HOLE AND HOLLAND is a label that represents DJs such as YO.AN and Mamazu, as well as NAIJEL GRAPH, an artist who has collaborated with Adidas Originals and the Beastie Boys. The group proactively tackles a dizzying array of work: For example, YO.AN was involved in the music for Evisen Skateboard’s Australian tour video, “WORKING HOLIDAY,” which was released through the skateboarding magazine, Thrasher.
What brought HOLE AND HOLLAND together? The three core members talk to TOKION about the origins of their formation as well as their individual work. They also tell us their thoughts on the label’s flagship store, OFFF, which opened in Shibuya at the end of last year.
It all began with a house that became a hangout spot; friends who were brought together by music and skateboarding
――First, could you tell me about how HOLE AND HOLLAND (Hereinafter “HOLLAND”) was formed? Are you two brothers?
NAIJEL GRAPH(Hereinafter NAIJEL): Yeah. I’m the oldest brother, and Mamazu is the third oldest brother. The second oldest brother, STONE’D, who makes beats and films, is also a member.
Mamazu: The friends who used to hang out at our house in high school are HOLLAND. That’s how HOLLAND started.
YO.AN: Those two [NAIJEL GRAPH and Mamazu] lived in Nerima, and I lived in Setagaya. But we liked the same things, like skateboarding and music, so we hung out all the time. NAIJEL GRAPH was a super cool older brother, wasn’t he? He drew pictures, DJed, and had a lot of records. The house was like a toy box, and the music was bumping. (laughs)
NAIJEL: It was like, is this a club? (laughs)
YO.AN: Actually, I did think it was a club. (laughs) Even during the day on a weekend, it was super loud——to the point that I’d be the one who was concerned, like, “Is this okay?” But it was really fun because there weren’t many environments like that, and listening to music loudly sounds totally different. The DJ and producer FUSHIMING and the artist EDO KANPACHI, who drew the HOLLAND logo, also lived in the neighborhood. They were friends we grew up hanging out with. After that, we started making music. Everyone loved the act of creating something, so once our sound was coming together, we started talking about how it’d be a good idea to do it ourselves. So, we started working as a label.
――How many members are there?
――What does the name HOLE AND HOLLAND mean?
Mamazu: EDO KANPACHI, who writes songs and draws, had written it in his notebook: HOLE AND HOLLAND.
NAIJEL: It was sort of a doodle, but it was cool because it looked like a logo. So we just started using it from there.
――What were you all doing when you formed the label?
Mamazu: We were partying with our friends, but at the same time, when I was about 22, we released the compilation album “RIDE MUSIC” through HOLLAND for the first time. We released it as a 12” record too. We turned it into a single and included a remix.
――I saw that 5lack was part of that compilation.
YO.AN: I used to work for a skate brand agency with Kacchan [Katsumi Minami of Evisen Skateboards]. He introduced me to 5lack back then. It was right around the time we were making our first compilation, so we were also reaching out to people who weren’t part of HOLLAND. When I talked to 5lack, he agreed to join.
――The group has a strong connection to skaters, like Haruka Katagata, one of HOLLAND’s members.
YO.AN: Haruka is from my hometown, and we lived in the same neighborhood.
NAIJEL: He was already really good at skateboarding from the time we met him, wasn’t he?
YO.AN: When we met him, he was still in elementary school, but he was basically sponsored from head to toe. I think he was the coolest guy in Tokyo. He would come to HOLLAND’s parties all the time, and eventually, he started DJing. He just naturally became a member from there.
With art and music as their weapons, HOLLAND
bands together and works all over the world
――Could you guys tell me about what you’ve been up to recently?
Mamazu: Basically, we all do our own thing, so we get our own bookings. I think DJing is sort of an extension of all of us working as artists.
YO.AN: HOLLAND is like a platform that we can release things through at any time. Sometimes, we get asked to perform as a crew. STONE’D makes sound systems, so if the event is on the scale of a reception party, there are times when we bring the sound system in and all perform.
――Has the coronavirus affected your DJ work?
Mamazu: Yeah, it has. We suddenly started doing more live streams.
YO.AN: Some live streams based overseas, like in London, reached out to us, so we joined in online.
Mamazu: Right. At first, we didn’t see the advantage of live streaming, so we were a bit torn, but then we realized there are some positive aspects. We take DJing really seriously.
YO.AN: Usually, I select songs based on the audience in front of me. But with a live stream, there’s a large, unspecified number of people in the audience, and you don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the screen. So, if I think about it, ultimately, the only option is to trust in the quality of the music. I try to play things that would sound like a good mix CD if you closed your eyes.
――NAIJEL, have you taken part in any online group exhibitions?
NAIJEL: Not really. Fortunately, I was able to hold the art exhibition I’d planned just in time.
――The members of HOLLAND have DJed at the reception parties for NAIJEL’s art exhibitions, right?
YO.AN: Yeah. We even go overseas together.
――Where have you gone before, for example?
――While you were in the UK, you performed on NTS Radio, right? Did you get a good response abroad?
Mamazu: Yeah. In the UK, it’s a famous radio station that people are quite familiar with, so there was a good response. At the time, there weren’t many Japanese people appearing on overseas internet radio stations, either.
――You [NAIJEL] sold apparel as part of a three-way collaboration with Goodhood and BEAMS T. I think the HOLLAND T-shirt that was the basis for that was a really great idea. It had a round pocket the size of a CD, and in that pocket was a mix CD.
NAIJEL: There’ve been a lot of brands who thought it was interesting and reached out about a collaboration.
Apparel with a music concept is
part of the expanding HOLLAND universe
――HOLLAND has also been proactively developing apparel.
NAIJEL: That’s true, but the music comes before the apparel.
YO.AN: We use something music-related as the base, and create an intricate idea. For each item, I try to attach a CD, cassette tape with music that you can only hear with that item. I wanted to make clothes with added value.
YO.AN: We make clothes because we want to introduce people who like fashion to our music and new music. We hope HOLLAND apparel can be an opportunity to connect with people from different fields.
Mamazu: We want to keep making things that we want to wear and use.
――In December of last year, HOLLAND opened the OFFF shop. Before it opened, NAIJEL said that he wanted to make it a store that felt like hanging out at a friend’s house. Hearing your stories today, it feels like you’re recreating the atmosphere from back when the HOLLAND members would hang out at NAIJEL and Mamazu’s house.
NAIJEL: Yeah. That might be close to how we feel. We want people to stop by the shop as if they’re visiting a friend’s house. There’s a coffee shop nearby that our friend runs, Coffee Supreme Tokyo, so I’d like people to buy coffee there, and then come relax while drinking a coffee.
Mamazu: We even have a bed right in the middle of the store. (laughs) We want people to feel at home. That’s why it’s called OFFF.
――Does the store have any other concepts?
YO.AN: It’s a space where people can come hang out and relax——where they can buy HOLLAND merchandise whenever, and buy music and art. We’d also like it to function as a rental space where people can hold exhibitions or solo shows.
NAIJEL: I’m planning all kinds of projects as part of HOLLAND, but I also plan to have a proper exhibition as NAIJEL GRAPH at OFFF.
――I noticed that there’s a women’s vintage shop, Griffith Vintage, attached to the store.
YO.AN: The store is run by two women, one of them being my wife. They started a women’s vintage shop around the same time, so we opened a shared shop space.
NAIJEL: It feels more like home if we have men’s and women’s [clothing], and even couples who stop by can enjoy themselves.
――So, what does HOLLAND plan to do this year?
YO.AN: If we’re talking about releases that are already set in stone, there’s a 12” by SUNGA, which includes the song used in the recent Evisen video, “WORKING HOLIDAY,” and a 12” by an up-and-coming-artist from Nagoya, TAIHEI. Both of them are perfect for playing at parties. Also, FRAN-KEY’s disco edit will be released on cassette. Of course, we’re also working on a bunch of clothing and merch.
――What’s next for the shop?
Mamazu: I’d like to sell more stuff that’s influenced us.
NAIJEL: Also, it’d be nice to sell limited-edition collaborations and carry our friends’ brands.
YO.AN: We’re also thinking about making YouTube videos at the store.
NAIJEL: In a really laidback way. We might even do it in our sleep. (laughs)
Mamazu: Since we have the space to do it, I’d like to do interesting things like that.
YO.AN: Also, we plan to have a pop-up in Tokyo around the summer of this year. I can really only say that as a loose plan because we’re living in unpredictable times. We’re currently making various items for that.
NAIJEL: I think it’d be great if we could have a pop-up that captures the spirit of OFFF. I’m also working on some really cool collaborations, so stay tuned.