ESQUIRE: Coldplay is in town for the next few days. Have you adjusted to the time zone?

GUY BERRYMAN: Not quite. Getting there. We were in Manila prior and were stuck in crazy Manila traffic. I’ve never seen anything like it. Have you been there?

ESQ: Once. A long time ago. You’ll need to frame your appointments around how bad the traffic is. But having the concert held across several days must be great for you.

GB: So many people want to buy tickets, which is amazing. So, if we only do one show, a lot of people will be pissed-off. From a business point of view, it’s better to be in one spot for many shows because it saves on all the transportation and setup costs.

ESQ: I’d assume that it’s enough time to get acclimatised.

GB: It’s nice not having to move. I like coming to a place, unpacking my stuff in a hotel room and staying there for a week as opposed to flying into a city, doing a show and flying to the next place, y’know? That’s way harder.

ESQ: You have outfits that you have collected over the years. What is that one piece that you’re amazed by?

GB: I’ve got so many garments that I’m completely in love with. Quite often, they’re 50 or 70 years old, something like that. There’s one jacket that I have, which is a Royal Air Force Ventile parka from the 1950s that I think is just one of the greatest pieces of menswear ever designed.

ESQ: Why is that?

GB: It’s hard to say initially... but it’s the details, really. The Ventile fabric, the fit, the lining... what’s particularly nice about the jacket is that it’s 70 years old. It’s faded and got little holes in it; there’s a certain patina to it that brands try to recreate with their products. These days, you can buy new jeans that are full of holes, that’s been faded... it’s all fake. What I love about the [Royal Air Force] jacket is the way it looks, it’s old and really beautiful. I wear vintage pieces all the time. I love them because they look a certain way that you can only get from a vintage piece.

ESQ: Do you think, in this day and age, that it’s easier to buy vintage pieces or harder due to fast fashion?

GB: I’m somebody who buys mostly old clothes. When I go to a different city, I don’t head to the luxury retail experiences. I go for the flea markets, the antique shops and the charity outlets. That’s where I’d find the things that I like. I do shop from Dover Street Market but I’ve no issue with wearing secondhand clothes at all.

ESQ: Was your T-shirt, “Love is the Drug” inspired by one of Roxy Music’s songs of the same name?

GB: Actually, that was just a coincidence. The phrase has nothing to do with Roxy Music. So, we do all of our own screenprinting by hand at our [Applied Art Forms] studio. Somebody in the team said since Valentine’s Day is coming up, we should make a special Valentine’s Day T-shirt. I was thinking about what can we do that isn’t super cheesy like a heart or the kind of typical imagery associated with Valentine’s Day. I kinda thought that “love is the drug”. It kinda had that slightly edgier feel to it. I wrote “Love is the drug” on a piece of cardboard with a pink marker. I let the paint run down a little so that it looked cool. We photographed it, screenprinted about, I think, 50 T-shirts and put it up for sale the next day. When it was sold out, we kept getting e-mails from people wanting to buy it. After a while, we kept printing and making more of them. Then, Chris [Martin] wore it, which led to more people wanting it. So, here we are two years later still with “Love is the Drug”. (shows a T-shirt from the rack) We have a version only for Singapore. This is a black on black T-shirt. But, yeah, “Love is the Drug” has nothing to do with Roxy Music.

ESQ: Has Roxy Music contacted you about the phrase though?

GB: No they didn’t. I mean, I don’t know what the IP rules on this are like. I’m not sure. Actually, the phrase I meant to write was “Love is a Drug” and I wrote it wrong. The “just say yes” portion of it has to do with this 1980s anti-drug campaign in the UK... no, wait, it was an American campaign to stop kids from taking drugs and the campaign slogan was “just say no”. So when I wrote, “Love is the Drug”. I changed and added “just say yes” to it. So, that’s how it came about.

ESQ: Will you do more slogan T-shirts?

GB: For me, my real passion for the brand is outerwear jackets. So whenever we launch a new collection, it’s always built around my ideas for the jackets that I want to make. Most of the time I just wear plain T-shirts... that’s just how I like to style myself. But, of course, graphic T-shirts are what the public wants so we always offer a few different graphic T-shirts. Some are sometimes photographic-based. We do a lot of handwriting or stencilling. “Love is the Drug” is a nice phrase and I don’t think I’m going to introduce another kind of slogan anytime soon.

ESQ: You have a studio in Amsterdam. What does that do for you, creatively as an artist?

GB: My partner, Keishia [Gerrits] is Dutch and so I was spending more and more time over there visiting her family. I fell in love with Amsterdam. It’s just such a wonderful city and it made sense to move there. I’m now a full-time resident of Amsterdam. As a city, culturally, it’s very diverse. The centre of the city looks the same now as it did hundreds of years ago. I always think that it’s very beautiful. But there are a lot of creatives in Amsterdam. Many talented people, like musicians and designers. There are incredible restaurant tours there. The city changed a lot even in the last five years since I’ve been there.

ESQ: Hannah Martin is your partner for your jewellery line, A Vanitas and your meeting with her was serendipitous. Do you like collaborating with other people?

GB: I do. Collaboration is such a big thing these days. I feel almost every day you’re looking on social media or whatever and you’re presented with news of a new collaborative product. When the idea of collaborations first started happening, it was interesting but now I kinda see it for what it is... which is just a big marketing exercise. where big brands are saying, you take some of our customers and we take some of yours. That’s what collaboration these days are like. But the collaboration between Hannah and I was not about that. It was just this very chance meeting. We’re two small brands so our collaboration isn’t gonna move the dial for either of our businesses. Our partnership came about with a focus just purely on the product and the designs that we came up with.

ESQ: What’s next on the collaboration front?

GB: The most sensible collaboration would be with a footwear brand. Applied Art Forms don’t do footwear. For a small brand like us to go into footwear is quite challenging because the minimums on shoes are very high and you have a range of sizes for them. What would make more sense for us, is partnering with an established like-minded footwear brand for shoes. That would probably be my next logical step for any kind of collaboration.

ESQ: You mentioned there was a steep learning curve when you first created Applied Art Forms. Is it easier now? Or do you still find it challenging to sustain it?

GB: No, I love it. I’m very passionate, very driven about design. I’m always full of ideas so it is never an issue to realise them. I mean, we did launch the brand at the start of the pandemic; I was living in the UK at the time and the studio was in Amsterdam. So when the lockdown happened suddenly, I couldn’t go to the studio to work. Very quickly, we had to come up with a new way of working, which was, as you know, would be Zoom calls.

I’d be at home talking through the screen with the team in Amsterdam. We’d have an open Zoom meeting for half a day. If a prototype came in, they would hold it up and try it on. I’d look at them saying, no, the shoulders need to be wider, that needs to be longer, y’know? It’s not ideal but it works. Now, I’m on tour and it allows me to come to places like Singapore and speak to you. That’s helpful for the brand. But I can jump in on a Zoom meeting any time because we have the remote working method really dialled in. Eventually, when I move to Amsterdam, it’ll be fantastic because then I can cycle to the studio every morning and be together with the team. This would be much more productive.

ESQ: What about scalability? How do you navigate that and try to stay true to what you’re doing?

GB: We’re always going to stay true to what we’re doing. Of course, we needed to grow and we needed to scale a bit but I definitely don’t want to turn [Applied Art Forms] into a huge mega brand. It’s always about product quality. It’s about building a community around the brand who understands where I’m coming from. And for me, that’s all it needs to be.

ESQ: We’re curious. Your jewellery line with Hannah is about the memento mori trope (“remember that you’ll die so do all you can in this limited lifetime”). Whereas Applied Art Forms is about the longevity of clothes. What does time mean to you?

GB: It all stems down to trying to leave your mark on the world. If you make something which isn’t very good, or if it doesn’t last a long time, it will disappear. I guess it’s kinda the same way when you make music: you’re trying to make songs that will have an impression on the world. And it’ll still be playing after you’re done. For instance, (points to a jacket) that denim chore jacket there... it’s a beautiful Japanese selvedge denim and this is fantastic in the way it’s put together. Somebody like me could go to a vintage store and find this jacket because it lasted that long. But not only that, it will look so beautiful. It will have faded and there might be some holes in it but it’s going to look beautiful. I always want to make meaningful things whether that be music or clothes or jewellery. It has to be something which will stand the test of time.

Photography: Jaya Khidir

Pharrell Williams and Tyler, the Creator share a longstanding collaboration in the music industry, with many of Tyler’s songs produced by Williams. They also feature in each other’s tracks, including Williams' 2022 single “Cash In Cash Out” and Tyler’s “IFHY” from his 2013 album Wolf. The close friends are in constant creative dialogues and thrive on it. Taking it to a new level, the Louis Vuitton men’s creative director delivers a new capsule collection created in collaboration with Tyler.

This isn't Tyler's first brush with Louis Vuitton having most recently composed the soundtrack for the Maison's Autumn/Winter 2023 menswear show. The Louis Vuitton Spring 2024 Men’s Capsule Collection by Tyler, The Creator is a melodic combination of the visual vocabularies of Tyler and the Maison, especially the one that Williams has established—it's preppy meets dandy with a whole lot of fresh interpretations of both.

A special-edition Courrier Lozine 110 trunk featuring the Craggy Monogram.
The Craggy Monogram with daisies and Airedale Terrier details on jacket and shorts.
The Craggy Monogram on a windbreaker.

The collection features pieces that Tyler would personally wear. “I dress the same in a meeting as I do a performance or grocery store trip, so hand drawing the monogram felt like the perfect balance to me,” he says. Dubbed the "Craggy Monogram", his hand drawn monogram comes in chocolate, vanilla and pastel shades. In addition to the usual LV symbols and 4-petalled LV Flowers, the Craggy Monogram incorporates representations of daisies and Airedale Terriers—familiar motifs from the visual universe of the artist. The uneven shapes of the hand drawn Monogram are echoed in lines and details throughout the collection, from chocolate down jackets to vanilla windbreakers, denim jackets with matching denim pants and denim dungarees, along with accessories.

Known as the guy who turns up to awards shows in shorts, Tyler’s collection just had to include them. Classic shorts and chinos with pleats and fold-ups appear alongside dandy-esque shirts adorned with graphics. With his penchant for pastels, the collection also features baby blue cable knit jumpers with a craggy V-neck and cuff stripes, and a pink fair-isle vest. As a nod to Tyler's obsession of luggages, a special-edition Courrier Lozine 110 trunk featuring the Craggy Monogram was created for the collection.

Tyler's authenticity shines through his recurring playful motifs in the collection’s accessories ranging from flower-studded rings to a Craggy Monogram cereal bowl with a matching spoon. The collection also features a chess set with its chess pieces portraying melted chocolate, hand-sketched by Tyler himself. This is also, unsurprisingly, the rapper’s favourite item from the collection. “I wanted to mix my style and Louis Vuitton’s codes together in a way that felt slightly whimsical but could still be worn to the gas station on a Tuesday,” he explains.

Needless to say, Williams is a fan of the collection: “This collaboration is unique to Louis Vuitton because it’s a natural extension of our LVERS philosophy, building on our network of incredible artists and creatives. There are so many elements specific to Tyler built into these pieces and it’s been inspiring to see him hone in on his craft and collaborate with him for this spring collection."

The Louis Vuitton Spring 2024 Men’s Capsule Collection by Tyler, The Creator is now available in boutiques and online.

Here's something to do over the weekend. The fellas who added "hypebeast" to the lexicon are adding something different to their portfolio: a concert on our shores. Called Hypebeast Live, this concert will occur 23 March from 4pm-10.30pm at Somerset Skate Park and TRIFECTA SINGAPORE. We are talking a line-up of live music, DJ sets, arts and food; the event promises a night filled with partying and fun. And if music doesn't do it for you, there are always the activities at TRIFECTA SINGAPORE... but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Here's what you can expect at Hypebeast Live.

The Line-Up


Courtesy of HighHouse, the music event will be headlined by regional act Autograf, an electronic dance music duo from Chicago. Having performed at big events such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, Autograf knows how to get a crowd moving. Helping them keep the energy going, two musicians presented by WILD Entertainment will join them—local singer, Haven, and KIARA, a versatile DJ renowned for her eclectic music style.

The line-up concludes with DJs from Sivilian Affairs, including Nicolette, HBN, Sivanesh, TropicLab, and DONN. All the acts will also be livestreamed on the official Hypebeast Youtube channel, providing international fans a virtual front row to the shows.



It's not just about the music. It's about the culture. And nothing enlivens the culture than with a permitted graffiti presentation. Helmed by artist Clogtwo, who will work on a large mural artwork called "Canvas" on-site at TRIFECTA SINGAPORE. See the process as it starts from basic sketches and transformed into a colourful finished work. For some extra sugar, a giveaway will be held, gifting winners with an exclusive t-shirt designed by Clogtwo. 

There will be pop-up stores as well like ASICS, Don Julio, Guinness, Häagen-Dazs, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Rip Curl and more.

Capping off the night is an intimate afterparty held at HighHouse. Ticket holders of Hypebeast Live are entitled complimentary access to this restaurant-bar, where Autograf will deliver another exceptional performance.

Tickets for Hypebeast Live are available for purchase here.

Michael Clement

I LOVE BLACK. I love leather jackets, and I like having my old favourite T-shirts. I end up buying the same outfit over and over.

I WAS NEVER Mr Hardcore. When we first started playing together, there was a big trend of who can play the fastest. And it was like, “Well, I don’t want to do that.” That’s not really musical for me. It became almost a bit macho, which is something we were definitely trying to get away from.

WE DIDN’T WANT TO be a bunch of tough guys. We would rather have bigger hearts than bigger muscles.

I’M ONE OF SIX KIDS. I’m the youngest. It was loud. Everybody was funny. Everything seemed pretty much like a normal big family, whatever that means. But then that dynamic really switched when my father passed away when I was 10.

IT WAS DARK. Everyone was sort of forced into dealing with that pain. It was that ghost that was always there. It still is.

THIS WOMAN NAMED Mrs Fiatarone taught me how to sing when I was really young, four or five. I was almost like this child lounge act. I’d sing show tunes. I would sing at veterans’ hospitals. Children’s hospitals.

I MADE A RECORD when I was five. It was called “Look for Love,” and it was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. It got local radio play. That moment stuck with me my whole life. “Oh, you can make records.”

I MARRIED THE RIGHT PERSON. That’s a big deal. My wife really was smarter than I was. I was more spontaneous and wild, where she could be more practical and knew how to make plans better. But we were the right people for each other.

WHATEVER THE CRITICISMS WERE, though, I had enough of a chip on my shoulder that I wasn’t going to let anybody hold me down.

I’M OBSESSED WITH MUSIC. I just am. If I wasn’t in a big band, I would be working at a record store or teaching guitar lessons or doing anything to support my musical habit.

I LOVE THE BACHELOR. I love watching Bachelor in Paradise. You could play a drinking game and every time they say, “Welcome to Paradise,” you drink.

I NEVER GREW UP in any kind of religion. I tried to go to Sunday school, but it never really worked out.

SURFING IS ONE THING for me that has really been kind of spiritual. When you’re out in the ocean, it’s the most powerful force in the world.

I DO PRAY. I try and think of something out there that is a higher power, just to make sure I’m keeping my ego in check.

I DON’T LIVE IN LOS ANGELES. And when I do go to Los Angeles, you really get to know what all the perks are of being a rock star. It’s like you’re almost on someone else’s vacation.

I LIKE BEING A NORMAL PERSON. I like being someone that just lives in a community and has good friends and strong relationships that are based on the same life experiences that we’re all going through.

THEN I’LL PLAY A GIG in front of a hundred thousand people and I go, “Holy crap!” That doesn’t get old. It’s fun. But I don’t ever want being a rock star to be an excuse for being lazy.

I WAS TALKING to someone once and they asked me, “Why are you afraid of dying?” And I said, “I’m afraid of the darkness.” And they said, “How do you know it’s dark?” And I was like, “That’s a really good question. I have no idea what it’s like.”

SOBRIETY IS NOT a one-and-done kind of thing. I’ve definitely fallen off the wagon several times.

RIGHT NOW I don’t drink. And I like myself. If I was to put one thing that would get in the way of everything I wanted to achieve in my life, alcohol would be it. I make no guarantees. But right now it feels better.

PUNK HAS NEVER BEEN DEAD. It’s alive with the kids. When kids get together and want to play music together or create art or create fanzines, that’s what keeps it alive. Not what’s popular or anything like that.

Originally published on Esquire US

Blouse and skirt, SIMKHAI via SOCIETY A. Necklace, SWAROVSKI

ESQUIRE SINGAPORE: We understand that you’re a big fan of podcasts.

DAPHNE KHOO: I’ve been listening to so much of the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast.

ESQ: Oh, yes. Duncan can be very deep with the big questions about life. Are you in a better place right now?

KHOO: Yeah, I think I am. When I was younger, I had this beautiful image of the future. No matter how bleak my reality was, everything was going to be better. The equations in my mind, social expectations of people and life... they made sense.

ESQ: I’m hearing a “but”.

KHOO: But as I got older, I realised you can’t predict how people will react to me, so my mindset has changed. While I’m optimistic about my life right now, I also understand that it is because I had overcome tribulations and I'm just waiting for the ones to come.

ESQ: You are expecting the other shoe to drop?

KHOO: Always, always, always, always. But I’m also reminding myself to enjoy the moment. Like now. This is great and I’m super grateful for it.

ESQ: When did this shift occur for you?

KHOO: I think it was a gradual accumulation. Episodes where I got cancer kind of scuttled my plans. I was like, that’s ok. I’m resilient. I’ll get up, I keep going and then it’s one thing after another, you know. It’s not just the illness but also people disappointing you, taking advantage of you.

ESQ: Life and its lemons.

KHOO: But there is hope. That’s what keeps me going.

ESQ: Can we ask about the name change? You went from Daphne Khoo to Haneri.

KHOO: Ok, the reason that I needed a pseudonym... no wait, that’s not right. I’m thinking of another word.

ESQ: Persona?

KHOO: Yeah, thank you. I needed a new persona because I put out a lot of music as Daphne Khoo. It was fun but I didn’t know anything. I had no one to teach me, no music mentor or life coach at the time. I needed to figure out who I was and what kind of music I like for myself.

ESQ: What were some of the things you wish you’d known then?

KHOO: I didn’t know what I was aiming for. I didn’t know if I wanted to write a hit nor did I think about that side of things like marketing or PR. I was driving blind and I couldn't see anything ahead of me. But I’d just go.

Here’s how much I didn’t know: I didn’t hire professionals so instead, for a music video, I roped in my sister's mother-in-law who sells make-up to do my make-up.

ESQ: Selling make-up does not mean one can do make-up. At least, you were enjoying yourself.

KHOO: I was. But there wasn’t a lot of thought going into it. It’s like if you were painting but you don’t care about the brushes or the colours; you just want to get your paint on canvas. That was me.

ESQ: The “Just Do It” mentality.

KHOO: Yeah, just do it and figure it out later. Now, with experience, I find that there’s texture, storytelling and intention in music. I’ve learnt so much in the last 20 years of my career and waking up to that realisation—I didn’t know who I was; I didn’t know what I stood for; I didn’t know what I cared about.

ESQ: When did you start to realise this?

KHOO: The first was in 2008. I was in my mid-20s or early-20s. I wouldn’t have had that epiphany here [in Singapore]. Getting into Berklee College of Music and moving to the States helped. Even then it was this weird hybrid of who I was trying to be and who I thought I was.

That self-awareness came about later on, when I realised I wasn’t focusing on health and relationships.

ESQ: Back then did you think the music was superficial?

KHOO: Not at all. I thought I was super deep but I probably wasn’t. I was introspective; overthinking every possibility. It’s one of the things that served me well but it also ended up backfiring because you can’t take everything too seriously in life. I’m trying to look at one emotion in a thousand different ways.

ESQ: You can’t please everybody.

KHOO: Yeah, but part of being a people pleaser came from thinking that was where my income was coming from. That if I didn’t please everyone, I wouldn’t sell music and in turn, I wouldn’t be able to feed myself.

So, that came from a place of desperation. I was trying to suss out what everybody else wanted. I look at all these young artists these days and—I don’t know if it’s the way I was brought up culturally—but what they do seems selfish and yet, I get it. They are so unapologetically themselves and people vibe with it. It doesn’t matter how I present myself. The bigger question is: How do I feel? And I can also go off on a tangent and be like, Why does that matter?

ESQ: Must be fun living in your head.

KHOO: But going back to your question about “Daphne Khoo” and “Haneri”... people [in Singapore] remember me as Daphne. I’ve done so much more as a musician since I adopted the "Haneri" persona when I was in LA. If you go to Europe or the US, there’s a higher chance that people will not recognise me but they’ll recognise the music, more than all of my fans in Singapore.

ESQ: You work with other music producers.

KHOO: Yeah. With a lot of EDM producers. It’s one of the things that made the most money in my 20s. As Haneri, my first single was with Dash Berlin so I have a lot of requests coming in from around that region. When I returned to Singapore, it seemed like a smart move to go back to “Daphne Khoo”.

ESQ: You’re now working in radio.

KHOO: As you know, I'm now with Kiss92 [Eavesdropping with Daphne Khoo].

ESQ: Congrats. Are you satisfied with where you are right now?

KHOO: No, I’m never satisfied with where I am. But I am content.

ESQ: Was it easy to get to this level of contentment?

KHOO: Absolutely not. You saw me through some dark years.

ESQ: Are we talking about the COVID years?

KHOO: That was a terrible period when I lost my dad. I think that was the biggest reveal that disappointing things can lead to beautiful things. Imagine if I had my visa renewed and decided to stay in the US, I’d never have been able to be with my dad in his last days during the pandemic.

ESQ: But you’d have returned anyway, right?

KHOO: But I might have been too late. Or my relationship with my dad wouldn't have been the same.

ESQ: What’s your relationship with him like?

KHOO: We don’t have enough time to unpack that but in a nutshell: my dad was a wonderful human being but flawed like all humans are. He didn’t know what he was doing when he had kids. He didn’t know how to be a dad to three girls; he was so out of his element with us.

I think the hardest thing in the world is sucking at something for a while and figuring out how to do better. You can’t just be, I’m a bad dad so I won’t be a dad then. He took it upon himself to try and slowly get there. He didn’t know how to show he loved us because he came from a very difficult background and he felt there was no way out of it.

But watching him in the last few months of his life was quite something and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

ESQ: Did you get your closure?

KHOO: I think getting closure made me even more mad at him. In a, wow, you did this perfectly. You did everything you wanted and then figured out how to just make it all better just before you died.

ESQ: Took a while but he got there.

KHOO: He changed a lot as I got older. We had conversations like two grown adults. I mean, he was never good at talking about his feelings but he was consistent on how he apologises, which is never... but in other ways, he’ll demonstrate it by wanting to take you to work, you know? Towards the end, he just got very spiritual. He fought the cancer for eight months and in that time, did some very tough self-reflection. He told us about his life and where he thought he fell short. And then, asked us for forgiveness.

My mom found a bunch of notes on his phone. We kept his number alive and now use the phone as a media player now. He showed me that you don't have to have it all figured out. The people around you might disappoint you but you still can choose who you want to spend time with.

Those memories will stay with me for a very long time. Some good and definitely some bad because it is very tough to watch life drain out of someone you love. It was tough for him too, but he handled it.

ESQ: With regard to your career, would you consider this a comeback?

KHOO: I do, but it’ll be a very slow comeback. I had a new single called “Daydream” that came out. For the last three years, I haven’t looked for jobs; I haven’t been actively creative. I'm just trying to ease my way back into making and releasing music. I try not to let the last couple of years hold me down because I’d rather move forward.

All the accolades and achievements that I have gathered while in LA—even if just for a few years—have been part of the most amazing experience in my life. I’d like to believe everything that’s happened to me—good and bad—is leading me to where I’m supposed to be... which turns out is in this weird little cafe with you right now. And that’s ok. This is nice.


Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Asri Jasman
Hair and Makeup: Nicole Ang at SUBURBS STUDIOS using DUNGÜD and CHARLOTTE TILBURY
Photography Assistant: Kerk Jing Yi
Styling Assistant: Lance Aeron

At the recently concluded Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2024 menswear runway show during Paris Fashion Week Men's, BamBam was one of many celebrity attendees. The Thai-born singer and rapper of K-pop group GOT7 easily stood out with his red hair and Pharrell Williams-designed fit. Wearing look 9 from the Maison's Spring/Summer 2024 menswear collection, BamBam (like the style savant that he is) put his own spin by opting for black trousers instead of shorts, heavy-duty boots, and finished it off with pearl accessories.

His presence at the show was quite a social media hit. The hashtag #BamBamXLVFW24—an unofficial, fanbase-initiated hashtag—amassed over 2.1 million posts on various platforms. It's little wonder that weeks after the show, BamBam was officially announced as Louis Vuitton's newest house ambassador. "I am super happy to join Louis Vuitton as a house ambassador this time," BamBam says in an announcement video. "What Pharrell is doing here is amazing. I'm super honoured to be part of it."

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A post shared by Louis Vuitton (@louisvuitton)

The appointment is made sweeter as not only is BamBam now part of Louis Vuitton's illustrious list of ambassadors, he also joins fellow bandmate, Jackson Wang, who has been part of the fold since 2023. Wang was even one of the faces of the Maison's "Horizons Never End" campaign that centred on its spirit of travel. It may be too soon to say for sure if BamBam will be featured in an upcoming campaign, but given his pull and reach, we'd say the chances of one is quite likely. In an official press release, Louis Vuitton has already hinted on "an exciting collaborative journey".

This road to an house ambassadorship with Louis Vuitton, however, was a longtime coming. BamBam had already been wearing Louis Vuitton on a number of occasions years before. And while it's common for those in the K-pop sphere to wear the newest threads from the big fashion houses, Louis Vuitton seemed to be quite a prominent fixture in BamBam's roster of brands.

BamBam in a Louis Vuitton suit for his first mini-album in 2021.
A Nicholas Ghesquière-designed Louis Vuitton womenswear look.
From a Louis Vuitton ring... a Louis Vuitton bag.
Repping the new Pharell Williams-era Speedy.

In 2021, he wore a Louis Vuitton suit featuring a watercolour version of its famed Monogram for the music video of "riBBon" that's part of his first mini-album. The musician even wore a Nicholas Ghesquière-designed Spring/Summer 2022 womenswear look the very same year, proving that the man can rock just about anything from the Maison's universe. Throughout the year and years since, BamBam frequently repped Louis Vuitton—from jewellery to bags to ready-to-wear—in a number of magazine editorials, appearances as well as performances.

He made his first Louis Vuitton runway appearance at Williams' debut show, where he was visibly overjoyed to be reunited with Wang. And simply put, that moment became the turning point in his relationship with the Maison. Not only was he deserving of a spot on the front row of one of fashion's biggest moment that season, it was an official recognition of BamBam as a worthy ambassador of the Maison's new chapter.

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And to have it happen after celebrating 10 years of with GOT7, we reckon BamBam as a style icon is about to get more traction.

Edited by Asri Jasman

Coat, GUCCI. In all the photos of this shoot, Mark Ronson wears his AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak 36mm in yellow gold with champagne dial

I discovered that there exists (at least) two Mark Ronsons. Mark1 is a thoughtful intellectual, who ponders over every word before pronouncing it, who slowly and timidly guides you into his inner world and opens the treasure chest of his creative process, refined by a life of total immersion in music and attention in the studio to every detail, every beat and every note. Mark2 is the multi-instrumentalist stage animal who, in a double-breasted suit, closed the Montreux Festival while scratching on turntables live, dragging the audience along like a rocker, directing a band of nine of the best soul and jazz musicians in the world, deus ex machina of a sound performance that—evidently—fills him with joy, especially when the irrepressible wave of music that Mark2 evokes live on stage coincides with the one that Mark1 had designed in his head.

I meet Mark1 on the morning of the Montreux Festival. Slender, wearing a pair of sunglasses with bottle green lenses that he will not remove, and clad in a faded T-shirt, he enters the room where I wait for him, almost asking for permission. He looks younger than his 48 years.

Blazer, trousers and shoes, GUCCI

He sits on a corner sofa that seems too big for him, but his presence and concentration, contrast with his physical appearance. We understand that this will be a real interview, that he is here to answer, and which he will do seriously, for the time that we need. There are many other people in the room, but they stay at a respectful distance away, as if not wanting to disturb the process through which answers, thoughts and anecdotes emerge from the well of his conscience. He himself seems to become aware of some of his reflections as he recounts them, as if he were noticing them for the first time.

What I earlier assumed to be fatigue and detachment is instead his way of adhering to reality. It is the way he often presents himself even when he is among others—almost as if he likes standing a little to the side, watching his thoughts pass by. I had observed him the evening before, at a dinner, having recently arrived in Switzerland with his wife Grace Gummer, the daughter of Meryl Streep. The couple had remained apart from others for a long time, him gently embracing her by the midsection, or assisting her while she applied eye drops, or leaning against a column applauding an impromptu jam session by the musicians in a lake-view cottage turned museum owned by Claude Nobs, founder of the festival. Eyes always a little widened, he has a look that reveals more than he would like. His head is often slightly tilted—the same pose assumed by animals when studying the situation.

Only one topic is taboo: we cannot speak about the Barbie soundtrack, which at the time of this interview has yet to be released and which Ronson produced by bringing together a very diverse cast of stars: from Dua Lipa to Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, Lizzo, Charli XCX, Tame Impala and Billie Eilish.

Blazer, tank and trousers, GUCCI

INTERVIEWER: You manage to produce projects that are very different from one another. You jump between different genres. How do you do it? What holds them together?

MR: The first album I produced, almost 20 years ago, was by Nikka Costa. In a timespan this vast, if you really love many genres of music, you evolve, you jump here and there. I could never imagine doing just one thing, I am not judging those who do. I love soul, jazz, funk, hip hop... I grew up listening to all these genres—a somewhat schizophrenic childhood, musically speaking. I loved being a DJ, but my stepfather was in a rock band. I was very fortunate. Of course, looking back now there are also some projects that on hindsight makes me say, “Maybe I went a little too far here”. But, deep down, at the root of the music that I really love is usually a great melody, a great vocal or instrumental performance, and a great groove, a great rhythm. If you think about it, you can say the same about many genres, from Fleetwood Mac to Earth, Wind & Fire, to A Tribe Called Quest and Quincy Jones. Groove and melody are transversal, common in many genres.

INTERVIEWER: When Audemars Piguet announced that you would be producing the closing night of the Festival, you said that the lineup would be “the best band that I have ever put together”.

MR: These musicians are the ones that have given life to some of my best records. Therefore, this is the best band that I have ever put together. Montreux is not just any festival, it is an event that celebrates music, representing so many different things. But for me, in my head, it is Aretha Franklin. It is Miles Davis. It is Nina Simone. It is Curtis Mayfield, the Average White Band, all these incredible soul and funk records that I love, that made me fall in love with music. So I really wanted to do something special.

Blazer, tank, trousers and shoes, GUCCI

Then I had this idea to bring some of my favourite musicians, to have their bands perform. I thought, well, since we have all of them here during the evening anyway, these musicians who played in all my records, from “Back to Black” to “Uptown Funk” to the productions for Rufus Wainwright, we could do something truly special at the end of the evening, something we have never done before. Bringing those songs to the public, perhaps just once performed by the people who created the magic in the studio. Guys like Tommy and Homer, and the bassist, even after they recorded “Back to Black”, they only did six or seven concerts with Amy [Winehouse]. Then Amy went on tour with another band, so there were few opportunities. All these musicians have built successful careers over time, writing other songs. Some of them, like the base group that played on “Back to Black”, never played together again in the same lineup that recorded the album. It is really special and moving. When you hear it you say, “Damn, it sounds like we are recording the album.” It is as if it’s the first day, when we pressed the button and recorded. It’s how it was, for example, with “He Can Only Hold Her”. Finally, having Yebba here is really important. To honour and celebrate Amy, one of the greatest singers of all time, you definitely have to have someone very special. I truly believe that Yebba is one of the best singers of her generation, and I also think that she has incredible courage and talent to stand up and say, “Yes, let’s sing something about Amy,” while at the same time bringing her own personality to it all.

INTERVIEWER: What was it like bringing them together? How did you work together?

MR: We tried like crazy, also because I am a bit anxious. We tried to the point that some of them wanted to kill me. They are super professionals, musicians who learn a song in five minutes and on that same evening, they play it on Jimmy Fallon [Editor’s note: host of The Tonight Show, one of the most important broadcasts on the NBC network]. I am not like that, I must play and try. We learnt 18 songs that we had never done before. All in five days. In some of the sets, I deejay a cappella while the band plays. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, go haywire. There are no computers to correct it, we are live. Risky but fun. Even if we make a mess, they will be wonderful mistakes. [Editor’s note: that evening, I will notice only one mistake during the performance. In fact, it will be extraordinary, almost as if it served to remind us how fragile and difficult it can be to achieve harmony and perfection].


INTERVIEWER: :You won an Oscar for “Shallow”, a Golden Globe, seven Grammys, an endless list of other awards. Is there one you are most attached to?

MR: If you ask me to choose one, I’ll tell you producer of the year for “Back to Black”. In the end, I feel more like a producer than an artist, and that is why it is important to have someone telling you, “Hey, you’re the best producer this year”. Whatever they say about these awards, I think that one really recognises the essence, and the craftmanship that I feel in my work.

INTERVIEWER: You have produced and composed for some of the biggest stars in pop, hip hop, soul, funk and rock. How do you prepare for each of these meetings? How do you manage to bring out the best in each of them, to take them where they do not usually go?

MR: I try to feel them, to understand them. I could have had an entire album ready in my head before seeing Lady Gaga. But she arrives in the studio that first day, expressing a certain emotion, a song. My job is to chase that emotion, to try to catch it. My friend Richard Russell—great producer—says that this job consists of being constantly in tune, in making a series of right decisions continuously. Trying to emotionally intuit what is happening to the artist. Then, of course, there is the writing, the arrangement. When I started working with Lady Gage on “Joanne”, something happened. She loves jazz, and given my previous work with Amy, for all these reasons I imagine she had the idea that maybe we would make a jazz record.

We were in the studio, trying to understand each other, and she said to me, “You love jazz, right?” And I replied, “Yes, of course, but I don’t know it that well”. I like funk and soul, but I cannot write orchestral arrangements like Quincy Jones. In short, she was trying to take me in that direction. I looked at her, we were in the studio in Malibu, California, she was dressed in denim shorts, boots and a cowboy hat. Suddenly, I felt myself being pulled towards country, a kind of Stevie Nicks [Editor’s Note: musician, soloist and lead singer of Fleetwood Mac] vibe. We started working on “Joanne”, a song that she was writing. At first it could have been a jazz motif, then almost fingerpicking, very acoustic.

Eventually, it transformed into something totally different, which resulted in the record and even the genre of “A Star is Born”. I try to always have an antenna ready to pick up, to be aware of the direction we could take. It is good to be prepared for anything: when you go to the studio on the first day, you must be open to every possibility, you must always be ready to change direction.

INTERVIEWER: You are a good listener.

MR: I believe this is the producer’s most important tool. An emotional listen. Producers must constantly hear the arrangements, the music, the melody and the harmony. But the ears can be useful for much more than just simple, technical listening to music.

INTERVIEWER: Could you feel immediately that some of the musicians you met would become stars?

MR: I think if there really was something that you could intuit, like for Clive Davis [Editor’s note: the producer who discovered Whitney Houston] then I’d be much richer than I am. I can only tell if they have something that moves me, that I have never heard before, if they have a sound so unique that nothing and no one resembles it. Furthermore, even if I were able to feel that they are extraordinary, it does not mean that I would be able to help them release that hidden gift. But I find it really exciting to work with artists who are just starting out because it is all new to them, so exciting. It takes me back to my early days when I felt that way too. It is an energy. Like drinking from the fountain of youth.

INTERVIEWER: There are many rankings of the best songs that you have produced, all arbitrary and subjective. I have chosen one of the supposed top 10 compiled by Billboard some time ago. I would like you to tell us something about each of them, ok?

MR: Ok.

INTERVIEWER: The first is “Ooh Wee”.

MR: Ah, that, I am proud of it. Last month, I did a surprise DJ set in London with a friend of mine, who has this truck with a system, speakers and so on. Something that we announced only an hour before. Around 200 kids showed up and I started with “Ooh Wee”. It is a song that is almost 20 years old, birthed with Nate Dogg and Ghostface Killah, the one that took me to Montreux for the first time in 2004, and it still works, it sounds so lively. I am proud of it. And I am grateful for that record, I have a perfect song to start a DJ set with a hip hop sound. Always rocks.

INTERVIEWER: “Littlest Things”, with Lily Allen.

MR: This takes me back to an intimate era. It was before I found success as a producer. Lily Allen was so brilliant. A couple of her singles had come out and were doing well. She came to New York, we were friends and I think she was 20 years old. We went around the city into record shops looking for tunes to sample.

A bit like rummaging through garbage, something of that sort. I think that the piece we sampled was in the soundtrack of Emmanuelle. The piano riff came from there, I think. Basically, I put the record on the turntable, put on my headphones and said, “Cool. Lily, come here”. She listens, she likes it. We returned to the studio and in one hour, the song was born. I ended up opening for her tour, right when she was blowing up in the States. It was really fun.

INTERVIEWER: “Back to Black”, with Amy Winehouse.

MR: This is a somewhat swirling memory, a sort of tornado of memories. I met Amy at three in the afternoon, I think it was a Tuesday. She came to my studio in New York. We sat and talked about music. Usually, when a singer comes to me, I already have songs for them to listen to, “What do you say to this, what do you think?” But she was so fantastic, special, unique. I knew I had nothing new to make an impression with, and she was leaving to return to England the next day. She was supposed to be in New York for only one day. I told her, like, “I don’t have anything for you to hear right now, come back in the morning”. You know what, I stayed up all night because I wanted something that could work. I told myself, “Amaze her, make her stay”. The opening piano riff and drums of “Back to Black” came out. She liked them, stayed in New York for another five days. She wrote the lyrics in half an hour, I burned the track like how it was done in the old days, on CD. She went to the back room, the track was probably only a minute and a half long, she started listening to it and rewinding it to write the lyrics. It was pretty crazy.

INTERVIEWER: “Cold Shoulder”, by Adele.

MR: It was born because of Amy. You know, working with her was what made me famous. Richard Russell, the founder of XL Records said to me, “Would you like to come and meet this girl, Adele?” I entered his studio and there was a big sofa, almost like the one we are sitting on now. She looked like an 18-year-old girl, sitting cross-legged. She did not stop smoking. This is Adele, they told me. And I’m like, “Oh, nice to meet you”. She replied, “My pleasure. I have this demo, the song is called ‘Cold Shoulder’, I’d like to know if you’d be interested in producing it”. I listened to it, it was cool, just her and the Wurlitzer piano.

I do not know why I said it, maybe I was a little greedy, or I felt that I had to say something, or I had a hangover, so I was like, “Oh, cool. Are there other songs?” And she said, “No, just this one”. It was practically take it or leave it. “Do you want to work with me? This is the song I’m telling you to produce.” It went like this. To be honest, I wish I had done a better job on that song. It was a period when I had just achieved my first success. I was running everywhere; I was on tour. We went to a different studio than the usual, with musicians and sound engineers I did not usually record with. We had only one day to make this song. In retrospect, I wish I had done a little better with the sound and production. Anyway, I mean, it is still great and, obviously, her voice is incredible, so whatever.

INTERVIEWER: “Mirrors”, by Wale.

MR: Yes, cool, with Wale. I remember Jay-Z listening to that track, but I had already promised it for Wale. I think a great friend of my manager at that time said, “You know, Jay-Z heard that track, he wants it.” And I’m like, “Oh my God, I don’t even know what to say... Of course, it’s a dream to have Jay-Z wanting to collaborate with me.” But I had already promised the track to Wale, he was my friend, as well as an artist on my label, and obviously Bun B is also on the track. I love that song because hip hop is one of my greatest musical loves, but it’s not a predominant part of the music that I have made. For some reason, I took my love of hip hop and drums, and fused them with other music genres. I took the hip hop influence, and I combined it with Amy or whoever. But there are some tracks in my career, like “Mirrors” and “Fried Chicken” with Nas and Busta Rhymes, maybe a few others, that I am very proud of.

INTERVIEWER: “Alligator”, with Paul McCartney.

MR: Working with Paul McCartney is a scary thing because, not only are you there with, you know, perhaps the greatest singer/producer/arranger ever. For me it is a little like being with Stevie Wonder, I suppose. But you are also in a room with the ghosts of Jeff Lynne, Nigel Godrich, George Martin, and every other great producer with whom McCartney has worked with. I noticed that on the first day Paul allows you to stumble, look stupid, make mistakes. I imagine that everyone behaves like this on the first day with Paul McCartney. But I also felt that on the second day, it is best that you wake up and start bringing good ideas. I always remember and think about something he said when we were recording that song, “Alligator”. It starts with an acoustic guitar, and I set up the microphone with this acoustic guitar. It sounded good, sounded like an acoustic guitar. It was not anything incredibly special. He listens and says, “No, it’s an acoustic guitar. I want it to sound like a record.” In other words, make that sound iconic, because I have recorded seven million acoustic guitars in my life. I want that when I hit the first chord it sounds like someone putting the needle down on the first groove of a vinyl record for the first time. It was a fantastic comment. “It is just a guitar, make it sound like a record.”

INTERVIEWER: “Baby Blue”, with Action Bronson.

MR: Oh, I missed that song. So, I actually still have a couple of hip hop records. I like Bronson and his music, you know, he is from New York. Now the city is no longer the centre of hip hop, there is Atlanta, the South, Los Angeles. The phenomenon is completely global, from London to Italy. So when someone from New York comes along I feel a sense of pride; today we would be talking about Ice Spice or someone else. Anyway, when Bronson arrived, it really seemed like he revived the New York scene. So we made this song together. At that time, I was finishing “Uptown Funk” and I was in my studio in London. Chance the Rapper was there for a show, and he came to the studio. He asked me, “What are you working on?” I replied, “Oh a bit of this and that.” Then I made him listen to Bronson’s song. And he goes, “Who the hell is this?” “Action Bronson,” I replied. “I want to jump on board,” he said. “Well, I can’t say yes because this is his stuff, he likes it a lot. But you two know each other, so, why don’t you put a verse in there anyway? Then I can get him to listen to it.” Chance did a good job. Action also liked the verse a lot. In the end they worked together, made a video and everything.

Another interesting thing about that track is that when Bronson and I started working on it, Zane Lowe the Apple Music DJ had a studio above mine in London and came downstairs to return a cable, or something of that sort that he had borrowed. He heard the music and said, “Oh, that’s cool. You should do a chorus like, ‘Why you always all on my back...’” And I replied distractedly, “Yes, thanks Zane. You can put it there.” Instead, Bronson said, “Cool! What were you singing?” That was the only time when my ears were not open when they should have been. I was an idiot. It was my friend from the floor above, I did not expect him to come and write a chorus like that, out of the blue. But this was how that lucky refrain was born.

INTERVIEWER: “Uptown Funk”.

MR: It is just... it is incredible to think how humble the beginnings of that song were. Bruno [Mars] had a little studio in West Hollywood, not really in West Hollywood, but in Hollywood, in the worst part of town. It was a tiny studio with a drum kit set up in a back room that looked more like an office. There was also a fax machine, it was probably an office in the past, the drum kit was in there. All very cramped.

That evening we were simply improvising. Bruno went into that office and started playing the drums. I played bass, Jeff Bhasker the synthesisers. In truth, we had no precise idea what we were doing. We were just playing. I played some sort of bass line; it was very groovy and fun. There is something truly beautiful when you let yourself be carried away, sometimes with friends or people you hang out with. We continued to play for around five hours, much longer than was necessary. Then we entered the room and Bruno played “All Gold Everything” by Trinidad James. We said, “Let’s get busy with that rhythm, but let’s put our own words into it.” We went on like this. Bruno, Jeff, Phil [Lawrence], and I sitting on two sofas, just like this one. And then someone said, “Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold” [Editor’s note: the second verse of the song]. And that was when we thought, “Oh this is a strong verse, there is something here.”

BUT IT TOOK A LONG time to finish that song after that night, wherever we were, because Bruno was on tour, in Memphis, in Toronto and so on. We were trying to recreate that same feeling from the first night, but it was as if we could not get ahold of it any more. We continued to look for the excitement of the first night, so it took us a long time. Seven months to finish the song because we wanted every part to be as emotional as the first verse we wrote. Eventually, we got there, but there were many moments when, out of frustration, we were about to give up.

INTERVIEWER: Luckily that did not happen.

MR: I knew it was for my album, I was interested in finishing it. I waited a few weeks, so that everyone would forget how exasperated we were that night. So I said, “Guys, do you want to get back together and finish that song, you know?” And off we went again. Each time we got a little closer.

INTERVIEWER: We have already talked about Lady Gaga, but one of the songs is “Million Reasons”.

MR: It was very lucky that I walked into the room at the right moment, when she was working with Hillary Lindsey, a great country singer from Nashville. It was already evening, they were already well into working on the album. I think I might have been away for the weekend because I was deejaying or something. And then I arrived just as they were almost finishing the song. They could have probably completed a great song without me, but I came in and wrote some chords for the bridge between the chorus and verse. And I helped to complete the outro. Those are the two songs on that album that I think have held up best, “Joanne” and “Million Reasons”, the ones that are a little more touching, let’s say.

INTERVIEWER: Last on the list is “Find U Again”, with Camila Cabello.

MR: It is fruit of the genius of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, you know. He had practically the entire instrumental idea. And he had the melody. I added some drums and helped with the lyrics, but honestly, Kevin had this killer demo right when I was working on my “Late Night Feelings” album. Kevin and I had probably worked on that song in different versions, changing the beat, the arrangement, you know, different instrumentation, probably for a year. I was always there saying, “We must do something important with this song. The melody is too beautiful.” Then, at the last minute, while I was finishing the album, I managed to get in touch with Camila Cabello, who I was a fan of. We did not know each other, and I proposed the song to her. And she said, “Yes, I like it. I want to write on it.”

INTERVIEWER: Did we miss any other songs which you wanted to talk about [Editor’s note: and while I say it I think of hits like “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”, with Miley Cyrus.]?

MR: I would say no. I am sorry; I cannot talk about the soundtrack project that I have just finished [Editor’s note: Barbie]. But apart from that, I cannot think of any songs in particular right now. In our set tonight, we will be playing some beautiful ones. There are also a couple of songs like “I Need a Dollar” and other songs that the guys wrote that I have nothing to do with, but we play them anyway. They are also their songs. But when I look at the setlist for tonight, songs like “Somebody to Love Me” or “He Can Only Hold Her”, seem like the right ones. It is really incredible for me, especially because I am not a conventional artist or singer, to have made five albums with this variety of songs. Some I have forgotten, honestly, but others are very special for me. It is a great fortune to be here in Montreux to play them.

INTERVIEWER: You are something more than an ambassador, I would say almost a curator for the Audemars Piguet musical project at this point, right?

MR: Yes, it is a truly positive relationship. We could not do this show tonight without AP. They are patrons of the arts. François [Editor’s note: François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of AP] is passionate about music and during our first meeting, one of the first things that came up was Montreux. Tonight’s show is very financially demanding, I would have to play here for three weeks in a row if I wanted to afford all this, and I would probably have to deejay at every after-show party and wash the dishes of the restaurant on the terrace. So, obviously, I am very grateful. Every project with them has been different. I think for AP it is always important for them to lift the hood and show the public the creative process: the first time Lucky Daye and I made a song together; we filmed the day we composed it. For this evening, we started a collaboration with Daphnee Lanternier who created an incredible conceptual scenography. The thing I am sorry about is that we will only do one show. It is like this is the only time I can go on stage and feel like I am Daft Punk. In short, we manage to think up something interesting every time and we really try to create art. We are not just here for a branding exercise.

INTERVIEWER: Let’s continue to look under the hood of the creative process. How do you look for inspiration?

MR: It is strange, emotions cannot be controlled. You can manage them, but the emotions themselves determine the music you create. If you have a bad day and you feel melancholy, that will be reflected in the music. You could never do the opposite, say, “Ok, now I want to be melancholic because I have to write a song like this.” You cannot go into the studio every day and create something extraordinary or exceptional. You just have to follow the emotion. You can never do the opposite or try to influence the emotion itself too much.

INTERVIEWER: How do you recharge?

MR: I meditate. It is one of the things that I do. I try to leave my phone in another room when I am in the studio. It is so easy to pick it up every 45 seconds, but this disconnects you from the creative process. I stay home with my wife and daughter [Editor’s note: he and Grace Gummer had a baby girl a few months ago]. This is the best way to recharge.

INTERVIEWER: What is your relationship with success?

MR: I feel lucky, no one follows me on the street. If I happen to be walking in my neighbourhood, and someone approaches me and says, “Hi, I love your music.” They do not even ask me for photos, they just want me to know that they appreciate what I do. This is ideal. I worked with many artists and people who, once they reach a certain level of success are forced to change the way they live, how they move, and they cannot even go out. This is not something I want for myself, nor for my family.

INTERVIEWER: You grew up immersed in music, when did you start making it?

MR: I started playing the drums when I was very little, I think I was three or four years old. When we moved to New York, my mother married my stepfather, Mick Jones, who had a recording studio because he was the guitarist for Foreigner. He let me record little demos with all the sophisticated equipment that I barely knew how to use. I loved making demos. There was something about the moments when I was alone in that room, like, “Now I will play the drums, then I am going to overdub the bass and the keyboard.” It was something so powerful and immersive. Four hours could pass in an instant. I liked it. At first I did not even write my own songs, I did covers. I was rerecording songs like Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Wishing Well”, note by note, the songs that I loved.

INTERVIEWER: That album [“Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby”, 1987] is beautiful. I consumed it.

MR: It is incredible, truly incredible. An extraordinary album. It’s funny, I never thought about it until you asked me. It is funny because, in becoming a record producer, my first passion for music was not so much “I want to get on stage and play rock guitar” but it was more “I love being in this environment where I can control the sound.” Now it seems obvious to me, and I think that there are definitely strong parallels with being a DJ, there too you find yourself at the console managing the levels and sounds. You control how people listen to the music. Yes, I think that period, when I was 10 or 11 years old and I was going to my stepfather’s studio, was instrumental.

INTERVIEWER: When did you understand that this would be your life?

MR: It did not happen right away; I was not sure of it. I loved music so much. I worked as an intern during the summer at Rolling Stone magazine. I did not know if I wanted to write about music or create it, because I was not a piano prodigy. It was not so obvious as to say, “Here, this is your path.” I was trying to understand it, but I think that it was around 16 or 17 years old when I decided that this was going to be my path.

Blazer and trousers, GUCCI

INTERVIEWER: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

MR: I do not have an answer. I always feel disappointed that I do not have something specific to say. Like, “I want to be on the moon broadcasting the first live concert” or something of the sort. I simply do what I love most. And I continue to challenge myself and constantly evolve in all that I do. Now I am composing film soundtracks. I am happy as long as I challenge myself musically and conceptually, and continue to do what I love.

I do not have grand ambitions, so to speak. I am currently writing a book on the New York nightlife of the ’90s, about my journey as a DJ and conversations with other DJs. A bit like when Anthony Bourdain was talking to other chefs. It is kind of a funny story about New York at that time.

INTERVIEWER: When does it come out?

MR: I am writing it right now, so I am not sure, but I hope it can be published next year. It takes a bit of time because it is a demanding job and I have never done it before. I have to reconnect with many people, remember some of the stories, and so on. But it has been fun so far.

INTERVIEWER: Is there an artist whom you are listening to with interest, someone promising?

MR: No one comes to mind right now. I would tell you Yebba, I know that she has already released an album, she is not a newcomer, but she is certainly one of my favourite singers and songwriters.

INTERVIEWER: And is there someone whom you would like to work with but have yet to?

MR: My hero is Steve Winwood, even if that is not why I wore this T-shirt [Editor’s note: he is wearing a T-shirt from the 1991 tour]. I do not think that we will ever be able to make a record together, but his solo work, as well as with Spencer Davis, Traffic and Blind Faith, are exceptional. He is so full of soul. The first time I came to Montreux was in 2004 and we went to Claude Nobs’ home. At that time, there was an evening dedicated to hip hop at the festival. I was there with a group of rappers from New York. I remember thinking, “I do not know who is playing the Hammond piano right now, but he is really good.” I looked over there and it was Steve Winwood. I dropped the guitar. I thought, “I am not worthy of playing with Steve Winwood, it’s too much.” That was the only time I was in the same room with him.

Mark1, polite, bids goodbye, stands up and dissolves softly, lightly, fading like a jazz standard, just as he had appeared. Rehearsals and a nap await him before the evening.

Nothing like Mark2’s farewell who, at the end of the concert, seeks the audience’s embrace and riles them up, yelling into the microphone, “My name is Mark Ronson, I hope we will meet again soon.”

Us too.

Photography: Caroline Tompkins
Styling: Antonio Autorino
Photography Assistat: Patrick Woodling
Grooming: Laila Hayani using CASWELL-MASSEY at FORWARD ARTISTS
Production: Sabrina Bearzotti
Translation: Lestari Hairul
Project made in collaboration with Audemars Piguet

Overshirt and turtleneck, ZEGNA

There's no love song finer /
But how strange the change /
From major to minor /
Ev'ry time we say goodbye

- "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" by Cole Porter

As a child, you're a blank slate. When people say, it is written in the stars, they are basing it on long-dead planets, their light burnt out long before their rays could reach us. Was it a sign of things to come when Bruno Major, aged seven, took up the guitar? Or maybe, we're reading too much into it.

But it made sense, in hindsight. Of course, he'd gravitate towards music. It was always a constant in the Major household—a brother who would later be part of London Grammar; a father who plays guitar; a tickle of the ivories of the piano in the house.

At seven, Major was gifted a guitar for Christmas. Six hours a day, he'd play on it; his red-raw fingertips giving way to calloused bumps.

It was like wearing a coat tailored made for him: music felt as familiar as it was exciting. Major knew at the time—as certain as children knew about the rising of the sun or that the love from their pets would never leave them—that he would end up being a musician.

Metal appealed to the teenage Major. As a teenager, changes to his body and emotions swept over him like a tsunami. He saw his first Korn concert at 13; wore eyeliner; painted his nails black; played in a metal band, the culture spoke to him and, contrary to the general misconception, the genre has a high level of musicianship that Major appreciated.

"There was a lot of crossover between metal and jazz," Major says. "In some way, metal was my foray into jazz because I started to learn about modes and scales like 'that's the Dorian mode or that's the Phrygian mode', which are the basics of jazz."

He became a session guitarist at 16 and pursued a jazz degree at Leeds Conservatoire (formally Leeds College of Music). Moving to London, Major tried to find his voice in the music world. It was after talking to a homeless man that he felt inspired to write his first song. Unable to find anyone to sing it, Major sang it himself. And then he sang another of his song. And another.

Major uploaded his compositions to his Soundcloud account, where it caught the ears of the music labels. He'd signed to Virgin Records, who flew him out to LA and gave him the star treatment as he recorded his first album.

Then the label unceremoniously dropped him. Calling the album "rubbish", Virgin Records refused to release it. (An EP called Live was the only recording that was released with the label; three of the four songs would be featured in his future albums.)

Devastated, Major returned to Northampton. He lived off what was left of his advance and took up a job with a local theatre company to pen music for Shakespeare plays. His confidence as a songwriter took a nose dive, he tried writing but didn't think they were any good. Major was tethering, the option of quitting a looming possibility.

It was a car ride with his mother that would give him a fresh perspective. She imparted a balm: that what he was going through are all "part of [his] tapestry". That stayed with him. (Days later, he would pen "Tapestry", which later be included in his 2020 album, To Let a Good Thing Die.)

Major decided on an ambitious project of writing a song every month for a year.

Turtleneck, ZEGNA

"Originally, the idea was a song a month for the rest of my life," Major explains. "My manager was like, Dude, I don't think you should do that. Maybe just try for a year? But it was pretty intensive. The songs had to be delivered a week before the monthly deadline. So actually, it was a song for three weeks, then I deliver it, take a few days off and then start again."

He had no expectations. The project was an exercise in whether he could write a song with an imposing deadline. Some songs were easy ("Just the Same" was written in 20 minutes), others were hard (Major almost missed the deadline with "Easily").

All 12 songs were compiled into an album called, A Song for Every Moon. It was released independently and garnered 30 million streams in a year. The experience taught him a lot. Major learnt how to let go, to put something out even if he thought it sucked. By not having to overthink, Major made better music. This was the start of his career

The world is made smaller by the Internet. He'd want to perform in South America; he'd want to return to India. ("I was in India playing for another artist.") That he is able to reach people all over the world, that magic isn't lost on him.

"Being on tour is wild. You get up, work out, you eat, you do the gig, you travel, repeat. After a while, you get to enter into a flow." He gestures to our interview, "This sort of breaks it up. It's fun.

"I love travelling and I can understand why people would find it boring after a while but I love it. In fact, the only problem for me is when the tour finishes because you have to return to normalcy."

Bruno would post a video on his Instagram about the 24 hours he'd spent in Singapore. It's a whirlwind affair with snippets of our photoshoot, a visit to the local Spotify office, rehearsals and then the big sold-out show at The Capitol. At the end of it, he looks relieved, energised even before the video cuts out.

With all that he has going for him, imposter syndrome sneaks in. "There's a weird thing with writing where it doesn't feel like you've accomplished anything. Like, with the latest album, Columbo."

Turtleneck, ZEGNA

After touring for Moon, Major rented a home in LA and worked on his sophomore album, To Let A Good Thing Die. This follow-up to Moon was about the arc of a relationship; Major had broken up with a girlfriend and while acknowledging that it's better to let things go, love is ever-present.

He was about to embark on a world tour to promote it when travel became heavily restricted thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. He moved back into his parents' Northampton house; he played video games and drank. As an independent artist, Major's main form of promotion is touring. He pivoted to placing more emphasis on his social media presence, performing online and interacting with his fans. Like the rest of the world, Bruno was waiting out the pandemic.

"I was extremely fortunate. I was in a nice place; I was with people that I loved, we were healthy."

But still, he wished something more could be made with the second album. It's one of those youthful yearnings, both envied and forgiven, where a man in his life of 30, needed to make something of himself.

So the moment travel restrictions were lifted, he booked himself on a plane to LA and stayed in Silver Lake. For the next six months, he lived twice as hard as he could, trying to make up for all the lost time. It was a prolific period in his life; an explosion of creativity.

The pandemic was a period of introspection for Major: who is he if he couldn't tour or make music as he once could? It forced him to examine who he is on the inside. Borne out of a rebirth from Covid, this would be the theme of the third album.

He started driving around in a vintage car that he christened "Columbo" as its paint job matches the colour of the trench coat of Peter Falk's endearing TV detective. This represented a renewed freedom post-pandemic. Even after he'd crashed the car, Columbo would become the album's title track.

"I made Columbo in my bedroom. I converted one of the bedrooms in my house into a studio," Major says. "My success is defined by having created the thing that I am proud of. And I'm more proud of Columbo than I am of any of my previous albums."

Cardigan, trousers and boots, ZEGNA

Studying at the feet of jazz masters, Major cites his heroes like a devotee reciting the psalms by heart: Kurt Rosenwinkel; Biréli Lagrène; Wes Montgomery; Joe Pass; Cannonball Adderley… these are famous jazz musicians but they're not household names.

Major once saw Rosenwinkel play in London. Despite the modest attendance, Rosenwinkel performed like the absolute master he is at his craft. "He has more talent in his fingernail than 99 out of 100 of the artists that are on the top 100 popular music charts," Major says. Success does not equate to the greatness of one's art and inversely, the lack of success does not mean that you're a terrible musician.

At the end of the day, it's always Major and his songs.

"I think it helps when you do not have preconceptions or expectations. I never really thought anybody would want to listen to my music, I'm grateful to be here. It's mostly just me and my songs. Everything else that comes along with it is a wonderful bonus.

"[There are perks] but they are temporary things. As Pharrell says, if you have a library card, make sure that you use it because at some point it will expire. It's highly unlikely that in 30 years' time, people would want me for interviews and photo shoots… maybe, I dunno. Who knows? But my music will still be there and people will be listening to it."

We see the stars at night, our awe is caught by their luminance. And we marvel that in the empty blackness, a light persists.

Photography: Shawn Paul Tan
Styling: Asri Jasman
Grooming: Christian M
Photography assistant: Xie Feng Mao
Styling assistant: Lance Aeron