Thor Rixon is a producer, performing artist, and exemplary “non-Berlin” Berliner. His act includes costumes and synthesizers, hence, on our stage, he’s the perfect guy a on clothes and spokesman for a conversation about fashion in a city of passersby!
Œ Magazine: Hello Thor! It has come to our attention that in addition to experimenting with music, you like to experiment with fashion, and of course that makes you the perfect candidate for our little case study! Can you tell us a little bit about your music? How did you start?
Thor: I’ve been making music since the age of 11. I started with the guitar in 2001, and soon after the drums, and then the trumpet. By 2010 I started producing electronic music.
Œ Magazine: Music, art, and fashion often come together to satisfy the need for theatricalization in our lives. Your public image has gone through quite a few makeovers in the past: there were dreadlock-pigtails, yellow fur coats paired with tennis socks, statement brim hats over white turtleneck sweaters, and skin tone bodysuits, to name but a few highlights. In other words, you come across as quite the shape-shifter! Is there a relationship between your style and your music?
Thor: Yes, when you go on stage, you are essentially a performer and the way you appear, and dress for that matter, is going to inform the audience about what kind of vibe you want to put across. I always had lots of fun spicing up my music with styling and acting. My videos are geared towards performance art and most of them are one-shot tapes that emphasize the story.
Œ Magazine: What about the characters in the story?
Thor: I’m very interested in acting. Everything that was taken into consideration for the videos—lighting, camera work, art direction, and wardrobe—was functional to a mood or message, but recently I started working on some actual characters. It’s still quite new, but it’s something I want to bring into my work a lot more. Maybe in the future, each performance will star a different kind of persona. Who knows? This is a character I’m working on right now—Marcello.
Œ Magazine: What inspired this personality?
Thor: The starting point for the Marcello character were these red glasses; I found them and thought “Uhh, feeling these!” and then just took it from there. I’m not sure who Marcello is quite yet, but he’s probably from Italy and maybe sells cocaine (laughs)… I might need to ask my Italian friends, Paullock and Pavlov for some help building his profile.
Œ Magazine: (laughs) What other associations do you think people might have with this outfit?
Thor: Right now I feel like Marcello is very self-obsessed and obnoxiousness. You know, he’s very passionate and expressive in his gestures.
Œ Magazine: It must give you a kick to embrace different personalities, to be someone you normally don’t have the chance to be. How does it affect your confidence on stage?
Thor: Yes! You can get away with quite a lot when you become a character, especially one that doesn’t care about what other people think.
Œ Magazine: Did you ever go out as one of the characters you’re working on just to test people’s reactions?
Thor: Maybe once or twice, to see how certain people interact with a particular set of personality traits.
Œ Magazine: Aren’t you a little scared you might become one of your charachter? That Marcello might take over?
Thor: No, I doubt that could happen, but I also don’t know.
Œ Magazine: Is your normal everyday lifestyle completely detached from the style of your characters? What do you take into consideration when you get dressed for a normal day?
Thor: On a normal day I wear what ever is available in my cupboard and then, just before leaving the house, fix it, depending on the destination and the weather.
Œ Magazine: Did your style change at all since you first came to Berlin?
Thor: There have been a few outfits I’ve seen on the streets or in Berlin-based publications that inspired me.
Œ Magazine: For example?
Thor: The other day I was paging through an old Olympics book and in one of the images there was a lady from the 60’s or 70’s wearing a gorgeous white skirt. I pictured the skirt paired with a baggy t- shirt and some sandals and thought to myself, “that’s a killer combo.” I need to go find a white skirt now!
Œ Magazine: (laughs) Do you ever find yourself staring at someone’s clothes on the streets?
Thor: Yes, it happens! A few weeks back I saw this guy in Friedrichshain. He was wearing a long black coat with black pants high above the ankles, and black Birkenstocks. Soon after that I bought some black Birkenstocks.
Œ Magazine: Do you think there is some kind of typical Berlin style?
Thor: Obviously black is the staple, but then Berlin is so diverse! People come and go all the time… I kind of want to say that any passerby’s style counts as “Berlin style”. What do you think?
Œ Magazine: Yes, in a way the trends and lifestyle here feed upon the exchange and dialogue between strangers. I don’t know if there is a “Berlin style”, but I’m certainly trying to find out, and hopefully the sum of all Guys on Clothes Interviews will uncover just that! So far the only thing I know is that there are stereotypes and clichés that have some truth to them. What is a Berlin cliché?
Thor: As I mentioned before, the all-black-everything is a big one… and Birkenstocks.
Œ Magazine: If you had to invent a name for your own style, what would it be?
Thor: Bougainvillea. It’s a very fuchsia plant :)
Œ Magazine: Do you have a style icon, maybe a musician who’s style you really admire?
Thor: I really like Stromae’s style and music.
Œ Magazine: Is there anything you are offended by when it comes to other people’s fashion choices? Something you find irritating or off-putting?
Thor: The only thing that bothers me is someone appropriating elements from another culture.
Œ Magazine: That happens on a lot of different levels though. Can you be more specific?
Thor: I’m bothered when someone references cultural stereotypes for the sake of an aesthetic that is put on and then thrown away.
Œ Magazine: I see. Is it any different when the appropriation takes place on a stage or within a performance? I’m thinking of your Italian cocaine-selling character, Marcello.
Thor: I think it is. Assuming there’s a message behind a performance at least. Also, when acting is involved, there is a clear distinction between the character and the person acting. The actor doesn’t claim the cultural elements in the “play” as his private possession.
Œ Magazine: Yes, the context is everything! What’s up with the neck chain you are wearing now though? Is there some white culture I don’t know about that has chains rooted in its folklore?
Thor: Now that you mention it, the chain is not okay.
Œ Magazine: I wasn’t trying to put you on the spot. Thoughts circling around cultural appropriation are tricky and it’s easy to get tangled up in some contradiction or the other these days.
Thor: Of course, and I feel we as a society are constantly learning what is respectful, but the chain is definitely out of line. I suppose it touches on slavery.
Œ Magazine: Couldn’t it have been a reference to fetish or to hip hop culture?
Thor: It could have been but the intention wasn’t drawn from a place of fetish or hip-hop, neither was it of slavery but you know what I mean. Upon reflection, it’s not ok.
Œ Magazine: You can say that! Generally speaking, the conversation is extending to a whole new spectrum of situations as we speak. For instance, is it cultural appropriation when a man wears a skirt that was designed for a woman? Or is that a legit attempt at creating a culture of one’s own? Is Gosha Rubinsky bringing post-soviet labor wardrobes into high-end fashion purposeful a statement or is it an insensitive appropriation of working class attire? Is it “okay” for a white European woman to get excited over Biggie Smalls? And so on…
Thor: Those are interesting questions. I recently spoke with my girlfriend about this article regarding hooped earrings.
Œ Magazine: Was it “Who owns hoop earrings?”
Thor: Yes. About white girls wearing hoops and being perceived as edgy VS women of color wearing hoops and being labeled as something ‘lesser’ in a way.
Œ Magazine: Why do you think what we have been labeling as appropriation isn’t just perceived as an act of appreciation in the first place?
Thor: I guess it has everything to do with the intention and respect. I do feel like we are going through a big learning phase and that, what just happened, our exchange regarding the chains, is happening more and more.
Œ Magazine: Thankfully! Maybe the struggle lies in the way we verbalize and tag the issue too. However, I feel like in order to further discuss cultural appropriation, we need to define “culture” and distinguish between private culture AKA identity, the sum of all things defining a personality, from collective culture or heritage first.
Thor: Yes, I mean, you can look at it in a lot of different ways, and somehow no one is “neutral”, right, immune to influences, even if they don’t know it.
Œ Magazine: You mean we should all cut ourselves some slack?
Thor: (laughs) Yes, no one is perfect. Although, as a person in the wrong it’s not their place to give themselves slack, you know?
Œ Magazine: Yes.
Thor: What if we are just the sum of all we’ve appropriated from the day we were born? I guess we always filter them through our own sensitivities. What do you think?
Œ Magazine: I can work with that! In this sense, we wish Marcello the best of luck!