Ctrl + Shift | Toby Feltwell and Sk8thing

Interview: Arthur Chmielewski | Photography: Will Goodan

Dialogue | Issue 02 | p.112


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Toby Feltwell and Sk8thing are industry veterans and are among the unsung leaders in global streetwear. Having cut their teeth working anonymously in the shadows of cultural icons like NIGO® and Pharrell Williams, the enigmatic duo were major contributors to A Bathing Ape and Billionaires Boys Club during the brands most prolific years. 

No stranger to the Japanese street scene, Sk8thing (Shin) still maintains a secretive public persona. The mysterious Tokyo born artist and graphic designer is responsible for creating some of street cultures most iconic logos and graphics with a resume touting BAPE, BBC, WTAPS, FPAR, HUMAN MADE, and UNDERCOVER to name a few. Having previously worked as A&R at James Lavelle’s influential Mo’Wax Records in the UK, Toby eventually relocated to Tokyo to work alongside NIGO®. He would later call upon his long time relationships with Shin and production guru Hishiyama (Hishi) Yutaka to conceptualize and facilitate their latest collective venture in the form of C.E (Cav Empt). 

Often declining interviews they remain relatively low-key, only occasionally accepting the odd DJ gig at some of Tokyo’s most prominent clubs. On a business and marketing standpoint, their growth strategy is decidedly calculated and they do so without abiding to industry guidelines—choosing to remain outliers of traditional methods. Their motive behind C.E goes beyond simple commerce, but rather from a desire and the enjoyment of continuing to work together and create something that is meaningful. With decades of experience in the industry they each have invaluable knowledge of how to create a brand from the ground up, along with the wisdom to navigate it in a way as to not stumble into the same pitfalls as their predecessors. 

For almost 10 years I’ve been travelling back and forth to Japan from Canada. I still remember the distinct aura in Tokyo following the massive earthquake and subsequent Tsunami off the coast of Tohoku in 2011. The iconic neon lights that characterize Tokyo were mostly turned off to save power and foreigners fled the country in the hundreds of thousands. It was during this year that Cav Empt surfaced onto the Tokyo street scene and instantly made an impact on numerous industry insiders as well as myself. Almost immediately C.E became widely acknowledged as the “next big thing" in Japan. It offered a fresh narrative that the scene was lacking, during a time when heritage and traditional styles were omnipresent in men’s fashion. The aesthetic and abstract graphic language represented my ideas of a Neo Tokyo. It was nostalgic yet futuristic, familiar yet incomprehensible, thoughtful yet ironic and the bold visuals were backed up with a host of embedded references ranging from music to art and academia. It was Ura-Harajuku infused with cyber-age tech nuances and a do-it yourself punk mentality, that amalgamated cultures in a way that was equally intriguing as it was exciting.  

It’s late in the evening on a Sunday and the streets are quiet and empty. I’m meeting with Toby and Shin at their office located in a residential building off the backstreets of Sendegaya. I walk up the pink staircase to the second floor where Toby greets me in. Shin is running late, but we exchange pleasantries and catch up. It’s been half a year since I’ve been back to their offices, but little has changed. The small three-room space is stocked with random production samples for upcoming collections and is littered with treasures such as vinyl records, books, magazines and other obscure memorabilia that gives a narrow glimpse into their eclectic minds. 

To the untrained eye it would seem to be a chaotic working environment but upon closer inspection, the clutter reveals an accumulation of inspiration and experience acquired over the years waiting to be tapped; and an obvious indication that they’ve outgrown this space.

Shin enters minutes later with a convenience store bag in hand. He wears a C.E hat low over his brow with yellow tinted lenses on thick frame glasses. He greets me with a handshake and youthful smile and from the plastic bag he pulls out two bottles of cheap red wine. Over a few glasses, we share a casual and candid conversation to much amusement and insight, which leads me to grasp a truer understanding of the collective minds behind one of Tokyo’s most exciting brands.


One of the drives for creating C.E, aside from feeling that there was a need - a space for something that had to be created, was the fact that BBC changed into something else. We weren’t able to work on it in the same way with the same team. But whatever the output, the process and the way that the three of us worked together was something that we really enjoyed, so we didn’t want that to stop.

Do you guys have a fond memory of first meeting each other? What were your initial impressions?

S: First time? I don’t remember.

T: I don’t remember either. We can’t remember.

S: I just realized you were around at some point. 

T: I would have been here (Tokyo) for Mo'Wax in 1997, so there wasn’t a real defining moment.

S: There’s no touching story for it.

T: Well one time Shin had like four rigs with posters on it and an old fashioned toy revolver, practicing quick draw. I walked into the old APE (A Bathing Ape) office, and opened the door- he’s got his back to me, spins around and just popped one off. It was pretty crazy, that was hard to forget. That wasn’t the first time we met, but that was the first time I saw something very memorable, he was pretty quick.

Shinichiro Nakamura aka sk8thing

Shinichiro Nakamura aka sk8thing

So was it natural that you guys started some type of friendship?

T:  After we met in 1997, I used to hang around with NIGO® a lot, but I didn’t really hang out with Shin. We knew each other on a friendly basis, but didn’t spend much time together. I moved to Tokyo for the first time in 2003 and didn’t really have any responsibilities. He just asked me to move to Japan, so most of the time I was just waiting for NIGO® to show up so we could go and do something.

S: You had a computer and a desk in the security’s office.

T: I wasn’t really working with the company; in reality I was just working with him. I spent a long time just sort of sitting around and waiting, quite bored.  Shin had an office in that building, and he wasn’t actually doing any work either for a few years [laughs]. I used to hang out everyday in Shin’s room and we just chat shit. That went on for maybe about six months. During those six months NIGO® and I first met Pharrell; NIGO® suggested that he’d help him with BBC / Ice Cream. They were particularly looking for someone to do the logo, so I just thought I’d go and ask Shin. I went and explained what they wanted. He did a couple of logos, which were basically the ones that ended up being used. So from that point we just carried on with this working style. I get the rough instructions, kind of translate them into something, and Shin actually graphicalized [sic] them. I thought it was a good idea for BBC to basically just have one graphic designer, so everything in the brand is made by one person; making it really easy to feel like a collection, so it all hangs together.

So Shin designed every graphic?

T: We commissioned a few things but he pretty much did everything. Myself and other people, including Hishi who started C.E with us, would use what Shin created and turn it into product. That was pretty much it, I don’t think there was any other graphic design input other than a few illustrations that we had commissioned.

We’re just pursuing what’s interesting at the moment, all from slightly different angles, and having conversations about it and coming up with realizations out of that. It can only be visualized by the actual process of making a brand.
toby feltwell

toby feltwell

It was only really then that we found out it sort of worked and it was fun. One of the drives for creating C.E, aside from feeling that there was a need- a space for something that had to be created- was the fact that BBC changed into something else. We weren’t able to work on it in the same way with the same team. But whatever the output, the process and the way that the three of us worked together was something that we really enjoyed, and we didn’t want that to stop. I think all of us actually kind of relished being in the background and having it be about somebody else. We sort of got pushed out in front just by circumstances - to do something for ourselves.

When was the initial conception for C.E? Was there just a moment when you guys were sitting in a room and said “Let’s start a brand”?

T: There was a lot going on, the things we had been working on for a long time - so BBC and APE were kind of coming to a really difficult period. ’I've sort of forgotten about it, but it was also when the earthquake happened.

S: Tokyo had a weird mood for a while and was really dark because they had to preserve electricity.

T: Everywhere was really dark and quiet, a lot of people left town. All the foreigners just kind of evaporated and it had a weird mood, sort of a strange atmosphere, a bit like coming to the end of something. This weird sort of limbo period before something new starts. 

S: We had a German beer boom I think, it was a big trend in Japan.

T: That was important, we were drinking a lot of quite strong German beer at this place we frequented. It was a nice spot but they had some sort of snazzy beers, that we were getting quite drunk off. We had these long conversations that evolved into C.E. It was during the time that Enter the Void was coming out, I was super excited about it because I’d only seen the trailer. The trailer was fucking amazing, I thought it was going to be the best film ever [laughs]. But in reality nothing could be as good as that trailer and it was pretty boring. I don’t mind it, but nothing is as good as that trailer. I think there was something about being drunk, drinking German beer; the weird unreal, gloomy, post earthquake, dark Tokyo; and seeing the trailer for Enter the Void - not the film. Having the feeling of why Tokyo isn’t like the trailer to Enter the Void, it’s almost Tokyo but just so much more exciting and that somehow became this project.

So C.E is essentially a combination of Tokyo and Enter the Void?

T: Well that’s sort of like a really terrible way of putting it, the trailer when it first came out was amazing, like “This...is...it!” It’s a bit dead now because it’s kind of cheesy and it’s just grown. At the time it was stuff that you were familiar with visually. It’s showing you a city that you live in and know well in a slightly different way. A Japanese director wouldn’t have shown Tokyo in that way, but it’s not wrong either. It’s not a cheesy interpretation of Tokyo which you see tons of.

So just timing wise- coming when it did, Tokyo was in a weird blackout depressing zone, work wise it seemed it was about to come to an end, and the effect of long conversations with lots of beer for some reason. It’s essential to all our working processes, we’re dedicated, and our bodies pay the price.

 

How did you guys come up with the name CAV EMPT? It means buyers beware, right?

S: I was reading Ubik by Philip K. Dick, and a character- a girl has caveat emptor tattooed on her, she was very interesting.

T: Shin then magically shortened it to Cav Empt and it became a new word. But CE (Conformité Européenne) is quite significant, it’s on everything, which is weird. Also Common Era, the new non-christian name for AD. It used to be BC - AD, now it’s BCE and CE. I like the idea that you could just start a brand and claim responsibility for all of these products that has that marking on it. Also it’s cool when I give photos to regular people and they notice there’s CE written on it. It’s one of those things that are normally invisible because it’s just on everything and you just blank it out.

You guys, especially Shin, are part of an old guard generation of Ura-Hara(juku). For lack of a better term, you guys are "older" but you have such a strong pulse on youth culture, why do you think that is?

T: Why? Well, Peter Pan Syndrome. [laughs]

S: I’ve never thought about that actually.

T: It’s something that I’ve thought about because you notice it when you’re designing for yourself, which is sort of the best thing to do, the most honest thing to do. I guess in theory; you get older, you stop wanting to dress like a rapper and you start wanting to dress like a guy that goes angling (fishing) on the weekends. So I always thought that when we were doing APE and it had this second wave with a whole new following. But it was actually much more exciting to us than the first time around. Everything was way more nuts. There were obviously people in the rest of the scene who felt a bit like we lost the plot. Because it was exactly that, it was actually getting younger again or being a part of something that was happening right then. Whereas they were like “I’m past that, like records? Fuckin’ night clubs? Like do me a favor...” So I was quite adamantly into: “If you design for yourself- it’s fine, but if you no longer have anything to say to young people then shut up." When some people have moved on, they still insist that young people have to respect their history and know all about it, and if they didn’t they are ignorant and idiots; they would say this without actually creating anything that was relevant to the people who they are criticizing. That used to annoy me, but now our excitement in doing this is finding out about new stuff. Obviously the whole process of making things is really nice as well. But the working process is what I found so entertaining, I didn’t want to give it up, working with Shin and Hishi.

We would spend a lot of time just finding out about stuff with very little practical end goals in mind. So we’re not thinking about how many jackets we need to make. We’re just pursuing what’s interesting at the moment, all from slightly different angles, and having conversations about it and coming up with realizations out of that. It can only be visualized bythe actual process of making a brand. You can’t just write it down. You have to go through that process to actually get there to nail down what it is, and that’s mostly about being excited in new stuff.

Shin’s sort of exemplary in it that he’s never thought about it, to him it's totally just what he’s into. He always wants to know what’s happening now, and I sort of have more waves- on and off; but it’s basically what interests me. I don’t think that would change, maybe you could say that what we’re interested in is frozen in the early '90s- where we’re still interested in records or whatever it is, there’s a certain I don’t know...Peter Pan Syndrome.

You mentioned that you each see it from a different angle, what are the different angles? How does that contribute to the clash of you guys coming together to make something special?

We’re all similar characters in the sense of wanting to know about stuff, having a good memory, and broadly interested in similar things.

T: So Shin’s born and raised in Tokyo, I’m from England and came here first when I was 20. So that’s the sort of major perspective difference. But then Hishi’s from here too but he’s younger, he’s got a really ridiculously broad and comprehensive knowledge of almost everything on a cultural level. Which is way shocking to me, like “how the fuck do you know that?” Just really strange stuff. He used to work at a bookstore before as well so he’s really well read, and he’s generally known about everything that I can try and trick him up with.

We’re all similar characters in the sense of wanting to know about stuff, having a good memory, and broadly interested in similar things. So there’s an area where it makes sense, you can have a long conversation with somebody for hours about whatever obscure thing you’re into, but if they have no interest in that sort of thing, then it’s just like “...what?” But it sort of meshes together. Each of us has a slightly different take on this hard to define thing that we are working on from different angles based on our experiences up till now really. I think that’s sort of the project, and that’s what we’re working on, just trying to make something out of that.

I get a sense of an anti-establishment and underground kind of way of doing things; but how does that come into play when you’re a business as well?

T: We’re also very much sort of a part of the establishment here. It was quite easy for us to do this, because we have done it before. We know how it works, we’ve got all kinds of advantages over somebody who’s just got loads of ideas and that’s it. But I guess we’ve been doing it long enough to know what we are doing it for now.

If you start something just because you’ve got a great idea and you’re enthusiastic; it takes off and you know it’s the first time it’s happened. It’s going somewhere but you kind of just follow it; you don’t necessarily know where you’re going. You might pick up some ambitions for what you’re doing from somewhere else, they’re not necessarily yours because you had no idea that it could succeed. You’ve got to search around for the blueprint for the next phase. Whatever it is, ask yourself "where am I taking this?” That comes to people from all kinds of different sources. The easiest ones are the standard business models- growth should be limitless, keep going, get as big as possible. But having been involved enough times before in businesses that have grown, been successful and then less successful; I think we now know that it’s actually about making sure, however the business changes, it still satisfies the reason that you started doing it. As long as that’s still exciting to you, your views can still change.

It’s the actual process of the way that we work together that we find enjoyable. Anything that would interfere with that, even if it’s something that seems really attractive - like the business got enormous like we’re just flying around in helicopters and dropping diamonds out of the sky. If we can’t actually work together in the way that we enjoy, which is why we started it, then it’s kind of pointless. It’s already broken, so just being concentrated on that means you can say no to a lot of things. You can ignore a lot of bull shitty stuff that you know you don’t have to pay any attention to because you’re not interested in what it could present. Things can get easier then, you are selling more and you’ve got more money. But if you’re not careful enough, it’s happened before; you end up with a situation where you go from spending a lot of time doing creative interesting stuff, to basically being a manager. I’ve done it before, and it’s not necessarily what I want to do again.

Does that mean you guys have to stay as a small team?

T: We’re always fighting with it, but at the moment I think it’s sort of optimum, but if we were to open a shop or something we would need to hire more people, and it’s always a big question. It changes the dynamic when somebody comes into a small team with a personality. I’m a bit worried about that. When you have a team of six people, there’s quite a big influence from everybody’s personalities on what comes out of it.

It’s ultimately another thing that I realized about brands- it’s not 100% down to us, once you’ve started and it gets out there, it has a life of its own. It will sort of tell us what it wants to do as well. However there’s a lot of bull shitty stuff that you’re sort of expected to do and that works for people who have got standard ambitions. If you accept that what you’re doing is to make your company as big as possible or whatever, or you’re just doing what you’re supposed to be doing, then it makes sense to just go with it. If you don’t really care, then you can just be like “naw, no, I’m not interested.” So that’s quite nice, but I think we can only recognize that and know that’s what we’re trying to do this because we’ve had chances to do a few things before.

You touched on it before in conversation, that you don’t really like the idea of fashion. Personally, I like good product, and for whatever reason I either like something or I don't. However, it doesn’t seem like you guys are in it for fashion at all.

T: No, I don’t know; fashion could be amazing. But I’ve been asked about that before and I said, in connection with Tokyo Fashion Week, it would seem really stupid to make a real effort to be a member of a club that didn’t want you. It makes you kind of a sucker really, and I kind of feel like a lot of young fashion brands are putting a lot of effort in having fashion credentials. Like “this is fashion,” that’s really important to them to be viewed as fashion, by “Who?” is the question mark. I guess there’s a certain committee somewhere, like hooded illuminati that just decides what fashion is. But I don’t know, it’s weird, it’s hard to analyze because there are good designers and good clothes, all that can be really interesting. There’s interesting images that come out of it, but there’s something about the categorization of fashion. However that happens, the process of “this is fashion” and “this is just garments,” it just seems to be connected to knob heads basically, the people that put those brackets around one section of clothing, that seems sort of silly. It’s not like I don’t like some of the things that are inside the fashion bracket, but when I first got into clothes and when Shin was starting, it wasn’t really a big deal.

In menswear, fashion used to be the least cool thing anyway, it was like totally shit, like really embarrassing. It’s like “what you gonna do with lapels this season?” [laughs] Men’s fashion shows were a total joke, and it was not desirable at all. If you had mates that went to fashion college, they were super embarrassed about it. It was just lame, so it was natural for us to think that way then. It has had a massive resurgence, I guess it’s because people feel that it’s a bit like the same thing. If you’re gonna buy a coat, you want the designer to have had sleepless nights about the way the yoke is constructed, or like “I can’t believe I chose that lining for that jacket, it’s totally wrong.” Because then it feels like you’re getting a symphony of a garment; you’re getting it from a virtuoso, it’s the real deal- seems a lot more serious. I kind of get this, there was a wave in Japan recently, where you felt that they wanted people who were making fashion to be obsessed only with the process of making clothes. They weren’t allowed to be interested in anything else. That would make them much less serious and therefore shit. So you know designers would be like “I don’t listen to music, I find it distracting” and that kind of thing. That was supposed to be attractive for a while, quite recently. But it’s just stupid isn’t it, really?

What interests you (Shin) about the whole process of C.E, or continuing to do what you do? You’ve been in the industry for so long, what is the driving force that keeps you interested?

S: I basically never feel like I’m doing anything when I’m working on a brand.

T: You’ve got quite a lot of output though.

S: But most of the time I’m not really doing anything and I feel the pressure that I should be doing something, which is what makes me actually keep going and...doing something.

T: Shin doesn’t actually take anything to the completion stage because he doesn’t actually make product. This is the way he’s always worked, somebody else would take some work that he’s done, turn it into something, and it would eventually become a product.

S: Unlike an artist like Futura who’s actually creating a finished artwork, I don’t usually do that. I’m constantly in the process of being in the middle of making something, it never quite gets finished, and I just start something new.

Does it matter if what you (Shin) do connects with anybody, or are you just doing it for yourself?

S: Getting praise makes me happy but criticism doesn’t.

T: That’s too normal. [laughs]

S: I don’t think that I see any reaction from it. Sometimes it’s a surprise when you see people you may or may not know wearing C.E. That can be interesting. I once went to see Eye (Yamantaka) from the Boredoms play; he was wearing some C.E. That was cool, we know him as a friend, but it’s quite unexpected that he would just wear our clothes. That's always nice. 

You (Shin) must be aware of the impact your artwork has had on the greater audience. You’ve done some of the most prolific graphics for many great brands . In a way these have influenced everybody in the whole streetwear industry. 

S: Influence? I don’t think about that at all. Should I feel more responsible for it? It’s my fault and I suppose I need to take responsibility for it.

I don’t think it’s a fault, it’s pretty amazing.

S: As far as for APE, which is the biggest brand I’ve been involved with, that’s really all NIGO®. I was involved but it’s really NIGO®.

T: Maybe you should become a teacher? You’d be a really funny teacher.

S: No, not possible. I can’t talk in front of people.

T: What about TED Talks, the style of presenting where you walk backwards and forwards on a stage with a backdrop Powerpoint.

S: When Apple did product launches, that’s interesting. The quality of video is so good now, it’s almost like you’re actually watching a second life CG (computer graphic) version of it, it’s got a weird artificiality.

T: I got my friends Oliver Payne and Matt Damhave to do some powerpoints for us before, which were quite funny, because I don’t think that either of them had ever seen a Powerpoint presentation. So that was the first hurdle for them to overcome, but that was pretty entertaining.

I can just imagine Shin's powerpoint: Bape head, next slide, WTAPS, next slide, BBC, next slide, C.E.

T: I doubt it would follow the script actually, it could be mad abstract. Shin did a talk show for Nike once, it was quite scandalous. I couldn’t work out why they asked him to do it, and why he agreed to. What he shouldn’t have done was to be totally wasted; he’s got no memory of it but it was very funny.

A: I think I saw something on the internet or something.

T: They’ve probably got their lawyers to take it down. It wasn’t that bad, but it was funny and it was a bit out of their control. But it’s difficult, how can you get someone unrelated, as in a non-paid person, to sit down and discuss trainers.

S: Apparently I put shoes on my head and got in trouble, and was told to stop it.

T: It became a problem, so he hasn’t gotten any invites to do any talk shows since.

Who’s the brand meant for and who would you like to speak to? The youth? Yourselves?

S: The first season of C.E, we got D double E to model it. My ambitions were to get cool grime artists, and we essentially did that in the first season.

T: I think you make what you want, and hopefully somebody’s out there to buy it. If I’m making something for somebody else, assuming I know what they’re looking for; it’s like “..Why? What’s the point of that?” You’ve got to make something for you and you’re just lucky if other people are into it, that’s the dream situation.

I’ve seen it happen before, won’t say where, but you get into a situation where the fans of the brand are driving the business. You have to keep making shit that they keep buying. It gets to a point where it’s so divorced from what the people who started the brand wanted to be doing. They don’t really know what these people buying the brand want from it. It just becomes a business. That’s really an uncomfortable feeling to be honest. People have to work to earn money; but if you can do okay doing something that you actually enjoy and you don’t have those weird kind of conflicts, that’s superior.

You guys are still very involved in the Tokyo music scene. Do you still find enjoyment in playing gigs? Is it more like playing for a crowd or is it a means of promotion- C.E, music, and DJing being one big scope?

T: I like buying records, but I actually really like dance records. They’re not records designed for home listening. So DJing is just fuel for more record buying. It’s really weird, because they’re supposed to be tools for people who earn their living playing records. I think maybe it’s also important that there is somewhere to go wearing the clothes. What is it for? To go shopping in to buy more clothes? Or is there a place where it make sense for you to be wearing these things? So there's that, but also it’s just enjoyable. You can’t really turn down a DJ gig, unless it’s something really horrible.

S: I never turn them down. If I can do it, I’ll always do it.

What is the C.E sound?

S: Obscurant (Gonno). But it changes.

T: It changes daily.

Plays: TOLOUSE LOW TRAX - EISENBAHNZUNGE

It’s like you guys are old school but you‘re also very future? It's hard to articulate.

T: We’re broken.

Plays: TOLOUSE LOW TRAX - RUSHING INTO WATER

T: There’s nothing to do with these records other than play them loud in a club. You can’t just sit at home with it, I mean we can, we do it with a cup of coffee [laughs]. But every five minutes you gotta get up and turn it over, it disturbs your morning coffee and paper situation. They’re not home listening records; but they’re great to listen to, but you need the environment. Music’s always new, which is why it’s so intriguing I guess.

You’re so intrigued and you’re always learning and searching for something new. How do you see C.E evolving?

T: We get tired of things quite quickly. Fashion is sort of an industrial manufacturing process on a small scale. Every time you do it, you want to learn and get better at what you’re doing, reducing and eliminating mistakes from things that you’ve done before. Sometimes you can only see it after awhile, it’s like “Shit, I shouldn’t have done that.” You also just have to still be excited about it, that should be natural but I think it’s difficult. A lot of designers have more responsibilities in terms of having to produce for a target that’s not themselves. Having to produce something to fill a required set of specifications; having to produce something that they know there’s a market for, something that’s sold before with a slight twist. That’s really difficult. But if you’re just doing what you feel like, then it’s just fun. If there’s enough people out there that like what you’re doing, that you can continue to do that; then it continues to be rewarding.

You seem to pave your own path, like a musician.

T: Yeah but there’s also a lot of different levels of musicians too, Not everybody is able to freely express themselves and have everybody love that. It gets more difficult I suppose, especially if you think about musicians and artists that have been successful. It seems to get hard for them because they’re afraid of having less success. Unless you’re completely underground- where it doesn’t matter; if you’ve had some level of crossover, then it’s kind of hard to go back to being less successful. There’s not many people who take that path, and hence their anxiety.

Music is interesting now with the idea that you can get really rich off making music, yet people don’t expect to get rich off music anymore do they? Young people that are getting into thisnew paradigm; and the people who did well in the past version of music, or the midway between the past way and the current version of music, are all upset about that.  Well even if people made nothing from music, music would still be made in massive quantities all the time, and it would probably be a lot better. I think we’re getting quite close to that moment. Music’s basically free. I spend shit loads of money on records, but I could hear all of them before I buy them. I only need to buy them because of this fiction, that I need them to play in a club somewhere. I like the idea in the way that people, even if they don’t get paid for it, would still do it; because people need to make music and they need to hear music. Music is an interesting one, because it’s the first sort of pure functionless information product. Going through sort of a transition- that’s shaking it up. I suppose films are like that as well.

C.E is roughly five years old now, so what’s next? What are the aspirations for you personally and for the brand?

T: We are thinking of opening a shop, and there’s a lot that’s attractive about that; and there’s a lot that is concerning. We like the idea of physical spaces. We’ve done things like that before, it's always really good fun to create a space. It’s the responsibility of having a certain level of repetitively reliable standard performance services. Which is fine, we’ve done it before too, but that would be a new aspect of what we do. Because everything else is basically just us fucking about, so that would be a little bit more responsible.

Other than that, it’s going quite well. You never know what’s going to happen. We’re pretty much on course from our original idea, which is to do this hard to define thing, whatever it is and concentrate on that process. We haven’t had to adapt it too much, and it’s actually been quite an intense five years. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff,  and this office has filled up with crap very quickly. Well it was mostly full of crap when we moved in, because Shin had quite a lot of treasures, but it's accumulated as well at an intense pace. It’d be nice to put it somewhere else, but it's good evidence that we’ve actually done quite a lot, or we’ve looked at quite a lot of things.

Is it a controlled chaos? Or is it just chaos? How long have you guys been in this office?

T: It looks like a very long time doesn’t it? Somehow it comes together, I don’t know how it works. Maybe there’s like some sort of secret boss somewhere else, in a different office that we haven’t met yet, that’s actually running the whole ship, and we’re sort of just a distraction.

Shin do you want to add something to that? What’s next? What’s the future?

S: I want to make things that go really well with red wine. [laughs]

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Find the full 10 page extensive interview with Toby Feltwell and Sk8thing, available now in issue 02 of intelligence Magazine.


Interview available in issue 02

ISSUE 02: Hiroki Nakamura Cover

ISSUE 02: Cav Empt Cover

Issue 02 of intelligence Magazine features two different cover stories one with Hiroki Nakamura of visvim® and the other with SK8THING & Toby Feltwell of Cav Empt.

Additional content includes an interview with owner Carlo Rivetti of Stone Island and a comprehensive look into their archives. We also spoke to chief creative officer of Burton Snowboards - Greg Dacyshyn in Burlington, Vermont, and Hender Schemes’ Ryo Kashiwazaki in his Tokyo Atelier. Supplemental features include Arc’teryx Veilance, FYi Design Studios, and Canadian artist Trevor Wheatley.

Issue 02 will also feature a diverse range of Editorial content from Junya Watanabe MAN Comme des Garcons, WACKO MARIA, Cav Empt as well as mixed styling editorials in both NYC and Tokyo.

Printed in Canada / 210 Pages (Full Colour) / Perfect Bound - 8.5" x 11"