Monday, 28 November 2011

Interview with Yuri Suzuki

London/Stockholm-based creator Yuri Suzuki is the man behind recent Red Stripe sound system installation, an idea stemming from the idea of making something from nothing.  The sound system was playing live DJ sets at the launch, an incredible piece of art. After a stint at Maywa Denki in Japan, Suzuki went on to practice his product design at RCA in London, where he developed his signature style. Suzuki's art focuses on three things: "Physical, Sound Art, and Design", something cleverly yet subtly portrayed through all his pieces.

 How did you get involved with this particular project?
I got this brief from Red Stripe touching on the history of reggae music and making something from nothing. So when I looked into the culture and music further, it occurred to me that making a sound system from scratch would fit into Jamaican culture - and why not use beer cans to make it? So that was where the initial idea came from for the project.

The cans used to make the sound system were collected from Notting Hill Carnival, why specifically from there?
Notting Hill Carnival has, at the root of it, jamaican culture. When I got the brief, the company had already collected some cans for me from festivals. Red stripe gave out lots of free beer in order to collect enough. Worked well both ways.

What other ideas did you have for this brief?
In the beginning I had really complicated ideas, some of them were crazy...

What were they?
Things to do with fire. It’s interesting... if you put long tubes in the holes of the sound system, then gas inside and fire on top, the sound waves from the speakers would then be reflected into the fire. That would’ve been very exciting, but it’s dangerous and risky, especially to have inside a venue!

You started work in Tokyo, how do you think your ideas would be seen to in Tokyo compared to London?
I was away from Tokyo for a long time, quite a lot of years now. It’s usually quite risky for such a big corporate company to ask an artist to build an installation over there. In Tokyo, people rarely take risks in advertising or marketing strategies, they like to keep safe. Of course smaller ones in Tokyo do, but big companies, equivalent to the size of Red Stripe, most definitely don’t.

That's interesting. So what do you prefer? Tokyo or London?
I prefer it here as I’ve made so many great friends and the culture is so rich. All my heroes all live here... I was amazed when I moved here, my heroes walking the same streets.

What else are you working on?
I’ve got another collaboration coming up with a company for another product... I’m thinking I'm making a record player. My book’s also coming out next year, which features lots of my collaborations and work. It took me two years to make, I’m really excited.

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