No Vacancy Inn Talks Inclusivity & Surpassing Your Idols
To celebrate the opening of Milk LA’s new equipment rental space, we’re hosting a party with some pretty snazzy guests. Slated to perform is Baton Rouge-bred rapper Quadry, with an additional DJ set by No Vacancy Inn, the London-based art collective that, in just one year of its existence, has built a solid fan base that includes Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston, and Luka Sabbat among countless others.
Ahead of tonight’s festivities, we sat down with Tremaine Emory and Acyde, the guys behind No Vacancy Inn, to talk the power of youth, London vs. L.A., and the designers that are currently inspiring them.
Have you ever collaborated with Milk before?
Tremaine Emory: We haven’t, this is our first time.
Do you have a favorite memory with the company?
TE: I remember sneaking into Milk when I was younger for parties so it’s definitely exciting to finally collaborate with them as a creative. All of our memories with Milk are good; everyone has always welcomed us with open arms.
How does London compare to L.A.?
Acyde: I really love L.A. London’s a great place, but only really if you’re between the ages of 17 and 27. It’s good if you want to observe culture. Not a lot of people like to talk about this, [but] Europe is still so heavily classist, and England is really the home of that because we still have a monarchy. If you’re not born into a certain sector of society, like the middle or the upper class, then there’s really only so much that you can achieve in England. That’s just a fact… You’re not going to be born in the ghetto and end up becoming a member of the Royal Family. Whereas Obama’s from a small part of Chicago with no ties to government but he still has an equal chance to become President. So to me, L.A. is the best representation of American Society at its best.
If you look at the film industry alone, you see people coming to one place from everywhere in the world and next thing you know, this person [suddenly] a famous actor or actress. That doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. There’s nowhere quite like L.A. Even on off days, so many people here seem to have such a sunny disposition. And as a purely cynical person, the opposite of that is exactly what I need. That’s why L.A. is special to me.
Given how hungry everyone is today for instant, tangible gratification, do you guys have a hard time relaying the gist of No Vacancy Inn to others that might not be familiar with your work?
TE: As far as [No Vacancy Inn] being lost on others goes, I feel like it can’t get lost. There’s no fake reverence with No Vacancy Inn. I put my own year’s salary on the line to do what we do and make this a reality. And we don’t deserve a special pat on the back for that. In a way, it’s quite selfish. We’re following our creative needs first and foremost. Personally, I can’t live without being creative for a living. Without doing what I love to do, daily.
Acyde: [And] literally anyone can have what we have, but the level of sacrifice isn’t always worth it for some people.
TE: Acyde and I have been on 30 plus flights since June. That wears on you. My mother unfortunately passed away in February of 2015. I saw her once that year. I remember saying recently that this was a regret of mine. I don’t believe that’s the case, though. I know my mom, and she would rather have that than me give up on what I love and be unhappy for the next 30 to however many years. So for me, making this shit work has been something I have to do. To make all of the sacrifice worth it.
Acyde: We both left London to create more and travel constantly because I do believe that is the best way to continue to learn and grow.
Do you believe that today’s youth needs to begin pulling from a place that feels less safe in order to evolve?
TE: It’s about passing knowledge from group to group. But people have forgotten that.
“You should want to be uncomfortable enough around us to do something that we can’t do. That’s the power all these kids have that they’re too busy seeking reassurance to even realize.”
Because now all you need to do is look up a hashtag to know what’s “cool.”
TE: I can’t tell who you are from your pair of dirty Rafs or your tracksuit. I have to make sure your handshake matches your smile.
Acyde: I think there’s something to be said for mentoring people when you see the ability in them. You should want to be uncomfortable enough around us to do something that we can’t do. That’s the power all these kids have that they’re too busy seeking reassurance to even realize. There are so many mini versions of all of these musicians, designers, and artists these days.
Acyde: It’s a scary and unstable time and kids are running around looking at Instagram acting as though everything is fine. You and I, we’re grown men and we can talk about the world or how we might fix it, but it’s these young ones that will inherit it someday, so I hope they start caring about how to do something about it.
TE: Even with this fashion shit… you kids are on ‘em. The people that own and run these brands ain’t on your mood board, you’re on theirs! So take that and cut off that brand’s head. Cut my head off. I need kids who will do better than me… You can love an artist, you can love a designer, but everyone’s goal should be to move beyond that.
Are there any designers right now that make you believe in the future of fashion?
TE: Luka Sabbat, Young Lord, Jabari Shelton. All kids doing great things.
Acyde: You know who’s amazing, though? Wales Bonner.
Acyde: What she’s doing right now with fashion is so meaningful. When I see her I see history, culture, and depth.
[And] I don’t see that in fashion anymore. I see people trying to sell clothes, whereas she is someone that cuts her own path and is unapologetic about that. That’s how you know that someone is true; when you can look at their work and know that it wouldn’t change a bit even if it was unpopular.
What books and films are inspiring you at the moment?
TE: [Acyde] always recommends good things and when I’m smart, I listen and actually read them. The most recent is Holy Terror, which is written by Bob Colacello, the editor of Interview and Andy Warhol’s [former] assistant. Before that, it was the autobiography of Miles Davis. As far as films go: The Empire Strikes Back and Contempt.
Acyde: Our friend, Virgil, posted something a little while ago about a magazine called Content and I hunted it down online immediately. So I have to say thank you to him for that because it’s literally the maddest magazine that I’ve ever read. Best film recently is The Passenger and Phantom of the Paradise.
What do you guys have coming up in the pipeline?
Acyde: I won’t say much but we’re coming out with some seriously obscure shit in 2017. I’m really excited for everyone to see it. We’re widening our scope.
Photos by Mitchell Croghan.
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