Moken, an artist, discusses his latest fashion designs and album
Moken blurs music and fashion. He's a designer and a musician. Moken began blurring his two passions as a kid in Cameroon. He's still doing it today in the United States. Moken speaks to host Marco Werman from his clothes closet in Atlanta. They discuss his designs and latest album "Missing Chapters."
Marco Werman: For all you fashionistas out there, the future looks bright, literally. At New York Fashion Week, bold colors were on display, including tie-dye pants and dresses with a 21st century sensibility.
If you don't know much about Fashion Week, new clothes are just part of the glam. Music is also front and center on the catwalk, from Rihanna's designer lingerie show to the runway DJs who make their names during New York Fashion Week.
Moken straddles music and fashion. He's a designer and a musician. Moken began blurring his two passions as a kid in Cameroon and is still doing it today in the US. Moken, tell us where you are right now.
Moken: I am in Atlanta, Georgia right now, in my home.
Werman: Where in your house are you?
Moken: I'm inside my closet right now, wearing the tan shoes that I just made last month...
Werman: Nice. How many of the clothes in your closet there are actually garments that you've designed?
Moken: If I want to count — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven — about eight right now. And a couple of ties. I like making, like, really androgynous, unexpected ties.
Werman: Describe one of your ties.
Moken: Actually, one of my ties was on the album cover. I used, like, ropes to wrap the knot. Then I kind of like wrap [them] through [the] bottoms. It almost looks like a chef's sleeve. But the rope represents...an aspect of Africa. Africans like to tie bantus. It's like tying a bantu but I think it really makes a very contemporary statement.
Werman: It's really cool. You like experimenting with materials. Also in that cover, I've got to mention the suit you're wearing. It seems to be velvet — a rich, yellow gold. Am I right?
Moken: Yes, you're right, Marco.
Werman: It’s really beautiful. So, we'll get to some of your new music in a moment, but which came first for you, fashion or music?
Moken: Great question. Fashion came first because I grew up in Cameroon. When I was growing up with my mama as a teenager, mama had an old Singer machine, a manual Singer machine, and I can remember, right from the age of 7, I’d go to the treat store and get nice American — anything that looks classic to me. ... That's where my sewing started. I would go to church looking different. Everybody would look at me. ... I like to always look different. That's how I started.
Werman: So, you made your first impact with your fashion going to church. People looked at you and said, “Hey, I've never seen that before.”
Moken: Yes. It started sowing a creative seed in my mind, growing up as a teenager.
Werman: So, Moken, some musicians write songs and then sing them. That's what you do, as well, but, musically, I gotta say, you've got attitude. You've got a style that feels as intentional as the way you might design a piece of clothing. Am I reading too much into this crossover of fashion and music?
Moken: Oh, no. Actually, I want you to read in more because that is my concept — a fusion of fashion and music.
Werman: I also think of the famous "sapeurs" in Congo, who are all about getting dressed up for a musical event. But you're kind of sapeur and musician all in one.
Moken: Yes. And to tell you the truth, I think I'm very, very happy why I wouldn't step on any main stage yet because I already have about four different concepts to present my music to the world: fashion meets music. The name "rasa" comes from "roots." You see, I've got this this slogan, "Rasa Wear by Moken," the art of Moken.
Werman: Moken, a true original in fashion and music. His new album is "Missing Chapters."
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.