There has been absolutely no escaping the new Levi’s campaign in London “The Craftworkers” ……..even more so for the models involved who have been standing at bus stops next to their own face or sitting on a bus with it stretched down the side. I caught up with DJ Josh Caffe (formerly of Caffe Latte) for a café latte and catch up at one of his local regular venues “Dalston Superstore”. It turns out that most of the artisans in the adverts are from the East-End-Bermuda-triangle-bubble as the camera crew discovered when they visited them at home for their video interviews, which you can watch here.
Levi’s have cunningly crept back in to the consumer consciousness of London’s cutting edge by cashing in on the trend of promoting talent as the alternative fresh face for the brand. As with the likes of Richard Nicoll & Cooperative Designs shooting their designer friends for last season’s look book, Levi’s have sought out a selection of the city’s blossoming crop of creatives. You will either recognise or get to know a leading light in the new breed of set design, photography, illustration, sculpture, cookery, drumming, knitting etc. etc. The individual identities were chosen for their unique skills, which you can investigate further at an exhibition in the flagship store on Regent Street.
Here are Josh’s records, which he put together to represent his "craft" as the only disc jockey amongst the collective. I instantly recognised and dated Felix da Housecat and Les Rhythmes Digitales but had to ask Josh to explain the Steve Silk Hurley and Contrast choices. I have now been introduced to 80’s Chicago house / disco and Detroit techno, which Josh plays out for its unabashed up-tempo, feel good dance floor fillers. All 5 records encapsulate his nostalgic direction in accumulating sentimental tracks and the memories of discovering them, which strikes a dance chord when you hear it. His own musical education started with house music of a nature literally closer to home………being at home when his older siblings had parties. He picked up the R’n’B & Hip Hop records in their bedrooms and got locked into listening to Aaliyah, Jodeci, Sista, Naughty by Nature and Snoop. All these early incarnations of the genre had Josh dancing in the front room with his high-top hair and planted the seed for wishing to share tunes to move to on a greater scale. Growing up experiencing time spent between the UK, Uganda and New York and more recently Stockholm, you can now find Josh settled in London’s east end with a flat cap and signature smile!
We discussed how the current hip-hop mainstream industry crossover mish mash has diluted and destroyed the original pure sound. Artists that instigated the movement have strayed off course and lost their way ………..losing love from followers in the wake of the fall out……..thus Josh diverting to disco and the kick drums of the previous decade………..when “four on the floor” beats shook the nightclub walls and celebrated free love and sexuality for the high energy crowd.
……….Which brings me neatly to Josh’s favourite Levis advert from the past of the puppet Flat Eric directed by and featuring the French electro house track “Flat Beat” by Mr. Oizo, aka Quentin Dupieux. And how about Josh's preferred design and pair of Levi’s? Josh opts for the 1950’s workman’s dark indigo style with turn-ups and buttons to be worn with braces. The styling of the "Craftworkers" story shot by Dean Chalkley was arranged to capture the essence of the subject so Josh wore his own clothes and took his favourite accessory – his headphones! When I asked if there was another brand he might like to collaborate with, his answer was Acne who have recently brought out t-shirts designed by the band The Teenagers. On the controversial questioning of personal opinion on double denim – do or don’t – Josh’s own take is “Yes” as long as its not stone-wash! My sentiments exactly, although I can never quite get over the days of B*Withched and “What are you like?”.
Moving swiftly on……………what have been the benefits of being involved in “The Craftworkers”? Well, Josh got to open for N.E.R.D at the launch event last month, which was a definite career high as he is a big fan of the seminal supergroup. The exposure has not just got his mug printed on the pages of music magazines but also slots playing across Europe ……..where most recently he ended up stuck in Berlin due to the dust cloud………with no suitcase for the duration! Josh didn’t want to come across vain in divulging the details of disappointment in having to share friends clothes but his wardrobe is an important passion in his life……….. no doubt this element was key to this snappy dresser ending up in a campaign for an international clothing company! Josh’s appearance is very easy on the eye and I have to confess that this interview strand to my job really isn’t half bad. Especially when I can learn about music history from an enthusiastic, energised sweet natured hottie like Josh.
To listen and learn for yourself, his next clubnight is this Friday “Double Up” playing alongside Lovely Jonjo (HOTBOY DANCING SPOT), Mikki Most & Ian Robinson (TRAILER TRASH). Check out here for details
Lovely Jonjo (HOTBOY DANCING SPOT), Mikki Most & Ian Robinson (TRAILER TRASH). Check out here for details
OR fire up his mixes on SoundCloud here
(Photos: poster at South Kensington subway, exhibition at the Levis store, Josh at The Dalston Superstore)