Before this SUMMER ISSUE's article 'Dancefloor visions of tulle and techno*' was released, I had the pleasure of interviewing the artist and DJ/ Gyorgy Ono @the_curly_monster, co-creator of London rave collective 'Creatures'. Much of the article was eventually grounded upon our discussion.
On par with his DJ sets, which seamlessly transition from soft to hard, melodious to abrasive, his gender-bending/ theatrics-laden presentation immediately struck me as both nostalgic, and visionary. A bit like Janus' head, the Greek mythological creature, which Georgio cites as outfit inspo below. Read the full interview to find out how both nostalgia and future projection can recreate 'reality' from invisible sounds into visible materials.
Isabela: Thanks again for taking the time to be part of this. To start with, can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and how you relate to the underground music and dance movement in the UK?
Georgio: I love playing silly games and giving them meaning and importance. I spent years looking for places and situations where I could be playful. I often found my desires in fragments and collected many moments of joy that made life worth living. But to design the full picture and make sense of these playful fragments I had to start my own events and insert those collected moments of exuberance while giving them a new twist; a bit like a collage of memories and sensations.
Isabela: You have mentioned before, that you are more closely connected to the music than the fashion aspect of the nightlife scene. You also said however, that fashion played/plays a huge role. What role is that?
Georgio: When I came to London, naturally my spirit was looking for expression. I had a lot of energy inside that needed to be released. Clubland & raves lured me into the mystery of nightlife adventures where I found music that spoke to my soul in a very obscure, yet clear language.
As my passion was set alight and my soul felt revitalised, I then wanted to dress in accordance with my true nature. While it took me a while to find a way to express myself musically, fashion and dressing up was pretty instant. I love the fact that with fashion you can set the scene and create a charming illusion. You can do the same with music. And the two together can bestow on life a cinematic merit.
Isabela: As a musician/performer, do you believe, fashion can be somehow utilised as a visual aid to your music/performance?
Georgio: The Instinct is the best stylist. When dressing I like to feel my anticipation and excitement of the event and dress around that thrilling feeling.
Certain occasions have their official uniforms, but I don’t like matching the situation to the way I dress. For me, it’s more about creating my own visual code and then clashing with the situation. I love the clash! I’d choose to clash any day over matching.
It’s all about fun too. Going back to that sense of playfulness. Life is a playful art so it is natural for the act of performance, music, and fashion to resonate with that reality in my opinion. Everything moves, dances and vibrates at all times, so one also needs to move their ass and flow with it, lol.
Expressing oneself in an outfit while being able to dance for hours is the goal, I suppose... hence, fashion and motion are clearly well connected within the rave aesthetics. The motion for me also means activity and effort. Even the so-called and much-embraced effortlessness is just an extra intelligent effort in disguise.
But to tell the truth, I love nothing more than a sense of humour in clothing. Not an easy thing to achieve. Similarly, it’s very hard to be a good comedian. With a healthy dose of tragedy and drama, however, it all becomes possible. At times what can we do, but laugh! You could cry, but alas! that would ruin the makeup.
Isabela: ‘Sampling’ and ‘mixing’ are technical terms used especially in the production of electronic music. They have also been adopted by the fashion lexicon when referring to fabrics or styles, for example. Do you see any correlation between the sounds of electronic music and the development of more fluidity in people’s style of dress?
Georgio: Absolutely! Going back to fragments, this is pretty much what I meant. We collect, assemble, and then mix them all up. This is the case with both music and fashion. We do the same with language, we collect words and phrases from our parents before making our own edits of it.
As Parmenides said, “nothing comes from nothing”. We are very lucky, in the 21st century to have entire archives of music, art and fashion at our disposal. Just a few clicks away... It's overwhelming how much has already been done- how much there is to inject and learn from. Sometimes I worry that so many influences could almost stop us from making our own original expression. I guess the secret is the balance between research and our raw self-expression. Re-contextualising the references to instil new meaning- that’s sampling.
I believe that we all have the unique ability to make our own special blend from collected samples, whether that is music, fashion or when designing spaces. When it comes to organising raves, you wanna aim to create a special safe space, where, beside your own creative blend, your visitors can make theirs also. So that in the end, it all becomes one big amalgamation of human glow.
Isabela: Your collective, Creatures, is a breath of fresh air in a nightlife environment suffocated by gentrification and the commodification of clubs. Can you tell me a little bit about the concept, where did the inspiration come from, what do you hope to achieve through it?
Georgio: Strong Inspiration for Creatures comes from the quote “I always depended on the kindness of strangers” by Blanche DuBois from Tennessee Williams’ play "A Streetcar Named Desire".
Being a Georgian and moving to London very young, leaving all my life behind, I did depend on the kindness of strangers. I owe a lot to those gorgeous strangers of London Town, who accepted me when I was lost and seeking for meaning. Creatures parties were a result of deep love towards this city and its charming strangers, some of whom I'm lucky to call my friends today.
Via our raves, we wanted to inspire the inner creature in fellow Londoners; we all have one... For me, to meet that inner creature one often needs to take a rite of passage and face the night with an open heart. Once found, dressing your inner being and letting it swirl freely on the dancefloor is a revolutionary act, as I believe we were all born to unfold our innermost potential to its fullest capacity.
Isabela: In reference to the outrageous and eccentric costumes that emerged in the 80s and 90s (think Leigh Bowery, Boy George, Club Kids) it has been said that ‘it was clubs that provided the major venue, market and audience for generating clothing that was beyond one’s wildest dreams/nightmares.’ What’s your take on this?
Georgio: All great ideas come from deep within, similarly, all great cultural movements start deep in the underground. The nightlife is a place of fantasy, which can be more real than the so-called “real”; it's where one can truly manifest their deepest desires in terms of expression. You inspire and get inspired all at the same time.
True magic is in the process of creation and it often presents itself in an unfinished form. Speaking of fashion, there is no single doubt that the most experimental and forward-thinking outfits are born in the underground. Often by cats just being playful with their fashion while unfolding their inner creature.
Pop Icons certainly inspired 'la moda’, but I feel like it’s the real strangers of the night that inspired both the icons and the memetic mutations of the fashion world.
On a personal level, my life and fashion attitude changed in a split moment when I walked into the iconic Ghetto Club in 2003. It was around the time of the fabled nights “NagNagNag” on Wednesdays and "The Cock" on Fridays. When I opened the door for the first time and walked in, I saw pure allurement and felt the magnifying energy, the type of which has often been unmatched ever since; as far as my experiences go. It was so DIY, alternative and awe-inspiring.
It took me a while to piece things together. But basically, when I arrived in London in the early 2000’s, I had miraculously landed on the scene during a golden era of electroclash and what seemed to be a revival of the 80's charm with a noughties twist; rock’n’Roll, freak-electric, poptastic, outrageous and melancholic were all merged in one. It was a truly legendary, special and blissful moment for London's nightlife.
I’m no fashion historian but talking of sampling, I see the 2000’s as the start of a whole new era of re-sampling and blending all eras from the 20's to 90’s. The true clash of periods was finally possible and I loved it.
Isabela: Fashion, like music, strives to continuously innovate and expand the boundaries of art, identity, and society. What are maybe some of the new developments that have caught your eye? (Before the pandemic?)
Georgio: I notice cats in the streets that are liberated in a new sort of way. It’s hard to put a finger on, but I’m feeling the vibes of this momentum and it’s truly lush. Something is in the air, I can feel the wind of change; it’s a bit scary and yet, so exciting.
I always felt fortunate to be born and live during these challenging, yet progressive times. It’s refreshing to see how gender and identity are being challenged. To see the rise in freedom of expression as well as each other's support to be the best version of ourselves, while keeping our mental health in check. I know I’m being extra positive here, but it’s important to highlight some of these vital developments. At the same time I’m well aware of the fact that there is so much more that still needs to be improved in our society.
I love that these days, people bravely stand up, speak up, fight and value diversity and equality more than ever. This is also reflected in people’s fashion choices moving away from the mainstream, heternormative, patriarchal and spoon-fed narratives, towards more personal and unique visual codes of self-liberation. Is it the era of the inner creature? I believe so, YES! I feel there is a fresh emerging spirit, which can also help unfold a new golden age within the underground culture and in the arts in general.
Once life re-emerges, we're gonna need to rebuild and re-curate our spaces together with new flavours. Exploring raw ideas with a fresh vision seems more appropriate than ever. This together, with a new sense of awareness, compassion, empathy, respect and appreciation, (which has seen the rise since the pandemic) could very well unfold a new and revitalised ambience, which is very exciting for me...Fashion, music and the art world need to capture the pulse of this rare momentum.
Isabela: Finally, do you have an outfit already in mind for the next rave post-pandemic?
Georgio: I’m Aries, the fire sign and I can tell you that the flames are back in my life. I would like to elevate this energy and set my life on fire, without burning myself out like I often did pre-pandemic. I currently feel risen back from the ashes and ready to hit the town for some cat games.
As for the outfit: think the rave embodiment of Janus- the deity of beginnings, ends, gateways, transitions and time, who was usually depicted as having two pairs of eyes looking in opposite ways: one towards the past and the other towards the future; I’m sort of there with both music and fashion, lol, but my heart bleeps in the present.