Welcome to Anonymous: The Club You Can’t Get Into
“I spent three weeks’ worth of unemployment checks to stunt in this,’” says a club kid in a chartreuse bodysuit, platform heels and a matching Jacquemus bag on an East Brooklyn sidewalk. As a Bushwick native, I have to say, I have never in my life seen someone wear $1,200 to a party off the Halsey L train stop. But here I am at 2 AM, watching a throng of more than 100 would-be party-goers crowd the entrance of the hottest event of the year. The party in question is Chromatic— hosted by Hood By Air’s sibling brand Anonymous— the late-night rave that lured all of New York to this surprisingly, well, anonymous, venue on Wyckoff Avenue. The theme of the night is monochrome, and the crowd doesn’t disappoint. The children of Telfar, Ugly Worldwide, Goth Jafar, and even the Clermont Twins, pack the space in head-to-toe technicolor looks. To mark the occasion, Interview sat down with Shayne Oliver, the director of Hood By Air, and Izzy Spears, an artist and member of Anonymous, to discuss the origins of the boundary-breaking crew and the star-studded event.
MAXWELL VICE: Shayne, the last time I saw you, I was shooting the Doss event. I was so caught up in your set that I almost forgot to take photographs. I have to admit, I’ve missed out on Anonymous Club and all that it brings to the stage. For those like me who are late to the party, what is Anonymous Club?
SHAYNE OLIVER: It stems from the concept of a studio. A large part of having a studio is ritual. We created so many ritualistic practices when I started working on projects like Hood By Air. Whether it’s through installation, performance, or clothing, my practice is very much intertwined with music. Eventually, that led to my making demos and making characters. When I’m with my girls, I’m with the girls, you know? I’m one of the HBA girls and that’s my crew. When I’m a designer, I’m Shayne Oliver, and when I work on music, I’m Leech. This just allows me to create space between me and my work so that I don’t take things too personally.
VICE: I love the freedom in your art. The influence of music and fashion really came to life last weekend at the Chromatic event. I was shocked to see a lot of faces I recognized from the Bushwick raves growing up. What inspired you to pull this crew together?
OLIVER: I wanted to get something as close to myself as I could. I already knew the girls I needed. The “original Anon club” that I worked with at HBA were all Black queens from Brooklyn. We all gravitated towards the same things. It’s just how we were raised, being from Brooklyn, raised by women, the whole thing.
VICE: Izzy told us that when you make music, you just get on the mic and chant. No beat or anything. What is going through your head when you’re recording?
OLIVER: That’s how I started doing vocals when I was a DJ. I started Deejaying when I was really young, and I would get on the mic and wing it. It was about having an optimist P.O.V., and being political, too. I always want to channel the lust and passion of the id, and elevate it.
VICE: I think the kids really live for that. There was something so high fashion, yet so comical, about the music video you made with Izzy that really resonated with me. Who was your audience when making this album?
OLIVER: I like to go into the studio with the mindset of being competitive with the person that hates me the most. Someone who would instantly judge me based on my appearance or what my music should sound like. I love for my image to be striking, because I want to challenge the idea that someone’s appearance can define their sound. The audience for me depends on the track. Some are more R&B, others feel more punk. I just want the Alt girls to feel Alt again. I’m trying to recreate the new alternative kid.
VICE: Giving the Alt girls a place to play.
OLIVER: At least giving them a place to play. I’m always inspired by my peers, I wanna grow more peers, and be a mother to my peers. Cause you know it’s slim pickings.
VICE: I’ve been in the underground scene since I was 16, and I met Izzy when I was sneaking into clubs. I’ve seen so many events in my life, but there was something different about Chromatic. People were just so hungry to get in, it was a spectacle even from the outside.
OLIVER: I’ve done a lot of parties in New York, and the best ones were always at some obscure or small bar, where people just enjoyed their time. People were nude, or shy and reserved, but they were free. Free in all spaces because no one was ever going to come for you for being some type of way. It’s really cool that raves have come back in this way. Obviously, Izzy did an amazing job curating. It’s hard for people of the same background to click sometimes. New York is so rat-eat-rat, you know? Like, there can only be one girl in the photo.
VICE: What’s next for you? Is it a party, a collection?
OLIVER: We are currently curating the SCREENSAVERS Squad and working on the LEECH debut. We’re doing a lot of events and launches this fall. I’m basically just spitting stuff out. SCREENSAVERS is going to be major, and definitely the next party is going to go deep into the culture. I’m hoping we’ll do one with Thug Pop. It’s just about creating a place to play.
VICE: Shayne, I feel so honored to know that you’re making space for people like us to create. You know personally how hard it is for the girls to get out of Brooklyn, but you bring a lot of inspiration with you.
OLIVER: I do my best.
VICE: Hey Izzy! Are you riding high from the Anonymous Club SCREENSAVERS drop?
SPEARS: This is my first single release. It’s fucking sick to be a part of something so iconic, and the feedback is greater than I ever expected.
VICE: What is Anonymous Club to you?
SPEARS: It feels like a family. It’s a group of creatives, artists, designers, musicians, and the minds behind Hood By Air. We’re a group of artists trying to reintroduce cool factor and fine art to the mainstream.
VICE: Who is Izzy Spears?
SPEARS: The last name is obviously a tribute to the queen of pop, Britney Spears. Izzy was a nickname given to me by my family as a kid to make fun of my big ass head. Izzy was the official mascot of the 1996 Olympics. I flipped it and made it my own as a teenager. I become Izzy when I just don’t give a fuck, or when I’m putting dick on the table.
VICE:How did you meet Shayne Oliver, and when did his LEECH persona start to become a reality?
SPEARS: I’m not saying all of the tea, but it was 2019, backstage at a fashion show. That was our first time meeting in person. After he heard some music that I released, he invited me to the studio. At that point I was introduced to LEECH, who comes out in the studio, where genius is released.
VICE: So you and LEECH dropped this song, “Bleedinout,” and it still gags me to hear your voice blasting from cars around the block. What inspired the song?
SPEARS: Shayne and I made “Bleedinout“ the first day we met in the studio. We didn’t finish it that first day, but it was initially a freestyle. We just had fun with it. Shayne pretty much goes into the studio, takes the mic and goes the fuck off. I’m used to writing to a beat. It was the first time that I made a whole song that was completely organic.
VICE: Tell me about that motherfucking music video! What is the story behind that dramatic fan-chasing fantasy?
SPEARS: It was a whole team of creative minds behind the video. Jordan Hemingway, Holyweek (Christian Velasquez), and Shayne Olivier. With that team, it was destined to be amazing. For me the chasing represents the chaos in the world, and me in the car unbothered and focusing on my shit. It’s a metaphor for what I was going through, personally, at that time.
VICE: A lot of people in the SCREENSAVER album are familiar faces from the New York nightlife scene. The best of New York’s underground was brought to life with this drop. Why does Anonymous love the underground rave scene?
SPEARS: The members of Anonymous were carefully selected by Shayne. He wanted to highlight the underground scene instead of going after artists that everyone knows, to showcase the talents in the queer POC community.
VICE: Now that you dropped this album, what’s next for you?
SPEARS: I’ve been quietly working on music since I was 17. Now, I want to put everything else to the side and just work on this “project” that I’ve been envisioning for the past ten years. Next up, definitely an EP, and maybe even a short film to go along with it introducing Izzy to the world.