We caught up with Frock Editor-in-Chief Tessa Hewson to talk about the genesis of her publication, French electronic music, ’70s punk in New York, animal-print jumpsuits and Kate Moss.
JC Report: What made you want to launch Frock in the first place?
Tessa Hewson: It’s fascinating to see how people dress up to go out and be seen—there are stacks of photo blogs dedicated to documenting just that. I wanted to explore how people dress up to go to see certain gigs—invariably you find fans at live shows dressing in the same style as the musicians themselves. Last week I went to see The Kills play a free gig at Rough Trade here in London—it was clear that many of the girls loved Alison Mosshart’s fantastic rock style—lots of long black hair and tight black jeans. It’s amazing to see how music icons become fashion icons and spark their own fashion movements. I also want it to be a kind of record of popular culture right now and to create a dialogue about how fashion and music influence each other. (After seeing the Kills, I did wear my skinny black jeans and black rock shirt with my gold ankle boots to work the next day.)
JCR: You’ve featured some bigger names like Girl Talk and Ed Banger as well as lesser-known stylemakers like Ebony Bones. How do you
decide who makes the cut?
TH: It’s always fun to interview the bigger acts and get their thoughts on fashion—something that they might not usually get asked about. It’s also great to interview up-and-coming acts before others get to them. Artists like Ebony Bones for example have whole tribes of fans that dress up in amazing outfits to go see them play; artists like this create mini fashion movements. I just interviewed this amazing singer called Tiombe Lockhart from Brooklyn—ever since I met her I’ve been looking for the ultimate animal print jumpsuit like she was wearing. She was out doing a new night called NYLO, a collaboration of New York and London acts. I’m really interested in new acts and nights like this that try and push the boundaries of music and style and inspire people, too.
JCR: Where do you draw inspiration for your fantastic spreads?
TH: I have some amazing designers who help me and I’m always interested in collaborating with new people. Some of the artwork comes from people I’ve interviewed—like the amazing Amy Winehouse and Frankenstein illustrations in Issue 3 by Jordan Atkinson. That’s a great thing about interviewing fashion designers—they often have great illustrations and images to use.
JCR: Who are the current influencers creating waves in fashion and music?
TH: The artists coming out of Brooklyn right now are totally hot —like Yeasayer and MGMT—that kind of psychedelic, tribal rock. That energy and
style makes me think of ’60s rock like the Doors or Hendrix or the Kinks.
The French electro guys are amazing—guys like Sebastien Tellier are
creating sensational sounds but they are out there putting across these
great styles too, really sharp and classic with a real ’80s edge. Artists
like Santogold are bringing it for the ladies—like what MIA started a couple of years ago. And, of course, Spank Rock and now the Cool Kids are behind the most interesting street fashion.
JCR: Why do you think fashion and music have a special relationship?
TH: Fashion and music have always been linked. I guess people really started to take notice when rock and roll emerged with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but it definitely came to the fore with the punk movement. A lot of people credit Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols and Vivienne Westwood with making punk a fashion movement, but when I think of punk I definitely think of New York in the ’70s—the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Blondie—they all made people sit up and take notice of radical new ways of dressing and they embraced this along with the grit of punk itself.
As much as I hate the term ‘new rave’ and the fact that it was dreamt up by NME to describe bands like the Klaxons, there is no denying that new rave also turned into a major fashion trend, albeit brief (thank god), which quickly spread from what kids were wearing at gigs to high-street fashion.
Today, pictures of whatever new hot band are all over the world within
seconds and new trends start instantly. There are so many musicians
collaborating with designers, getting dressed by designers—they’re hotter than your ordinary celebrity because they have that rock ‘n roll edge about them that everyone wants. And when you have people like Kate Moss—possibly the world’s most famous fashion icon today—dating musicians like Pete Doherty and now Jamie Hince from the Kills, well, she obviously thinks fashion and music have a very special relationship!
JCR: What are your future plans for the magazine?
TH: At the moment we are working on a proper homepage for the site that will have a blog updated everyday. So it will be a chance to review gigs, post pictures and highlight news and trends daily, rather then just through the magazine. I want to encourage people to contribute with comments and pics from all over the world. I’d love to have as many people from around the world writing articles on what’s happening in their cities for the magazine, too. I’d also like to develop a free print version of the mag—just a little fold-out book with beautiful pics and designs because as great as online is, it is nice to have something more tangible to keep.
JCR: What new cities do you think are on the rise?
TH: Melbourne is fantastic. I lived there for almost five years before hitting London. It’s such a cool city but it’s like it has never had to prove anything to anyone. I went back over Christmas and the kids kinda dress like they’re hanging out in Williamsburg or something. Melbourne has
always had a fantastic live music scene—even the electro bands coming
out of there like Cut Copy do live shows with guitars and stuff but they are essentially a dance act that takes a lot of inspiration from the French electronic artists.
Crunk and hip-hop have become really big there, too—people have caught onto acts like Diplo, A-Trak, Cool Kids, Girl Talk much sooner than they did
even in London. There are some totally great independent designers, and
because it’s kinda isolated from the rest of the world, it means fashion
evolves a little more independently from what else is out there.
This interview was conducted by Kyle Landman.