August 20 2014

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Threeasfour Is Loco For Yoko


Yoko Ono requires no introduction. Artist, musical groundbreaker, all-around revolutionary…You know. Yoko Ono. It’s a surprise, really, that a woman so iconic isn’t inspiring fashion collections each and every season. This season, at last, Ono will be front and center at Threeasfour, and in more ways than one. Adi Gil, Angela Donhauser, and Gabriel Asfour, the designers of Threeasfour, have taken Ono as their muse for Spring 2010, adapting some of her little-known dot drawings for prints in the new collection, cajoling her into soundtracking the show, and putting her in the front row. The connection between Ono and Threeasfour isn’t incidental; her son Sean Lennon, also a person who doesn’t require much introduction, has been buddying around with the Threeasfour crew for years. “He filled me in on their work,” Ono says. “So I was excited to meet them, finally, at a concert a friend of mine was giving in my loft.” Lennon has actually contributed music to previous Threeasfour shows—a few seasons ago, he played live. But the music at the Spring ’10 show is a family affair: The new Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band album, Between My Head and the Sky, which Lennon produced, comes out September 22 on his own label, and Threeasfour showgoers get the preview. The show is tonight at MAC & Milk; in the meantime, Ono and Lennon talk to about synchronicity, dots, and diaper-changing.

Sean, I vaguely recall that you wrote a new piece for that Threeasfour show you played at a few seasons ago…

Sean Lennon: The birdsong opera. That was a funny situation—they wanted something involving birds, and I’d just happened to have been working on something using this old scientific birdcall album.

That’s some synchronicity.

SL: We’re like family. There’s a very strong kind of internal connection. But this show, this story’s not about me. It’s really about the connection between my mom’s art, her drawings, and Threeasfour’s sense of form. I mean, it’s kind of eerie—this series of abstract pointillist drawings is just crazily similar to the way they do their cuts. It seemed like it would be cool to use the music to extrapolate the connections between their aesthetics. Especially since we have the album coming out next week.

Yoko, do you feel that sense of connection to Threeasfour that Sean is talking about?

Yoko Ono: Yes, my art and their art, it’s very similar. Very elitist, in a way. Very interested in making the good work, but the good work, sometimes people love it but it’s not very commercial. I think it’s interesting that they are doing something commercial now.

You mean, the fact that Threeasfour are introducing a new pricing scheme—$111 to $888?

YO: Yes. It’s great to do that.

SL: It’s really fascinating to me, the way Threeasfour maintain this avant-garde, experimental integrity, and yet also maintain a presence in the industry. I really admire that about them—the fact that they want their experiments to be relevant. This new concept is part of that.

YO: I would wear their clothes.

Yoko, are you inspired by fashion? I mean, does it interest you as an artist?

YO: I always thought that fashion is a very important part of art, sculptural art. You see that in my book called Grapefruit, a book of instructions. Art instructions and fashion design instructions, as well.

Did you work with Threeasfour at all on the development of your dot drawings into prints?

YO: No, they just took the work. I was happy that they thought of it.

Tell me about the new album. Was this your first time working together, music-wise?

YO: No, when Sean was 17 I made a CD called Rising, and Sean and Sean’s friends all played on it.

SL: And we’ve recorded some other things over the years and played together at festivals. But this was the first time she’s let me take a production role.

Is it weird, being produced by your son?

YO: I knew he was a good musician, but to be a producer and a music director, that’s a different story. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that my son is so good at those things, too.

Sean, is it weird producing your mom?

SL: I’m not going to say it isn’t strange, at times, to be giving direction to a woman who used to change your diapers. But, I mean, I’ve been listening to her music my whole life, and I really appreciate what she does—it’s like she’s making experimental jazz records, only instead of a horn solo, there’s her voice. Very free-form and funky and emotive. I don’t know, it’s hard to qualify her music in terms of other genres, in fact.

YO: I think it all depends on the person listening to the music. They get from it what they need.

SL: Ultimately, I feel like I understand what she wants. So it was easy to facilitate. I mean, I’m her son, but aside from that, I’m just a big Yoko fan.