s something almost primitively appealing about the best Italo Disco songs, whose supposed antidepressant e≠ects were even the subject of an (inconclusive) psychological study. Decades later, the genre, which is often referred to, pejoratively, as “spaghetti dance,” is looked back on by Italians with a kind of condescending a≠ection. In The History of Italo Disco, the DJ turned music critic Francesco Catalo Verrina wrote that for many years Italians were “almost ashamed to have been part of this movement and to have lived in that environment.” One of the more famous Italo Disco producers once regretfully rued that he had helped to “put the mustache to the Mona Lisa.”

Stefano was discovered in 1983, at the age of 21, by Miki Chieregato, along with the producer Roberto Turatti, who saw him dancing wildly in a nightclub and thought he’d make a charismatic face for a new pop act they were concocting. They brought him into the studio but quickly realized he couldn’t sing well with an American accent. He was handsome and naive, though, with a libidinous energy and seemingly zero stage fright. He’d do just fine. They already had a guy who could sing, anyway. His name was Tom Hooker, and he was American. He could actually write pretty good songs, and he didn’t seem to hate the idea of another guy mouthing the words to them. For a few years, everything was great. Stefano and Tom weren’t friends—they didn’t eat dinner together or go to the movies—but they both understood their respective roles and maintained a professional rapport. They did what they were supposed to do. Tom, a Connecticut-born scion of a beverage conglomerate, grew up in Geneva and, pre–Den Harrow, had a solo career of his own, touring mostly through Italian hill towns. For Stefano, though, Den Harrow was everything. He didn’t have a globe-trotting past—or a trust fund. And in 1987, when Tom got

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE TO

THREE MORE FLAVORS OF LEFT TWIX

®

IS THREE MORE FLAVORS

OF RIGHT TWIX.

®


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

it in his head that he wanted to perform one of his songs himself—just one!—the producers said no. Are you crazy? they said. And ruin the entire illusion? For what? Because you, Tom, think it would be fun? No way. Tom, sick of all this shit, moved back to America and backed away from the music industry. He got married, bought a house, adopted two kids. Stefano remained in Italy. Without Tom’s voice singing new songs, he could only perform the old ones, which he did, over the years, in increasingly down-market venues. He claims to have moved to San Diego for a few years, where he worked as a bouncer at Planet Hollywood and as a personal trainer; then he returned to Italy, where he made tabloid headlines for crying on reality TV. He didn’t have any money but was too recognizable to get regular work, so he continued to tour, lip-syncing to audiences of aging fans. For years and years, the lives of Tom and Stefano remained separate. But when people started rooting around on Facebook, that’s when their shared past came back to haunt them both. The person who sang felt used by the person who danced; the person who danced felt usurped by the person who sang.

A pop-culture conflict that for decades remained latent in Italy was suddenly, thanks to social media and the pent-up rage of two middle-aged men, tabloid gossip. Fans were distraught. Some felt betrayed by Stefano, for lying all that time; others hated Tom for sullying an otherwise pristine myth that they would have been all too happy to continue believing in. Jonny got it all on tape, and now, three years after setting out, he was ready to show the world. with his wife and two daughters in an Italianate mansion outside Las Vegas. He collects jackets and cars and boots. His current favorite Swiss watch is an Hublot, which his wife had a local bakery re-create recently as a birthday cake at an expense of $1,000. When asked, he says he’s a photographer. Tawny and taut, with twinkly eyes and TV teeth, Tom looks even more like Rob Lowe than Rob Lowe looks like himself. He has the appearance (faultless) and bearing (dauntless) of a very lucky person, which he is, and which he is usually capable of remembering. Tom has a loving family, a beautiful home, a creative career, and lots of money. He also has a mortal enemy. TOM HOOKER LIVES

T h e

D o ns o f

F i x

Disco

When Tom talks about Stefano Zandri— or, as he calls him, “Stefano or Den or Whatever”—the grace with which his life has been blessed disappears, instantly it seems, from the foreground of his mind. He begins to swear and to brag; he becomes bothered by minor three-decade-old slights. Tom mocks Stefano for not speaking English, for “not having a pot to piss in.” He calls him “obnoxious,” a “chronic liar,” “a horndog with low standards and no selection process.” To observe this transformation, from blessed family man to apoplexy incarnate, is to bear witness to something almost mythic. Like if Achilles’ problem wasn’t his heel but his toe, which he stubbed, repeatedly, over the years and which every time he did sent him into a temporary infantile rage. To be fair, Stefano himself isn’t above Tom-directed barbs, which he spouts in Facebook posts, (continued on page 96)

MORE FLAVORS. SAME SIDES.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The GQ Best Stuff Box is a quarterly subscription box featuring our favorite gadgets, grooming products, style accessories, and beyond—all rigorously tested and endorsed by the magazine’s editors. Learn more at GQ.COM/BESTSTUFFBOX

OUR LATEST BOX INCLUDES BRANDS LIKE: a GEORGE FROST a ERNO LASZLO a BOMBAS a CRAIGHILL

$200+ value for only $49


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

Interview by Emmett Cruddas & Vegyn Photographs by Alasdair McLellan Styled by Frank Ocean & Rita Zebdi


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

with Vegyn and Emmett Cruddas, the co-hosts of his Apple Music show, Blonded Radio. The three discussed Ocean’s evolving approach to music, his recent relocation to New York City, his pop-up activism in the 2018 midterms (he made T-shirts to reward people in swing districts who could prove they voted), and his fashion plans for 2019. What follows is a snapshot of the mind of an artist as the world eagerly awaits the arrival of his next big project.

than when I was just focused on the rap mixtape approach of taking a beat or flow, swapping the lyrics and performing it. The performance almost being the stream-of-consciousness, in-the-moment thing, whereas now I would much prefer having the song be with me for more time before I have to record it. VEGYN: Are these records you

I wanted to start off by asking you about the gesture of making your Instagram public. I know you don’t do a lot of interviews, but how do you feel about having the opportunity to say what you want to say when you want to say it without being mediated like that? FRANK OCEAN: I feel like there was dissonance between how I was seen by the audience and where I was actually, so that contributed to the decision to make my Instagram public, for sure. But there’s also the idea of dialogue and discourse and conversation—like theater where the audience can interrupt you versus the television. EMMETT CRUDDAS:

VEGYN: With that in mind, do you think there’s any misconceptions people might have about you that you’re trying to confront? OCEAN: I feel like between the numbers of zero to ten, in between every number there’s infinity, you know? I would describe a person as the space between the symbols, beyond the language. That dissonance—the word being a big container for what I was feeling…the way I was seen was not even close to correct. It’s still not correct, either. With some pop stars, the idea of them is maybe more balanced

or fully formed: a half-dozen magazine covers, x amount of interviews, a daily influx of media. There’s a way you wanna be in the visual press, although you could potentially be misrepresented; when you’re completely minimal with media, there’s a lot of pressure on whatever one thing you’re doing, the stakes are higher. Social media helps that, ’cause you’re fully in control and can message that how you want. CRUDDAS: With regards to

reflecting and putting out a more rich tapestry of selfrepresentation, I’m interested in how you use cover songs as part of your repertoire. “Moon River” was the one release this year, and they’ve always figured as part of your work, going way back to the Coldplay song [“Strawberry Swing”]. What’s your method for interacting with a song people may already have an idea of— with other people’s music? OCEAN: Nowadays, I have to live with the song for a bit and I have to see if it’s worthwhile to interpret it first. To see what I can do with it, where I can insert my voice. In the past, I would just like a song and I wouldn’t think about it as seriously as when I do “Close to You” or “Moon River” or “At Your Best…” It’s much more deliberate

keep coming back to? for [Aaliyah’s] “At Your Best…,” I was at a party and it came on, and I had to sing it. And I didn’t connect it to ATL, with T.I. and Lauren London. I watched that movie a lot for some reason when I was 18 and first moved to L.A. I think because it reminded me of home, and that song played when T.I. had the El Camino and first kissed New New, but I didn’t connect it when I was at that party years later that it was something from nostalgia. I started living with it, thinking about how I could do it justice. With “Close to You,” it was a similar thing, only without the nostalgia. I was living in a hotel, and I remember listening to it and being really nailed to the floor by Stevie Wonder’s interpretation of it. That version moved into my favorite-songsof-all-time list, right there with Prince’s “When You Were Mine.” I don’t know what creates that feeling of “I have to sing this song.” With “Moon River,” though, that was more random. Someone asked me to sing it, and that was the only reason I listened to it. People ask me to do a lot of things I don’t do [laughs], but when I listened to it, it was something that I wanted to do because I thought the song was small and beautiful and neat. It’s OCEAN: Certainly

F E B R U A R Y

OPENING PAGES AND OPPOSITE PAGE

turtleneck $780 Prada pants, custom earrings and bracelet (throughout), his own

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

5 1


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

polo shirt, custom vintage pants Gore-Tex sneakers Tom Sachs x NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0

the “ocean in the drop” idea, all these feelings inside this small thing. Living with it, listening to the many versions, thinking about who I would work on it with and what I would go for in interpreting it. Of the covers I’ve done, “At Your Best…” and “Moon River” are my favorites. From tour, by the time it came around to playing “Close to You” live, I had even more time with it: There are songs you find your way through after you’ve played it a few times. Sometimes you lose something after being familiar with it, something in your voice is di≠erent. Being in front of an audience and that still being new and scary to me, the adrenaline and everything mixed together didn’t make it feel like this stale thing I’d done a million times. It felt charged with a special energy. VEGYN: How did you find moving

to New York? What do you like about living there? OCEAN: I like it a lot because I spend more time at the house. I think it comes from living in hotels, but when I’m in L.A., I find myself in my car a lot.… Which is stress. In New York, it’s the first time in a minute that I’ve had my own space that’s not a hotel and not some rented home, where everything around me is mine, and that’s been really cozy and comfortable this past year. When I first got to the place, I was sleeping in the living room on this mattress Spike [Jonze] told me to get—the Duxiana—which is so nice it has an owners’ club. [laughs] It was in the middle of my living room, and I’d wake up feeling unsuccessful for the most part: Because I had nothing around. It wasn’t like I had things on the way, either; nothing was coming and there was nothing up. The feeling was absurd, but now I have things, and that’s nice. That and having the seasons. I guess I had them when I was in London, but that’s almost just the opposite of L.A. I enjoy the energy working project to project in New York that I can get from looking out my window or going downstairs: It’s the people, their pace, the unsaid energy.

5 2

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

CRUDDAS: What have you found

inspiring this year? OCEAN: I’ve been taking pictures of everything. I’m at this hotel. Just pictures of the sheet company’s labels, the floor mats and towels. I like that there’s no Sheetrock or plaster, it’s all wood and fabric walls only. I think that’s cool. Oh, and before I left New York, I met up with Peter Hujar’s archivist. They came by the house, and I went through all of the photos he shot in his life. That was inspiring as hell because of how diverse his subject matter was, from a series on clowns to the piers of New York in the ’80s, which was a big gay hangout for cruising, to portraits of his friends and celebrities at the time to the drag scene to landscapes and just the life of the photographer. How much he documented was inspiring. Those are the first things that come to mind as of late. VEGYN: Have you got any New

Year’s resolutions? I didn’t do my last one, to be honest with you. My last one was self-decoration, and I haven’t finished any of my jewelry, so I’m gonna carry that on to next year. OCEAN:

CRUDDAS: I wanted to ask about

bringing Blonded back for the midterm elections and how you perceive your own cultural cachet. Do you think the stakes are higher for artists politicizing their output in 2018, interacting with actual politics? OCEAN: The stakes feel higher now, yes. I was excited about the idea of incentivizing people to vote and to get excited about midterms, because people aren’t usually excited about voting at midterms. Getting seven or eight thousand people who might not have otherwise voted to participate like that is a testament to what public figures can do or encourage with their voice. It feels responsible, especially at this time. Maybe also at many times prior, but it feels less like responsibility and more like a great opportunity that I had and still have.

You should be proud, I think you genuinely did something. VEGYN: Especially when looking at these margins of less than a thousand… OCEAN: Yeah, there was a lot of seats in the House picked up, types of people who hadn’t been in those positions before, which was beautiful. It was a success when I look at it—it felt like something I’d like to continue doing. [With politicizing your own merchandise] sometimes you have to know what people want and say, “Let’s do a trade.” CRUDDAS:

VEGYN: What will you be

wearing for New Year’s Eve? What fit can we expect you to break into 2019 in? OCEAN: I didn’t get the fit that I wanted for my birthday, which consisted of the Balenciaga python-leather pants and a pink skintight tank. I was gonna get the acid green shadow fade, too. Two-tone. Acid green to brunet. And the cowboy boots with the chrome heel and toe. VEGYN: You are the snake in your own boot. CRUDDAS: Since this is for

Gentlemen’s Quarterly, do you have a message to all the men out there for how they can do better in 2019? OCEAN: Oh! The SCOTTeVEST! Men need to get hip to the SCOTTeVEST. You can put anything in it. Your water bottle, your cell phone, your motorcycle helmet—you can put all that shit inside the SCOTTeVEST. That’s the infomercial vest, really deep pockets. VEGYN: You’re a gilet advocate? OCEAN: Right, but it’s modular, too. You can also zip the arm on—it’s like a paramilitary vest. It’s also a name that’s ready for rap lyrics. CRUDDAS: Them ones. That’s how you shift the culture. VEGYN: Are there any clothing

trends you want to make a comeback? OCEAN: I thought Marithé + François Girbaud was gonna come back, but it didn’t. That would be nice.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

having a few cocktails with friends, dancing, et cetera. I went to the fair the next day, and everything was okay. And all of a sudden I felt I was going down [laughter], I was about to pass out in the hallway of the convention center, so I took a knee and I had to sit against the wall.… Rocky passed out at a fashion show, and said they had him held up like a ventriloquist [laughter], and that’s kinda how I felt as they put me outside. I sat outside in the fresh air for a couple of hours before I felt comfortable going back in. I haven’t had a drink since, so it’s not a answer to your question, but yeah. Maybe my vice is that I watch way too much TV news. I know that I’m not getting real information, but I still watch it. I wish my vice was VH1 reality-TV shows, but it’s not—it’s MSNBC. MSNBC is Love & Hip Hop with better vocabulary and more range, but it’s the same thing. Very much entertainment.

CRUDDAS: Are you about to drop vintage t-shirt Gildan

5 4

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

the skin-care routine? OCEAN: Man, listen…some days, like today, I feel very beautiful. But some days, like in the winter, when I wear a lot of knit hats, my skin doesn’t like that. My mom told me years ago that you gotta get somebody to stitch the silk inside the lining of the cap so it doesn’t irritate your skin, ’cause your skin is sensitive. I didn’t listen to my mom, but I really do believe in a night cream. I feel like men just go to sleep. They may wash their face or they don’t even bother—they go to sleep with the day face on. You really need to do a gentle wash and put a night moisturizer on. You can’t have the retinol in your creams in the day because it

2 0 1 9

makes you more sun-sensitive, so you wanna throw that on at night. I need the night cream because when I wake up I feel very beautiful, moisturized and ready to have people making eye contact with me, ready to look above my eyebrow, below the eyebrow. [laughs] That’s the life hack right there. It’s been all these years, and Pharrell still hasn’t given us the keys yet. He just says “exfoliate,” but it’s not just “exfoliate”: We need more keys. VEGYN: Do you have any vices?

I used to love mezcal. That’s like the adult/ underground version of tequila. I was in Art Basel in Florida—not Switzerland, unfortunately—I was out OCEAN:

CRUDDAS: Best night you’ve had in 2018? OCEAN: I don’t wanna give y’all the exclusive exclusive, but you know what? The new Christmas for me that makes me feel like a youngster is the night I come home from a long trip and I have boxes in the entrance to my apartment of things I forgot I had ordered or things people send me. That’s the new Christmas. I feel very blessed, grateful, and excited, happy chemicals rushing through my veins, when I walk into my apartment and I’ve got FedEx, DHL, UPS boxes, Worldnet boxes. As simple as that is. My box cutter is greasy from all the tape. VEGYN: When are you gonna

write the hit holiday song? I’m never writing that. VEGYN: But it’s the check that keeps on giving! OCEAN: I don’t know. Tonight! Let’s do it! We can smoke a Christmas tree and write a classic. OCEAN:


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

By Chris Heath

9 Sober Musicians on How They Thrive Creatively Without Drugs or Booze

Photograph by Ryan Pfluger


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

In terms of sobriety, how would you describe yourself today? TREY ANASTASIO (54, lead vocalist and guitarist of Phish): Well, I’m sober. I’ve been sober since January 5, 2007. Twelve years, if I keep going till January. GQ:

ZACHARY COLE SMITH

-

sober musicians— about the life that has led them here, and about the life that they live now—but there is no single story here. Some drank, some used drugs, some did more or less everything, and they did so to very di≠erent degrees. Some found themselves at the edge of the precipice, or worse; others simply re-routed from a path or trajectory that they came to see as unwise. Some were clean before the end of their teenage years; some only surfaced into sobriety much later in their lives. Some created the work that made them first or best known before they were sober; some have done so since. Some see significant correlations here; some don’t. In the modern pop-culture tradition, being a musician has often come with a series of default lifestyle expectations, ones of indulgence and recklessness, larger-than-life living, and a diligent pursuit of altered forms of consciousness. Some see these expectations as having played a part in what happened to them, though most ultimately see their decisions and actions as also—if not mainly—a matter of their own psychology and personality and predisposition. Some delight in a dark humor about their earlier excesses; others talk in a way that suggests that to dwell on these too much, to give such memories too much oxygen, would be to take too lightly something they simply can’t risk taking lightly. That it would be foolhardy or perilous to risk returning, even in thought, to a place where for all kinds of reasons they’d rather not linger. A corollary is that some are reluctant in this context to o≠er much detail about the particular substances that they consumed, or that consumed them, or both. (Readers may be aware that at other times, in di≠erent situations or at di≠erent stages of their recovery, some THIS IS A STORY ABOUT

5 8

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

(34, frontman of the Brooklynbased band DIIV): I’m not really sure how to answer that question. I guess I’m just a person who’s grateful to be alive, and grateful to continue to make music and be involved with the people that are in my life. My sobriety date is February 25, 2017, so I guess a couple months shy of two years.

circumstances and perspectives and challenges—that sobriety has made life better. SOKO (33, French singerThis is not an article telling anyone how songwriter): Very healthto live; this is not an article advocating the conscious, I guess, knowing wisdom or foolishness of di≠erent paths. It is that anything that has to simply an article in which a diverse group of do with addiction is very creative people articulate how their own lives triggering for me, and that veered o≠ course, and about some of the ways it’s so much better for they each found to correct that, and about me to know that sobriety what they believe they have learned about and health is directly linked themselves and about living in the process. to my mental health. [Sober Even for those interviewees who chose to for] 14 years. pepper their accounts with wry humor and funny stories, these were not lighthearted JASON ISBELL (39, Nashvilleinterviews. Invariably these were intense and based singer-songwriter): often painful discussions about something Well, I can’t really have each clearly considered a hugely important anything stronger than a and central part of who they now are; as they Tylenol. It’s been about communicated their experiences, they were six and a half years since prepared to dig deeply, and often unsparingly. I’ve had anything like And while the particulars they spoke of a controlled substance or may be specific to each of them, the wider any alcohol. predicaments and decisions and quandaries and insecurities and dilemmas they spoke of are the same ones that confront us all. No matter which choices each one of us elects to make as we hack through the undergrowth into the future, no matter how like or unlike these lives here might seem to our own lives, I would be astonished—and per54, lead vocalist and guitarist of Phish haps a little worried, too— to discover anyone who “I thought my mojo was gone, could read the words these but you find a new kind of mojo.” interviewees share without finding plenty to relate to or Photograph by Ryan Lowry empathize with, and plenty more to think about.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

STEVEN TYLER (70, lead

vocalist of Aerosmith): I’m going on my fourth run. So I’ve got nine years in December. Which I’m very proud of. JULIEN BAKER (23, Memphis-

bred singer-songwriter): At this point in my life, I don’t use any substances,

I don’t use any drugs. I have not drank or used drugs for, let’s see, six years, maybe. BEN HARPER (49, multiinstrumentalist and singersongwriter): I would describe myself as 19 months in.

Alcoholics Anonymous. I have 25 years of sobriety. But the important thing is, I haven’t had a drink today.

BEFORE SOBRIET Y TYLER: I was a beautiful little

JOE WALSH (71, longtime

guitarist for the Eagles): I would

boy that lived in the woods of New England, New Hampshire. So I grew up in the woods listening to the wind. It was just the silence and Mother Nature, no one around—it was an awful lot of magic there. When I started smoking weed, in ’65, ’66, it kind of enhanced those magic feelings. WALSH: I was obsessive-

Photograph by Chuck Grant

BAKER: I started smoking cigarettes when I was 12 years old, because the older kids at my bus stop smoked cigarettes. They got older and I would drink with them and smoke weed with them. Then, once I had back surgery, we would experiment with prescription drugs, and it got darker and darker until it wasn’t necessarily a social thing anymore. SOKO: I started going out

to bars with my stepbrother when I was 13, living in a very small town in southwest of France, escaping the house every weekend. Then when I was 16, I started

6 0

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

going out three, four times a week and then every night.

What were your drugs of choice? ANASTASIO: Well, in the year 2000, somebody gave me an OxyContin. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at a club— I was about to go onstage. As I often did at that time, I did a shot of tequila, and then I did another shot of tequila, because I really liked tequila. And then somebody said, “Do you want to try this?” and I said, “Sure, bring it on.” I had never heard of that drug in 2000. This guy had a pill, and he crushed it up and gave me a little bit in the form of a

S O KO : H A I R BY I G GY R O S A L E S AT O P U S B E AU T Y. M A K E U P BY H O L LY SILIUS USING CHANEL LES BEIGES.

compulsive, and I probably had a little splash of Asperger’s in there, but in those days, in 1953, you were just a difficult kid. Attention deficit didn’t even exist back then. I really had trouble completing tasks— I couldn’t sit still. In my teen years, I discovered alcohol, and that made me feel really good—I really relaxed and settled down and paid more attention to things. In my early 20s, I discovered cocaine, and that was it—my problem was solved. I could write and finish a song. I felt like Superman onstage, and I played that way. I thought cocaine and alcohol was the combination, and it was just a kid trying to feel better. And I chased that initial solution to my problems for 30 years or so.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

line. And I did it, and I remember thinking afterwards, “All my problems just went away.” I didn’t feel high or anything, it was just “Eureka!” And I went down the rabbit hole. By 2004 my band was gone. I couldn’t get off these things. It was horrible. So when I was arrested, December 15, 2006, my car was full of various opiate substances—oxycodone, Percocets, heroin. WALSH: Vodka was what worked

for me. I would have to say that my higher power was vodka. Vodka and cocaine and Camel Light cigarettes was a great triangle for me, because the cocaine made it so you could drink more vodka, and of course the cocaine made it such that

you had to have a cigarette, and of course with cigarettes you have to have a drink…and round and round you go. You see how that works? SMITH: I don’t know if I really

want to talk about it, like, superspecific. It’s my personal story. I can’t change the past, but I definitely spend every day trying to live a different reality than that. I think people know the gist, or they can find out.

“Don’t try to tell yourself a story that only you would believe.” Photograph by Alessandra Sanguinetti

TYLER: Well, we would do

cocaine to go up, quaaludes to come down. We would drink and then snort some coke until we thought we were straight. But that’s not true—you’re just drunk and coked out.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

6 1


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

red wine, but I’d have to say my drink of choice was Johnnie Walker Blue. SOKO: I didn’t particularly like

the taste of alcohol, so anything sweet, like cocktails, like vodka Red Bull, shots of vodka caramel, beer, martini, anything. I never did drugs. ISBELL: I was drinking a lot—that

was my main problem. And yeah, Photograph by João Canziani

I did some drugs, but usually that was just to keep drinking. I would do a little bit of cocaine or some painkillers to sober myself up so I could drink some more. But my main problem was whiskey. I would say probably a fifth of Jack Daniel’s a day. BAKER: I don’t want to be defined by the sort of drugs that I used to do, and I also don’t want to roll out a litany of my past, like, escapades. More than the specific drugs, what is more significant for me to identify is that I never liked things that were stimulating. When I sought substances, I sought things that would put a blanket over my feelings. Numb them down, turn it all off. Things that would bring me down and things that would make me feel less.

TYLER: It was more or less the

thing to do, back then as well. I don’t think there were any bands that even knew what sober was. WALSH: Whatever my alcoholic

mind said we were doing is what we were doing. HARPER: The problem of alcohol is, it’s just too easy. It’s everywhere. At least hard drugs, you have to have a dealer. All I know is, I could feel its presence in an ominous, daunting way that was preventing me from being my higher self. WALSH: I used to throw stuff

out of the window, and trash hotel rooms, and superglue all the drawers shut, and superglue the toilet seat down, and superglue the phone to the nightstand, and all kinds of stuff. I had a chain saw for a while. I didn’t really use it but once or twice. If you have a chain saw in a hotel, you don’t really need to use it. Just having it, usually you get your point across.

Were you having fun? TYLER: Oh, hell yeah. Of course! You have a shot of Jack Daniel’s and you play Madison Square

6 2

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

JA S O N I S B E L L : G RO O M I N G BY C H R I ST I N C O O K Z I TO. V I N C E STA P L E S : H A I R BY E DW I N S C R I V E N S AT FA D E D S O C I E T Y BA R B E R S H O P. G RO O M I N G BY A N N A B E R N A B E AT E XC LU S I V E A RT I STS .

HARPER: Alcohol. I would drink


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

“It’s not something that I honestly ever think about. I just never wanted to.”

25, Long Beach, California–based rapper Photograph by Michael Schmelling A L L S O B E R L I V E S are di≠erent, but perhaps some more than others. Vince Staples already represents another facet of the sober life, in that he has never drunk, never taken drugs. “It’s not something that I honestly ever think about,” he says. “I just never wanted to. I’m not the

kind of person that will do something that I don’t want to do.” And in some ways, he would prefer to just leave it there. Partly that may be because, in Staples’s mind, these simple words represent the central truth of his unbroken sobriety. Partly, too, he seems wary of a narrative he finds clichéd and patronizing. “They don’t expect this from a young black musician my age from where I come from,” he says. “Like, how could you end up being in the ghetto, went through this, went through that, and not experienced drugs, not experienced alcohol?” It is only with some reluctance, when it is pointed out that within his music

there is a far more nuanced narrative about these issues and how they inhabited the world in which he grew up, that Staples agrees to elaborate further: “I am very sure that I’m gonna think di≠erent answers than Steven Tyler or anyone involved in this piece. I’ve lived a completely di≠erent life. What I’m saying is: The drug usage was the last thing on my mind. When you’re surrounded with death and dismay and poverty and all these things that happen every day, I didn’t have time to worry about using or partaking in certain things. People where I come from don’t use drugs in a recreational sense. We’re not at a party, or at the rock show, or at the rap show, doing lines in the bathroom. Where I come from, life comes day after day after day, and people use these things to cope. People use drugs as a coping mechanism, and I’ve always held that reality. Reality hurts, but so does addiction— it’s just which pain you choose. That’s the reality of my situation. I don’t know if my father doing or selling drugs a≠ected me not doing drugs. I don’t know if the dozens of friends I lost in middle or high school a≠ected me not doing drugs. I don’t necessarily know. All I know is that it’s not just one thing. Life isn’t one-sided. We all have di≠erent things that we go through, and di≠erent things that we see, and these things collectively go together to make us the people that we are today. I’m a hundred percent sure it played some part, but I never had time to think about whether my father’s addiction issues led to me not doing drugs, because I was too busy trying to cope with the reality of people dying and people trying to kill me every day. That was really where my focus was. When you have to think about your next 15 minutes—you have to think about the walk to the store, you have to think about how you’re getting to school, you have to think about the bus ride home, you have to think about how you’re going to sneak a gun into the football game—the last thing I was thinking about was getting high.”

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

6 3


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

Garden and you get offstage and you go clubbing with Jimmy Page—come on! After two encores in Madison Square Garden, you don’t go and play shuffleboard. Or Yahtzee, you know? You go and rock the fuck out. You’ve done something that you never thought you could, and you actually think that you are a super-being. BAKER: No, I was not having

uncomfortable and sad. But I didn’t know how to name any of those emotions. I was just doing it because that’s what you do. Or that’s what people around me were doing. It was more like a numbing agent, or an escape mechanism, I suppose. SOKO: I was definitely having

fun, and I felt like I was living life. I felt like that’s what life was about.

fun. I was very scared and WALSH: Everything points to that.

Photograph by Whitten Sabbatini

At the time it was great fun. ISBELL: Sometimes. I’m not

going to say that I didn’t have any fun. But I wasn’t stable, and I didn’t have a whole lot of joy. For every hour of fun, I had a week of misery that I put on myself. ANASTASIO: Oh God, yeah. Tons

of fun. Mountains of fun. Nothing but fun. But then it wasn’t fun.

ISBELL: Most of the time, I just

felt like shit. I felt like I had a serious illness when I wasn’t drunk. If I woke up one morning [now] feeling like I did ten years ago, every day, I would think I was dying and I would immediately go to the emergency room. But when it was a hangover, I thought I deserved it, so I just put up with it. SMITH: Before I got sober, I was

just creating wreckage in my life and living unmanageably. And I was kind of soul-less. WALSH: When I was full of vodka,

I’d have thoughts and—boom!— I would be doing it. I woke up one time coming out of a blackout, and I was on an airplane, descending to land in Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. And all I can think is: I must have decided it was a good idea to go to France, and got my passport, and got on a plane. I don’t remember any of that, but I remember waking up, going, “What the hell happened?” I went to a hotel and slept for a day and a half and flew home. [laughs] I didn’t want to be in France!


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

HARPER: Some people get sober once the wheels come off. Some people can get sober when there’s a couple of bolts left on. The wheels weren’t off, in other words, but they needed to be tightened up.

hateful thing.

HARPER: I’ve got teenage kids, and they need to see a sober dad.

TYLER: What happens with using

WALSH: We were on top of the

is: It works in the beginning, but it doesn’t work in the end. It takes you down. There’s nothing but jail, insanity, or death.

so much as my only option. You just can’t continue on like that and stay alive. Or you just gradually start losing everything, and I had lost enough in my life. It was a nightmare.

world with the Eagles, and we were wild and crazy. That was okay back then, in the late ’70s. And in 1980, we just ran out of steam. After about 15 years, Don Henley and Glenn Frey came to me and said: “We have been thinking of starting the Eagles back up again, and we can’t do it without you, and we can’t do it unless you’re sober.” I was just about homeless. If I got sober, the Eagles would be back together. And I said to myself, “Man, if I’m going to do this, this is my chance.”

TYLER: It was an intervention

ANASTASIO: When I got arrested,

with the band: If I don’t go away to rehab, then the shit’s over.

I was very sick and I was in the process of losing everything that

WALSH: I ended up this godless,

STEVEN T YLER: GROOMING BY MELINA FARHADI

[laughs] And it was interesting that I was being told by a bunch of guys that were still getting fucked up. But I’m grateful that that happened. ’Cause I would have never seen the light.

MAKING THE CHANGE SMITH: It wasn’t, like, a decision

“What happens with using is: It works in the beginning, but it doesn’t work in the end.” Photograph by Ryan Pfluger

was dear to me. I had not played a show for two years and was out of communication with the guys in Phish. I was very sick and skinny and crazy and mean. It hurts my head to talk about this stuff, but it’s true. SOKO: I was hanging out with people a lot older than me, and I was looking at their lives, and so at 19 I was like, “I don’t want to be like you when I’m 30. I don’t want

to be like any of you. I’m superambitious, I want to be working, and I want to do something meaningful with my life.” ANASTASIO: It all seemed

to happen so fast. I had done work a few years back with the Vermont Youth Orchestra, which was something I was so proud of. And when I got arrested, my mug shot was on the cover of this local paper

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

6 5


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

for something like six days in a row. All I could think about was all of these parents and all of these kids having to look at this, and it just filled me with so much shame. I just couldn’t figure out what had happened. Like: What happened?

What scared you most about getting sober? TYLER: I thought they were trying to brainwash me. I thought I would lose my creativity. HARPER: Well, the emotional

edge that it does take off is real. So living with that, with life in its most raw form, is a bit daunting. Just taking life full on, without that influence, was one. WALSH: Everything. I thought

sober people were like a cult who sold books at the airport. And I thought I would never be funny again.

ISBELL: First I went into the

hospital to detox. It was pretty painful. I hadn’t been drinking for as long as a lot of people I know, but I drank a lot, and it was definitely enough to cause some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms. ANASTASIO: I had a sort of SMITH: I spent a while talking

to friends and family friends who were linked in to recovery, then went to a detox facility, and then lived in a sober-living facility for six months. ISBELL: There’s a place close to

Nashville, called Cumberland Heights, that I went to. Twelvestep-based. It wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever been through—it’s not as hard as childhood, for example—but it’s harder than most things adults have to deal with. Probably more difficult than losing a job, but not as difficult as losing a parent. Harder than moving, but not harder than your house burning down. WALSH: I had to start all over, from

the basics—I had to learn to get up and make my bed and not drink.

6 6

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

“I think there’s so much value in reminding people that they can change the trajectory of their lives.” Photograph by João Canziani

different situation than most people, in that I was facing felony charges, based on what was in my car when I was pulled over. So I did end up going to a felony-drug-treatment court, which was the greatest thing that ever could’ve happened to me. I had to move within half an hour of the jail, which was in Fort Edward, New York, because they call you in for random urine tests and stuff. So I basically had to stop my life for 14 months. I did 250 or something hours of community service— cleaning the bathrooms and toilets at the Washington County fairgrounds, putting up fences, parking cars, breaking rocks—and court-ordered outpatient [treatment], and drug-court meetings. I just had to move up there and spent


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

14 months just getting sober and complying with the rules. They’re very strict. If you miss a meeting, they put you in jail for 48 hours. Which happened to me—I had to go to jail a couple of times. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

LIVING SOBER

a lot of shit, but I don’t worry about staying sober. What used to be a craving for alcohol is now more of a romanticized memory. I let the tape play out, watch the movie until the end and see what it would really do and what would really happen, rather than just remember the buzz.

SMITH: In terms of personal

BAKER: Not all the time. There’s

relationships or creativity, it’s night and day. Looking back, I just feel like a completely different person.

times…I think there’s seasons of life. (continued on page 92)

TYLER: The confusion goes

away. Your friends come back. You can keep a little money in the bank. You can plan things and make them work. You get physically healthy. SOKO: I started making music.

I started booking more films. Work became easy. I never had a hangover again, which was awesome. HARPER: If you have the slightest amount of selfloathing, when you stop using alcohol, it rears its head a bit higher. SMITH: A typical day [before

JOE WALSH: GROOMING BY EMILY WE T ZEL

ISBELL: No—I worry about

sobriety]: There’s one thing in your life. You wake up, and there’s one thing. People talk to you, and you try to act like a human, but there’s really just one thing. My girlfriend would ask me, “What are you thinking about right now?” and I’d be kind of quiet and I could never answer that question, because there was only one thing I was thinking about. Obtaining, or using, or whatever it was. So I feel like for the first time in five years, six years, I’m like a functional human, on the same plane of reality as everyone else.

Do you worry about remaining sober? WALSH: No, I really don’t. I can just see it, clearer than anything: If I get going again, I won’t make it back. And I don’t want to do that. Life is too good.

Photograph by Robert Maxwell


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

Photographs by Scandebergs


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

By Molly Young

Styled by Mobolaji Dawodu


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

C O L D R E C E N T night in Brooklyn, St. Vincent appeared onstage in a Saint Laurent smoking jacket to much clapping and hooting, gave the crowd a deadpan look, and said, “Without being reductive, I’d like to say that we haven’t actually done anything yet.” Pause. “So let’s do something.” She launched into a cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”: an arty torch-song version that made you really wonder whom she was thinking about when she sang it. This was the elusive chanteuse version of St. Vincent, at least 80 percent leg, with slicked-back hair and pale, pale skin. She belted, sipped A

from a tumbler of tequila (“Oh, Christ on a cracker, that’s strong”), executed little feints and pounces, flung the mic cord away from herself like a filthy sock, and spat on the stage a bunch of times. Nine parts Judy Garland, one part GG Allin. If the Garland-Allin combination suggests that St. Vincent is an acquired taste, she’s one that has been acquired by a wide range of fans. The crowd in Brooklyn included young women with Haircuts in pastel fur and guys with beards of widely varying intentionality. There was a woman of at least 90 years and a Hasidic guy in a tall hat, which was too bad for whoever sat behind him. There were models, full nuclear families, and even a solitary frat bro. St. Vincent brings people together. If you chart the career of Annie Clark, which is St. Vincent’s civilian name, you will see what start-up founders and venture capitalists call “hockey-stick growth.” That is, a line that moves steadily in a

northeast direction until it hits an “inflection point” and shoots steeply upward. It’s called hockey-stick growth because…it looks like a hockey stick. The toe of the stick starts with Marry Me, Clark’s debut solo album, which came out a decade ago and established a few things that would become essential St. Vincent traits: her ability to play a zillion instruments (she’s credited on the album with everything from dulcimer to vibraphone), her highbrow streak (Shakespeare citations), her goofy streak (“Marry me!” is an Arrested Development bit), and her oceanic library of musical references (Kate Bush, Steve Reich, uh…D’Angelo!). The blade of the stick is her next four albums, one of them a collaboration with David Byrne, all of them confirming her presence as an enigma of indie pop and a guitar genius. The stick of the stick took a non-musical detour in 2016, when Clark was photographed canoodling with (now ex-) girlfriend Cara Delevingne at Taylor Swift’s mansion, followed a few months later by pictures of Clark holding hands with Kristen Stewart. That brought her to the realm of mainstream paparazzipictures-in-the-Daily-Mail celebrity. Finally, the top of the stick is Masseduction, the 2017 album she co-produced with Jack Antono≠, which revealed St. Vincent to be not only experimental and beguiling but capable of turning out incorrigible bangers. Masseduction made the case that Clark could be as much a pop star as someone like Sia or Nicki Minaj—a performer whose idiosyncrasies didn’t have to be tamped down for mainstream success but could actually be amplified. The artist Bruce Nauman once said he made work that was like OPENING PAGES “going up the stairs in the jacket (men’s) dark and either having an $4,900 extra stair that you didn’t pants (men’s) $2,300 expect or not having one Dior Men that you thought was going shoes to be there.” The idea applies Christian to Masseduction: Into the Louboutin familiar form of a pop song rings Clark introduces surpris(throughout) Cartier ing missteps, unexpected additions and subtractions. The album reached No. 10 THIS PAGE on the Billboard 200. The dress David Bowie comparisons Balmain got louder. This past fall, she released MassEducation OPPOSITE PAGE coat (men’s) (not quite the same title; $8,475 note the addition of the Versace letter a), which turned a shoes dozen of the tracks into Christian stripped-down piano songs. Louboutin Although technically o≠ tights duty after being on tour for Wolford


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

7 1


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

nearly all of 2018, Clark has been performing the reduced songs here and there in small venues with her collaborator, the composer and pianist Thomas Bartlett. Whereas the Masseduction tour involved a lot of latex, neon, choreographed sex-robot dance moves, and LED screens, these recent shows have been comparatively austere. When she performed in Brooklyn, the stage was empty, aside from a piano and a side table. There were blue lights, a little piped-in fog for atmosphere, and that was it. It looked like an

7 2

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

early-’90s magazine ad for premium liquor: art-directed, yes, but not to the degree that it Pinterested itself. The performance was similarly informal. Midway through one song, Clark forgot the lyrics and halted. “It takes a di≠erent energy to be performing [than] to sit in your sweatpants watching Babylon Berlin,” she said. “Wherever I am, I completely forget the past, and I’m like. ‘This is now.’ And sometimes this means forgetting song lyrics. So, if you will… tell me what the second fucking verse is.”

C L A R K H A S O N L Y a decade in the public eye behind her, but she’s accomplished a good amount of shape-shifting. An openness to the full range of human expression, in fact, is kind of a requirement for being a St. Vincent fan. This is a person who has appeared in the front row at Chanel and also a person who played a gig dressed as a toilet, a person profiled in Vogue and on the cover of Guitar World. The day before her Brooklyn show, I sat with Clark to find out what it’s like to be utterly unstructured, time-wise, after a long


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

stretch of knowing a year in advance that she had to be in, like, Denmark on July 4 and couldn’t make plans with friends. “I’ve been o≠ tour now for three weeks,” she said. “When I say ‘o≠,’ I mean I didn’t have to travel.” This doesn’t mean she hasn’t traveled— she went to L.A. to get in the studio with Sleater-Kinney and also hopped down to Texas, where she grew up—just that she hasn’t been contractually obligated to travel. What else did she do on her mini-vacation?

“I had the best weekend last weekend. I woke up and did hot Pilates, and then I got a bunch of new modular synths, and I set ’em up, and I spent ten hours with modular synths. Plugging things in. What happens when I do this? I’m unburdened by a full understanding of what’s going on, so I’m very willing to experiment.” Like a child? “Exactly. Did you ever get those electronics kits as a kid for like 20 bucks from RadioShack? Where you connect this wire to that one and a light bulb turns on? It’s very much like that.”

exactly the thing that is most special about you: Is there anything a person could possibly want more? Is this why Annie Clark glows? Or is it because she’s super pale? Or was it because there was a sound coming through the window where we sat that sounded thrillingly familiar? “Is Amy Sedaris running by?” Clark asked, her spine straightening. A man with a boom mic was visible on the sidewalk outside. Another guy in a baseball cap issued instructions to someone beyond the window. Someone said “Action!” and a figure in vampire makeup and a clown wig streaked

There’s an element of chaos, she said, that makes synth noodling a neat way to stumble on melodies that she might not have consciously assembled. She played with the synths by herself all day. “I don’t stop, necessarily,” she said, reflecting on what the idea of “vacation” means to someone for whom “job” and “things I love to do” happen to overlap more or less exactly. “I just get to do other things that are really fun. I’m in control of my time.” She had plans to see a show at the New Museum, read books, play music and see movies alone, always sitting on the aisle so she could make a quick escape if necessary. But she will probably keep working. St. Vincent doesn’t have hobbies. When it manifests in a blazer (men’s) person, this synergy between $1,125 life and work is an almost Paul Smith physically perceptible qualhair by ity, like having brown eyes pamela neal for exclusive or one leg or being beautiful. artists Like beauty, it’s a result of management. luck, and a quality that can makeup by hinako at the invoke total despair in peowall group ple who aren’t themselves using marc allotted it. This isn’t to say jacobs beauty. manicure by that Clark’s career is a stroke naoko saita of unearned fortune but that for priti nyc. her skills and character and set design by shelley era and influences have burgon at collided into a perfect the magnet storm of realized talent. agency. produced by And to have talent and realcarisa barah ize that talent and then be at small beloved by thousands for battles.

across the sidewalk. Someone said “Cut!” and Clark zipped over for a look. It was, in fact, Amy Sedaris, her clown wig bobbing in the 44-degree breeze. The mic operator was gagging with laughter. It seemed like a good omen, this sighting, like the New York City version of Groundhog Day: If an Amy Sedaris streaks across your sight line in vampire makeup, spring will arrive early. Clark does when o≠ tour is absorb all the input that she misses when she’s locked into performance mode. On a Monday afternoon, she met artist Lisa Yuskavage at an exhibition of her paintings at the David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea. Yuskavage was part of a mini-boom of figurative painting in the ’90s, turning out portraits of Penthouse centerfolds and giant-jugged babes with Rembrandt-esque skill. It made sense that Clark wanted to meet her: Both women make art about the inner lives of female figures, both are sorcerers of technique, both are theatrical but introspective, both have incendiary style. The gallery was a white cube, skylit, with paintings around the perimeter. Yuskavage and Clark wandered through at a pace exclusive to walking tours of cultural spaces, which is to say a few steps every 10 to 15 seconds with pauses between for the proper amount of motionless appreciation. The paintings were small, all about the size of a human head, and featured a lot of nipples, tufted pudenda, tan lines, majestic asses, and protruding tongues. “I like the idea of possessing (continued on page 97) ANOTHER THING

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

7 3


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

By Zach Baron

Photographs by Sarah Bahbah

Styled by Simon Rasmussen


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

Subtitles by Ezra Koenig


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

OPENING PAGES

(left) sweater $1,300 Bottega Veneta (right) jacket $825 pants $485 Isabel Marant watch $17,300 Omega

jacket $548 John Elliott shorts $55 Patagonia backpack $400 Y-3

particularly idyllic,” Ezra Koenig says, gesturing around himself, and it is: sun-filled recording studio, windows letting in the Los Angeles light. It’s in this room that Koenig has been working—slowly, quietly—on a new Vampire Weekend record. Also raising a baby, here in the city. Just…existing, really. “There’s moments where I’ve thought to myself: It kind of doesn’t get better than this,” he says. “Like, spend the morning with your family, then you come to work in a place like this, hang out, and then you go back to your family. And I fantasized for a second: I could give the record to like four people and then say, All right, let’s start on the next one.” But then Koenig began thinking about the live shows the band might play. He started thinking about people hearing the new songs. Like you, he thought about Vampire Weekend coming back and got excited. He’s got a guitar in his lap that he plucks occasionally, Polo track pants, and an expression of concentration. He’s in that in-between moment for an artist, when the work is done but he still doesn’t know what story to tell about it. The album has a name, but he doesn’t want to disclose that name just yet. He plays me a couple of tracks, nervously pacing, stepping outside the room, or picking the guitar back up to play along, like he’s still figuring out how the songs go. They’re big and bright and immediate—you can hear the rooms they were recorded in, picture exactly who they’re about. He asks me not to be more specific than that, so there you are: big and bright and immediate. The young, charming characters of old Vampire Weekend songs—witty, ironically detached, with expansive vocabularies and broken hearts—are here, but older and wiser and sadder. Like Koenig, they’ve lived a bit more life. “The people in ‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘White Sky’ and ‘Step’—I had this feeling this is where those people are now,” he says. “Like, this is where all this shit ended up.”

It’s been nearly six years since the last Vampire Weekend record, Modern Vampires of the City, which was about death and the end of things, because that’s what was on Koenig’s mind at the time: “Being in your late 20s and being like, Life is crazy. I’m gonna die.” No one died. At worst Koenig was just exhausted, in retrospect—Modern Vampires was the band’s third record in five years. “The typical quarter-life crisis,” Koenig says ruefully. “Like, What’s the point of this, what do I have to say, do I really want to keep doing this?” The band had gone from cheerful and collegiate and preppy to weary and sad, and somehow their fans liked it even more. “It’s incredibly easy to prove people wrong,” Koenig says of the third album’s shifts in mood. “It’s as simple as being like, Okay, here’s a minor-key song.” Modern Vampires did all the things bands fronted by guys holding guitars aren’t supposed to be able to do anymore. It was Vampire Weekend’s second No. 1 album in a row. It won a Grammy. They toured the world o≠ of it. And then Koenig just, well, went away. The band were finished with their contract with XL, the indie label that first signed them, and in search of a new label. Rostam Batmanglij, who’d produced the first three Vampire Weekend records and often served as Koenig’s co-writer, left the band to pursue new projects of his own. (He is still in their orbit, though, and contributed to some songs on the new record.) Everyone was proud but exhausted. Their whole 20s had been spent on stages, basically. No one minded having a break. In the aftermath, Koenig released Neo Yokio, a wry anime TV series for Netflix, which stars Jaden Smith as a clotheshorse bachelor magician and Jude Law as his murmuring robot butler. He wrote a demo with Diplo that became a hook on a Beyoncé album and went to Mexico to work on music for Kanye West—he and Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, chopping it up over breakfast with Kim Kardashian. He let the urgency of Vampire Weekend, which had dictated almost everything in his adult life, fade a bit. And gradually, almost accidentally, he started spending most of his time in Los Angeles, where he and his partner, Rashida Jones, had a son this summer. “It still feels kind of surreal,” Koenig says. “Like, if I haven’t seen him for a few hours and then I see him, I’m just like: Wow, I can’t believe you’re real.” The band’s new record will come out on Columbia later this year—pretty much every label, indie and major alike, made them an o≠er, Koenig says. And he, along with the rest of the band—remaining original members Chris Tomson and Chris Baio—will have to learn what it means to be in Vampire Weekend in 2019. Koenig recently had the liberating realization that it might actually be okay if the band aren’t quite as popular as they used to be: “On the last record, I had this slight feeling that we got a little bit too big.” Now, “sometimes people ask me, Are you nervous that you’ve been gone so long? And I might have been nervous three years ago, like, Am I gonna get all this shit together? Now I’m at this place where I’m kinda like, if the record wasn’t done and I wasn’t excited to go on tour, I might even wait longer. Not only did I stop stressing about the fact that it had taken so long, I started to be like, This makes sense. Why do people release music more than every five years?” He smiles and reaches over to the computer in the studio with the new record on it. He gave the final version to the label just the other day, he says. “You want to listen to a couple more?”

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

7 7


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

7 8

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

shirt $810 turtleneck $780 Prada watch $3,850 Tudor

jacket $1,405 Craig Green jeans $320 John Elliott sandals (throughout) $50 Teva socks $30 Anonymous Ism

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

7 9


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

8 0

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

blazer $1,900 turtleneck $290 Calvin Klein 205W39NYC

sweater $268 Polo Ralph Lauren t-shirt $35 Entireworld pants $425 3.1 Phillip Lim socks $30 Anonymous Ism watch $17,300 Omega grooming by johnny hernandez for fierro agency. produced by production la.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

8 1


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

Tekashi 6ix9ine performing in Stockholm, Sweden, in September.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

By Carrie Battan

The trendy DIY teen hip-hop genre known as SoundCloud rap went from goofy punch line to the preposterously lucrative engine driving a whole new golden age in the music biz. But, wow, is it messy.


is the DJ at a midsize Philadelphia concert venue called District N9NE. It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it has been an agonizing three hours since the doors opened. This poor DJ is trying his hardest to distract hundreds of fans—none of whom appear to be over the age of 22— from the glaring absence of Juice WRLD, the year’s newly minted hip-hop superstar. They’ve come to see their digital hero in the flesh, but excitement has curdled into restlessness, and after restlessness comes agitation. So many Juuls have died that some fans have resorted to lighting up real cigarettes inside the venue. For a moment, the DJ is able to pacify the crowd by playing “GUMMO,” the viral New York street-rap anthem from the then newly incarcerated Tekashi 6ix9ine, but the crowd’s fury prevails. “Juice WRLD will be here in five minutes,” the DJ announces in a tone that’s not exactly convincing. “He apologizes for the delay.” Some kids begin chucking water bottles at his booth, which puts him over the edge. He’s gone from commanding hype man to irritable babysitter in moments. “Stop fucking throwing shit!” he yells into the mic. The crowd begins to chant: “We want Juice! We want Juice!” The DJ spins OutKast’s “Hey Ya!,” which falls on deaf ears. “Reeeeeefund! Reeeeeefund!” the crowd yells in unison. One kid lets out a bloodcurdling scream: “Where the FUUUUUCK is Juice WRLD?!” He’s in a backward Vineyard Vines hat, standing next to a buddy who is sporting a Thrasher T-shirt and a cartoonishly large chain. Bare midri≠s are everywhere. This may be the DJ’s personal hellscape, but it’s a record label’s or an advertiser’s greatest fantasy: the place where frat boys and hypebeasts—many of them white—converge in a millennial–meets–Gen Z slush pile. In an earlier era, these kids might have been wearing puka-shell necklaces and vibing out in a field to Dave Matthews Band, but in 2018, they were rocking knocko≠ Supreme gear and listening to RapCaviar, where they are fed artists like Juice WRLD—a 20-year-old from the Chicago suburbs who stormed the charts last year with his melodic, angsty hybrid of rap and emo. As curfew draws closer, and part of the crowd is close to being lost altogether, Juice WRLD finally emerges onstage, bare-chested under an oversize leather vest. During the second song, the sound cuts out and Juice performs the first part of his set a cappella. By most standards this is a disaster, but Juice is able to turn it into a winning moment. He knows that these kids have every single word of his catalog memorized, and they will do this performance on his behalf. I’m in my black Benz / Doing cocaine with my black friends / We’ll be high as hell before the night ends, the crowd sings, triumphant. “A little technical di∞culty ain’t going to stop us from piping the fuck up,” Juice gloats. A year ago, not too many people knew who Juice WRLD was, but today nobody in the music business can have a conversation without bringing up his name and his rocket ship of a career. It doesn’t matter if he makes his audience impatient. He is proof that the SoundCloud rap movement—the wave of chaotic, DIY Internet stars who’ve overtaken the mainstream in unprecedented fashion over the past two years—is mutating faster than anyone can

8 4

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

really process. He arrived in early 2018, a lightly sanitized and seemingly fully formed version of his predecessors—a Post–Post Malone, if you will. In a matter of months, he went from being just another kid posting songs on SoundCloud to a major-label obsession. After a heated period of label courtship, he secured a widely reported $3 million deal with Interscope, a bet that was handsomely rewarded when his single “Lucid Dreams” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song interpolates Sting’s “Shape of my Heart,” and Sting has joked that royalties will “put my grandkids through college.” Juice racked up well over a billion streams on Spotify last year. He and his team are flush with cash, touring deals, the adoration of fans and peers alike. And he’s newly bestowed with the greatest luxury of all: the comfort of being able to make anyone—be it a label executive or an eager fan—wait for him. describe the music business as “feast or famine,” and currently it is on the delirious first course of a long-awaited feast. It can be di∞cult to remember what the hunger pangs felt like, but it was not so long ago that prospects for the industry, and hip-hop in particular, seemed dire. During the precarious post-recession transition from physical-record buying to streaming, hip-hop records accounted for less than 10 percent of the market. Trapped between a collapsing old infrastructure and the new prosperous surge of revenue, recording artists—let alone untested, troubled teenagers with a digital-native fan base—found it di∞cult to secure a lucrative deal. Budgets were slashed, label departments were shuttered, and the glory days of private jets and expensed meals at five-star restaurants became a fading memory. With the exception of tentpole releases from global superstars and EDM artists scoring Vegas residencies, much of the business hobbled along. “A lot of record labels went out of business; the major ones consolidated,” says Bob Celestin, the entertainment lawyer who’s been responsible for both the late XXXTentacion and Tekashi 6ix9ine, the viral New York rapper currently awaiting trial in a federal jail on racketeering and firearms charges. “Even as an attorney, it hurt. A lot of my colleagues quit or changed their areas of expertise.” INSIDERS LIKE TO

OPENING PAGES: IBL/SHUT TERSTOCK. THESE PAGES, FROM LEFT: SCOT T DUDELSON/GET T Y IMAGES; GARRE T T BRUCE; JANA KIRN; MATIAS J. OCNER /MIAMI HERALD/ TNS/GE T T Y IMAGES; ARMEN KELESHIAN.

РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

Flash forward to 2016, a year that kick-started a massive culture-wide shift in consumer appetites and industry trends. Only a year later, streaming would finally overtake physical distribution, which enabled a wily crop of young stars with huge online fan bases to storm the dilapidated castle. Bolstered by their ravenous fans, artists with preposterous images and lyrics about recreational prescription-drug habits were uploading brash, genre-blurring songs onto SoundCloud that would become runaway hits. XXXTentacion’s “Look at Me!”—a blunt, lo-fi rap-metal anthem that sounds like it was recorded on a cell phone from inside someone’s backpack—went from a cult favorite to a bona fide club smash. (Celestin remembers the first time he heard it: “I go on SoundCloud and I hear this record, and I’m like, This record’s not mixed. It’s not mixed! What is this?”) Rappers like Atlanta street savant 21 Savage and Philadelphia emorap curiosity Lil Uzi Vert managed to sign important deals with major labels, and revenues from merchandise, sponsorships, and live shows ballooned. By 2017, rappers like Lil Pump—an 18-year-old Miami native with a frowny-face tattoo between his eyebrows and the vocabulary of a drunk preschooler—were no longer risky. They were one of the quickest routes to prosperity. (Last year, Pump signed his second major deal, for a widely reported $8 million for a single album.) Lil Pump is signed to a management team called Tha Lights Global, a group that blurs the line between “influencing” and music, seeding songs through socialmedia stars. These days, the team strategically avoids following and liking anything it’s interested in on social media. “If I post [someone], the labels gon’ flock,” says Dooney Battle, Tha Lights Global’s co-founder. Tha Lights Global picked up Pump when he had about 10,000 subscribers on YouTube, and today he is one of the biggest and most irreverent acts on the planet. Run a Google search on Pump and you will find a trove of headlines that feel like outtakes from Justin Bieber’s epic 2014 run of mischief: “Lil Pump Just Got Arrested Live on Instagram After Swearing at Police.” (A representative for Lil Pump specified that he was detained at an airport.) “Now Lil Pump Is Out Here Pissing on British Banknotes.” “Lil Pump Sends Marijuana Balloon Into the Sky So God Can Smoke.” The team confesses that managing the unruly Pump comes with its challenges. “He just said to me, I wanna go and run and jump in the lake! I said to him, You do that, you gonna get sick like the last time,” Battle says. “It’s almost like he’s our kid, or we’re his big brother.” But it’s well worth it. “You know how hard it was two years ago for any artist in the world to hit the Billboard?” Battle asks. “Now you got 6ix9ine saying, I’m [gonna go] nine

for nine.… Look at the subscriber count on Spotify. It’s growing bigger and bigger. It’s not like CDs—once you build your subscriber base, there’s no stopping it.” If you haven’t listened to these kids, you have almost certainly seen memes depicting them in your Instagram feeds, poking fun at their signature ad-libs (“Aye!”) and candy-colored hair. As they overtook rap, and rap overtook the industry writ large, these gu≠awing, sometimes Xanax-loving teens suddenly seemed less like a passing threat to mainstream norms and… well, more like the mainstream. This shift sent a shock wave through the stunted, gaspingfor-air world of A&R. Because the music is doing so well, A&Rs have basically moved the money away from other genres. “At some point in the last two years, people were like, Oh, my God,” says Todd Moscowitz, the former CEO of Warner Bros. Records and one of the people who shepherded Gucci Mane—who, along with Lil Wayne, could be considered a grandfather to this scene—into superstardom. “You’re watching the Spotify and the Apple Charts and you’re like, Oh wow. Everything is hip-hop.” In 2016, Moscowitz launched a label called Alamo Records in the hopes of giving a platform to undersung, left-of-center artists. Whether intentional or not, Alamo has become a hub for the underground-cum-mainstream movement. Run more like a start-up than a corporate entity, Alamo is sta≠ed by employees who are almost all under 30; these kids have been plucked from places like Kanye’s Yeezy fashion line and the mischievous digital platform/clothing store Vfiles rather than exclusively from traditional record labels. The o∞ce is furnished with a giant television and gaming consoles, where artists are welcome to play Fortnite. The label’s head of A&R, Zeke Hirschberg, is only 25, a fact that seems like a liability but is in reality a secret weapon for an organization hoping to secure deals by courting fickle young people in the first flushes of fame. “People are watching those numbers go up and up and up. The prices are going up and up and up,” Moscowitz says. “The labels are more flush with cash. And record labels that were not focusing on urban music, all of a sudden are now,” Celestin explains. “Every artist that has a little bit of a buzz, they want to sign.” With such rising tides, and the wellspring of easily searchable metrics generated by the streaming machine, A&R’ing has become more like forecasting or day-trading. “Everybody thinks it’s Moneyball,” Moscowitz says. be real only once it has been given a buzzword, and it becomes really real when widespread use of that buzzword begins to (continued on page 93) A PHENOMENON CAN

Below, from left: Lil Pump, Juice WRLD, Matt Ox, XXXTentacion, and Trippie Redd.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

The guitar virtuoso and Internet savant also happens to have a bonkers clothing collection that ranges from hypetastic streetwear to hand-dyed Japanese kimonos. So we invited him to transport his archives to an L.A. photo studio, dress himself, and


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

1 I like the 1940s-man look. High-waisted, not at all worked out, a little meek—in the best way—no alpha-male vibes. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a tattoo sleeve. It just doesn’t work with a patterned short-sleeve button-up. Kind of kills the fantasy of it being an old picture. Those boots you see? They shine like that because they’ve been polished with the splashes of a thousand beers. I wore these every day back when I lived (and drank) in New York City, and they’re a perfect example of something getting so broken in they emerge a new kind of perfect. These are from 2009, the first version of the Visvim SevenHole ’73-Folk boot.

camp shirt (S/S ’19), Sublig Crew Tee, trousers (S/S ’19), suspenders, Seven-Hole ’73-Folk boots (2009) Visvim vintage Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” watch ref. 6263 Rolex

Pullover Track Jacket (6th collection) Fear of God Lhamo Robe (previous page), Sublig Crew Tee Visvim P23A-DS Cargo Drawcord Trouser (F/W ’17/’18) Acronym React Element 87 sneakers Nike Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar watch (early 1980s) Audemars Piguet necklace (previous page) Kapital

2 What Jerry Lorenzo has done with Fear of God’s sixth season is one of my favorite things to happen to artists: a total quantum leap. I just love that at any time, in the middle of a career journey, you can take such a giant step forward that you get a new day one. The older I get, the more I come to realize that’s all I’m in search of— the intensity of inspiration that usually comes and goes with your first project. I want it over and over and over again.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

3 You shouldn’t let fashion hurt your feelings. If it does, that’s a good indicator you’re taking it way too seriously. Anybody, at any time, should be allowed to wear whatever they like. Whether it works or not will be for their future self to make peace with. God knows I have a very well-documented history of attempts. Take a hat, for example. Do you know how many hats you have to wear before you find the one that actually works? Wearing bad hats is the only path to a good hat. I’m still trying to fail. I’d like to lose on an outfit one out of every ten times. Means I’m trying. Or I’m not. Did you see how my point just crumbled before me? That’s what happens when you try to apply too much thought to fashion.

SS 101 Jumbo Jacket (2018), Sublig Crew Tee, Brigadier Hi-Folk boots (2014), Border Blanket (2018) Visvim ALLS/C-AIO jumpsuit (2016) Neighborhood

SS 101 Jacket (2016), Veterans Pants (2019) Visvim t-shirt, vintage Blanket Folk boots (2011) Wabanaki Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watch ref. 5524G-001 Patek Philippe

4 The boots are 2011, and they’re my favorite boots ever made. I had three pairs, in different colorways. The first, I wore the treads out on. The second, I gave to my friend Don Was, who produced an album we were working on. The third, I had to break out last year. What good is keeping something on ice if you’re sure you’ll wear it down into dust? That’s the fun of this. Don’t baby your stuff. Wear it. I’d rather see something worn for three years straight than brand-new and with one scuff on the side. A thousand scuffs makes a new kind of smooth. This red suede jacket is one of my favorites. I’m not usually a red guy, but it’s done so right in this case. I like to write my name in Sharpie on the labels of pieces I know I’m going to have forever. It’s my way of telling myself to make sure to beat it up, because it’s staying with me for the whole ride. This one says MAYER on the label, like I might lose it at camp.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

8 9


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

The Music Issue

5

Ultrasuede Shirt Jacket Fear of God

Wearing Fear of God over Visvim is a great way of removing it from its own visual context. I know going head-to-toe FoG isn’t for me. It might not be for anyone. FoG pieces are like pictures that come in the frame when you buy them. You’re supposed to put your own life inside of them. The more influences you can take in, and the finer you can chop up each one into tiny particles, the better you can re-form your own take on things. I see guitar playing that way. Don’t copy the objects— copy the atoms that make up the objects. That doesn’t mean I’m not a Visvim completist. I am. But as you’ll see, I’m mixing years inside of the same brand as opposed to many brands from this year. The shoes are from 2009. The pants are 2019. I know the model year of each item I have. That’s not the kind of mind-set most people have for clothes collecting. But Visvim is different that way. I might be different that way, too.

necklace Kapital

9 0

G Q . C O M

vest (S/S ’19), Sublig Crew Tee, Veterans Pants (2019), Jaipur Hi-Hickory sneakers (2009) Visvim

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

Yukata Coat (2018), Sublig Crew Tee Visvim Slappy Shirt (2018) Kapital Maha Boro Cargo Track Pants (2018) Maharishi Air Fear of God 1 sneakers Nike x Fear of God necklace Nonnative

6 I’ll come clean with you: I’m not exactly sure how a gearhead is supposed to dress in their 40s. Streetwear culture is only now seeing people who were a part of the scene in their 20s enter their 40s and 50s. I think, like all things when it comes to personal style, it’s guess and check. This is my best guess at a setup that feels like me but with an eye to the future. The comically oversize Kapital shirt looks normal inside of the robe of the same length. They’re sneakers, but they’re Fear of God Nikes, which is a brilliant evolution of a basketball shoe that a guy my age can wear. If I had any discipline whatsoever, I would make this my baseline look. But that would be too easy. I’m not looking to win the game by ten points. I’m a buzzer-beater guy.


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

7 My many uses for a robe: 1. Robe, as directed 2. Blanket/personal tent on an airplane 3. Pillow in the back of an SUV 4. Blanket on a hotel bed 5. Photo background Everyone scratches their head about my wearing a robe until they try mine on. Then they understand completely. It’s a jacket, but it’s more laid-back. It’s a tent you can hang out inside of as you go about your day. It’s a security blanket of sorts. I still haven’t explained it perfectly, because I can’t. You just have to try one on that fits you right. Then you want it to take through your day like a companion.

Yukata Coat (2018) Visvim

J46-FO 2L Coat (2018), 3A-SR1 Third Arm Suspensor Harness, S8-C Object Dyed Tank Top (S/S ’15), NG9-PS Modular Zippered Neck Gaiter, P23A-DS Cargo Drawcord Trouser (F/W ’17/’18) Acronym Jumbo Tee, Cordura 20L backpack (2018) Visvim Air Vapormax Moc 2 x Acronym sneakers Nike x Acronym hair and grooming by david cox for kevin murphy.

8 I have an insane appreciation for Acronym, especially how Errolson Hugh has steered his brand’s ship over the last ten years. He stays so true to the mission. My interaction with Acronym pieces is a little different. I never talked to Errolson about this, but I think there’s like ten percent cosplay in what he creates. These pieces are so architectural that you don’t wear them as much as you showcase them. Acronym is the ultimate world-tour wardrobe. The modularity of the pieces makes them a bit like tactical gear, and it can be very motivating to pack up for a tour of Europe as if you’re heading into some kind of battle. Which touring very much can be. It’s you versus the calendar.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

9 1


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

S O BER M USI CIAN S What’s the best advice you’ve received along the way? WALSH: Number one: Don’t drink drunk. Don’t try to tell yourself a story that only you would believe.

I know nobody knows Where it comes, where it goes I know it’s everyone’s sin You got to lose to know how to win….

HARPER:

One of my friends was honest enough to tell me: You will never not think with your addict brain. It will never go all the way away. And you can learn how to interact with it, and you can make peace with it, and you can identify it and control it.

The voice that wrote that song was a little bit smarter than the guy that broke the pencil.

BAKER:

C O N T I N U E D F RO M PAG E 6 7

It oscillates. I’ll feel very healthy and very well-rounded and like I’m being very productive, and I don’t feel like I’m in danger of not being sober anymore. And there are other times where it’ll be a particularly dark week, or things in my personal life will be di∞cult or challenging and it feels like the negative and destructive behaviors or impulses begin to sort of creep back up through the lizard brain. But I don’t necessarily fear that part of myself anymore. ANASTASIO: Not really, no, but I’m respectful of

the power that I’m up against. And it saddens me deeply when I see situations happen… other people in my field, for example, musicians who for some reason forgot what they were up against and ended up dead. Which just happened about four times in the last year. And in all of those cases, I knew it was happening. It’s a small community. People were talking about stu≠ before Tom Petty died. It’s devastating. And the only reason I said that about him is because I adore him and I wish he was alive until he was 90. He’s an American treasure. He’s the kind of musician who could’ve been like Doc Watson or Johnny Cash—old, sitting on a chair, singing those songs. Have you ever relapsed? SMITH: I guess technically my first shot at it, around the last record, was an extended period of relapse. And that’s part of my story. But since really turning my life over to the program, et cetera, I have not. WALSH: Never. I was done. It helps a lot if you’re

done. No. I smoked weed for the very first time when I was 28. And I smoke weed occasionally. But it’s really not an issue. It’s like something I would do like once a month if I’m making music or if I’m in the studio or it’s around. But it’s really not a thing in my life. I’m not addicted to it, I don’t buy it. I don’t have it around. And also it’s natural, and it has so many healing properties. I did drink red wine once, about four years ago—a one-night thing for Halloween, for my best friend’s birthday, and it was awful. I got allergic to it—I couldn’t even open my eyes for a week. It’s the last time I drank. SOKO:

Oh, sure I have, yeah. I had some operations, and I had my own medication, I kept it by the bed, I broke up with my girlfriend…and there’s the recipe. Booyah.

ANASTASIO: TYLER:

Surrender, and ask for help.

Don’t pick that—it’ll get infected.

Do you miss anything about how you used to be? SMITH: [laughs wryly] No. Not anymore, but there was a period of adjustment. There was a time, three or four years in, where I thought I had lost my mojo. I had lived my life with reckless abandon to great e≠ect—just pushing every boundary that was in front of me. If there was a fence, I’m gonna step over it. And then to be in this thing where if you jump over the fence, you wake up in a blue suit. In a cell. It kind of turned me into a cautious person. I was really nervous and scared about everything for a while. I would drive the car at 49 miles an hour, with nothing in the car, and still think I was going to get pulled over and yanked out of my life by some authority figure. Sober people around me kept reminding me “More will be revealed” and “Just keep going,” “Don’t quit till the miracle happens,” and all those sayings they have. And lo and behold, they were right. I thought my mojo was gone, but you find a new kind of mojo. ANASTASIO:

How has being sober affected what you can and can’t create? WALSH: I tried for maybe two years to sit down and write a song—I had never written sober. And this little voice in my head would say, “Well, you know what works…just get a little buzz.” That was always my justification: Could Hendrix have played like that if he wasn’t in outer space? I don’t think he could have. Could Hemingway have written those amazing stories if he wasn’t an alcoholic? And that was not an option, so I would have to put down the guitar and walk away. If I never wrote anything again, that was going to have to be okay. Once I decided that, I had this big sigh of relief. And about four months later, I wrote a song. When your brain is hyper-focused on one thing, creativity just goes out of the window. Now I think about music a lot, I listen to music a lot. I enjoy music, I enjoy making music. And that was something I had lost sight of. SMITH:

TYLER:

9 2

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

I’ve gone through ebbs and flows in answering that question. There are stages of life that I went through, and I wouldn’t trade any of it. There was some music that was written after staying up all night on a beach in Greece, tripping on acid with a bunch of friends and writing two of the biggest Phish songs of the repertoire when the sun came up. And there was other stu≠ that happened in the last ten years that’s been equally great. ANASTASIO:

I’ve always answered that question with: It gave me more time to work, and more focus. And that’s most certainly true. But that’s not the whole answer. I think sobering up gave me a story to tell. And the story was still happening. I was still in the middle of it. So the fact that I just dove headfirst into my work gave me an opportunity to actually document, in real time, the changes that I was going through. And luckily I had the technical ability as a songwriter to do that in a way that sort of let everybody in on what I was dealing with, the questions that I was trying to answer. And, you know, it made my career happen. It gave me everything, really, that I have now. The songs aren’t all about sobriety. Most of them aren’t at all about sobriety. But in a way, they are all about that. Because to get sober and stay that way, I think you have to understand what part that plays in your life. It’s all so very closely intertwined, that if I’m writing about driving to the grocery store, I’m writing about sobriety. If I’m writing about my relationship with my wife, I’m writing about sobriety. If I’m writing about something that happened in the 1860s in Texas, I’m writing about my sobriety. ISBELL:

What do you think would have happened if you’d carried on as you were? SMITH: I’d be dead, certainly. Well, I didn’t have any liver damage yet, so if I hadn’t have been in a car accident, I probably could have maintained for quite a few years. And I would probably have been a struggling songwriter and touring musician, and probably would have thought that my music was just going over everybody’s head. Or I was born too late: all these excuses that people give when your work is not quite strong enough or when they don’t work hard enough or aren’t able to focus. And I would have just kept on drinking and kept on ruining relationships. I don’t think I would have my wife and my daughter, and I certainly wouldn’t have a big pile of Grammys and all that kind of shit. ISBELL:

TYLER:

Believe it or not, I wrote “Dream On” as high as can be. And if I’d have only just listened to the lyrics in that song:

Well, I’d be dead by now.

TYLER:

Probably something very bad would have happened. I don’t know if I would ANASTASIO:


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

S O B E R MUS I C I A N S C O N T I NUE D

S O U N D C LO U D R AP

have survived, and that scares me about a hundredth as much as.… The worst thing of all.… It’s hard for me to talk about this, especially in a magazine.… But I did get arrested in a car, which is horrible to think about. If anything gives me nightmares, it’s that I could have hit somebody. And the jails are full of people who did, and they’re just like me. They’re not bad people. People who made a horrible mistake and can’t take it back. I just got lucky. C O N T I N U E D F RO M PAG E 8 5

I’m just a much more joyful, aware person than I was then. I’m more confident, and I don’t have so many things to be ashamed of or afraid of. And I’m surrounded by people who I genuinely feel care about me. Plus, you know, I can go for a walk with my wife and not be sweaty and out of breath after 15 minutes, so that’s nice, too. ISBELL:

HARPER: I love to skateboard, and I take skate-

boarding very seriously. I’ve been going for one trick for almost three years, and I finally, a year-plus into sobriety, just landed the trick three days ago. It’s called a fakie laser flip. You’re rolling backwards, and you popshove the board 360 while throwing a heel flip, going backwards. When you work that hard for a move and you land it, you really do, for a moment, feel some semblance of perfection that is indescribable. I filmed it, and I’ve probably watched it on my iPhone more times than fans have watched a YouTube video. If I was still drinking—even a couple of drinks before bed—I wouldn’t have landed it. I’m grateful. One of the first things I think about when I wake up is: I’m alive. I’m under a roof. SMITH:

I’m grateful that I didn’t die, and I’m grateful that I didn’t hit someone in a car. I think about it every day. ANASTASIO:

WALSH: My life has got better beyond my wildest imagination. SOKO: I

feel like self-care is now finally a cool thing. When before, it was like you’re a freak. BAKER: When I went to a punk show and saw a bunch of un-famous people singing into a microphone, it made me believe that I could do that, too. When those people told me they were sober in a culture where casual binge drinking and drug use [is common], it became a viable reality. I think there’s so much value in reminding people that they can change the trajectory of their lives.

The important thing is to know that there is a way out. And the life at the other end of that is a beautiful life. Everything bad turns into an incredible gift. If people can find the way out. But I sympathize with how hard it is and how hopeless it seems. ANASTASIO:

WALSH: I can’t say this to you in ink. I can pencil

it in: I know I’m good today. chris heath is a gq correspondent.

piss o≠ the people most closely connected to it. The term “SoundCloud rap” is one of these things—a description so ubiquitous that it has come to feel like ad-agency shorthand, like “hipster” or “millennial.” Artists and labels are sick of this term, and for good reason. For one, it’s no longer an accurate descriptor, given that most of the artists we’re discussing hardly have the opportunity to actually use the DIY streaming platform before they’re snatched up by one of the aforementioned A&Rs. But for the sake of this story, they’re absurdists with inventive names who might be more likely to worship Kurt Cobain and Marilyn Manson than Jay-Z or Biggie. Unlike with conventional street-oriented rap, many of them prefer to take drugs rather than sell them; they tend to wallow ostentatiously in their success instead of glorifying it. Lots of them are obsessed with using FaceTime. Many will insist they cannot be boxed in, but many also have some unmistakable commonalities: They like face tattoos and short dyed dreadlocks and braids. Adam Grandmaison ticks only a couple of these boxes—the face tattoos and the thirst for mischief—but he has become, nonetheless, one of the SoundCloud scene’s most revered figureheads. It used to be that labels would find artists, and then the labels would be responsible for shaping the artists’ images and bringing them to the world via radio stations and formal album rollouts. Now the artists themselves have the reins, and they are likely to find an audience through their own social-media platforms, or through an unconventional kingmaker like Grandmaison. Grandmaison, a white 35-year-old former fulltime BMX blogger, runs a tiny merch and bike shop called ONSOMESHIT on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. This shop has become an unlikely nerve center for this moment, thanks to Grandmaison’s dogged documentation of the movement on his podcast, No Jumper. For three years, in a small recording studio in the back of his shop, Grandmaison has been conducting long, unwieldy interviews with SoundCloud rappers during their earliest moments of notoriety. If No Jumper is the scene’s Inside the Actors Studio, Grandmaison is James Lipton, and being invited to sit with him on-camera will guarantee that you will, at the very least, catch the attention of many of his 2.4 million YouTube-channel subscribers and plenty of labels. He succeeds by canvasing the entire underground and getting in early with as many rappers as possible. When these artists blow up—which may be only mere months or weeks after he interviews them—they often have a sense of loyalty and gratitude toward Grandmaison, someone who

gave them an early shot. For this reason, he says, he’s still in touch with stars like Lil Pump, Trippie Redd, and Juice WRLD, even after they’ve graduated from his league. He says he used to spend many hours on FaceTime with XXXTentacion. When I visit the No Jumper studio, I know that I’m in the right place from a block away. The rain has not deterred a line of excitable kids forming outside Grandmaison’s store. Tonight he’s trying something new: He’s made an open call to his followers to show up and earn the chance to appear on his live stream. Later, the rapper Skinnyfromthe9 will be at a party for his new album, and the adrenaline is flowing. The kids flooding the store are dancing, vaping, shrieking, and Snapchatting while trying their hardest to catch a glimpse of Grandmaison, who is sequestered behind the door of his studio. In this mythic back room, boxes of No Jumper merch are piled by the walls, and on top of one rests a blue-framed photo of XXXTentacion, the 20-year-old singer and rapper whose hit single “SAD!” reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts the week following his untimely death in June of last year. (After he was gunned down outside a motorcycle dealership, his funeral was held in the Florida Panthers’ 20,000-seat hockey arena.) Fans and industry insiders refer to him simply as “X.” In the morning, Grandmaison likes to wake up and “just go crazy on social media” before coming to the shop and spending the afternoon conducting interviews. By evening, he’s typically posted dozens of pieces of content and on some days is ready to live stream—an endeavor that might sound ridiculous but has significant impact on the No Jumper business, because fledgling young rappers will send him between $75 and $200 “donations” to play their songs. His plans for this evening’s live stream? “We have a girl who’s supposed to show up who’s famous on Instagram for having a really long tongue.” Grandmaison likes to call No Jumper a “media company,” which is not an exaggeration. It’s an LLC with eight full-time employees. On the day I visit, there’s an armed security guard securing the front door. At the time, Grandmaison also had his own deal with Atlantic Records, who he said were hoping he’d become DJ Khaled for the SoundCloud set. Last year, he put out “Hard,” featuring Tay-K and BlocBoy JB. The music video currently has more than 18 million views on YouTube. He’d recently met a promising young kid from Staten Island and expressed interest in signing him to the Atlantic venture. He floated the idea of uploading one of the rapper’s videos to his own channels, he said, but the label advised him to hold o≠, given the excess of competition. “They were like, ‘We don’t want every other label to realize that we’re interested,’ ” he remembers. There was a live stream that Grandmaison recalls in particular: “At the end of it, I looked at what the total was [from donations], and it was like 20 grand.… I was like, Wow, that’s fucked up. This feels really weird that this is working out this way.” Grandmaison pops his head out the door of the studio and is greeted by a swarm of kids in camouflage pants and Supreme.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

9 3


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

S O U ND CLO U D R AP C O NT I NUE D

“Adam! Adam!” they squeal, asking for pictures. A group of young kids giddily pose with Grandmaison, and within 30 seconds I get a notification that someone has AirDropped the photo to the entire room. “I’m a bit overwhelmed,” Grandmaison says, hustling toward the door to his studio, “by all this attention.” Much as Grandmaison courts attention, incessantly broadcasting himself, he has also come to be wary of it. In his early days, he could interview artists with abandon and not worry about how the turns of the conversations could impact his business. When he interviewed X in 2016, during No Jumper’s infancy, X regaled him with the tale of bludgeoning his “faggot” cellmate while in jail. Grandmaison chortled nervously and furrowed his brow. Today that interview—one of the only in-depth public discussions with X before his passing—has about 10 million views. Grandmaison is beginning to feel an increasing sense of responsibility for these interviews, and he’s begun to appear in a smaller portion of No Jumper’s core content as the business grows, gradually outsourcing some of the interviews to employees. He feels a new sense of heat, particularly because he’s been wrapped up in some of the same troubling patterns as some of the artists he covers: Last year, he made headlines when he was accused in the press of rape and sexual harassment, claims he vigorously denies. During my November visit, I asked him how, or if, these allegations have impacted his work. “I think they’ve certainly impacted my business in ways I’m not aware of…o≠ers that don’t come my way,” he said. “But I’ve been pretty amazed by how the rap community has continued to embrace me, especially the fans.” “Whether it’s about the #MeToo movement, everything is about storytelling. And if you’re able to o≠er a compelling counter-narrative,” he said in November, “then that’s kind of what it’s all about.” (Grandmaison’s deal with Atlantic ended in early December, in the wake of these accusations. “It wasn’t really based around any of the accusations,” he said in a video after the news broke. But, he added, “I won’t deny that it made Atlantic kind of uncomfortable.” Atlantic did not respond to requests for comment.)

in Los Angeles, a few weeks after the Juice WRLD show, a group of music-industry glitterati has gathered at the Sunset Tower Hotel for Variety’s second-annual Hitmakers brunch, an event held to honor the songwriters and producers behind the biggest hits of the year. Industry executives, managers, producers, and artists are rubbing elbows with one another—among them O≠set of Migos; Drake’s right-hand man, Noah “40” Shebib; Kris Jenner’s boyfriend, Corey Gamble; and U.K. pop export Dua Lipa. The crowd is schmoozy and intimate, sipping complimentary gin cocktails and mimosas. The spirit of the room is friendly and jubilant. One glaring absence in the crowd is Adam Levine, the Maroon 5 frontman who appears on the cover of Variety’s Hitmakers issue. Another slightly less conspicuous absence is the late XXXTentacion. The di≠erences between him and the preening, palatable O N A S AT U R D AY A F T E R N O O N

9 4

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

Levine o≠er a snapshot of just how drastically the definition of “music royalty” has shifted over the past decade. Born Jahseh Onfroy, XXXTentacion rode a career marked by unprecedented popularity and fan loyalty as well as a near constant torrent of scandal. As Onfroy blew up, in 2016, thanks to a song called “Look at Me!,” he was behind bars on charges of aggravated battery against a pregnant woman. His live shows were often marred—and bolstered—by chaos that sometimes edged into violent territory. After he died, a gruesome confessional tape was released, on which he discussed having committed brutal acts that would disqualify most people from a job at a supermarket. But for Onfroy and his handlers, the train had left the station at record-breaking speed, and nothing—not the brutal allegations, labelhopping, or even death—could stop it. Here to represent XXXTentacion are his manager, a baby-faced 29-year-old New Yorker named Solomon Sobande; an even babierfaced 24-year-old producer who went to N.Y.U. named John Cunningham; and Onfroy’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard. Donning a rosegold one-shouldered jumpsuit and a perfectly smooth coif, Bernard looks younger than her 38 years. (Unwitting parties who’d see her with Onfroy while he was alive would often mistake her for his girlfriend.) At one point during the event, Bernard poses for photos with O≠set and his mother, beaming. In interviews with X, he used to say that he would start trouble as a kid to get the attention of his mother. Bernard now lives in a gated community in Florida, where she can hide from the fans who are still looking to somehow get closer to him, even after his death. “Generation X,” she calls them. Every emerging rap star has a constellation of adults surrounding him—managers, A&Rs, family members, and hangers-on, who are tasked with attempting to mold, shape, and manage their unruliest impulses. All of them are getting a percentage, and it is in their best interest to maximize the size of the pie. In the early days of X’s career, when he was still behind bars, he’d spend his days taking phone calls and visits from these adults. One was Sobande, a hungry music manager who sensed that X’s career was about to skyrocket. “At first he was very apprehensive. I would beat him down, call him every day,” Sobande says. “I remember other people were trying to manage him, and I was like, Yo, bro, I’ll take half. Ten percent. I don’t even care. I just want to be involved.” Once X relented, Sobande recruited Celestin to negotiate the label deals, which were challenging given the size of the potential and the deeply troubling allegations in the media. Many labels told Sobande they weren’t comfortable signing someone with such a dark cloud following him around. “But I know those people are choking on their words now,” Sobande says. “I know they didn’t mean those things in the first place—they were just trying to be self-righteous about some shit they didn’t understand.” Despite the skepticism from some of the major labels, Sobande and Celestin continued to sign massive deals with multiple labels. In 2017, they worked out a deal with Caroline Records, which had been facilitated through Elliot Grainge, the 25-year-old son of Universal

Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge, who had also signed Trippie Redd and 6ix9ine to his own label. Even after Spotify temporarily removed X’s music from its playlists, citing a new “hateful conduct” policy, there were labels willing to scoop him up. For X’s third album, Sobande turned to Empire’s Ghazi Shami, who released his debut album and furnished him this time with a reported $10 million one-album deal. (Shami declined to comment for this story.) Kendrick Lamar’s team also rushed to X’s defense, allegedly threatening to pull his music from Spotify if it did not roll back the policy. When the Variety event wraps, Sobande, Cunningham, and Bernard huddle outside by the valet station on Sunset Boulevard. They discuss the prospect of applying for memberships to Soho House. Bernard is doubtful about her chances. “I’m not technically part of the entertainment industry,” she says, in her light Jamaican accent. “Well, technically, you are part of the entertainment industry,” Cunningham tells her, o≠ering up his suit jacket when she laments how chilly the air is. Bernard is the executor of X’s estate, and everyone around her is deferential. They pile into Sobande’s rented Mercedes in search of a late lunch. Soul music wafts from the radio. “What is this, and why are we listening to it?” Bernard asks. The rest of the crew laugh and then launch into an analysis of her son’s popularity on radio. L.A. radio has been much more hospitable to his hit singles than Miami radio was, Bernard observes. “They blur out ‘suicide’ on ‘SAD!’ on pop radio,” Cunningham says. “I didn’t even know that was a curse word.” The following week, the team will release Skins, Onfroy’s first posthumous album as XXXTentacion. A lavish party is thrown during Art Basel in Miami. There’s only one other rapper featured on the album. “Our good friend Mr. Kanye West,” Sobande says. “What I realized, there’s like two songs where he’s cussing on this new album,” Cunningham says. (In fact, four are marked as “explicit.”) “The new album is clean. I didn’t realize it.” “And that’s why it shouldn’t be a problem getting a lot of radio play, right?” Bernard asks. “There’s a lot of factors,” Cunningham says. “He’s already getting a good amount, I think a tremendous amount, especially from where we were before,” Sobande explains. “I think this will definitely get a lot of radio play.” “I heard [‘SAD!’] like ten times yesterday,” Bernard says. “Every time I’m in the car here, I hear him.” “I gotta start listening to the radio,” Cunningham says, laughing. I note that O≠set’s first solo album is supposed to be released on December 14, leaving a clear window for the XXXTentacion project to dominate the charts. (Indeed, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart.) “We don’t worry about other people,” Solomon protests. “They should be worried about us.”

for a brief digression on face tattoos, a subject of great amusement for the general public, even those who have never heard a Lil Pump song. Face tattoos are to SoundCloud rappers what flannels were N O W I S F I N A L LY T H E T I M E


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

S O U ND CLO U D R A P C O N T INU E D

to the grunge movement, or what Swarovski crystals were to disco. XXXTentacion had the words “Bad Vibes” tattooed on his eyelids. For the late emo-rap phenom Lil Peep, it was “Crybaby” in giant cursive above his right eye. Post Malone has a slightly less literal face tattoo—an exquisitely sketched piece of barbed wire just below his hairline—along with the words “Always Tired” inked under his eyes. Lil Xan has the words “ZZZ,” “Lover,” “Candy,” and “Soldier.” You may know what Tekashi 6ix9ine has inked on his mug, many times over. Face tattoos are funny, but they are heavy freak flags to fly: They telegraph to the world that someone has willingly disqualified himself from the prospect of a conventional career forever. “To them, but also even to me, somehow it makes me take them a little bit more seriously,” Grandmaison says. “It’s like, Oh, I guess you’re really in this, huh?” Five years ago, a young kid from New York named Daniel Hernandez had zero face tattoos. A woman named Debra Weinstein snapped a photo of him on the street because she was amused by his outfit—a black-andwhite sweatsuit with a shirt that read “Pussy” on the front and “Eater” and the number 69 on the back. After he’d become Tekashi 6ix9ine and a global, charting superstar with multiple face tattoos, he’d scaled that passerby’s fascination into a worldwide obsession. As his star rose, he became enmeshed— or trapped—within a vortex of escalating incidents and controversies. What had initially seemed like pure SoundCloud rap hijinks—taunting his foes on social media and boasting about his gangster a∞liations— became very real. While scheduling to interview him in the fall, I got a taste of the chaos that seemed to follow him everywhere he went. I met his label guy, Elliot Grainge, at a hearing related to a previous charge of “use of a child in a sexual performance,” from a video posted on Instagram in 2015. He originally pleaded guilty, but his sentencing was adjourned until a long-awaited hearing in November. The judge let 6ix9ine go with four months’ probation and a thousand hours of community service, but within hours, at a dinner held for 6ix9ine and Grainge, a shooting broke out. Weeks later, he was arrested on the aforementioned racketeering and firearms charges, and he’s currently awaiting trial in a federal jail. I stopped hearing from Grainge. One night, about a month later, I met the rapper Trippie Redd—one of 6ix9ine’s long-standing nemeses, who also happens to be signed to Grainge’s label—backstage at Madison Square Garden. He was opening for Travis Scott and sick with strep throat after spending the previous night at the strip club. (A week later, he would quit the tour.) His voice was hoarse, and he would not move from a fully reclined position on the couch. He seemed genuinely ill, but that had not prevented him from spending part of his performance attempting to re-light his blunt. Trippie started getting face tattoos in 2015, just before his star began to rise, and now has several, including the words “Love Scars” and the number 14 between his eyebrows. Grasping for something to say to an ailing, insolent 19-year-old who just wanted to get the

hell out of there, I asked him about his tattoos and made the obvious joke that he would never be able to get an o∞ce job. Suddenly he grew serious, and he sprang upright. “I don’t need to have an o∞ce job,” he said. “I’ll buy the damn o∞ce.”

hard time for no other reason but adolescence. To recognize that, like, Yes, Matt, we think you’re a genius, but…” Matt interjects. “I know how powerful my brain is, and nobody can’t take that from me,” he says.

who does not yet have a face tattoo is Matt Ox. This is because he’s 14 years old and must legally heed the wishes of his 29-year-old mother, Laurel, who has advised him to wait until he’s 18. Which is not to say that Laurel is a prude, because she will let Matthew, as she calls him, express himself how he pleases. He started rapping seriously two years ago, at the age of 12, and caught the attention of a few local Philly blogs and producers. They would send cash to his mom’s PayPal for features. “They were like, Yo, Matt, why is it a lady’s picture on your PayPal? He’s like, That’s my mom,” Laurel says. Laurel used to work as a teacher, but now she is pouring most of her energy into her son’s career, along with a carousel of producers, management, and a stylist who is here with Matt at a studio in Philadelphia, the same night as the Juice WRLD show. Technically, Laurel says, he’s not a stylist—just a “friend who helps him with shopping and stu≠.” If you want a sense of just how fast this world is moving, consider that 14-yearold Matt Ox is already on the second go-round of his career, and his management team is already trying to learn from its mistakes. Matt Ox broke out in 2017 with “Overwhelming,” a candied-out little song with a video that prominently featured fidget spinners just as they were becoming a craze. His DMs lit up with messages from all kinds of peers. 21 Savage messaged him, he tells me. So did Metro Boomin and Meek Mill. “They just saw a little white boy who could make some money,” Matt says with a level of disillusionment that betrays his 14 years. Eventually he inked a lucrative deal with Warner Bros., but a month later, then CEO Cameron Strang resigned. One of his managers, a 30-year-old Philadelphia native named Finesse, who cut his teeth in the business around the Roots, worked to dissolve the deal so that they could sign a new one with Motown Records, which released Matt’s first record late last year. Now he has the same publicist who worked with Nirvana at Sub Pop during the grunge heyday. The following month, he would be one of the featured performers at the XXXTentacion album-release party in Miami. As with many of the closest alliances formed in this era, the two had never met in person but consistently connected over FaceTime. “We wanted to establish him early as a real artist, and not just the fidget-spinner kid,” Finesse says. “You used to put fidget spinners in my videos!” Matt argues. “I keep myself away from a lot of that.” “I treat this like basketball, and he’s my star player. We have to figure out what plays he wants to run and how,” Finesse says. “We’re all pretty understanding that he’s still growing,” Laurel says. “All right, maybe he’s acting this way, or maybe he’s having a

A UNIVERSAL TRUTH

ONE SOUND CLOUD R APPER

is that every boom has its bust. But when I float the possibility that this cash machine will eventually stop running, I am met with uniform protest from A&Rs, from managers and festival founders and entertainment lawyers. We are in the midst of such a momentous, prosperous wave that it’s almost impossible to envision the end. They do make a compelling argument: After all, hip-hop is not behaving exactly like disco or EDM did. It’s not an isolated phenomenon the way other genres in the past have been. It’s digesting every other genre and subculture and spitting it out in a new, blustering format. In some ways, it’s simply become too big to fail. But even if the tides of taste do not bring the demise of this moment, and even if Internet-friendly hip-hop is nimble enough to stay ahead of the pace, the hazards are real. There is all this money being thrown around, all of this speculative cash being poured into the pockets of teenagers who don’t always grasp what’s going on. The industry is churning so quickly that casualties are already piling up, both metaphorically and literally. At lunch in Los Angeles, X’s team reflects on the shifts that have occurred within the business since the rapper’s passing. They were able to secure his placement on a Lil Wayne song in a Spider-Man movie, though they say he will be listed as the less recognizable Jahseh Onfroy, not XXXTentacion, in the film’s credits. “There are the people where it’s very, very clear that the only reason they’re talking to us now is…,” Cunningham, the hit-making producer for XXXTentacion says, trailing o≠. “I mean, his death did make the music that much bigger. There are people who see that and want to capitalize on it.” X’s manager, Sobande, spent as much time with him as anyone, trailing him on his over-the-top tours, a period which Sobande describes as “some of the most exciting and frightening times” of his life. In many instances, he felt like he was in over his head. They’d get death threats on social media before shows. “He was like, ‘You scared, bro? Then don’t come,’ ” Sobande remembers. “I would spend most of the time at shows begging the fire marshal not to cancel it.” This team describes the day of X’s death as the worst of their lives, but they also feel an obligation—and a renewed sense of freedom—in their mission to carry his music forward. “What can we do to make him the biggest? What’s good for his legacy?” Sobande asks. “At the end of the day, we’re keeping the lights on.” carrie battan is a sta≠ writer for ‘The New Yorker’ and a contributor to gq. Her last piece for this magazine was a profile of Zayn Malik in the July 2018 issue.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

9 5


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

D O N S OF DI S C O

C O N T I N U E D F RO M PAG E 4 5

Instagram comments, and national radio interviews, and which he tends to express with an impressive, almost poetic specificity. “Needle dick” is one of his preferred insults. For years he’s been preoccupied with the notion that Tom bought the exact same Porsche as he did in 1989. On Facebook, he’s called Tom “envious and troubled,” a “clown,” a “brown-noser with no personality,” a “small penis man,” a “Coward!” “You should be ashamed that you sold your voice,” he’s written. “You are clumsy and you have a bad energy as you are a bad person.” A few weeks after writing “I would put your head in your butt for real,” Stefano threatened Tom, saying, “I know where you live. I will come to Vegas and kick your flaccid ass.” Tom’s two daughters were 5 and 6 at the time, and the threat to his family infuriated him. Tom insisted to me that he wasn’t actually scared but then added, “I don’t know—maybe he has some guys around!” Tom would like to forgive Stefano—for the lying and the insults and the threats of violence. Maybe there was a time that would have been possible, but it seems unlikely. And maybe, if Stefano had actually seen the film, Dons of Disco, he would have felt more secure in his own legacy, knowing that a young American, a guy with no firsthand memory of Den Harrow and no motivations apart from his own curiosity, found him to be smart and sympathetic and worthy of respect. He would have realized that he wasn’t portrayed as a villain but as a surprisingly articulate victim with sophisticated ideas about himself and Tom and what they had made, all those years ago, together.

before Los Angeles went up in flames this past fall, Jonny was pacing around the Norwegian Air lounge at LAX. He’d finished editing the film earlier in the month, and now it was time to start actually showing it to people. But already he was worried that his newly minted career as a documentary director might be in the early stages of combustion. In just a few minutes, he would board a 12-hour flight to Italy, where Dons of Disco was to premiere at the Rome Film Festival. A couple of hours earlier, but already the following day in Spain, a 56-year-old Milanese man living in Malaga posted 15 pathos-ridden paragraphs on Jonny’s Facebook page. He spoke of “mercenar[ies],” “senseless polemic,” and “pathological obsess[ion],” a “magical and unrepeatable” past and the “mystifications of those consumed by unreasonable envy.” The whole thing had a late–Mario Puzo feel. In the penultimate paragraph, he wrote, “I will sue J U ST A F E W W E E KS

9 6

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

Jonathan Sutah [sic] for fraud and copyright infringement.” It was signed, 17 lines later, “Stefano Zandri, aka Den Harrow.” “Goddammit,” Jonny muttered. He called his lawyers and his translator. Together they drafted a response, which they would send to the organizers of the Rome Film Festival as a kind of pre-emptive defense against any attempts by Stefano to censor the film. Jonny had all the releases signed; he had Stefano—on-camera!—agreeing to everything in no uncertain terms. But then again, why would a film festival ever expose itself to even a modicum of legal risk, all to protect the creative vision of an unknown first-time director from halfway around the world? Better safe than sorry. When Jonny landed in Rome, it was the following day but the exact same temperature it had been in Los Angeles. The organizers hadn’t responded to his e-mail. There was nothing he could do but wait and hope that Stefano didn’t pull any career-damaging shenanigans. He checked into his hotel, tried and failed to nap, ate some pasta, spent a crappy night not sleeping. The next day, Jonny met up with Tom and his wife, who had arrived straight from Las Vegas, for an alfresco lunch by the Spanish Steps. The conversation was sprightly and skippered mostly by Tom, with brief, unbid-

Tom signed some records, pleased with the belated acknowledgment, and shook his head. “To be a fan of a mime,” he said, “you have to be a pretty weird kind of guy.” den diversions for self-defense demonstrations. Waiters deposited plates of arancini on the table with great ceremony; bambini wailed nearby. Tom, just back from an antagonistic radio interview conducted by one of Stefano’s friends, o≠ered up his opinions on the appearance of Madonna (“Hot but not hot enough”) and the Pet Shop Boys (“not particularly good-looking”). He wondered aloud whether or not one day Sony might re-release the Den Harrow master recordings, which are currently available only on YouTube, and attach his own name to them. He’d pay for the privilege. “A hundred grand? I’d write the check right now.” He loved the idea. “It would really piss Stefano o≠,” he said, before taking a sip of wine. Before excusing himself to go buy a jacket at a luxury boutique, Tom gave a little anthropology lesson, in hopes that it might explain the Den Harrow situation. “Let me tell you something about Italy,” he began. “In the ’80s, they would smash your window in to steal your car radio. Always. So you’d take it out of the car and bring the stupid thing into the bar or wherever you were going, because otherwise they’d take it. A real pain in the ass.” He continued on to explain that, on occasion, to save himself the hassle, he’d hide the contraption under the seat rather than dragging it around with him. “But

sometimes,” Tom said darkly, “it didn’t work. And if you ever told anyone—a bartender, say— that your car radio was stolen, the first thing they’d ask you was, ‘Well, did you leave it under your seat?’ And if you said yes, their response was, ‘It’s your fault, then, stupid!’ ” Tom took another sip of wine and waited a moment for everyone to absorb what he was trying to convey. “That’s how Italians are,” he said. In a country so ridden with cons, where the rules are bent constantly and everyone lies, guile is a national requisite, naivete inexcusable. “They would be embarrassed to admit that they didn’t know Den Harrow was a fraud.”

as the sun began to set on the elaborate English-style grounds of the Villa Borghese gardens, Jonny arrived at a theater on the park’s periphery. Tom showed up a few minutes later with his wife; his niece was there, too. A handful of aging Italo Disco fans milled around the crushed-granite garden paths, along with some film critics and aspiring young directors. There was a journalist from La Repubblica, Italy’s largest daily paper. Stefano was nowhere to be seen, but Jonny couldn’t stop himself from compulsively looking for him. It seemed like at any second Stefano might pop out from behind a well-tended topiary, Prada messenger bag worn like a shield, screaming, “Bastardo!” At some point, as the dusk turned to dark, a festival employee ushered everyone into the theater. The curtains went up, revealing a black screen with an epigraph: Art has a double face, of expression and illusion.—Publilius Syrus. The 85-minute film that follows is about as good as feature documentaries get. It’s like watching a perfectly crafted fairy tale in which medieval princesses have been replaced with aging men fighting on Facebook about the legacy of their intertwined Bettino Craxi–era lives. It’s beautifully shot and scored, with clever visual gags, psychological precision, and shifting, unstable sympathies. It’s atmospheric and ambitious, astute to the obligations that attend success, the inherent tragedy of fandom, and the psychic cost of self-awareness. It’s sad and philosophical but also really, really, really funny. When the credits closed, the festival organizer invited Jonny up to the stage. Tom joined him and, almost immediately, began a protracted, staccato monologue—in Italian, mostly, which ended, somewhat mortifyingly, with another a cappella performance. Jonny just stood there. He’d assumed the worst before showing the subject of his film the final product for the first time, and was relieved when, 25 minutes later, Tom grinned and congratulated him. Afterward everyone migrated to a baradjacent patio. Tom, red wine in hand, looked serene, which was probably because he had spent the past 24 hours, like Jonny, half expecting to see Stefano for the first time in 30 years and then realizing, finally, that it wasn’t going to happen. He joked around; he kissed his wife. He signed some records, pleased with the belated acknowledgment, and shook his head. “To be a fan of a mime,” he said, “you have to be a pretty weird kind of guy.” A F E W H O U R S L AT E R ,


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

D ONS OF DISCO CONTINUED

A month later, Stefano published a memoir, under the name Den Harrow. He’s been diligently posting about it on Facebook ever since. After premiering in Rome, Dons of Disco was shown at film festivals in Arkansas and Portland and Park City. Perhaps, for the sake of publicizing his book, Stefano will come around. Maybe he’ll decide it’s time to actually watch the film. When he does, he’ll see that he is, in a very real way, its hero. This is what I wanted to talk to Stefano about when I reached out to him this fall. He was responsive at first, replying, always, with kissy-face emojis, but in the end he refused to talk, convinced, as he was about Jonny, that I was on Tom’s side. If the film goes on to great acclaim and success, as it should, there will be many more festivals, many more screenings, many more opportunities for the face and the voice to show up, look each other in the eye, and potentially make amends. But who knows if they’ll do it.

costumes and obsolete electronic e≠ects, Italo Disco lives on as a kind of globalist kitsch—recalled fondly, if with a bit of chagrin, by those who were there, and mocked, a≠ectionately, by those who weren’t. It’s unsurprising that two of the genre’s key players would fight over its mostly forgotten legacy. Like adjunct English professors committed to undermining each other’s precarious and underpaid careers, Tom and Stefano are animated by an insular, low-stakes game that must feel, as all lives do to the ones who live them, like everything. But their petty warring has driven them both from a scene they once ruled. By fighting for their respective shares, they’ve managed to poison for themselves something they could have instead chosen to see for what it was: a ridiculous, beautiful thing that brought joy to millions of people. I was thinking about all this when, a few months ago, I got a cryptic e-mail invitation to an Italo Disco–themed dance party. It was to be held on a Friday night in early December at a Ukrainian social club in New York’s East Village. The venue was wood-paneled and dusky; the guests had more glitter on their faces than I’m used to seeing. By midnight, I was impatient to hear Den Harrow and sent someone to make a request on my behalf. He returned, a few minutes later, with the bad news. “Den Harrow’s not on Spotify,” he said. “Sorry.” I couldn’t believe it. Crestfallen, I made a move to the bar for a glass of water. I wasn’t halfway there when a boa-wearing friend, hearing the initial high-pitched choral warbling of an Abba song, grabbed my hand and dragged me barbarously back to the dance floor. I forgot about Den Harrow. This all came back to me, a little blinkered, the next morning. I guess afternoon is probably more accurate. Nursing a Gatorade in bed, I searched for Den Harrow on Spotify, something I hadn’t ever thought to do. Den Harrow was on there! The DJ had been wrong! Sort of. I realized when I pressed “play” that all the songs had been re-recorded, in 2016, with Stefano singing. W I T H I T S D AT E D S TA G E

alice gregory is a gq correspondent.

S T. V I N C E N T

C O N T I N U E D F RO M PAG E 7 3

something by painting it,” Yuskavage said. “That’s the way I understand the world. Like a dog licking something.” Clark looked at the works with the expression people make when they’re meditating. She was wearing elfin boots, black pants, and a shirt with a print that I can only describe as “funky”—“funky” being an adjective that looks good on very few people, St. Vincent being one of them—and sipped from a cup of espresso furnished by a gallery minion. After she finished the drink, there was a moment when she looked blankly at the saucer, unsure what to do with it, and then stuck it in the breast pocket of her funky shirt for the rest of the tour. A painting called Sweetpuss featured a bubble-butted blonde in beaded panties with nipples so upwardly erect they actually resembled little boners. Yuskavage based the underwear on a pair of real underwear that she’d constructed herself from colored balls and string. “I’ve got the beaded panties if you ever need ’em,” she said to Clark. “They might fit you. They’re tiny.” “I’m picturing you going to the Garment District,” Clark said. “There was a lot of going to the Garment District.” As they completed their lap around the white cube, Clark interjected with questions— what year was this? were you considering getting into film? how long did these sittings take? what does “mise-en-scène” mean?—but mainly listened. And she is a good listener: an inquisitive head tilter, an encouraging nodder, a nonfidgeter, a maker of eye contact. She found analogues between painting and music. When Yuskavage mourned the death of lead white paint (due to its poisonous qualities, although, as the artist pointed out, “It’s not that big a

deal to not get lead poisoning; just don’t eat the paint”), Clark compared it to recording’s transition from tape to digital. “Back in the day, if you wanted to hear something really reverberant”—she clapped; it reverberated—“you’d have to be in a room like this and record it, or make a reverb chamber,” Clark said. “Now we have digital plug-ins where you can say, ‘Oh, I want the acoustic resonance of the Sistine Chapel.’ Great. Somebody’s gone and sampled that and created an algorithm that sounds like you’re in the Sistine Chapel.” Lately, she said, she’s been way more into devices that betray their imperfections. That are slightly out of tune, or capable of messing up, or less forgiving of human intervention. “Air moving through a room,” Clark said. “That’s what’s interesting to me.” They kept pacing. The paintings on the wall evolved. Conversation turned to what happens when you grow as an artist and people respond by flipping out. “I always find it interesting when someone wants you to go back to ‘when you were good,’ ” Yuskavage said. “This is why we liked you.” “I can’t think of anybody where I go, ‘What’s great about that artist is their consistency,’ ” Clark said. “Anything that stays the same for too long dies. It fails to capture people’s imagination.” They were identifying a problem with fans, of course, not with themselves. It was an implicit identification, because performers aren’t permitted to critique their audiences, and it was definitely the artistic equivalent of a First World problem—an issue that arises only when you’re so resplendent with talent that you not only nail something enough to attract adoration but nail it hard enough to get personally bored and move on—but it was still valid. They were talking about the kind of fan who clings to a specific tree when he or she could be roaming through a whole forest. In St. Vincent’s case, a forest of prog-rock thickets and jazzy roots and orchestral brambles and mournful-ballad underlayers, all of it sprouting and molting under a prodigious pop canopy. They were talking about the strange phenomenon of people getting mad at you for surprising them. Even if the surprise is great. molly young is a writer living in New York City. She wrote about Donatella Versace in the April 2018 issue of gq.

gq is a registered trademark of advance magazine publishers inc. copyright © 2019 condé nast. all rights reserved. printed in the u.s.a. VOLUME 89, NO. 1. GQ (ISSN 0016-6979) is published monthly (except for combined issues in December/January) by Condé Nast, which is a division of Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. PRINCIPAL OFFICE: Condé Nast, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. Robert A. Sauerberg, Jr., President & Chief Executive O∞cer; David E. Geithner, Chief Financial O∞cer; Pamela Drucker Mann, Chief Revenue & Marketing O∞cer. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing o∞ces. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40644503. Canadian Goods and Services Tax Registration No. 123242885-RT0001. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS (SEE DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: Send address corrections to GQ, P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0717. FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS, ADDRESS CHANGES, ADJUSTMENTS, OR BACK ISSUE INQUIRIES: Please write to GQ, P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0717, call 800-289-9330, or e-mail subscriptions@gq.com. Please give both new and old addresses as printed on most recent label. First copy of new subscription will be mailed within eight weeks after receipt of order. Address all editorial, business, and production correspondence to GQ Magazine, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. For reprints, please e-mail reprints@ condenast.com or call Wright’s Media, 877-652-5295. For re-use permissions, please e-mail contentlicensing@condenast.com or call 800-897-8666. Visit us online at www.gq.com. To subscribe to other Condé Nast magazines on the World Wide Web, visit www.condenastdigital.com. Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that o≠er products and services that we believe would interest our readers. If you do not want to receive these o≠ers and/or information, please advise us at P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 500370717 or call 800-289-9330. GQ IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RETURN OR LOSS OF, OR FOR DAMAGE OR ANY OTHER INJURY TO, UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS, UNSOLICITED ARTWORK (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DRAWINGS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND TRANSPARENCIES), OR ANY OTHER UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. THOSE SUBMITTING MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARTWORK, OR OTHER MATERIALS FOR CONSIDERATION SHOULD NOT SEND ORIGINALS, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED TO DO SO BY GQ IN WRITING. MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND OTHER MATERIALS SUBMITTED MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE.

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

G Q . C O M

9 7


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

FINAL SHOT

The Music Issue

Namaste.

Himalayan Gi robe and pants Camp High Handyman Shirt (2018), Christo sandals and socks Visvim necklace (2016) Kapital Vintage Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar watch (early 1980s) Audemars Piguet

is the year of coziness. Of waving your freak flag high. Ladies and gentlemen, the haters have revealed themselves to be ultimately ineffective. You are free to wear what you please, to sing what you like, and to see what else you can get away with. The only consequence of failure in fashion is that you shrug it off, have a laugh, dig up some more inspiration, and try again tomorrow.” —J O H N M AY E R ( For more, see page 86.) “THE YEAR 2019

9 8

G Q . C O M

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 9

P H O T O G R A P H

B Y

C A R L O S

S E R R A O


РЕЛИЗ ПОДГОТОВИЛА ГРУППА "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

PROMOTION

Hey Handsome! We know that caring for your hair, skin, and beard isn’t easy, but you always look and smell your best. If you’re a grooming junkie, and want to sample the product first, then sign up for our Try It Program. Just fill out a grooming profile to qualify.*

Sign up now > GQ.com/tryit *Spaces and samples are limited. Products are targeted to skin and hair types and preferences where applicable.

Profile for el loco 69

JjJjJzjkkq  

JjJjJzjkkq  

Profile for elloco69
Advertisement