Yeah yeah, I know, the title of this blog post is a bit ‘huh?’ It’ll all become clear.
Oliver Sabin, who I’ve written briefly about once before, has done it again. A humble DJ/producer hailing from Edinburgh, Unicorn Kid is fast becoming a game-changer. Not content with having his finger pressed tightly against the musical pulse of the Tumblr youth, it seems that Sabin is now hoping to directly influence pop culture.
In ‘rebranding’ Dolphin Dance, a track produced in mid-2011, as Pure Space (released earlier this year) Sabin effectively shunned a movement that many considered him to be a pioneer of. Seapunk. If you’re not familiar with seapunk,
go hang out on Tumblr for half an hour it’s a weird self-referential subculture that’s one part 90s rave, one part sleeveless denim vests and one part vintage Seaworld t-shirts. And a lot of this kinda thing:
In his latest video, Need U, Sabin has totally bucked both the sound and imagery of seapunk, instead favouring manga and video game style visuals. Lore Oxford recently wrote an fantastic piece for Vice about how Westerners appropriate the shit out of everything (her words, not mine) and it’s worth noting that, although the bindi craze has been pretty hot lately, Orientalism in alt fashion hasn’t gone much further east than India. At least not for a while anyway. Sure, there’s been some adoption of Harajuku influenced stuff but none of that has permeated into the mainstream in the same way, or at the same rate, that seapunk stuff (c.f. all the ying yang symbols, pastel shades and green haired mannequins in Topshop) has.
It seems to me that, subconsciously or not, by saturating his latest video with Tokyo-esque neon and anime graphics Sabin is sending a message. Chiptune? Passé. Seapunk? Yawn. The next big thing in youth cultural fashion will be the mingling of existing symbols of counterculture (piercings, Doc Martens, apathy) with the imagery and iconography of China and Japan. Japunk.
Or whatever, maybe it’s just a music video.
UPDATE: Yeah, don’t mean to brag, but I was totally right: