"Hi Somewhere, my name is Adrian, but everybody calls me Bianco. I got the name from being a poorly skilled DJ a long time ago.
I am a creative director and editor-in-chief from Tokyo. I try to spend most of my time with the things I love balancing between my agency and my magazine. Sabukaru is the one thing that keeps me waking up motivated and full of ideas every day.
When did your interest in subcultures begin?
I think I've always had an interest in niche and subcultures, no matter how popular or uncool. Back in school, I loved hanging out with the kids that everybody warned you about because of their different lifestyle. I also loved to hang out with the hardcore World Of Warcraft players. I could go from the streets to an online raid really quickly. (Fun fact: my school's biggest nerd got me into World of Warcraft and a few months later, I surpassed him on all levels in the game. He started considering me the real nerd out there.)
I started to get more and more into the active role of subculture when some of my friends became active in Casual Culture. When everybody talked about product or the technical aspects of a Stone Island jacket, I was way more interested in the people wearing it and why. The dynamic of how subcultures define the fashion history, create "uniforms" and how clothing can signal who you are and what you do still fascinates me. It's people who make products iconic for me, not brands.
There's this amazing quote Shawn Stussy kicked in the comments of one of his Instagram posts. Basically, he posted this picture on Instagram, and people started to praise Adidas. However, Shawn dropped this lovely bombshell in the comments:
But obviously, fashion is just a small fraction of the magic behind subcultures. At the end of the day I really respect dedication. Whatever you do, if you go 120% with it, if stuff gets cultural and profound, I am in.
It's very interesting in the sense you'll dig deep into something. You have a strong appreciation for everything. Seems like you generally want to see how the world works.
Honestly, I consider myself pretty unknowledgeable about everything out there. But, I've got this crazy network of friends and family that go so deep and know so much about specific topics. Just take Vloqee for example, you can post an image of BJÖRK wearing Reebok Pumps, and he just drops the date, name of the magazine and the photographer who took the picture. He can name you every vintage t-shirt out there and probably knows more about Japanese fashion that anyone I know.
I am a blind man compared to that, but I love to find out stuff, and I love to curate all the knowledge around me. So with Sabukaru, I can open and activate these great minds in my network and share their knowledge. I can't compete with my team, they are beasts.
What made you make the jump to Japan?
Honestly, I just feel happy here. I wasn't always the happiest guy around. In Japan, you can see me smile. All the cultures I cherish are here, everything we've dreamed about. All of the magazines, all of the stuff everyone loves about Japan is in Japan. I could not see myself returning to Japan regularly as a tourist or for jobs only and always leaving here. So many people dream about a specific place and spend their holidays there whenever they can - I was like, "this is not enough, I am going to live here one day." I materialized that shit, the law of attraction. Here's an Instagram post I posted during my second day ever in Japan:
The Law of attraction mentioned above is pretty important. I firmly believe that anybody can do anything as long and they really want it and screams it to the world. I don't consider myself more talented or more intelligent than anyone else out there. But the thing is, I do what I want, I work very hard on it every day, and nobody can stop me from doing that. This alone makes things possible.
How was that whole process? Relocating from Berlin all the way to Japan had to be intense/ intimidating.
Thinking about it now is just madness. I came here with a tourist visa (up to 6 months.), I left nothing behind, no keys, no flat, no plan B. On my second day here, I met my lawyer and now best friend, Oshima-san. We worked so hard on my application. Since I started my own business here, the paperwork was mad. We ended up handing in one-hundred pages. Thirty to fifty is the average. As I said, I always work hard, so we really went in. There was so much stuff to organize and to do. I hated doing taxes in Germany already, and I was about to register my own company in Tokyo - what the fuck.
We handed in the documents. You usually have to wait up to 6 months. This was another big problem because there was a chance that I would have had to leave Japan while waiting. But, they approved it in 1 month! The rest is history, the present, and my future.
That's my lawyer modelling one of our Sabukaru bags that we sold some time ago. He is the best. Hit me up if you need a visa lawyer in Japan - serious requests only - I will link you up.
One of the biggest things I admire about you is the fact you are a real go-getter! You'll have an idea and actually execute it to the full degree. Have you always had that mentality growing up?
Honestly I never had a big ego, more like the opposite, I always felt behind everyone. It might be the fact that I grew up without a father; also, everyone around me had money, and we were just a normal, very small but lovely family. I always felt like I need to go harder and harder than everyone else around me to keep up.
Also, if there is one person whose work I critique and hate the most: it is mine. I am never happy with what I do. Even if I land big things, 2 seconds after that, I am already tired of it or question myself if it really was that good.
This keeps me very hungry and unsatisfied and contentiously pushes me forward. A never-ending hunt to feel confident and happy with my work that might lead me to new heights.
The one thing I started to realize around when I began to really work in the industry that I wanted to be in:
Whatever I want to do, I can do. I just need to focus on it, push things forward and make it happen.
I always wanted to work at VICE for example. A very long time ago, some of them filmed me for a project, and one of the directors asked me "what you wanna do actually?", and my answer was "I wanna work at VICE".
Years later he walked into the main German VICE office, saw me sitting there on a desk, and came over like "What? You are here now?". And that's basically how I make everything happen: Focus, hard work, a bit of luck, materialize my thoughts, like literally put them out in the world, and let the universe and myself start working on it.
Is Japan starting to feel more like home?
Before I moved to Japan, I started to work on so many projects here, and every time I went home, something stayed here. At one point, I felt like I had two lives and two ways of thinking, walking and looking at life. Now both sides are back together. This is my home, I will never leave. This is where I belong.
Need you to drop some of your life-changing experiences in Japan so far!
I think opening up my small first office and starting to work on my business. I will never forget the nights in that tiny cabin trying to make things happen. Also recently when we moved to the new office. I was so busy around that time and somehow had no time to realize and think about it. One day I was waiting for the desks and chairs to arrive. All of it came and I sat in the new office alone. It was around 5pm when the light in Tokyo gets this golden shine through our windows. I looked around and was like, "shit, you made this happen, this is your life right now!"
I am very thankful and grateful for all here, and if there is one thing that really was life-changing, it is how my goals changed. I am not hunting down or running behind a dream anymore, I am here in this thing, and all I want is to keep it, hold it, secure it, and live through that shit forever with my crew around me. We will all eat and drink together and create cool shit. This is what I want.
Let's chat about Sabukaru! Do you feel like the network you've created with your team is becoming a hub where you and others can nerd out together?
It's insane what we built there, all together. Basically, we have this IG Group of all editors and friends (unfortunately IG limits the number of possible grp members, there are more out there I cant add yet)/
This group is like a toolbox, full of toolboxes, a Swiss army knife that pulls out 30 Swiss army knives. The knowledge, helpfulness, wisdom, network, and love in there is crazy. We all became a family I think, and everybody is such a master on his/her own. Many synergies and things are also happening outside of Sabukaru work. People start to link up, create other things together... This group will go down in history, at least in mine. Some of the members have never written stuff before, I found them, or they contacted me, and now they are all becoming so powerful and skilled and their own projects. It's really nice to be able to be a part of that and see them going in and creating all this.
Then there is this Tokyo crew that is getting bigger and more impactful every day. We have this super diverse group of all ages and gender, that found its way into our office. Some joined via DM, some we met in a bar. One is a graphic designer, one is good at sales, the other might still exploring his or her talents, and so on. On some days we are up to 8,9 people in the office and we keep growing. There is so much energy. It feels a bit like we are building on our own Star Hats Pirate crew.
At the same time, every reader, every follower of Sabukaru, is part of this wider network. It is a mindset that Sabukaru represents. I think people can feel that. We are not just a magazine, not just a mood board, there is so much more behind and more to come.
I am really thankful for everybody being part of this network. I don't deserve even half of the credit, it is the team and the network that deserves all the love.
Hope you know with your platform you're honestly bringing back an old feeling of publication for me. Every time I see your feed or website I feel like I'm learning something new! Do you ever feel like other platforms are just falling into a vortex of trends and aren't as adventurous to just expand their viewers perspective?
Man, I feel the same, I learn so much from doing Sabukaru. I rather would the whole magazine as "live research". We all learn together, I feel like every month I understand the cultures, the country and things I love better. Funny-wise, the first thing I wanna do once I have a few days off - actually don't know if that ever happens - is to open up Sabukaru and read all articles. Not as an editor in chief but as a reader. I wanna watch all the movies, read all the mangas, dive deep into all the designers and artists we talk about. It's so much good stuff on it, and I wanna be able to sometimes slow down the time and be able to just consume and not create it.
My main goal for all the information on Sabu is to be inclusive, I always tell every writer that everyone needs to understand our texts. We need to take the people by the hand who hear about a topic for the first time and at the same time have the heads and connoisseurs nodding with respect and discovering new things as well. This basically is my core value as the editor in chief.
Many fashion/art/culture magazines and authors phrase things like I we are in university or school. Overcomplicated wording that at the end of the day is very exclusive, leaving a lot of people out of the conversation. Just open up an avant-garde magazine or - another example - a gallery text about an artist: I honestly do not understand most of it, it's all written in a way that makes people who might hear about it for the first time uncomfortable. Like if they would not belong to this world.But we are talking about art, fashion and ultimately culture here: This is for everybody, this needs to be inclusive.
I respect authors that use all these complicated smart words - don't get me wrong - but they should be aware that they are not writing for the people, they write for an exclusive circle of insiders. I do not want to be part of that.
Regarding other platforms, there is such an interesting new generation coming up of pages and researchers. Some of these people are just insanely skilled and knowledgeable - like walking encyclopedias: Just look at Organiclab, Hardcopy, unownedspaces, Notforarchiving or Ali Hinkins [on a side note: some of them are even part of the Sabulaur network]
But I also think that some accounts out there are just simply the same as a Tumblr back then, reposting only images of culture (from others), but no context or text and info really is attached to it. I think that's totally fair, cause first of all IG is an image platform, and that's what people come for there in the first place. It’s just not what we want to do, we are not a mood board.
I also would like to mention: We also do post products, but it is a fragment of what we are about. There are great accounts that post product after product - stuff looks very good, don't get me wrong - but I feel like that can't be all, that can't be the only way to feed and add to the culture. Like every day another thing, you can buy - what's the message at the end of the day? Buying?
What's the future plan for Sabukaru?
A printed magazine will come one day; also there will be an updated web store with some really good stuff, we want to do events in Toky and there will be more and more Tokyo related stuff. We kept our heads low and feet still here, we were new to this city as a magazine and did not want to be too loud or pushy. This time is about to be over soon, people here recognise our magazine, they like what we do, we have many Japanese readers and fans. It's time to do more about and for them.
We will grow, we want more of everything.