For the first time the founding members of Vintage Stereon sit down in an exclusive interview to talk about their recent collection, inspiration, and the creative culture emerging in Miami.
By: Joseph Dunivin III
MIAMI, Florida – Up until now, the team behind the Broward based clothing brand and creative content company Vintage Stereon, have been discreet and selective about disclosing information on who and what it is that’s behind the brand literally creating noise and gaining momentum over the past few years in the Miami metro area.
Vintage Stereon has been gaining recognition for their original graphic designs on tees which can be purchased online on their website or seen making a buzz throughout all forms of social media. Vintage Stereon also provides an experience that gives consumers a peek into their lifestyle, and more insight on what the brand is all about by hosting and collaborating with others on music events and parties that have taken place in South Florida.
The brand itself, originally co founded by four friends NSTB_Biggavell, KEYSUSx, SPC_FCT and SteezeMcQueen. With the addition of ham_mde and Goldie_TheGreat, the team consists of six individuals that all play different parts and important roles in bringing their vision and passions to life. I recently was able to have a conversation with the Vintage Stereon team about their start, specific roles, inspiration, and what the brand embodies.
I wanted to ask you guys about an old picture and article I’ve seen. The article was talking about Broward students launching a clothing line called Vintage Stereon. How long ago was that?
@KEYSUSx: That was high school, that was our first notoriety we got from anybody. That was about 6 years ago.
@NSTB_Biggavell: That was the Sun Sentinel newspaper, bro. We started stupid young, like 16. So we been doing this for a little while, but we started extremely young so back then we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing.
@KEYSUSx: The main goal wasn’t even money we just wanted to rock and make our own clothes, not even try to sell to people we just wanted to wear our own clothes to express ourselves.
@SPC_FCT: This shit just started off with us just being interested in making clothes so we just wanted to figure out the game. How to use Adobe illustrator, figured out a way to download that shit. Figured out how to use Adobe Photoshop, from there we just taught ourselves everything else. Everything just started to click, just being in the scene. Started getting introduced to the right people at the right time, everything just grew from there.
@Ham_mde: I was around from time to time cause’ I was in a higher grade then them. I would see NSTB_Biggavell in the hallways and say “What up?,” but I didn’t really get initiated until after high school, like 2010.
@Goldie_TheGreat: Ham_mde is my blood cousin. We moved to Florida at the same time. When Ham_mde was still on the outside making designs I saw everything he was doing. I was like “yo this shit is dope give me shirts I’ll rock em,” because before I got on with them I was still doing music I was still doing photo shoots. I used to wear a lot of their clothes in my shoots. The first time we all actually met is when NSTB_Biggavell older brother had a video shoot. I had came over for the video shoot and from the video shoot nigga I ain’t leave. [Laughs]
What’s the meaning behind the name and how did you guys come up with it?
@KEYSUSx: The whole Vintage Stereon thing is basically our love for vintage culture and our love for music at the same time. The thing that inspired us to make Vintage Stereon was music. So the thing with us, is that the stereo was always on with us. Kind of a play on words and created Stereon out of it. Stereon to us is something that is always gonna’ be forever. Vintage has its time period, but Stereon there’s no time there’s not a specific period, it’s forever. It’s like an infinity sign basically. VS is like a living organism; it’s always growing it’s always learning.
@ham_mde: It’s a mix between past and future.
@SteezeMcQueen: It’s the past’s impression on the future you, know what I mean? You see that whole aesthetic, how we chase that.
@NSTB_Biggavell: You always see a lot of grids in our designs that represents the future, vintage cars you know, we love that shit and that’s something that represents the past and you know it’s kind of a vintage futuristic type of shit, bad bitches…and it really is powered by looking at old school Miami movies and looking at different histories and morph it into one.
@SPC_FCT: It was at a time where hip hop was slow, ringtone rap shit. We were on some next shit we were listening to different music, we were interested in just different vibes so it just translated into the shit that we made. We created different vibes.
@NSTB_Biggavell: The best way to summarize what Vintage Stereon is it’s a group of creators, we all have our own niche into the brand into the company. We all kind of feed off each other’s energy in regards to VS, VS is its own entity. You never know how many people are in VS we make it look like it is it’s own entity. We’ve thrown other parties without using the name Vintage Stereon and we throw parties using the name Vintage Stereon (laughs) we let people have their own perspective of what we are trying to put out. Everything is in house by the way. Everything we do is absolutely in house. We did that because it was hard for us to get people to do what we wanted or to even match the vision that we were trying to put out. So we were like why are we doing that when we can just do it ourselves?
Vintage Stereon is the brand and company, but it also feels like an Umbrella for different types of creative content that each of y’all specifically bring to the table. What are the specifics?
@SPC_FCT: Everybody calls me Johnny. I abbreviated specified fiction to SPCFCT so that’s what you see as my signature for my art. I’m one third of the design team. The thing about me is I was always into Illustrator and Photoshop. My art, I’m kind of able to see what someone else is doing and reprogram it in my own way. So for ham_mde, SteezeMcQueen and KEYSUSx to have ideas and do certain things I feed off that. I was always a little bit better (laughs) cause’ I went to school for two years for Photoshop and Illustrator and it was cool. I learned a couple things here and there but most of it was self taught. I do paintings, graphic work, album covers, logos, and shit like that.
@KEYSUSx: I’m one third of the design team. I’m in charge of design, photography for the brand and some of the creative direction. So right now I’m trying to focus on basically designing and my photography work cause I’m trying to take my photography to a different level. I’m not trying to be like the regular Miami photographer and just take pictures of chicks in bikinis. I’m trying to branch out to more high fashion photography even vintage work too, like shooting with old school film cameras, medium format, polaroid it doesn’t matter. Anything, anything to do with photography I fuck with it. When I first started I just picked up a camera because I didn’t want to have to ask somebody to take photos for me. From there I realized like damn, there’s actually a lot of technical aspects to photography.
@SteezMcQueen: I’m the creative consultant as they say. I like to consider myself a corner of the design team. I think I’m pretty vital to the design team. I pull a lot of concepts, drive a lot of focus into where we should go as a team and kind of bring that all together into one fluid motion. Basically I connect the dots man whatever you see media wise, videos, we got something coming up and need a full display for a show I’m on that. I’m very eclectic I like to pull from different generations and shit like that my brain is really big on film so I pull a lot of things like that and try to pull from everything.
@Goldie_TheGreat: I’m like the wild card, I’m the rapper. I’d say I got the youngest soul of the group. (laughs) I’m the bridge between everything we got going on and the street. A lot of people think I’m one of the founding members of VS cause of how hard I rep for the squad and everything I do has VS tagged to it. It’s like a family, everything I do it’s like how can everybody benefit from this? What’s the crew going to gain from this as a collective? I’m finessing something all day, if somebody gives me an opportunity I’m not just thinking for myself even if it’s something I’d personally fuck with. The question is would the team wanna fuck with it? So then I shoot out the texts.
@Ham_mde: I’m one third of the design team. I always liked the vintage shit. I’ve always been interested in the 80’s era I always liked that. I kind of ran off with that and intertwined it to what we were doing. The thing about design you got to appeal to people and everything has to be relatable. Everybody has to relate to something. You have to see it, get used to it, embrace it and that’s what I try to implement when I design.
@NSTB_Biggavell: I have an influence in regards to the design team, the party scene and throwing events. I deal with marketing and the business side of Vintage Stereon. I also have a hand in what we put out and idea wise. We want to be one of those brands that’s a staple when you come to Miami your rockin Vintage Stereon, when you come to Miami you coming to a Stereon show. Something like that is the goal now as far as what we want to accomplish.
Your designs feel new but there’s something that makes you feel kind of familiar with them at the same time. I wanted to ask where the inspiration for previous collections but the most recent one as well because that has definitely made some noise.
@Ham_mde: It was one Saturday me and my brother decided to take a trip to Jamaica and I just wanted to come back with some fire. The fraise ‘badda than dem by far’ that was quoted by Vybz kartel. So I was in Jamaica I was chillin for two weeks, I actually got to kick back there not like here because you know we always on the go. So in Jamaica I was just chillin at the crib and came up with ‘badda than dem by far’.
@NSTB_Biggavell: We had a pretty big intermission in regards to the company because we kind of steered away from selling gear and just went straight into throwing parties. When we finally had the opportunity to take a break from throwing parties and just sit and create he went to Jamaica at the right time. He came back and those 5 designs were all created around ham_mde. 7 designs in total ham_mde created about 5 of the 7. KEYSUSx created the soulja tee and SPC_FCT did the 20/20 tee. The Never Alone tee let’s talk about that.
@SPC_FCT: This printer that we did the collection with recently, it’s literally like same day. Me and Ham we was settin up the designs, making them for the shoot and then right before we left, the never alone tee was made in like 10 min.
@KEYSUSx: Some of our designs too… have subliminal undertones to it. We try to put a hidden message to it, not only so that it looks good but that they have hidden meanings to them or something we want to keep people aware of. Whether it’s political issues, social issues or even issues with ourselves. You look at our Fuck Twelve tee that’s trying to bring attention to police brutality and all the riots that are going down.
With music being such a passion for the collective it makes sense that you guys got into throwing parties and hosting concerts too. Why is it also important for you to throw parties as well as make clothes?
@NSTB_Biggavell: We want people to see not only just the creativity but the lifestyle. Which is extremely important it’s not cliché. It’s extremely important for people to see what we are actually trying to bring out. It’s not easy to cross over for people who throw parties to get people to believe in their clothing brand, when actually we started out as a clothing brand we just went into throwing parties. Even with the parties that we throw it really isn’t your regular standing party, it’s a networking event. People come out that have their own brands to network, like you might see your favorite artist at our shows you might see somebody that you know like a dope promoter or dope host that come out because a lot of people do fuck with what we are doing on that aspect. I had an opportunity myself to work with one of the owners actually both of the owners of the show, Rolling Loud, we linked up with him from earlier this year he came out to the We Lit shows. We had @YesJulz come out, @madeintyo, we had one with @FATMANKEY We went into 2016 just going crazy we did @WestsidePlague last year with R.I.P to @1YUNGFRESH, we had @MetroBoomin the whole C9 the whole @Two9 it was a fuckin festival.
There are a few pictures of Andre 3000 circulating around the internet and social media looking like a straight up regular festival goer, backpack and all. The pictures were from this years Rolling Loud. There’s a particular picture with him flashing a huge smile and carrying the rated R tee shirt from your most recent collection. How did the shirt wined up in the hands of the legend Andre 3000?
@SPC_FCT: I ran all the way back to where our shit was ‘cause we had our own event at Rolling Loud. It was crazy ‘cause when I ran back into the room the rest of us was there and they was about to fuckin spark up. I was like yo son! I just ran into Andre 3000! they was like for real? I was like yo what the fuck should I give this nigga? And they were like “aight give em this and this” I ran off without the shirts I realized like half way I don’t have the shirts! I came back, got the shirts and I ran through everybody. Some real bobbin and weavin son. This was the point where everyone was like is that Andre? Now niggas is starting to swarm him and now he has to do the strong arm I’m a celebrity I’m out. So he starts making moves and I’m trying to catch him and had to grab this niggas shoulder and almost turn him around, he looked at me, I gave him the shirts he was like “yo I appreciate it” and then literally this chick that I had just talked to earlier snapped that quick photo and then he bounced. That was literally the last moment before he left.
@NSTB_Biggavell: He finds out later that, that chick that was taking those photos was a photographer for GQ. (laughs).
With everything that you already have going on what else can we expect from Vintage Stereon?
@SteezeMcQueen: What to expect from us coming up soon, we are about to release another collection soon, different platforms hopefully different articles of clothing besides tee shirts and stuff like that. We also are just dipping our toes in the water with the Blog that’s on our website.
@NSTB_Biggavell: With the blog on our website it’s not just going to be one of these websites that’s solely based on the brand. It’s going to have some type of relationship to the company but you’re going to see different brands, music that we fuck with, people that we fuck with.
@SteezeMcQueen: Some movie reviews maybe.
@KEYSUSx: Our brand has always been kind of mysterious, we want to give people a view into our minds. It’s a perfect platform for all of us to share what we want. We are about to bring our TV series back too called The Filth. The VS edition. New work from Goldie coming too.
@Goldie_TheGreat: New single coming soon, new project coming asap.
@NSTB_Biggavell: That’s where we stand today. So many things had to happen to have the opportunity that we have now, with the shows, We Lit, Westside Plague, to having a clothing brand, now having not only kids in the streets wearing our tees but kids online saying “Yo I fuck with your brand and I fuck with what your entire state is doing as a whole, you guys are putting on for your city.” That’s an even bigger accomplishment to me because it wasn’t always like this.