City Stories: youth style in Amsterdam

To mark the launch of C.P. Company X Patta’s new collection to celebrate the Italian house’s 50th anniversary, we unite some true heads for a conversation discussing the collaboration as well as the lineage of style and culture in the Dutch city.

Cult Italian hero C.P. Company has joined forces with Dutch streetwear label Patta as part of its ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations. Having teamed up before to create a full-look collection that saw form follow function, this latest collaboration comes at a time when both camps have been hyper-focused on music and what it means to their retrospective brands.

When Patta founders Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Gee” Schmidt established Patta 16 years ago, they came from DJ and MC backgrounds – music has since been intrinsically woven into the brand’s DNA whether that means creating an ultra covetable collection for a musician or releasing a number of seriously good records and mixtapes. Take a trip to Italy, and you’ll find that C.P. Company’s had its ear to the streets for time, most recently supporting musicians and creatives like rapper slowthai, poet James Massiah and championing Amsterdam’s OWN.

It makes sense, then, that this fresh collaboration pays homage to the innovation powered by both brands and their positions within Europe’s most invigorating music and style circles.

Served in a rich navy and emerald green colourway known as Total Eclipse, the collaboration features a Garment Dyed M.T.t.N. two piece tracksuit and a bucket hat. The capsule marries Patta’s timeless silhouette with the Italian label’s iconic Mille goggle, making for a trio of future collectables that are sure to be treasured by sportswear fanatics for years to come.

To mark the launch, we’ve pulled together some of C.P. Company and Patta’s friends and family to create City Stories, a podcast by THE FACE. Hosted by Zainab Jama, the roundtable features Patta co-founder Guillaume Gee” Schmidt, Italian chef and graffiti artist Lorenzo Milelli, model and stylist Tirino Yspol, artist, designer and activist Farida Sedoc, and Patta’s music director and DJ Vic Crezée. Over the course of 50 minutes, the die-hard sportswear fans and Amsterdam figureheads discuss C.P.’s lineage within the style of the capital, the origins of Patta, the birth of Patta Soundsystem, youth style in the city and the cultural landmarks associated with each of these deeply personal stories.

Zainab: Hello and welcome to City Stories, a podcast hosted by THE FACE to celebrate the legendary C.P. Company’s latest collaboration with Amsterdam icons, Patta. The project is a part of the Italian brand’s 50th anniversary celebrations and brings them together with Patta for the second time. Today we are sitting down with Patta co-founder Guillaume Schmidt and some of the Patta crew’s friends and family, to discuss the DNA of both brands, and the longevity they share.

So to start with, I want a small introduction from each of you. Who you are, where you’re from, and what your connection is to Patta, so Gee, let’s start with you.

Gee: So yes, I am Guillaume Schmidt, I am one of the founders of Patta, I started it in 2004 with Edson, my man. Yeah, it’s just lovely to be here and to have this conversation with my friends.

Zainab: Lorenzo?

Lorenzo: I’m Lorenzo, I’ve been a streetwear or technical gear enthusiast since the late 80s. And have been friends with the whole Patta crew since the get go, I mean since they even opened.

Zainab: Vic?

Vic: My name is Victor Crezée, born and raised here in Amsterdam, connected with Edson and Gee at a very early age. I’m a DJ and currently head of music over at Patta.

Zainab: Farida?

Farida: My name is Farida Sedoc, I’m a visual artist based in Amsterdam and I’ve known the Patta crew for 20 years.

Zainab: Tirino?

Tirino: My name is Tirino Yspol, known Patta since I was 14, so that’s 10 years now. I’m a stylist currently and the guys just took me in as a kid, as family.

“Talking about the brand C.P. and Patta I think both are founded by people that are, very obsessive about things they love" – Gee

“Talking about the brand C.P. and Patta I think both are founded by people that are, very obsessive about things they love" – Gee

Zainab: Gee tell us about the origins of Patta, how did it start?

Gee: So the origins, basically my friendship with Edson, me and Edson worked together in a store called Fat Beats in Amsterdam. We linked there for our mutual love of hip-hop, music in general, we travelled a lot, we partied a lot together, like basically we spent as much time together as possible. This is actually where we bonded and built our friendship. And so he kept working in the shop, I started working at a record company. When I stopped there I was kind of fed up with the whole corporate situation and I was just bored and I hated my job. I stopped there, went on vacation to New York for a couple weeks. When I came back I was like, Yo, Edson let’s do something together.” Edson was like, Yo, I want to do a sneaker shop” and the rest is history.

Zainab: You said when did you get to Amsterdam? You said at an early age, you didn’t grow up there?

Gee: No, I came from the South of the Netherlands. Everything hip-hop, everything culture, everything popping was in Amsterdam, so before I started living in Amsterdam I was going to Amsterdam to go concerts, to check stuff out, to buy records and everything like that, so as soon as I left my house I found a reason and a way to start living there. The first reason was studying, that shit didn’t really work out for me, so I started working in a record shop, and that’s basically how that started.

Zainab: I want to ask the rest of you guys about Amsterdam as well, so Lorenzo?

Lorenzo: Well, I moved here when I was a teenager when I was 13. And to me, it was a whole new world, you know, because I arrived from Rome, which, it’s a big city, a much bigger city than Amsterdam. But even though it’s a lot less cosmopolitan it’s, you know, it’s more like the outskirts of Europe, so even though it’s a great place, Amsterdam, for me at that age was amazing. There was a lot of like, punk rock and hip-hop and I started seeing things written on the walls, and I didn’t understand it at first, but it was graffiti. And that was, I guess, what really got me into this whole culture. And Amsterdam was pretty naughty at the time. Because I mean, I moved here, I moved there in 1985. And, you know, the place was full of coffee shops and squats, and it was even slightly dangerous, which almost makes you laugh nowadays. Even in the centre city, you’d be wary and stuff like that. Those days are long gone since the expats moved in and all the prices went up. So yeah, I mean, I really lived it. It’s my city. I mean, I’m Italian, but I really consider myself from Amsterdam.

“Hip-hop brought everybody together. It was a subculture, a minority, definitely. And within a minority you feel safe” – Lorenzo

“Hip-hop brought everybody together. It was a subculture, a minority, definitely. And within a minority you feel safe” – Lorenzo

Zainab: And what about you, Vic?

Vic: Yeah, I was born and raised in Amsterdam, in the city centre, like right smack dab in the middle. I didn’t really grow up with kids in my street. So I had to find ways to connect with like-minded people. So when I was really young, I started skateboarding. And after that, at a certain point, I really, I fell in love with hip-hop. Actually, before that, I fell in love with hip-hop. And from there, I started skateboarding. And when the government took away our place where we used to skateboard, I had to find something else. And somebody pointed me in the direction of a record store called Fat Beats. And once I set foot in that place, I never left. And all those people who were working there, they’re still my friends. And they set up Patta so, and I’m still here.

Zainab: Farida, how about you?

Farida: I wasn’t born here in Amsterdam, but I moved here at the age of two, to the Noord, a really family neighbourhood where you had blocks. So you lived in the block’, and all the kids from that block played in that block. And if you weren’t from that block, it was like, Yo, what are you doing here?” So it was a really safe, family friendly environment. In Holland, it’s pretty traditional that at the age of 18, when you leave high school, you go to live on your own and study. And you could find a room still in Amsterdam to study. I don’t know how kids do it today. But then it was pretty normal. Gee and I became friends and he had this hook up for a room because he was moving into this house, and there were a few rooms available, so I was super eager to get one of the rooms. And yeah I was chosen. I got to rent a room in the middle of the centre at the age of, I was a little bit older I think 20 or something.

Zainab: And how about you Tirino?

Tirino: So I grew up in Amsterdam, I actually was born here. I grew up with much interest in fashion and hip-hop. Music culture, also punk at a very young age. At the age of 15, I was coming to the city centre, met these guys Gee and Finz and they asked me to model this campaign for them. After that, you know, got deeper into the city roots, got to know people, got to grow in my work, in my field of work. I’m a stylist now.

Zainab: Gee, I want to talk a bit about personal style. What were you kind of wearing when you started getting into clothes?

Gee: So I was so heavily influenced by everything on TV, basically, because that was the information you had, you know, you had videos and you had the magazines. I was buying The Source, Hip Hop Connection, and then you had YO! MTV Raps, and YO! MTV Raps for me, yeah, you know, everything that was coming into style, everything that you needed to have, whether it was Dr. Martens, whether it was Tommy Hilfiger, baggy pants, whether it needed to be technical jackets, what type of beanies, what type of skullies, what type of Nikes, whatever, you know, every information that was needed, I really got from YO! MTV Raps. And what I just so remember, so vividly was just the amount of colour, and that colour that really saturated into my being, as something that I really, really had to have at all costs. And that was something, that was an energy that was going around between my friends, my cousins, you know, like, I could see a cousin of mine, and I just so clearly remember this mixed feeling, whether it was of pride, or absolute super jealousy, like DAMN these shoes are so good” and why don’t I have them, you know? It’s like that feeling would just go to your body. That is something that in those years really instilled in me, just looking fresh and putting stuff together. It was so part of that whole universe, which was so important to me, which was hip-hop, basically. It was like the easiest way to connect or to click with someone you know, and you would find people in record stores, at parties, on the street. It was just an instant connection when it comes to getting to those things.

Continue reading

Zainab: Lorenzo, you mentioned about technical gear as well. So, what were you wearing when you started getting into clothes?

Lorenzo: Yeah well I was always into clothes since I was a teenager. And then I was more into, you would say more like the punk type aesthetics, or skinhead type aesthetics, you know, bomber jackets and stuff like that. So a lot of army, military gear, which in a way it is technical gear. So function in clothing has always been the big fascination with me. And then in the early 90s, I went to the States quite a lot and I lived for a year in Philadelphia. And together with my whole hip-hop style, I really started getting into rock climbing gear, like Patagonia and stuff like that. And I remember I used to wear it in Amsterdam after that. And people were like, What the fuck is this, what is this nerdy stuff?”. I remember people being in slight awe, because I wore like fleece jackets and stuff like that. But people really didn’t get it. And now I’m quite like, annoyed. Every time you go to the supermarket, you see people like, full Patagonia. I’m like, motherfuckers, I brought this shit here.

Zainab: And you Vic, what was your first sort of introduction to clothes and fashion?

Vic: For me, it was definitely the same as for Gee. I mean, back in the days, there wasn’t that much hip-hop on television or on radio. So you had to do it with the record covers, or a Source magazine, or something like that. You had one show on Dutch Music Television that I used to record. And at this one point, there was a Wu Tang Clan special, where they showed all the Wu Tang Clan videos, which I hadn’t seen any of them. So after I recorded that particular show, I knew what I wanted to wear and what I wanted to listen to. I already had a Wu Tang Clan album, but after watching all those videos, I just knew what to get. But where to get it, that was the next step. And fortunately, I had a mother who really tried to support everything I do. So for instance, if I watched a Nas It Ain’t Hard to Tell video, he had on a certain type of beanie, I had to have that beanie. I would go into the city with my mom for hours and hours and hours. But wouldn’t find it until she found a group of kids hanging on a street corner with one of them rocking the hat and she was like, Yo, where can I find this hat, my kid wants one.” And then they took her to a certain spot to get the hat. So that was when I was really really young, that’s how I kind of knew what I wanted to wear and not sure where to get it. I would just grab pants off my father and put it on because it was mad baggy, but wouldn’t really check the brands yet. I think that came later when, I mean, I have an older brother, he used to give me hand me downs and he used to be a little bit more in the know, he would give me a lot of stuff. But for me the main focus and the main place where all my money went to was music. Later on in life when I met Gee and Edson and all of them, they used to also give me their old stuff. So they kind of dressed me in a way as well.

Zainab: Farida how about you?

Farida: A great influence is family, just observing uncles and aunties and friends of my parents just having crazy style. So that is a great influence to me. And the transition from elementary to high school was an important one, you know, and my cousins were like, Okay, you look crazy, and we need to like, fix it, because we don’t want you to get beat up in middle school, we want you to be the cool kid.” So, at that time, you had this fund that parents got every three months, and my mom was like, Okay, you can get this money, half of this money every three months so you can buy your own clothing.” So when I was like 11, 12 my cousins were like, Okay, give me that budget, and then we’re gonna go into the city and buy you some cool shit.” And the cool stuff was actually just basic, like the guys already said like workwear more, like sports brands, workwear. And it was actually fun because your budget was so limited that you really had to be creative using it. Like out of this budget of 150 guilders, I have to get pants, a jacket, a shirt and a sweater, that’s a lot. So you had to be really creative going into the city, know which parts to go, also knowing what to buy. But as I was developing my taste I had the help of my cousins who already knew what was cool, and what was cool was what you guys already said, the basic workwear, and then of course you have your taste of choosing the colours and the combination, and again, music and video clips were a great influence, of what to what look you wanted to have.

Zainab: And Tirino, you said you were a stylist, when did you first start getting into clothes?

Tirino: At a young age as a kid, the same as Farida I got a lot of influence from family, so nephews and cousins, and these guys were always on the streets, always trying to be fresh, look good. And that’s what you felt when you went out to play, you know, we had a lot of these street cats who just would just look so good. And that would influence me as a kid. But then it switched up because I would wear different stuff than these guys, I was more, when I was younger, I think when I was like 13, 15 I got into older hip-hop, I guess, so like old school hip-hop, where everybody was just on some plus 2000 shit. So baggy was already killed, already done. Skinny came. Yeah, just the whole aesthetic began to change. But I was more driving to the older aesthetics. And then it switched into punk so I started to wear super skinnies with cuts in them and stuff. So at the beginning, my introduction of fashion was very, trying to look good, the same as the pressure everybody feels in the neighbourhood. Then it just diverged into something that’s more original, something that’s more alternative for the time being, where it’s now more accepted to just wear punk or wear fashion or whatever. And when I found out at the age of like 18, 19, that I can make a living styling people with the same ambition I had when I was a kid when my mom used to take me out shopping, with that same vision, it just organically grew into my job.

Zainab: I want to speak about C.P., because that’s kind of why we’re here. Talk to us about, just introduce that concept. Like why did you decide to do it? How did it come together? Give us a bit of background.

Gee: So C.P. company, basically our mutual friend, may he rest in peace, Gary Warnett, he kind of put me onto it, you know, because he was severely into it. He was always like, Yo G, yo, you know all about Massimo Osti, and, you know, you have the other brand, everybody wears that you know it and blah blah blah, but the real heads…,” that’s what his literal words were, the real heads, they know that it’s about C.P.” So he kind of put me on to it and I started investigating a little bit into it. You know, this is like, when I saw him quite a lot like in the 2000s he came to the original Patta store. And through over the years when I go to London or when I’m in New York or we have some other stupid elitist travel thing, where we got to meet each other, he would always wear C.P. product, you know so simple jackets, Mille jackets and all these types of things. And he was really into it. So that was my first recollection of how I really got into it and slowly but surely, I started buying some bits and pieces here and there. A couple of years ago, I kind of was like, hey, maybe we should chase them and talk with them and see if it’s possible that we could do a collaboration, you know, and it started as a first conversation and then one thing led to another and then we did the first Patta C.P. collaboration and this is the second one. Talking about the brand C.P. and Patta I think both are founded by people that are, very obsessive about things they love. Massimo Osti obviously was super obsessive about everything, colour, dyeing, investigating with clothing, and we are very obsessive about our own background with sports, music, culture. And I think one of the most important elements for ourselves is also that we are very depending on and also very much organically dependent on our surroundings, you know, so we do a lot with the people around us, and whether that’s the customers or our friends, I think that is a super important thing for the brand Patta. And I think for C.P., you know, just what did we touch on, a lot of, now, it’s like, quality, you know. So between all these things that we deem super important that we talked about right now, like being critical, quality. Those are all the cross references between these two brands, I think between C.P. and Patta.

Zainab: So what are the products that you’ve made and what are you excited about?

Gee: This collection? It’s really, we kind of look like okay, you know, what is a piece that really represents Patta, and that is the tracksuit, you know, like from the moment we started making clothing collections we really obsessed about making the perfect tracksuits. And that went to different stages. And I think we now are in a place with our brand that you can definitely say that people expect us to make tracksuits, like every season, it’s in the core of the DNA of our brand. So that’s the part that represents Patta, kind of. And then you bring it to the C.P. world, and then you’re going to start doing the dyeing techniques, the pocketing, all these extra details, like the level up of fabrics is just so much higher, and I think a sense of super quality. That’s what C.P. brings to the table. So it’s actually like a merging of our worlds, and I think it worked out pretty well. From our first collaboration, we have the coloured lens, so we brought that back, you know, that’s kind of a signifier for C.P. Patta collaborations. We did that bucket hat before as well, which was a very popular item so we just brought it in to complete the fit, to complete the look.

Zainab: Do any of the rest of you have any sort of history with C.P.? Lorenzo, were you ever into C.P.?

Lorenzo: Well, growing up in Italy, I mean, I was aware of like C.P. and other Massimo Osti brands from early on, because that’s the kind of thing that my parents would wear. And we had this culture in the 80s called Paninaro, you’ve probably heard of that, which was really very much a posing street culture about like, one of the biggest, earliest streetwear cultures. I mean, I guess you could call it streetwear nowadays, basically, it was like Timberlands, Moncler, C.P. company, Stone Island, they were all part of it. I think basically, the whole football culture really made it popular, I mean you started seeing it on the terraces, I’m not a big football fan but I do sometimes go to the stadium to see games and that’s where I first seen it. I have friends in London who are associated with Arsenal, I’ve gone to games with them. I know them through the whole graffiti thing. When I met them in the mid 90s, they used to go to Italy to get C.P. company and other Massimo Osti brands to resell in, so they go out to outlets and factory stores. I mean, these guys are actually in the book, like there’s some pictures of the Arsenal firm in one of these either Massimo Osti book or the casuals book, they’re heroes in London. So that’s how I know really, when it really started to come to having this kind of street cred, you know.

Gee: When you talk about our audience versus the C.P. audience, I think a really good example is Tirino, who is sitting around the table with us right now. I think our first collaboration kind of sparked interest and then you dig deeper. And when you dig deeper you’ve gotta find like, Hey, what’s the history of this brand?” And I think that’s also a similarity between Patta and C.P. Company is that we have a deeper interest than clothing alone. And if you look into the history of C.P., they worked with music artists in Italy, they did stuff for the rainforest. So both socially and music wise, they have been doing similar things to what we are doing as we speak. And I think for a brand definitely in this day and age, it’s just very important to do more than just selling clothes because that’s basically what everybody does and in this day and age, do you really need more clothes? So a storyline or something to say to people that might attract younger and older generations. And I think Tirino is a really good example because he represents the younger generation, at least from our perspective.

Tirino: Yeah, I was really into it. I think my first introduction of C.P. was also I think, just on the street. I know I had friends in London wearing it that I met when I was younger, when I was younger, I never you know, I never bought a jacket or never bought the, I would always want the goggle jacket I was mad obsessed with the goggle jacket back in the days but I never got it. And then I think organically I think, Gee and me spoke about it a few years ago and it came back into my life. But the first time I’ve seen it I was probably on the street footballing like, you had a few kids wearing C.P. Company.

Vic: For me the connection came later because like I said, I didn’t really see the Wu Tang Clan wearing it so it wasn’t for me, also it was a little bit too expensive for me. It became something later on in high school, mostly Stone Island and after that I came to know C.P. through more Gee and Finz.

Zainab: How about you Farida, is there any connection in your sort of wardrobe?

Farida: Now, more from let’s say a stylist perspective, it’s what I would say, what they represent, so in any hip-hop head wardrobe, you have a military jacket or something military, a tracksuit, sportswear and workwear. You know, so I think that the idea is just the base of my wardrobe.

Gee: I think what makes C.P and Patta real brands for heads is just the fact that I guess the people that started the brands, respectively Massimo Osti and and me and Edson, we’re kind of obsessive about the things that they were doing you know, I think we were really obsessive about the hip-hop culture, a lot of form, a lot of how can we be original, how can we stand out, that’s really deep into our essence and I guess Massimo Osti has the same obsessive way of going at things but maybe more from function. But whatever it is, it’s definitely people that went in it with their heart. And I think C.P. has been around for 50 years now, Patta 16 years, but I think the essence is from the same starting point. That’s what makes it heads mentality you know.

Zainab: You mentioned a little bit before a little bit about being in the know, and the heads sort of mentality, so how would you define that?

Gee: Well hip-hop is definitely, and I keep returning to hip-hop because Lorenzo obviously touched, for instance on his graffiti, which were in that day and age, small little clubs, you can’t even almost imagine it right now because of pop culture right now you know, and it’s doing great and it’s very lovely but for us it was a very small circle of people that you just bump into everywhere all the time, whether it’s friendships or cousins or, it was just a close knitted circle of people with very close circle also of information that you would have. So yes I was looking at Lorenzo and he was like yo, he was wearing some Patagonia, he was like, Yo Gee man, look these pants are from homez and look that’s my Italian friend and she made da, da, da, da…,” and then he went to New York and then he had people there and they brought a t‑shirt from a skate brand that’s super huge right now, and it was all these type of things that didn’t have the meaning as what they would have right now but because people just gave that information to you and you would take them serious, because oh Lorenzo he knows about this technical jacket stuff so he probably knows what’s really good, or, I was staying on the couch with him for a couple of months and he wears everything triple XL so there might be a day that he comes outside he’s like, Yo Gee why you wearing my jacket man.” But that’s how those things went, there have been times that like oh Gee that’s your old stuff, like you don’t wear that no more?” And Farida is like, You may as well give that shit to me, it’s mine now baby [laughter].” Or like, Yo what are you wearing, why are you wearing it? That’s not looking good on you I have to be honest with you, but you can give it to me I’ll show you what’s good.” So between the people around in this conversation, I think also the fun part was that we didn’t necessarily always have all the tools to buy everything and get everything we wanted, so we also had to be, on one side very creative, and find gaps and loopholes to create our own originality within this small group of people we had because if we wouldn’t we would all start wearing the same stuff. So it was very much also a challenge for us all to look good, and it was also a challenge to also sometimes outsmart your peers and your friends, you know by sometimes wearing their stuff, or sometimes just going to that other shop and seeing that goggle shoe and being like, Don’t worry about it I’m not going to tell anybody but I sure as hell will make sure that this looks good the next time when they see me,” and I see those eyes going to the corner and I see them looking… yes I got them,” and that can be so much fun, and I think that that was a big part of it.

Zainab: How do you think that translates? I’ll ask this to all of you guys, how does that translate today?

Lorenzo: I think we have nowadays, the word streetwear, it’s made for a certain market, for a certain system, you got the resellers the releases and stuff like that, I mean me growing up, streetwear I used to go to like, big department stores or technical gear stores that had nothing to do with that mentality with streetwear, or army stores, you’re taking stuff out of context. You take something that’s made for climbing, going on an expedition on Mount Everest but you’re rocking it fresh at the club, or you’re getting something that’s made for war, or made for fixing bridges and you rock that in a hip-hop way, or in a street way, and I think that’s the most important thing, it’s taking stuff out of context. And that could also be really fashion‑y stuff, it’s the way you wear it.

Tirino: I totally agree with Lorenzo, I experience it everyday with my work because Amsterdam is getting to a point where we get more fashion stores and where it’s more accessible to get big brands or huge labels, but ever since I started it was always, you always had to be creative with finding the stuff you want to present or to wear, but not having this expensive, branded jacket you just go to vintage shops or find an aesthetic that they get inspired from, which is very normal to do it in hip-hop like I never had the money to buy, when I was a kid to buy a Supreme cargo, but I could if Lorenzo did, go to a army shop and buy cargo myself, wear it with Timberlands that I could buy you know, but it’s not some sort of collab it’s just the mindset of doing it yourself, making it work with not a lot of resources, in shops or in money. We would cut up jeans or customise clothing ourselves, so still in this day and age it’s still something I have to do everyday for my work, and right now I’m getting better at getting the stuff I want, also the bigger brands, but yeah that’s still a huge thing.

Vic: I think the heads mentality nowadays, it all kind of stems from interest. So nowadays with the internet which you can use, you have all the information you need to know something about a brand like Patta, or, do your research about Patagonia, what Lorenzo was talking about. So it still resonates today, definitely, even easier accessible with all the online shops, you can find pieces really quickly and back in the days especially early 90s, a simple varsity jacket was quite a task to find a good one here in Amsterdam.

Zainab: And Farida, what are your thoughts on that heads mentality at the moment?

Farida: I think it’s a difficult one because I just come to this point to kind of analyse what has been, and my experience as in what we were doing actually, and you just knew a lot of stuff. I wanted to be associated with a certain group and show it through fashion, and everyday it kind of surprises me still the strength of fashion, huh. If I wear a tracksuit or I wore my hoodie, or when I wear my suit, I communicate something different. And then yeah, I don’t know today how people associate or affiliate themselves with a certain subculture, do they even exist anymore, I’m not sure. But me growing up it was very clear, you had subcultures and there were visual, fashionable ways to show which one you belonged to, or you played with it, you could play with it. And everything was combined, you know where you could get the best sandwich, you know what bar to hang out, you know everyone in the streets from top down to bottom up, you know you know who that guy was in what neighbourhood. And now in the city you have the same things, where you can get the best sandwich or the best pizza or the best surinamese food or the best toko or the best market, but I’m not sure if it’s so affiliated still with the subculture, which it was back then. You would never see me go to a certain club back. then, and I still have this kind of elitist I call it, a little bit elitist attitude like, Pfft I wouldn’t be caught dead there,” you know, so it has a lot to do with taste, tastemakers, elitism, I wouldn’t call it nerdy because it has more of a social aspect, that I would say that nerds really go in, and really abstract, and heads has this social component to it, you know you have to be streetwise. As Gee would call it, you have a key to the city, and if you don’t have it you know who has it. And there’s several people who have it. And whenever I travel, then the guys would be like, Hey do you want this number of this guy who actually lives there maybe,” and I’m being a girl like no, no, no, no, no, no,” and then when I’m there I’m like, Hmm, maybe I do want to have this guy’s number or email, so he can open up the city for me,” you know, so I would know where the cool shit is.

Vic: Yeah I think only a slew of people knew certain things right, that’s basically what it was, and if you didn’t know… if you know you know, that’s what it was. But nowadays there’s more information, a lot of people know shit, so maybe to rephrase my answer earlier, maybe, because everybody knows shit, there are less heads, I mean there are less people who know shit, other people don’t know, you know, it can be a little bit elite about it.

Farida: Yeah, but I wonder because I think it also has something intergenerational, as in, the previous generation pass something onto the next, cause I was in the city last week and there was this guy who was like, Oh I had the best cookie,” and I was like, No you didn’t,” because I knew where he went, because I saw him standing in line at the cookie place, and I was like 200 metres further and that is the best cookie, you know, and there is no discussion, that is not a discussion. So in that sense it’s also that there has to be kind of consensus, like no this is the best place for that, and of course you can differ a bit like, even now if we were to have a discussion like, where would you get the best fries, you know, but still we would know okay this is definitely top three. So I’m not sure who eventually nowadays then defines that place or that thing or that club or that…

Gee: People that are in the street man.

Farida: But are people still in the streets? I don’t think they’re in the streets anymore!

Gee: They are always, you know.

Tirino: We’ve made stuff hot man, when I start buying shit, like come on man, you’ve gotta give it to these young kids as well, Gee, you know it. Of course you have the stem crew that knows a lot of stuff like obviously when I’m in the West side of the city I cannot discuss anything with Gee about the West side of Amsterdam, as in food or culture or whatever, but if it’s in South East, you know he’s gonna check me, and I’m gonna show him the spots, it’s just an organic thing. I don’t think where it used to be competitive as I know where to get these records, I know where to get this sneaker,” it’s not the same as that anymore. Obviously that market is wide open because of the internet but you know you learn from each other and the whole heads mentality I found it a bit hard to you know think about the whole heads mentality because I have a different view on that, where it used to be competitive back in the day, it used to be something you walk proudly of because you know where to get your stuff, it’s so open now and so, I don’t give it any mindspace or anything you know.

Gee: I think it’s important to say, what Farida mentioned is the social component I would say, I think that is still something that even now, for you, that’s also something that you kind of carry on tradition with people that are following your steps you know, and looking at you, you kind of showed them like yo these are my guys they told me about this and I went over there because da, da, da, da, da…” and I do the same type of trade with like, Yeah that’s my man Tirino,” and when I go over there, or I call or I know like yo he has this specific information so I guess that’s of all ages and inter-generational, that’s also why we are in this selection of, this group of people I would say because in a sense I think we have kind of the same values and things that we find important, and we do find it important to have, to know, and to eat a really good cookie, you know we are not the sort of people to be like, Throw me any garbage.” I will hear it later on, if I will tell Farida like you should go and try it out there because it’s really good, and if she goes there and it’s terrible, I will hear it for another half a year, like yo man you sent me to this spot, who told you to go over there and told it was really good, some of these people have been saying that yeah but it’s really really really crap.” So I think it’s really important within these groups and subcultures and people that have specific values, and thinking specific things important, that is an interaction that still keeps running the same, whatever age you are, that’s what you kind of pass over I would say, whether you’re 15 or 10 years old, or, I will tell my son specific things like that you know. Like oh, you want to go over there, you wanna get some falafel you know yeah, it is very cross-generational Tirino, I think a head mentality, it’s also within people from your age and people that are younger and people that are my age and Lorenzo’s age, I just think the world around us just keeps changing, you know?

Lorenzo: But I think you know when you’re talking about age there’s a certain point, like a large number of people stop being interested in these things, where to get the best cookie or where to get the dopest sneakers, you know because of age. I’m one of those who sticks to his guns but people of my age, there’s less and less people who are actually interested. I still want to know the best cookie and where to get that one thing.

Gee: Maybe when it’s about goat curry or where you can get the best reggae records, so your interest changes.

Lorenzo: But I’m still a teenager when it comes to that. I’m just saying there’s a lot of people of my age who are like, Oh yeah that’s shit, I’m not into that anymore,” whatever, and I’m one of those diehards.

Farida: It’s just about being critical, at any age, keep questioning and analysing and trying to divine what quality is and why, and that’s it, I learned from different people in that sense it has nothing to do with age, a lot of things go organically. You go through the city, you like a spot, you hang out there, but I think it’s also nice, and that is the conversations you had as a kid or as a teenager or as an adult like hey why is it a cool place, why do you like it there, and if you start to analyse it, it makes sense, like we had and still have this hip-hop bar The Devil, and Gee used to work there, and every time he had to work we would go there and stay his whole shift in this bar, but then you already understand like, ah, a cool place is a place where the people who work there, you have a relationship with, that’s a first. So whenever today I go to a bar, it can be nice but, it’s nicer if the next time you come there again they’re like, Hey, Farida what’s up, hey?” and get to know each other. That’s why it’s kind of sad today that bars for instance are closed, because the bar is actually a super important spot in a community. It’s a place where everyone just can let their guard down and sit. You know each other’s name and have different conversations than your daily work conversations. So I think the thing of a head is very specifically that it’s a critical person, in a community you have to be critical of everything, not about a cookie only, but also about new laws, the government, the city programme, about everything. Everything is just as important actually, not only what you’re wearing, like why do you look like shit today but also why is the government now pushing this agenda, everything is important, everything is worth analysing.

Tirino: I think the necessity is gone off a bit isn’t it Gee? Like back in the day you obviously couldn’t find any spots to buy like Airmax or good records, and now you have more spots in Amsterdam where we can find these things so that’s why the competitive part of the whole idea is a bit gone. And still I find it very hard to find good food because I live in the city centre like, right in the middle of it and it’s still a hassle to get nice food. So out of that necessity you find these things and you share with your close people and it becomes a thing, you know?

Gee: I hear what you’re saying. Maybe products and all this type of stuff, with the internet, with the digital, with evil empires, everything can come to your doorstep but still there is scarcity when it comes to things that are in the physical world. It is still very hard to call out good club culture, and guard these things that are important to us. It’s not easier now to find a good club to go out and to party than 15 years ago, which is really strange and actually a real contradiction.

Tirino: Isn’t that to do with more a taste thing, with the subcultures you had back in the days you could go to The Roxy or go to a specific spot right but now it’s more commercial so now you’ve got more people liking the same stuff, you don’t have people travelling plus three hours to a hip-hop concert in Rotterdam or whatever so doesn’t it have something to do with that?

Vic: It’s definitely more accessible but still in that whole, for instance in the music spectrum, hip-hop music is maybe the most popular art of music there is, it’s commercialised like crazy. Like when you’re a kid you grow up with hip-hop nowadays. Back in the days it used to be different, so back in the days it used to be something you were highly interested in, or you had to search, so by definition that makes you a head, I guess, right? But still, in that same form of music there will be songs or certain artists that cater to those specific heads, so within all this information that’s thrown at you in clubs, or on the street or on the internet you still have to find your way to get the quality you’re looking for as an interested individual in a certain topic

Gee: I do think that it’s, I think it’s very spot on what you say Vic but I think that the physical manifestation of these places where you can, as a geek or somebody who is super interested, find and gather these people together to listen or to enjoy or to eat or to do anything like that, it hasn’t become easier, but you would say that there’s way more people that could do these type of things. I think with the environment we live in with everything being super expensive, it’s also a part of gentrification I would say, it’s not going to be very easy for us to say we can always go to this club in Amsterdam they have super good sound and you can go in on a Wednesday, you hear the best tunes,” whether it’s hip-hop or reggae or punk music, it is around here and there if you go to Noord or something like that but it’s just not easy.

Vic: There is not, or not a bar that I know of in Amsterdam that is always quality when it comes to music, like you can always hear the best vibes you know, from different genres, there is not one, or am I missing something here?

Farida: I think people just have to choose, like is it mainstream or not mainstream [laughs]. You cannot do both, I feel, but that’s my opinion, and there has to be some kind of pushback. Let’s say The Roxy, I went once, you couldn’t get in. You know maybe it would be The Paradiso, one of our biggest clubs. Actually when we were there, we came in but it wasn’t really easy to get in, there were also, they also did a selection, Mmm, no sorry it’s not going to happen for you tonight.” At Plastic People I was also in line with my three girlfriends for like three hours and the bouncer was looking at me like nah girl,” but that selection of knowing who to let in, who not, I think that is also a very important aspect of creating a party. There’s a necessity of exclusivity. It has to do something I think with exclusivity that you have to know who’s who. And we all know if we cannot go to that party, like us, then it’s not going to be a good party, then you don’t know what you’re doing, that also has to be clear. But that is not because I think everything now is kind of for everybody, you know, and I think we should not be afraid to be like, No, it’s green and it’s just green.” This is what it is.

Lorenzo: I think, what you’re saying about everything is for everybody, I mean everything is accessible, everything you can buy, basically. But when it really comes to it, I think this heads mentality is a lot about experiencing the city because we’re city people, we were all raised in Amsterdam basically, and when we go on holidays we go to New York, we go to LA, we go to Tokyo, and so we’re like these city dwellers, and city dwellers want to explore their city, find the quality in their city, it’s kind of the opposite, let’s say of the internet, because internet you could google something and you’ll find, so if I need a certain pair of socks and I can’t get them in my city I’ll get them from Korea, whatever. Also when it comes to clothing and retail I think online shopping is a terrible experience, figuring out what size I have, it always comes in and I send it back, I send back most of my stuff because it doesn’t feel right, that’s the thing, the heads experience it’s also a city experience, it’s a physical experience. So you touch something, you feel it, you go oh no I need a bigger size, you go oh no this looks horrible on me this colour, so there’s this whole thing of being critical in a physical space. I think somehow on the internet you can be the coolest guy and you’re a nerd, you can be the really sexy girl and you’re not sexy [laughs] you can fake it more, and you know, when you’re in the physical world it’s more difficult to fake it.

Zainab: The last thing I didn’t speak about was obviously music. It’s obviously the biggest connection between everything right? So Patta sound system, just tell the people how it started.

Vic: Yeah well basically it started out, we used to go to all kinds of sneaker fairs and stuff like that and we used to always throw parties there. We would come from Amsterdam, Amsterdam has a big DJ culture. When we used to go to these trade shows we used to do activations but also throw parties and because we come from nightlife, and so before Patta there was Fat Beats, everybody used to work at. We used to throw parties because we’re all DJs, Gee used to be the MC. So we come from that place, so basically what Patta did, we took that place with us, and at these fair shows we used to throw parties, bring all the DJs with us from Amsterdam, and from there, we kind of built a DJ team, which was called Patta Soundsystem, so the DJs that would play would play under that name, but at a certain point we felt we had to expand and that’s what we did the last couple of years, like ok we play at parties, we throw parties, we always used to incorporate music in Patta because we come from there, we used to do music projects with certain MCs or musicians from other genres, but we never really named it or seriously thought about making it some kind of a sub-label of the brand, and that’s what we did. So what we do, we collaborate with artists, we put out music with merchandise, we host stages at certain festivals under the name Patta Soundsystem, we made DJ bags so basically a lot of the music related stuff we do falls under that name.

Lorenzo: We all know each other from hip-hop, that’s basically it, then I became a reggae DJ which is very related to hip-hop. Everybody went their own way but I mean the core is hip-hop parties. As Gee was saying it was a very small scene. I can’t quantify it now in numbers but it was tiny.

Tirino: Hip-hop just facilitated the community, right?

Lorenzo: Yeah exactly, it’s what brought everybody together. It was, and I don’t know how it is now but it was definitely a subculture, a minority, definitely. And within a minority you feel safe. Being part of the mainstream you feel safe, you know what I mean, being part of the mainstream is a big scary place. When you’re those 100 people, you find your place, in a way it’s easier, you make your world a lot smaller.

Zainab Jama


Guillaume Schmidt
Farida Sedoc
Tirino Yspol
Victor Crezée
Lorenzo Milelli


Photographer: Dennis Branko
Model: Tirino YspolCreative Director Alex O’Brien
Creative Strategist: Leo Robins
Producer: Adam Lilley
Senior Project Manager: Rachael Bigelow
Designer: Georgia-Mae Skelding
Production: Front Ear Podcasts

The best of THE FACE. Straight to your inbox. 

00:00 / 00:00