Name: Martin Stääf aks Liquid Stranger
Occupation: Producer, DJ, performer, festival organiser at WAKAAN festival in Arkansas
Current release: Liquid Stranger's new album Balance is out via WAKAAN.
Fashion Recommendations: I recommend checking out anything that Jeremy Scott has his hands in. His collaboration with Adidas / Moschino are awesome.
Fendi is another company that has some really cool stuff.
If you enjoyed this interview with Liquid Stranger, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter and Soundcloud.
Fashion and music are often closely related to one's identity. Can you please tell us a bit about your own sense of identity – and how it motivated you to take an artistic path?
I like how you said that, because I also feel clothes are an extension of one's personality. It’s a way to armor oneself with meaningful art, that enhances everyday life and serves as an inspiration in itself.
Coming from a very small town in Sweden, I’ve had to look far and wide to learn about fashion - and I think that challenge, and constant search made me even more inquisitive.
In which way do you feel your identity concretely influences your creativity?
Since music is an emotional language, it’s important to have something worthwhile to say.
Knowing yourself is key, and continuing the search for new, hidden aspects of oneself is what makes us develop as humans. With that, the creative output also remains in constant flux, and never gets stale.
Describe your personal style, please, and how your choice of fashion allows you to express it. Which fashion brands or style icons do you personally find inspiring - and why?
As an artist, I like to dress as colorful as possible while on stage. It’s carried over into my everyday life too, but I definitely take it up a notch for the performances.
I like complex, psychedelic fashion - but I’m also really into good quality garments, so again it’s a constant search for new stuff to wear. I have a big passion for sneakers and have accumulated a decent, and weird collection.
Fashion can embody ideals that extend far beyond aesthetics, reaching into ecology, politics and social issues. Does this apply to you as well, and if so, in which way?
I’m into symbology, so I make sure what I’m wearing is of a positive, inclusive nature. I’m not into conjuring dark / evil energies into my life.
Of course, for the clothes we make ourselves, we are always trying to source material that’s not only high quality, but also sustainable for the environment. I think we all have a long way to go there, but it is getting a lot better / more thoughtful.
What was the relationship between music and fashion for you like personally? When was the first time that you became aware of the connection between fashion and music?
Well, both are art forms - and they tend to fit together (just like a movie has a musical score). We, humans, like to express ourselves in different ways, and when we can combine many different modalities, it makes the output much stronger and further reaching.
What do fashion and design add to your perception of music?
Again, the more senses we can reach and tickle with art - the stronger it can impact us. I’m from an era of vinyl, which is a bad sounding, clunky medium - but it’s a big, physical, concrete item with lots of areas for art - and I’ve always loved that aspect.
Now as we have moved into a digital age, it’s imperative to look for other roads to get the visual sense activated, and fashion is an excellent way to get this done.
Fashion can project an image, just like music can. As such, it is part of the storytelling process. What kinds of stories are being told, would you say?
Just like music, the art of fashion tells the story / vision of the creator. It’s highly personal, and also subjective, which I feel is key to be authentic in the world.
What can fashion express what music can not?
We humans have five distinct ways to navigate the world, in a way, that’s all we know - therefore it’s immensely powerful.
Fashion is tactile, and visual - whereas music is auditory (and somewhat tactile if you play it loud enough) - so it helps stimulate different senses.
It seems obvious that fashion and music are closely linked, but just how that influence works hasn't always been clear. Would you say that music leads fashion? Is it the other way round? Or are they inseparable in some ways?
It goes both ways. Personally, I’m very inspired by visual cues - picture art and fashion alike. On the other hand, many of the clothes we make are directly inspired by music - so it’s a good synergy I feel.
Fashion and music can be expressions or celebration of identity, but they can also be an effort to establish new ones or break free from them. How would you describe your own approach in this regard?
As opposed to wearing a uniform, which would signify belonging to a group - I like to go the more free form route and distinguish myself as a unique individual.
I don’t go out of my way to shock people, but I definitely try to find unique clothes that make me stand out.
Does what you wear change your personality – and thus the music you create or the way you perform?
Yes, I believe so. I guess I’m kind of vain and spend time every morning thinking about what colors I want to wear, and how I can match pieces in interesting ways.
I think we humans haven’t really fully understood the full power and meaning of color yet (especially when it comes to food), but it has a profound effect on our psyche for sure.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though designing a fashion item or even putting together a great outfit for yourself is inherently different from something like composing a piece of music?
Technically, it’s quite different. But I guess in a sense, it also has common ground in that they are both ways to activate second attention (bypassing the pea brain to access deeper knowledge - like meditation). Any time we perform an act with full integrity and focus, we tap into our higher selves.
Are you currently active in the fashion industry? If so, tell me about your experiences, please.
At Wakaan, we make a lot of clothes and everyday items for our community. We work with designers all over the world, and we're constantly searching for new designs and garments. We are currently expanding this side of our business to also help other people manifest their visions (by using our network, and funding).
Fashion extends to the artwork of releases and promotional photography as well. Could you talk about your approach in this regard and what some considerations were for some of your most recent cover designs and images?
A lot of thought goes into the cover art, and usually, it’s my manager Loper and I who start brainstorming about imagery / feel. Then we tap an artist we love and have them make something that is unique.
It’s a very important part of artist branding. For my own project Liquid Stranger, we are going for the feeling of the vast unknown, the psychedelic multiverse of colliding dimensions.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. This is true both for music and fashion. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols, and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think it’s great if people from different cultures come together and share knowledge. Everyone is better off that way. This will help eliminate racism, and discrimination, and make for a more inclusive, and optimized society.