Straight outta Margate, Creation is a new brand from Emmet Keane and Paul Sid. Emmet and Paul used to run UK labels Answer and Retreat, respectively, but found themselves growing tired of the whole ‘streetwear’ thing and packed it in. Funnily enough, the pair came together again to start work on a series of graphic tees and sweats, predominantly inspired by their shared love of reggae music and sound system culture. It’s a reference point that runs deeper than clothing and by all accounts informs their way of being. Creation as a label doesn’t begin and end with wearables; it extends to reggae nights, artistic appreciation, and is very much an attitude, (or philosophy, for want of a better word). We were taken with a couple of initial Creation designs we saw earlier this year and have been meaning to catch up with the Emmet and Paul for a while – pick their brains and get the inside scoop on what definitely feels like a compelling project, even in its early stages. Get down with Creation below!
Dudes, what is Creation about?
Sid // Creation for me is simply a means for myself and Emmet to share and express our interest of art, music, whatever, and from this, creating killer graphics which aren’t just limited to being printed on t-shirts. I would personally like to think of them as pieces of art in their own right.
Emmet // Creation is about good t-shirts and fantastic reggae nights. Graphically and musically we want to take our vision out there and just do what nobody else is doing right now.
How did you guys hook up?
Sid // Me and Emmet have known each other for approximately 8 years. Early contact was merely from myself being a big Park Walk / Answer fan. When I set up my own brand, Retreat, in 2005, Emmet gave me a lot of sound advice to which I am eternally grateful for.
I used to drop Emmet the odd email asking him when the next Answer collection would be released (How sad is that?! Haha). Looking back now who’d have thought that initial email would be the start of a friendship and the two of us going on to set up Creation.
Emmet // As Sid said, our friendship began with him emailing me regarding Answer stuff, and when he mentioned he was starting Retreat I offered some advice based on my own experiences within the industry.
I was really pleased that with Answer we had motivated people to go out and do their own thing. We kept in touch over the years. I gave up any involvement with the industry about 6 years ago, however late last year I was asked to curate a series of t-shirts for a company. It didn’t work out, but I showed Sid the graphics and thought maybe he could use them for Retreat. Unfortunately, or as it turns out, fortunately, he didn’t think the imagery was suitable for Retreat. But we got talking about the graphics and the industry as a whole. Sid eventually convinced me that a new label could work and dragged me out of retirement.
Emmet, you used to run Answer along with Bankhead. How were you guys introduced? Was this during Park Walk days?
Emmet // James Lavelle introduced me to Will in about 1996. I’d known James for a little while and they both came to a warehouse I was working at in deepest darkest Beckton in the East End to buy comics and toys. This is a couple of years before Park Walk. I just got on with Will and we began to hang out as he lived around the corner from me in Brixton.
When he was asked to do Park Walk by some people in Japan, I was just blown away by the graphics he was doing and once the line was up and running, I began to sell Park Walk stuff to individuals and then we started distributing it in the UK selling to shops. This provided us with the distribution platform to then start Park Walk UK and soon after Answer.
Some of those old Answer graphics were heavy! What are a couple of your favourites?
Sid // Jeez!!! For me they put out the best t-shirts. The Bode designs obviously need a mention. Other favourites of mine include – Sugar Minott, Combo Lines, Folk Anthology and Camel Slices.
Emmet // Out of the ones that were printed, I would choose Winston Smith’s ‘Force Fed War’ or ‘How Dare you’. Out of the graphics we licensed but didn’t use would be Peter Beste’s picture of ESG and a couple of designs Paul Simenon did for us. Maybe these will see the light of day at some stage in the future.
Would you say Creation is a logical follow on from Answer?
Sid // I’ll let Emmet Answer this one
Emmet // It’s not a logical follow on at all. I gave up on the whole ‘streetwear’ scene and viewed it with complete contempt. Sid eventually convinced me to return after my 6 year hiatus. My view is that what Creation is doing is completely different to Answer both graphically and in concept.
The parallels lie in the fact that the graphics we use are visually strong and the basic idea of keeping production numbers low and limited remain the same as Answer. Obviously myself having been being one half of Answer, will naturally lead people to draw comparisons between the two, and that in itself is ok, but the two companies are completely different.
So is Creation a reaction to the current state of play in fashion?
Sid // I’m a dad of 3, getting closer to 40, so the current state of fashion, I have no idea about. I’ve never really understood the term ‘Streetwear’ and around 2006 when it was at its height of popularity I didn’t want to be labelled as a Streetwear brand. A lot of them weren’t putting out anything that appealed to me, apart from a selected few brands.
For me, Creation is purely about me and Emmet. For us to work from a blank canvas with no influence to what other brands are doing and to basically create killer designs which we both rate and would want to wear ourselves, without being bothered what other brands think of us.
Emmet // I have no idea of what the current state of play in fashion is. Contemporary fashion is something I have zero interest in. I have no idea of who is doing what and I couldn’t care less. My own personal fashion interests lay in vintage clothing. I sincerely believe Creation is something that is timeless and has no peers.
How does the creative process work when you’re in the design stages?
Emmet // Basically we are constantly exchanging new ideas, and fire stuff back and forth. The creative process just seems to come together fluidly. We end up banking loads of designs for future seasons and we just seem to be able to agree easily on what should come out and when. We split the sales side of things between us and Sid takes care of production and distribution. I take care of building up the Creation sound system as this is an integral part of what we are about.
When you say the Creation sound system is an integral part of what you’re about, are you implying that Creation is an all-reaching concept, rather than just a label? A lifestyle?
Emmet // With the sound system I personally find it a way to put a musical aspect to what we are doing with Creation. We have also been working on film edits which visually represent where we are from politically and culturally. Putting something like Johnny Clarke’s ‘Creation’ tune to film has been a real discovery and turning point for us. The film edit really encapsulates where we are from, past, present and future. Creation seems to be rapidly becoming more than a label, it’s just something that is happening without us pre-planning any of it, it seems as if pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place, but at quite a fast pace. I’m not certain we can even comprehend it ourselves.
I DJ outside of the Creation Sound system (but still under my own name) playing everything from Northern Soul to Jungle, (stopping off for some Neil Diamond, Dylan and Rolling Stones etc along the way). These nights are as integral to Creation as are the reggae nights we do. Creation is about everything, breaking down musical and cultural barriers as best we can. Most weeks I will DJ three times a week and the musical direction of each night is never the same.
Creation is definitely a concept, although I’m not certain we know what the concept is. We are just following our instincts and picking up people on our little magic bus along the way. A lifestyle? The only lifestyle worth living is one of peace, love and respect for yourself and your fellow man. We can promote this but really if you don’t get this concept already, there is probably very little we can do to change your outlook.
Obviously reggae and sound system culture are major reference points for the label. How do they inform Creation?
Emmet // I’ve been into Reggae for longer than I care to remember. Apart from the music, the photography, record label and album artwork has been a massive source of inspiration to me.
On that note, what’s your own involvement in that world nowadays? We promise to make it down to a Creation Night soon!
Emmet // I’ve DJ’d reggae since 1989, but gave up about 6 years ago. Keith Roberts just kept on at me to do a reggae night for him in Margate. This was exactly the same time that we started to promote Creation as a brand. I just thought, why not do a Creation night and tie it all in? The two just seem to fit hand in hand.
Margatone Hi-Fi do the sound on our nights. Their system is amazing, and we’re working to deliver the best sound in the South East. Just like Creation the clothing label, we’re still tweaking the format and the sound of our nights. Jah B, who runs the sound, is incredible; amongst others he’s battled the likes of Saxon, Coxsone, Jah Shaka and Abishanti back in the day. We have just brought out our first promo CD which I compiled. The nights we put on are great, nobody is playing the quality of tunes we play, our selectors and deejays are top notch.
Right on. What’s the best record store in London?
Emmet // Supertone in Brixton
How are you managing everything from Margate? Do you feel the distance from London is something that might define what you’re doing?
Sid // Well actually, the first drop, all the stock was held and shipped from my hometown Hartlepool. Me and Emmet keep most of our contact via email but we regularly speak on the phone so the distance between us isn’t really a factor. It also helps that we are both on the same page in terms of art, design and what we want from the label.
I couldn’t live any further away from London so I have little firsthand knowledge on what’s happening down there – which probably isn’t a bad thing I guess, in terms of being influenced etc.
Emmet // I moved out of London about 11 years ago. I just got tired of it all, and I rarely travel up there these days. When I do, I can’t wait to escape back to the sea. Personally, for me, Margate is the kind of place I need to be. The atmosphere and people are amazing, it’s a real melting pot of creative like minded people, plus I live less than 3 mins from the sea front.
Sid and I are in constant daily contact by phone and email so the geography isn’t an issue. Perhaps not being in London does define Creation in some ways, we’re not influenced by what people there are wearing, doing or saying. We’re totally removed from that scene. When friends of mine travel down from London to see me in Margate they are totally blown away by the place. Margate is more happening than London to be honest.
It’s still early days, but where do you want to take the brand?
Sid // I’d like to see the label progress from just t-shirts and sweaters to a full blown brand and to expand into other areas such as music. The list is endless and we have a powerful vision of where we want to take Creation. For me this is a total honour to be working with Emmet, someone I looked up to for many years. To go from a fan to business partner is surreal. But I truly feel myself and Emmet have the potential and passion to do something amazing!!!
Emmet // To be honest I have no idea. I’m happy to just take it as it comes and see what happens. I don’t think too much about it although from the feedback we’ve gotten so far I really believe we have created something special. It would be nice to do it full time and build up other areas such as the sound system, and as Sid mentioned, take it into music. Let’s just see what happens.
Mods or Rockers?
Emmet // Mods of course! I’ve gotten to know some original Mods from the ’60s and their tales of the rucks between the two sides are incredible
Pablo Escobar or Augustus Pablo?
Sid // Uplifting people with your blend of music and popularising an instrument such as the Melodica is surely a better reward than being eternally referred to as ‘The King of Cocaine’.
Emmet // Augustus Pablo, naturally.
Black Panthers or SWAT?
Emmet // Huey Newton was a legend, so Black Panthers.
Girls or Chocolate?
Sid // Probably Girls in every sense of the term lol!!! Rick Howard was one of my favourite skaters back in the day, but then I do like chocolate!!!
Emmet // Both.
Go check out Creation.