We caught up with Anderson Paak ahead of his Vans collaboration
Well look what we've got here, Vans has teamed up with US-rapper Anderson Paak for a premium collaboration. Paak imparts his creative spin on the brand's iconic Old Skool and Sid DX silhouettes, reimagining the pairs with a vibrant twist.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Anderson Paak and find out a little more about his music and his love for Vans. Keep on reading to find out more...
Hi Anderson! It’s been a crazy year! How’ve you been adapting to creating music remotely in this constantly changing landscape?
I don’t know if it’s adapting, I’ve just been always recording - It’s like my safe place. I’ll always record, and I’ll always be making music regardless. I might not be the hottest thing in the streets, and I might be past my prime, but this has always been a way for me to vent and always been a way for me to heal and I always need to be able to do it. So, whether we were on tour, or anywhere, I will always book a session.
The first thing I did when I got some money was get a studio, my own studio. We were tired of getting kicked out and borrowing other people’s studios so that was really important for me to be able to have my own spot to record, no matter what goes on. Like you said, things change around you and you never know what is going to happen, but as long as I got a spot to record and get these ideas off in a timely fashion then I can adapt with the times and I can stay current and moving forward.
Have you managed to pick up any new skills or learn any new instruments during your time in lockdown that we might find on forthcoming material?
I’ve been playing a lot of flute. Other than that, I haven’t learned too many more instruments, but I’ve been really getting better with video editing because I’ve been editing my son’s videos and we’ve been having fun doing skits, so I’ve been getting more into that, getting more into my laptop and editing.
You also recently directed your first music video, is this something you think you want to experiment with more in the future?
Absolutely, my goal was to try to get at least ten videos directed this year. I want to just get as much practice as I can and now that I have this amazing team that I’ve been working, this amazing DP Tehillah and Tara, Sarah Park - the team has been amazing so I’m able to get these ideas off and I can trust in the team to make sure that it looks right. This is something I have been wanting to do and I’m looking forward to doing more.
I really want to get into doing my first feature film and doing a movie that represents Southern California and represents the musician life with my friends as well. That’s one of the things I’m most excited about, really. It’s a different kind of high when you can direct, and you see something happen visually that starts from an idea and you get so many people that are involved working towards it and you pull it off. A lot of times you don’t have a lot of time to spend doing it or money, but somehow you pull it off.
It’s just a different kind of high. It’s like doing music and producing music but you’re working with people and moving things around and there’s so much detail that goes into it. It’s just a lot of fun.
Were there any similarities to your process of making music or was it a completely new experience?
I feel like there’s a lot of similarities, for sure. Sometimes it takes as long, depending on the producer or who I’m working with, it could take damn near the same amount of time to make a movie as it takes to make a song right now and the amount of work it takes so yeah, I think it’s definitely similar. Especially how I work. I’m always working with other musicians, it’s never just me, it’s always a team effort and making a movie is very much a team effort.
In music, you have the artist, you have the producer, sometimes you have multiple musicians, you always have an engineer usually in a studio. On a movie, you have a set. There’s definitely a lot of similarities and I think they go hand in hand for sure.
With me too, after delving more into it I’m just even more amped about if there’s a song that I believe in, it has to have a video and they have to be presented at the same time for me because I don’t really want to go through the process of having people guess “how should this feel?” “how should this look?” I want people to know this is how I intended it to look and this is how I want it to feel and this is how you should be moving to it, this is what you should think of when you hear this song.
Did you find working on different media projects like these helps enhance your creative vision for your own music?
Absolutely, yeah. It definitely is a big inspiration. When I’m making the music, I’m thinking of the visual off the riff. I’m thinking how this would look and how could we pull this off visually as well. It’s a part of the process of when I’m making music. When I’m coming up with lyrics and when we’re making the beats and all this stuff, I’m thinking damn we’re making a movie right now, even before we make it and it’s that much easier to start developing treatments and moving from there.
Collaboration seems more important than ever at this moment in time, have you got anyone in your sights you’re looking to work with music on in the near future?
It’s been crazy because this year I really got a lot of bucket list stuff done and even last year. I’ve gotten to work with Nas, Busta, Smokey, Dre, Andre, Q-Tip. I think right now whatever that collaboration needs to be or is for me, hopefully it will come find me because right now I’m kind of delving in right now. I’m just working and I’m searching but as far as collaborators, there are very few people I haven’t gotten to work with right now. There’d still be like Stevie Wonder at this point, I can’t even think of it and a lot of the collaborators that I was dying to work with have passed away already and if they haven’t, then I might have worked with them already in some capacity. Other than that, there’s a lot of new artists that are out there as well.
Collaboration is a huge part of how I’ve gotten successful. Even when you go back to me working with Dre or working with Knxledge, Kaytranada like all the big songs that I’ve done have come from a collaboration of some sort. It’s hard because sometimes even if you’re a fan of someone that’s new or old or whatever, you get in the studio and there’s no chemistry like that or your voices don’t go together or you just can’t find the right song and then I don’t feel like forcing it. Sometimes I’d rather just stay a fan. I’m just like if it works, if it sounds great, I want it to find me at this point.
How did you first get hooked up with Vans? We saw you were wearing a lot of different styles at each of your live shows last year.
Hell yeah, I mean we’ve been talking off and on for a few years back and then we finally took the meeting and they showed us around the headquarters and everything and told us how much they really would love to work with us and it was just a no-brainer. I was dying for the opportunity to be able to work with them, it was just kind of hard because we were always travelling and doing this and that. It’s crazy because when you’re coming up, you gotta pay for all the shoes and you want to be fresh, you want to have the best outfits and the latest sneakers on and stuff, but you don’t have the money for it but then when you finally do get the money for it, everybody is just sending you stuff non-stop and you get it for free.
I just wanted to throw on some Vans and have just Vans. It was a dream. They have so many styles and so many colours. They got every type of design and every kind of idea just when you think they haven’t done it, they’ve done it. When I locked in with them and they were like yeah, let’s do it, and we locked in a deal, it was a no-brainer, I got rid of every other shoe and I told my whole team I’m strictly Vans and if you’re on my team, you’re strictly Vans. If I see you without Vans, then there’s going to be a problem. That was it. I just love being able to have that whole closet full of Vans and it helped me to where I don’t have to stress about what types of shoes I’m going to wear and when I don’t have to stress about that, I can make better decisions.
What are some of your earliest memories of Vans? Any iconic images that spring to mind when you think of certain models?
I always think of the Slip-Ons. I always think of just that iconic look. Just growing up, even in like grade school being a fifth-grader and never seeing any kind of shoe like that before. I just loved the design and just how simple it was and seeing skaters wearing them and surfers and then that whole transition where, because before it was very much just like "yo, you got Vans on, you’re on some skater boy stuff" and then just to see how it infiltrated hip hop and when it became like “I got my Vans on, but they look like sneakers” and then they became big in the hip hop scene and seeing that whole transition and now they are just a staple, like a Southern California staple.
You see how hyped people get to see that you’re wearing Vans because a lot of the times too people get hyped because when they look at these people, they look at them as superstars and put them on a high pedestal and they feel like well what they’re wearing is out of their reach, but then when they look at you and you’ve got Vans on just like them, it kind of does something. I feel like they feel more connected to you and they feel like “wow this dude is one of us” in a sense.
What are some of your favourite Vans styles to wear?
I really like the Sid, the shape of the Sid. I love the Old Skools. Honestly yeah, probably the Old Skool is like my go-to, especially when you get the right pants and they just fit right with the shoe. I just love those Old Skools.
Tell us about the Old Skool and Sid DX that you’ve worked on with Vans. Is there any significance in the materials and patterns that you’ve chosen to cover the shoe in?
Yes, I worked really closely with my stylist Jasmine Benjamin on the whole process for over a year now and we wanted to do something that was fun and that was me. Something that I’ve always been about has been being unique and breaking out of the normal. In a time when everybody is wearing all black, I’m trying to wear something with colour and vibrancy, have fun and psychedelics.
I love coming into these places where you don’t usually expect that and so I wanted the shoes to represent that. We were looking back at like '90s rave culture and looking at '90s rave patterns and we knew that we wanted to incorporate some of that, and we wanted to also incorporate texture. We wanted all the shoes to have some element of texture so the first two, the Venice and the Malibu, when you feel them, you could feel the texture on them, on the design.
On the tag it has a little message from me that says, “from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet, we wish you love, wisdom, and peace from Andy.” It’s got the logo on the back and all the shoes have a green waffle sole because you should be planting it in the soil, you should be saying we come from the earth.
We wanted to add little things like that on the shoe as well. We just wanted to have fun with it and have a good time. When you see my Vans it should look like oh yeah, they asked him to do the shoe and he just had a good ass time, he did whatever he wanted to do. That’s what I wanted.
Is there a particular message you’re trying to convey with this collaboration?
I just wanted it to represent my personality. I wanted it to be representative of AP and something that I would actually wear, and I wanted it to be fun. I want it to be something you can go to a festival in and have fun with. I want it to be for that kid that is not trying to just fit in. I want it to be for someone that likes to have fun on their feet and likes to have something that is like a conversation starter and pops out.
When did talks of collaboration begin happening? Was it a case of them approaching you or vice versa?
Yeah, they had approached us a few years back, but the timing was off. Once we sat down, I realized how big it was like how they hadn't really ever done anything like this. And being their first global music ambassador, I realized damn this is huge, we’re making history over here. It’s an honour to be a part of the team and I’m looking forward to the future with Vans for sure.
Are there any other shoes that you’d like the chance to work on going forward?
This is just the beginning. I’m super excited to do more! I feel like they just keep getting better and better.
The matching bucket hats are also a nice touch! Was that at your suggestion or from the brand?
Yeah, definitely. Vans came and they were like we don’t wanna just do shoes, we wanna do the whole thing and I didn’t want to do too much cause you know I’m not someone that’s like yo I’m here to save fashion and I’m some style icon. This has been a real learning process for me and my team as well. We wanted to take it slow and give them quality over quantity, but I definitely was like yo, we gotta do the bucket hat. I think that their apparel is crazy, and they have so much stuff that we could work with so again, I wanted it to be representative of me and the style that I have, and buckets is a part of it.
The Vans x Anderson Paak collaboration will be available to purchase via the size? launches app. They will also be available in selected size? stores from Friday 13th November.