By Destroyx | August 17, 2012
Recently I had the chance to interview creative extraordinaires Zoetica Ebb and Shien Lee about their ambitious new project ‘The Secret Guide to Alternative Beijing’ which is a video travel guide series giving insight into the skyrocketing alternative art, fashion, music, and nightlife culture in Beijing.
As I write this, Zoetica, Shien and Daniel are on their way to China to begin their adventure exploring and documenting the city and culture of Beijing for their guide. They are using Kickstarter as a means of funding their project so be sure to support them so they can make the best guide possible and to get involved personally!
Q: How did you guys meet? What made you to decide to form an elite group of creative ninjas and collaborate on this epic project?
Shien: Zo and I have been friends and fans of each other’s work for many years, but we actually connected on this project with a casual tweet, of all things! I had just returned from China from the most incredible trip of my life, and I tweeted to @zoetica that I had to kidnap her on my way back this summer. That got us talking about my trip and why I could not wait to return. The stories of my adventures and the people I met there quickly convinced Zo to do some research of her own, and before we knew it, our mission took shape. Daniel is another longtime friend of mine, with whom I had shot several TV spots with over the years, and as someone who had traveled to China before, he had witnessed first-hand the cultural renaissance taking place in China’s metropolises and knew exactly why it was so important to expose this activity to a wider Western audience. With this guide, we’ve set out to inspire other world travelers to plan their own adventure to China, starting with China’s cultural capital, Beijing.
Q: What aspects of Beijing made you pick it to be the subject of your city guide?
Zoetica: Initially, our focus was on Shanghai – that’s where Shien’s first trip took place and I’d been infatuated with its stunning, futuristic skyline for ages. I always had a romanticised idea of this city, so when our plan began to materialize, I was excited to explore what’s become a Chinese version of Blade Runner’s LA in my imagination. However, after almost everyone we contacted in Shanghai asked us why we weren’t focusing on Beijing’s alternative culture, we began to investigate and quickly realized that we absolutely had to show the incredible amount of creativity burgeoning in Beijing to our viewers.
Q: As someone who has been a little intimidated to travel to China due to the language barrier, I was thrilled to hear you guys would be helping demystify the city culturally and practically through your guide. Shien, as someone who grew up in Taipei and moved to NYC to become one of the foremost producers of underground alternative events – did you feel that your background and experiences of both worlds made you uniquely qualified to create this guide?
Shien: I feel that my multi-cultural background and professional experiences are strong assets to this project, but part of what makes this guide unique is that I came in as an outsider, who did not expect to fall in love with China. To be honest, the world has held an unfavorable view of China for a long time due to a variety of reasons (especially in Taiwan, as I was growing up), and although attitudes are rapidly changing, travel to China is still stigmatized. Like Effie explains in the opening lines of our video, many people base their ideas of what China is like according to 80s kung-fu movies or their local Chinatown – but that’s not what China is like at all. I knew China had been developing at an unimaginable rate, but I was completely shocked by how different China was from what I imagined it to be, how incredible and paradoxical it is. My mission is to share this sense of wonder with the world, but more importantly, to change perceptions, break down boundaries, and promote cultural understanding.
Q: I love the idea that people can feel personally involved with the project by funding it through Kickstarter. You guys have taken it to the next level and allowed supporters to actually influence the content of the guide and become producers and co-creators. What made you come up with this idea to involve your backers?
Zoetica: Giving our backers the option to be part of the guide came naturally. One of the best aspects of Kickstarter is its spirit of community and because of this I decided that anyone who feels strongly enough about the Secret Guide to contribute at a higher level deserves to be on the creative team and participate in the project, if they want to. We’re offering several tiers of participation, with titles ranging from Associate Producer at the $250 level all the way up to Executive Producer and Co-creator at $8,000. Most of our rewards are interactive, actually. From us offering to send postcards to your loved ones from China, to getting locals to teach you how to say a phrase in Chinese on film, to going on a photo-scavenger hunt with disposable cameras – I want our backers to feel like they’re part of the adventure!
Q: I know that Zoetica has used Kickstarter successfully for previous projects. What appeals to you about using it as a means to fund creative projects?
Shien: I have not had any experience with Kickstarter beyond pledging for many of my friends’ projects, but I see it as a valuable promotional tool and a platform from which to mobilize an audience to support a worthy cause.
Zoetica: What made me fall in love with the Kickstarter experience was exactly what Shien is talking about – that sense of mobilization! Last year, when I ran a campaign for D4RT to bring art supplies and lessons to kids in an impoverished Peruvian community, one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience were the responses from my backers, many of whom wanted to be more involved, to know how they could help more. With this tool, we get to raise awareness and create a community around projects we’re passionate about – and become parts of other communities, too. I can’t think of a better way to make art.
Q: Personally I’ve been noticing a boom in amazing fashion designers coming out of Beijing in recent years so I am super excited about your street style section and shopping guide. What kind of sartorial delights do you have in store for us in your guide?
Shien: One of the designers we’re scheduled to interview in Beijing is Zhang Chi, whose futuristic and inventive menswear designs are really inspiring. Many designers grew up during the Cultural Revolution, when the only fashion being worn was the revolutionary uniform. Now, 40 years later, the Chinese fashion industry is experiencing a revolution of its own, as if to make up for those decades of political dress, and utilitarian fashion. We hear that a lot of fashionable people can be found in the Sanlitun district, so we’ll also be there with our cameras to document stylish individuals for our street fashion lookbook.
Q: If this project is successfully funded and completed (which… we all know it will be!) do you have any plans to do more alternative city guides?
Zoetica: Ideally? I’d love to, but for now we’re just focused on making our Beijing installment the best we can!
Shien: The thought is on the horizon, but we are so immersed with Beijing at the moment, we haven’t really had a chance to consider it, haha.
Thanks so much to Zoetica and Shien for taking the time out to be interviewed! I hope you are all as interested in the guide as I am and back their kickstarter project in its final days. The minimum pledge is only $1, so hop to it and get involved!
Footage of Zoetica Ebb by http://joshsgibson.com/
Images: 1. Ivan Walsh 2.hdrwallpapers.com 3. Tauno Tohk
By Destroyx | March 27, 2012
It is with great excitement that I reveal the results of a collaboration between one of my favourite bands Atari Teenage Riot and A is for Arsenic. We have been working on a few premium merch items which are now available from the Hellish Vortex Online Shop and at Atari Teenage Riot shows.
Each piece of jewellery comes with a specially designed gift box and a product card that is signed by all members of the band. The collection is strictly limited in edition, so grab them while they are still available!
It was a great pleasure to work on these designs with one of my favourite bands in the world! Atari Teenage Riot were a huge influence on me when I first started listening to and creating electronic music. They continue to be a ground breaking and innovative band both visually and musically, so it was a total dream come true to collaborate with them on this project. Working with Nic Endo in particular has been such a highlight of my year… I mean having the chance to work with one of your music and fashion idols doesn’t come around every day does it?
Co-incidentally, Atari Teenage Riot are having a 2 day flash sale to celebrate the release of their new video ‘the Collapse of History’ so it’s worth checking out their store today!
By Destroyx | February 15, 2012
I hope everyone ended up having a wonderful Valentine’s Day spent with lovers, friends and family! (I spent it with some of my best friends from Blood on the Dancefloor in Phoenix). At both the A is for Arsenic and Sugarpill HQ’s we had an absolute blast but also a bit of a hard time deliberating over all of your stylish Polyvore collages. Check out all of the very inspiring entries on Polyvore here.
We couldn’t just decide upon one winner, so we decided to pick three winners who will all win a pamper package from Sugarpill and A is for Arsenic with items from their dream Valentine’s Day looks.
The stunning winning collages are displayed below. (I know I would feel pretty kick ass wearing any of these!) Congratulations to the winners and we will be contacting you very shortly about your prizes.
Thanks so much to everyone for entering and sharing your creations with us. Yume, Amy and I were super inspired by your sartorial choices and excellent colour co-ordination! Please join the A is for Arsenic and Sugarpill Facebook pages for future competitions and updates as we will surely be having more in the future.
Much love from all of us at A is for Arsenic and Sugarpill! – Amelia, Amy & Yumi.
By Destroyx | February 8, 2012
We’re asking you to style a dream outfit and makeup look that you might wear on Valentine’s Day if you could wear anything from A is for Arsenic and Sugarpill. Using Polyvore create a collage of your dream look and you could win the items included in your collage! (subject to availability).
Above: Here’s my Serial Heartbreaker Jailbird outfit featuring my favourite Serial Heartbreaker necklace and Sugarpill’s Bulletproof, Buttercupcake and Golidlux
- Create your dream Valentine’s outfit using Polyvore featuring A is for Arsenic and Sugarpill items. (See mine above!)
- Follow both @sugarpillmakeup and @a_isforarsenic on twitter
- Share your creation with us on twitter by tweeting both @sugarpillmakeup and @a_isforarsenic with a link to your Polyvore outfit. For example you might tweet: Here’s my Black Heart Valentine’s look with @sugarpillmakeup and @a_isforarsenic (put your Polyvore link here)
By Destroyx | February 8, 2012
Photograph: Anna Swiczeniuk, Model/MUA/Art Direction: Me!
I’m thrilled to be able to present some items from my latest collection entitled ‘Black Heart’, featuring silk screened art prints, apparel and progressive jewellery.
BLACK HEART - a Valentine’s day collection for the loved & unloved by Amelia Arsenic. An anthem for the heart sick & equally to the adored. To the world’s dilettantes & home wreckers. A dark salute to heartache & heady romance.
For all you outlaws & saints, black holes & supernovas. This is for you.
Much Love + Distortion
By Destroyx | January 12, 2012
Wow… so I had a pretty crazy year to say the least but it was the most fun and best year of my life for sure! Just looking through the thousands of photos I took and having a chance to reflect on what amazing experiences I’ve been privileged enough to have and the wonderful people I’ve been able to meet, has been very humbling for me. I just wanted to share a couple of my favorite photos and memories from 2011 year with you. (Second part coming tomorrow!)
JANUARY: KICKING IT IN LONDON
On the set with the crew for the Toxic Girl video in London by the amazing Tamas.
A fry up cake me and Rich made for our flatmate Baron (it’s his favourite food) & Getting my ‘Red Riding Hood’ Tattoo by Baron at A True Love Tattoo.
FEBRUARY & MARCH: ON TOUR WITH LORDS OF ACID
On the road with Lords of Acid through the USA. Crazy crazy fun tour.
APRIL: NYC RECORDING WITH ANGELSPIT
In April I flew back home to London for a couple of days after the Lords of Acid tour, then promptly flew back to NYC to record for ‘Hello my name is’. I had my last EVER drink at the Mars bar before it closed =( Then I think I went to LA to shoot for a super secret project…
Val and I kicking chilling out before a show in Richmond.
One of the highlights of the year was playing Irving Plaza in NYC with Combichrist. Yup… that was a bit of a dear diary moment.
MAY: BERLIN ADVENTURES
After that grueling stretch of work in the USA I met up with my boy in Berlin for adventures in my favourite city!
JUNE: LONDON… WORKING… WORKING… WORKING…
I learnt how to ride a bike in Hyde Park! Also caught a secret Gallows show in East London.
I worked super hard on my fashion line Crime & Punishment, screen printing, assembling, designing… handling every aspect of the business.
JULY: LONDON WORKING & PARTYING IN EQUAL MEASURES
I did a LOT of design work in July, released an A is for Arsenic collection, designed a whiskey label for the Crobar London & started working with Illamasqua on some products.
AUGUST: ANGELSPIT EUROPEAN TOUR
For my 26th birthday my boy took me on a secret adventure to Brighton. One of the BEST days of my life. I can’t wait to go back.
Survived riots in England and went on tour with Angelspit in Europe which was a total blast. Spent lots of time getting well acquainted with liquor with my BFF in exotic locales.
I hope you enjoyed some of my silly adventures… Part two coming tomorrow…
By Destroyx | December 15, 2011
It’s Jay von Monroe & me dressed as Jay on Halloween in Milwaukee.
Hello my lovelies!
It’s been far too long since I updated my diary. I’ve been around the world and back a couple of times, played lots of rock and roll shows with Angelspit on the All the Rage tour with Blood on the Dancefloor and New Years Day, met tonnes of fans, made lots of friends and just had a non stop insane adventure across the USA.
I literally took thousands of photos over the last couple of months which I plan to blog about properly but I thought I’d put some of my favourites up until I have a free moment to write a detailed tour diary. I hope you enjoy!
We played to a lot of enthusiastic Blood on the Dancefloor fans every evening.
For about 2 months Val donned fake blood and crazy makeup for this Halloween tour. Sometimes we dressed up as the Justice League to fight crime.
Lime green + Yellow + Red = Weird x-mas elf show makeup.
With Nick Nasty from BOTDF. He’s a total sweetheart… and super tall too!
One of the perks of the tour was being able to watch BOTDF every night from stage.
Look at Curtis’ AMAZING moustache! He was the tour bus driver for BOTDF
Nick & Jay having a blast on stage.
With Nikki Misery from New Years Day one of the NICEST non-miserable people on the planet.
Photo of me, Nick Nasty, Matty, Danny, Anthony, the Liar and Nikki Misery at our last show. Boo hoo. We were sad because we didn’t want the tour to end.
My life in London has been a complete contrast to my tour life as I’ve been working on A is for Arsenic non stop and been chained to my desk 20 hours a day. However I’m so excited that Taxidermia is finally out and I can start working on my next range.
One of the fun things I managed to get out of the house for was to go to the Bizarre Winter X-mas ball with my friends. We all dressed up in latex outfits and had a spectacularly fun time!
With the gorgeous Abby, Florence and Nina Kate.
Isn’t Kate’s outfit AMAZING! (She made it herself!) She is the Satanic pope!
I also met Masumi Max… eee… amaze!!
Thanks for reading my sweet hearts and I can’t wait to share the rest of the photos with you! I hope to be posting more regularly now that I have a high speed internet connection (woo!). Also…. please follow me on instagram and tumblr for more ’round the clock glimpses into my world.
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