Martell HOME Live Episode 2: Yeti Out's Arthur Bray and Ghetto Gastro on pushing culture forward through music and food
One is a Hong Kong-British multi-hyphenate and one-third of music collective Yeti Out, which has championed the underground music scene through pop-up raves in venues as diverse as grimey basements in London to the historic stone-paved sites of the Great Wall of China.The other has grown from a ground-up black-centred movement in food right in the heart of The Bronx in New York City to a cultural powerhouse that has served up delicious plates of gourmet soul food for the fashionable likes of Rick Owen, Cartier, and Virgil Abloh just to name-drop a few. Music collective Yeti Out's Arthur Bray and culinary collective Ghetto Ghastro have one thing in common, though; they are using music and food respectively to rep their local communities around the world while dismantling traditional notions of class, privilege, and access to arts and culture.
(From left to right): Jon Gray, Lester Walker, Malcolm Livingston II, and Pierre Serrao of culinary collective Ghetto Gastro.
It was only fitting then that they were both part of Martell HOME Live's second episode, which saw cultural influencers, including Claire Jedrek and the duo behind Opening Ceremony, being paired up with innovators in food such as South Korean chef Esu Lee and Canadian-born Hong Kong chef May Chow.
I managed to catch up with Arthur and three of the guys from Ghetto Gastro in advance of the night to discuss everything from their most epic parties thus far to some of the exciting projects they have up their cheeky sleeves for 2020.
Arthur Bray is co-owner of Yeti Out, which started out as a music blog and has since grown to encompass music collaborations, club nights, underground parties, an apparel line, and most recently, a record label called Silk Road Sounds.
Yeti Out and Ghetto Gastro are both collectives. What sort of unique flavour does each member bring to the table and how does the collective operate?
Arthur: Internally, it's a mess! My brother is based in Shanghai, I'm based in Hong Kong, and our other business partner is based in London. It's an East-meets-West collective. My brother works on a lot of brand collaborations by leading conversations with labels such as Nike. I'm on the road thinking about concepts and our business partner Erikson works on the production side. It's all about getting work done on the go.
Jon Gray: Ghetto Gastro has alot of different vibes. As the dishwasher, I'm just like the architect of the vibes. I also work on creating and incubating ideas, organising, and managing the net worth flow.
Malcolm Livingston II: We are not just a kitchen collective; we also intersect with music, fashion, and art spaces. It's very important because as a chef, for the most part, people think that we just cook, but we try to encompass everything. It's a whole lifestyle.
Lester Walker: All of us have different personalities and different ways of doing things so at the end of the day, we all just form up like Voltron.
Jon Gray: We have a whole team that supports us and helps make the magic happen. It's not just about the press kits; it takes a village to truly push things forward.
Lester Walker: Big facts.
I checked out your TED Talk while preparing for this, Jon, and it was really insightful. Both of you use food and music to bring people together. I would love to know what has been your most epic night when all of the elements came together.
Arthur: We had a party on The Great Wall of China. That was crazy! There was a lot of licensing issues there. That was the pinnacle, because it's one of the wonders of the world. We did the first Boiler Room party in an old prison in Hong Kong. Each cell had a different booth and it was insane. We packed everyone into a prison and just raved.
Jon: We did "Waffles and Models" with Martell back in the day. That was a real epic moment in Paris. We also did the Bronx Brasserie in Paris, where we took over the Place Vendôme and created an immersive space with one side representing the classic brasserie feel and another side that was more contemporary and brought in those brunch flavours and French techniques.
Malcolm: It was the first time really that every piece came together. It was almost like theatre, because for a long time we have been a party kind of movement. We were able to take our party aesthetic and apply to an actual venue then.
Lester: It's cool to do these collaborations with people and brands such as Martha Stewart, Audemars Piguet, and Martell of course, but I like the Freestyle Fridays that we do in New York City. We use it to connect like a freeway with similar thinkers. It's important for us to move audaciously without compromising our street community vibe.
Hong Kong and The Bronx play significant roles in your works. How have your works shaped your communities' cultural scenes?
Lester: It has impacted our community tremendously. We were the first ones out in The Bronx to create a shoe with Nike.
Malcom: Like the Wu-Tang of cooking. 10 or 12 years ago, The Bronx wasn't ringing like it is now. Now, people are more receptive. For a long time, it was Brooklyn and Harlem, but The Bronx is becoming a brand itself.
Jon: It's been a brand, but it's on the tip of people's tongues again, because you have a lot of different artists. It's like The Bronx renaissance. It's hard to pinpoint how we are shaping a community because it's hard to see the results when you're doing the work. We continue to inspire, distill possibilities, and make space for people. That's a good tangible way to resonate with the folks.
Arthur: To piggyback off what Jon said, I don't really do what I do with an end goal of meeting a certain amount of inspiration. I just kind of keep doing it and then if it makes ripples, that's a great thing. My brother and I are a product of a colonial city that used to be part of Britain. There's a lot of mixed kids like us who grew up really confused. Now, I'm at the age where I can really embrace the confusion. Every time I'm back home, I just try to do as many activations and parties as possible, even the ones that don't make any money. I don't think everyone needs to listen to the music we're trying to put out, but there at least needs to be a platform where it's available. Even if people don't come to the party, they need to exist so the four people that go to the party actually take something away. It's not a popularity contest for us.
Both of you have been paired up as a part of Martell HOME Live. I believe both of you have existing relationships with Martell for quite some time already. Could you talk a little about how you have been collaborating with each other and Martell?
Jon: This is our fifth year being in partnership with Martell. For us, they were believers really early on before the Ted Talk and collaborations. As for collaborating with Arthur for Martell Home, we both had these chips on our shoulder and people don't really get what we do. Some people look at Ghetto Gastro think we're embellished caterers or chefs, but there are many layers to that and the same with Yeti. It's not just a DJ collective; it's way deeper. Martell has really peeled back the layers and got underneath the surface.
Arthur: Martell has been killing it for a minute. We did an event in New York back in April right before Coachella. I came up with the line-up and got Princess Nokia and a bunch of cool artistes to perform. It's been really fortunate for me to come on board again in Singapore and team up with the boys of Ghetto Gastro.
Since the year is coming to an end, is there anything exciting coming up in 2020 that people should look out for?
Arthur: We definitely want to explore working in film. Right now, I'm working on a coffee table book based on rave culture in Hong Kong between 1997 and 2004 before it got wiped out, because of high rents.
Jon: We are doing spices and will probably make one based on the flavours that we have tasted on this trip.
Lester: We also have 36 Brix, a plant-based, dairy-free vegan gelato.
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