As I found out, there are certain recurring themes in Hollenbach's artwork that feed his success. (A success he seems to find more annoying than pleasing.) He's like a free spirit trapped behind a reputation that precedes him.
The Perks and Mini fashion label is Shauna, my wife, and myself. Around 2000, we felt there was something missing in streetwear, which was the fun and colour of rave. Back then, streetwear was all driven by really macho hip-hop so when we started P.A.M. we wanted to do something that we felt was different, so we really drew on the music we liked to create this aesthetic. It's not inspired by the fashion rave, it's more a feeling—losing yourself, strobe lights, not coming home for days. I love the celebration of that pagan sensibility: dancing, fertility and people dressing as animals or running naked through the forest. I guess that's why raves and dance music situations are so attractive to us, and it's this aesthetic that runs through my work, not just the fashion, we design at P.A.M.
Thomas Bullock and I recently made a documentary, well, I guess a field recording, of a lost tribe. While Thomas was in Australia, we heard of a transient tribe living alongside packs of wild horses in the Snowy Mountains. We wanted to live alongside them, try on their costumes, light their fires, eat their food and their magic mushrooms. Recently we screened the film in London and had some musicians play over the top of it, including Jonny Nash and his outfit called Sombrero Galaxy, and Zongamin's Susumu Mukai. All of us collaborators became part of the tribe, exchanging with them our urban, modern context.
I've always been interested in tribes and ethnography. I actually ran a lecture and exhibition at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt on special invitation. They have a massive collection of artefacts from Oceania, Africa, South America and North American Indians—it is basically an ethnographic collection. They wanted us, as a fashion label, to interpret it. We focused on the aesthetics of tribal artefacts but also the idea of tribe, ritual, dance and shamanic substance use as interpreted by P.A.M. One thing I really loved about being involved at this exhibition was their collection of masks. When you wear a mask you stop being who you are and become part of something else. So putting things over faces or references to spiritual sights or alternate universes are part of this personal fantasy of giving up my individuality and becoming part of the tribe.
I've just finished this artwork for Matt Edward's The Machine project. Matt is a popular culture nerd and a massive P.A.M. fan so that's how we came to meet. The release was three 12-inches so I made a bunch of collages for the six sides of the record, six different faces or masks. The release is called Redhead and at times sounds outsider and strange like Throbbing Gristle, full of primal rhythms. The album includes three LPs remixed by Joe Claussell called Spiritual Life and comes housed in a 24-inch box, the first 50 of which I hand-painted in the nether regions of [London fashion store] LN-CC.
I actually made the prints for the release without hearing the music, so it's my own primal and natural response to the creative task. I tried to limit the human reaction to the music; I think "human reaction" is generally polluting. I find a lot of problems with humanity, which is more often than not the "human" in humanity. It's the ego that's driving everything and the opposite is trying to let go of this, like spontaneous ritual. You become part of the rhythm of something much bigger, which is an exciting experience. I love the alternative polyrhythms of percussive ethnographic music so I guess my artwork for The Machine project was a fitting collaboration.
The P.A.M. mixes are an infrequent series of free mixes which we distribute freely through our P.A.M. channels. The first few I co-mixed with local hero DJ Ransom, beginning back in 2000. The latest one, which came out a few months ago, is actually by DJ eYe and he's designed a print that comes with the package. They have limited hand-to-hand distribution, not for sale, or download. It's not that they're purposefully hard to find, but I do like the idea of the hunt. I collect records, films and books because I'm really into the object, but also more than that, the context is exciting too—like finding a lost "artefact" of the time (vinyl, VHS or flies). For instance, a lot of records are hard to find because they're from the '70s in Germany where this cool group of people was making something really amazing. I love that this record is, in and of itself, a document of this great human achievement and generally I'm attracted to great human achievements that are underground or weird.
The design for the P.A.M. CDs are all alternative spaces. For me that's everything. It's about escaping the trivialities of this time and planet. I like shrouded figures because the ego and individual is gone. I like floatation tanks, sacred places and power jam sites.
The Changes is an experimental spur of the moment project between my wife Shauna, the great London-based artist Fergadelic, the graphic designer from Japan, Nigo, who is responsible for the clothing lines A Bathing Ape and Billionaire Boys Club clothing lines (which he operates with Pharrell Williams). Recently the Japanese designer Sk8thing joined the group. Again, we're all completely into music and all DJ, so we thought we'd come together and do this music-inspired AV project. The concept is a band but we're more concerned with visuals than music. I think my personal aversion to making music is probably because I had a really intensive 12-year classical music background in piano forced on me my by Russian immigrant parents.
The Changes have done a few exhibitions together, mostly in Japan, but we've done projects in Eindhoven, London and Sydney. Once we made a track together and eYe from Boredoms remixed it—it's wild to say the least! Essentially, The Changes is the coming together of visual art and music as one expression; an effort to exhibit art as an expression of sound. The books we make or the t-shirt graphics, the art exhibition or a site specific performance, they're all driven by the same specific inspiration from rave, electronic music and disco and punk. The Changes draws from all these forms of being in an alternate reality which, once again, is all about escapism into the future, past, the here and now.