To celebrate the release of their collaborative art and poetry book, Gemini, Uzumaki and AK the Savior threw two parties in one night with The Hundreds last week. The first was held at The Hundreds store on Fairfax as a release party for the book and the collaborative shirt the pair worked on with us (they’re sold out, stop sleeping).
Uzumaki designed an entire art installation in the store using her signature furry-style to give people an advance look at the upcoming BMX bike The Hundreds is dropping with The Shadow Conspiracy. AK and Uzumaki floated around the store taking photos with fans and signing copies of Gemini.
After the release party, everyone headed over to Bar Lubitsch for the after party, our monthly (101) series, this one focusing on INSPIRED YOUTH and hosted by Uzumaki and AK.
We interviewed Uzimaki and AK about Gemini, plus gave them each a disposable camera to document the entire night because most of us weren’t going to remember much of it.
DUKE LONDON: What’s the idea behind the installation?
UZUMAKI: The inspiration behind it was I used to ride bikes a lot, and in groups, so I feel like it gives that New York vibe. New York was the inspo behind it.
What about the colors?
UZUMAKI: The colors were definitely The Hundreds, I just used their color palette.
You guys both worked on this new book Gemini. Is this the first time you both have worked on one project together, from start to finish?
AK THE SAVIOR: Yeah, this is our first project.
How did it go?
AK: It was pretty smooth. We work well together.
What are the challenges in that and how do your talents compliment each other?
UZUMAKI: Maybe it’s because we do different mediums, that’s the challenge in it. But I feel like when we figure out how to put it together, it makes sense. I do visual art and he does audio art. Maybe we can just put all the art, all the styles of art we make individually, and we put it together and we cooperate and meet each other halfway.
AK: We’re from different worlds as far as talent or whatever but when it comes together it’s really easy for us. We’re in a relationship so maybe that’s why.
UZUMAKI: [laughs] yeah, that too.
And you guys know how to work through issues.
AK: There’s really no problems, it was really easy.
UZUMAKI: It was more of like, “Oh should this be here. Should this be with that?” That’s what I meant by the challenge but it wasn’t like we had super creative differences.
Tell me about the composition book and all of the possibilities that come from something that starts empty like that.
UZUMAKI: I feel like a composition notebook is something everyone has used. There are nostalgia and their memories associated with it. I feel like since he’s a writer, it was cool using something so nostalgic for him to express himself and for me to add pictures in there. The photos in a composition notebook is what throws you off because it’s usually blank. But we also kept it true to his side where he was writing doodles how you would really keep your notebook when you were young.
AK: Everyone has their memories with notebooks. The composition book is classic shit. Like when you’re in class, you’re doodling and writing stuff. Me, I was writing music or writing poems in class so we just wanted to bring that feeling back for people to enjoy. We left some pages in the back too for other people to edit and add their own creative shit.
That’s tight. How did this Gemini idea come together? Were you doodling in your notebook or were you guys trying to figure out something you could do together?
UZUMAKI: He was talking about how he wanted to make a poetry book. Around that time period, I was moving shit around my house and we found some composition notebooks. He was like, “I want to make a poetry book” and I’m like, “let’s make one but let’s make an art-poetry book.”
AK: [laughs] We were high one day.
UZUMAKI: We were just going through my notebooks!
AK: Just being creative and shit. Cleaning up and trying to be creative and brainstorming. Expressing together what we want to do in life and one of the things I wanted to do is poetry. And she was interested in it, too. We were like let’s do the art with poetry. That’s how it all came together. And we did it.
Who are some of your favorite poets? Who has shaped your writing style?
AK: No poets really. When we go to school, we are taught poetry from Langston Hughes and all the legends. But none of those people really influenced this book in a sense. Just writing music and being inspired to write music is why it just transferred into poetry. I would say more or less Tupac and Lil Wayne inspired me to write in general.
And do you think your songwriting style bleeds into your poetry style or do you have distinct voices?
AK: With certain poetry in the book, it was not verses or rap songs but I do get inspo to write poetry while listening to a beat.
Was a lot of the art in the book reactionary to the poetry that was already in there or did you guys start with the art sometimes?
UZUMAKI: The poems and his writing were newer and my stuff was super old. I went through my archives and just chose different pieces of art that I thought his feelings would look like.
That’s a testament to how well you guys know each other that you can fuse your art from way different time periods into one vibe.
AK: Yeah it’s kinda crazy
UZUMAKI: There are photos from 2014 or things that I made in there from 2018. I was just going through my archives. People know me for the fur stuff but I’ve made so much more than the fur collections. I’ve done photography and other things.
You work with a lot of furs. This book is very textured. How important is texture to you, as far as different colors and feels to art?
UZUMAKI: I feel like textures and colors are what inspired me to even make art. Definitely, I just feel like with me having bad vision, too. When I can’t see shit without my contacts, everything just looks like colors so I feel like colors have always been important to me. That’s how I make things.
The (101) party we’re doing with you guys after the release, the theme is Inspired Youth. How do you use your art to inspire the next generation? How have previous generations affected you?
AK: Inspired youth. With anything that I do in life when it comes to arts, I try to inspire the youth. That’s the whole reason for making art so the next people can be inspired to do something great and change the next generation after them. It’s like a whole cycle.
Is that part of why you left some blank pages in the back of Gemini?
AK: Yeah, you express yourself. You shine your light how you want to do it.
That’s really dope. What about you, Uzu? How do you inspire the next generation?
UZUMAKI: I was going to say “same.” [laughs] I feel like I want to inspire people to do whatever they want to do and be free. If you’re a writer, be the best writer. If you’re a dancer, be the best dancer. Like whatever. Whichever way you express yourself and how you create art. I feel like it’s always needed in the world because no one is doing what you’re doing specifically.
Is that what you saw yourself doing as a youth?
UZUMAKI: I didn’t see myself doing exactly what I’m doing now but i definitely knew I couldn’t have a 9-5 or anything traditional like that. I feel like the way that I learn is different from institutionalized places that I’ve been placed in. I’ve always felt out of place and I had to learn a lot of stuff on my own and unlearn a lot of shit, too. It was just pushing through. Like yeah, I’m different but somehow this is going to be appreciated one day. I’m going to be useful.