KOKO Pop Art
We are mad about music and mad about everything to do with music. KOKO Asia Pop art aims to highlight great music art (and artists) from around the region. From CD covers, event flyers, posters, digital music art..literally anything creative to do with music. We will try and profile the artist/company where possible.
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Mathias Rapp is co-founder of a KL collective of DJ’s known as We Are Mutants. As well as arranging their monthly club night ‘Mutant Mayhem’ to much success, the producer/DJ also designs the promo material for his much hyped night amongst other designs which have found their way onto t-shirts, skateboards and sneakers. Ranging from flyers to footwear, VNRP as he is known is slowly making his distinct mark of the KL clubbing scene.
Mathias! How’s KL treating you?
Well Johnny, KL is a great! Having lived all over the place (and recently in Melbourne), I think the Malaysians are a lot more friendly and definitely less troublesome! KL is a great city, lots of things going on and heaps of opportunities. I’m really hoping that KL will dig the design work that I do, and enjoy the nights that I am part of.
Can you explain where VNRP comes from?
Hahaha, well… When I lived in Thailand (years back) I learnt how to dj Trance. A Thai friend gave me the nickname “Dj Matut” based on Mathias, but I guess in Thai it was a play on gay or something. After Thailand I got into punk/hardcore/metal and forgot about dj’ing for a while, and only once I got to KL (and more so Melbourne), and heard the awesome new electro/indie kind of music I decided this djing thing needed a revival. “Dj” infront of your name was a bit oldschool, so I decided to add VON to my existing last name of RAPP, VONRAPP. Within friends and house parties I would call myself Vonrapp, or Baron Vonrapp, but eventually shortened it to VNRP. The joke in the name is the “Von”, my grandma always wanted us to be called Von Rappe (German Royalty), but it can’t be done, so for now, VNRP is as royal as it gets in my family!
What got you started in graphic design?
I was always drawing a lot as a child, constantly coming up with new characters and scenes to place them in. When I was 8 or something my grandma bought me some Warhammer figures. I had dabbled with Airfix models and the like, but Warhammer sparked an interest in that whole hobby. It’s a hobby that I had for years, and I think it really does help you think outside the box, especially all the customizing that you can get in to. Was always a good creative outlet, especially since school was so mundane at times.
Are you one of the generation who feels that education failed you?
I never really enjoyed most academic subjects at school, so when I got to pick subjects like art + design technology I was really excited. I didn’t actually do great in those subjects however as I was always wanting to do my own thing, stuff that would really only appeal to me or a niche market, something my teachers never really trusted.
I originally thought that I would follow the art path through school, but in typical Matt fashion I lost my art portfolio at the end of GCSE and got an E for lack of work. After that I decided I would just keep going with the design subjects.
Years later I did a diploma in product design, but designing stationary holders and bike lights was not really my thing, I was way more interested in the packaging or graphics associated with those products. I basically started doing art again in my free time, trying to design t-shirts for bands and brands (with mixed results) and that has lead me to do all sorts of design work.
My dad used to draw a lot when he was younger too, but he chose a corporate path, working and studying business. He’s always supported my art/design direction because it was the one thing he had to leave behind, which I’m sure he misses. This plays a big part in why and how I got down this path.
What do you use for your inspiration while designing?
My inspirations range wildly from old 90’s nostalgia, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Movies, and Music.
You missing your snap bands, game boys and teenage mutant ninja turtles?
In a way I feel that our generation had a lot more to grow up with than kids these days. We had awesome toys (lots of toys), cartoons, crazy pointless gimmicks and all sorts of weird shit. It just seems that something is missing today. Whilst I love certain computer games, it just seems that there are no real toys to play with, imagination stops now! It’s a sad, sad reality, and so I hope to give people a flashback to the days of actually having to imagine and think up adventures by ourselves.
So design wise, I either draw/design stuff that inspires me on a nostalgic level, or delve deeper into subjects (lore/fantasy) that still inspires me.
Basically, anything that I love and want to recreate or capture in a logo or design. Recently a lot has been music inspired as I’ve been working on all the Mutant Mayhem designs, and Dj logos.
And yes… snapbands are a must!
Some of your t-shirt designs are dope, got any plans to produce en-masse?
I’ve got a few ideas down. I’ll be batch producing a few of my designs, mostly associated with the dj’ing and music side of things, but not sure exactly when that will be off the ground. Finding good quality t-shirts is a huge priority.
Most of the designs I’ve done have been (or are intended to be) sold to Bands and brands, just as a design, which in turn they print and sell.
But yesss, soon you will be able to pick up some VNRP stuff!!!
Save me a t-shirt! What other products do you design or want to do?
I think canvas shoes would be good fun!
Oh…..and prints, like actual awesome screen printed posters, none of that digital crap!
Do it! Anything ‘outside of the box’?
Well…I was also going to get into laser cut jewelry, it’s fun and pretty cheap. Unfortunately as I was getting really pumped for it I saw a huge wave of laser cut jewelry, so I never went ahead with it as it didn’t seem so original anymore. I might still do some once I find a local cutting shop.
What do you think of the local music scene in Malaysia at the moment?
Haha, well….the mainstream music scene is crap, a lot of really boring stuff and heaps of old songs that weren’t good back when they came out. Trust me, I used to rock the Bangsar scene, not very inspiring..but today we have other places to go.. Agreed. Some places you can hear the same song five times a night.
The indie scene is good. It’s pretty small, but still sincere. I think the small DJ collectives within the scene are doing a good job and there is a lot of good music coming in to KL through these guys. I’m definitely enjoying it right now, whereas a few years ago it was really hard for me to enjoy the music.
Of course we are also trying to push new genres of dance music too!
What’s next for you?
I’ll be working on my own mini line, getting that produced etc. Doing more stuff for Mutant Mayhem, hopefully getting a job and possibly studying some more!
Don’t lose your coursework this time.
I’m trying my best not to!For more VNRP check out:
JT: What do you think of the music scene?... read more