A Reflection of His Family & Creative Legacy
A moment of repose would seem to be in order for No Vacancy Inn’s Tremaine Emory as he arrives back in Los Angeles from Europe before our conversation. Rather than rest, he welcomes a photo crew into his home as he simultaneously prepares himself for another bout of travel for the annual Every Mother Counts/Sheralyn Emory Charity Event, honoring his late mother’s life. Tucked away at the foot of the Hollywood Hills, his abode and personal effects tell a different narrative about the little known life he lives. Each keepsake provides an inside look into the intricate connection of friends and family that have made him who he is.
The thoughtfully curated home gives no evidence of a tenant who is constantly traversing the globe. Noticeably, there’s no television, only an assortment of books, records and mementos. Everything is meticulously placed, yet seemingly out of place, and books and other reference material lye sprawled out as to easily jump in-and-out of worlds on a whim. But these items possess more than information for Emory to voraciously consume, they are fragments of the collective memories, ideas and people that have made him who he is: they are his legacy.
Los Angeles, CA
Similarly to the New Balance’s Runs in the Family adage — an homage to its family-owned roots — the beginnings of his creative journey start with where he comes from. Born in Georgia, Emory moved to Jamaica, Queens right after his birth. His parents instilled socratic values, teaching him early on to “question everything” and “seek out more.” He recalls that spending most of his time in libraries and comic book stores, reading whatever he could to find his own objective truths. When he explored what he could in Queens, he started journeying to Manhattan in the '90s with no trepidation, seeking an alternative to the tumultuous and dangerous surroundings of Jamaica.
He never left Jamaica Queens to forget his people; he left to learn. Manhattan skewed from the homogeneity of his home and offered him a chance to experience a breadth of different cultures and ideas. He found a second home at the once James Jebbia-ran UNION.
He found himself amongst a like-minded tribe that consisted of those who are now considered the vanguards of culture: Angelo Baque, Chris Gibbs and James Jebbia among them. At the time, they weren’t aware of the heights they would reach, they were just going through the motions of seeking out what they love. Years later, their creative family still assembled, Tremaine and his peers still move with the same intention, but they hold new roles now: They are the teachers of a new generation of creators now. Here, he shares the relics that that helped define his career.
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Miles The Autobiography
Boys Don’t Cry
Kara: We Are Shining
Hope For Our Kids
The book was given at a Christmas party at Marc Jacobs’ back in 2006 by my best friend James Corgen. It’s an Incredible autobiography about the author’s journey from Saint Louis to Juilliard to following Charles “Bird” Parker Jr. around to avoiding the tropes of success and being enveloped by the tropes of success. He kept pushing, he didn't rest on his laurels. He kept moving the conversation forward and forward.
I loved that he was self aware. He didn't act perfect, and he talks about his imperfections. Like, he wasn't a great father and talks about his treatment of women. It’s not good that he wasn't a great father, but him speaking about it outwardly helps to progress.
“I loved that he was self aware. He didn't act perfect, and he talks about his imperfections. ”
Hope For the Kids is done by Dura Solutions, a charity that fights against climate change. They collaborated with my five-year-old little friend, Rainbow, the daughter of Lulu Kennedy and Charlie Casely Hayford. She basically designed this T-shirt.
It says, “there's no hope for the kids,” with the word “no” crossed out. Is there no hope or is there hope for the kids? It's up to us, but it gives me hope that a five-year-old is able to design this with this level of truth and directness. It gives me a lot of hope that the earth will be here for more than a hundred years, but we will see. She’s just the most beautiful, charismatic, compassionate, smart little human being I've ever met in my life and I’m enjoying watching her grow up. It’s officially my new favorite T-shirt, forever.
“ Is there no hope or is there hope for the kids? It's up to us, but it gives me hope that a five-year-old is able to design this with this level of truth and directness.”
“I remember first time he played the album for me, I had tears in my eyes.”
Boys Don't Cry [a zine that came out in conjunction with the Frank Ocean album Blonde] is one of my favorite art projects I got to work on. Frank is an amazing artists, and an even more amazing human. The album Blonde is the most progressive, and, to me, some of the best music since the Beatles, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. I'm just grateful that Frank basically found me on his own out of obscurity. I was grateful for every little small bit, every piece of music I got to hear before it came out.
I remember the first time he played the album for me, I had tears in my eyes. The magazine is just beautiful. The main reason I love Endless and Blonde and that magazine is that it’s the most important modern, popular music, because the artist is able to talk about being queer in a free way and it breaks down all the walls and machismo and homophobia in popular music. Frank was brave enough, smart enough and human enough to be 100% him in the music. And it's a monumental moment in popular culture.
“It's about art, everything is art.”
“This [biography of the American artist David Hammons] is about self worth. It's about holding the line. It's about believing in yourself. It's about art, everything is art. Don't let art be defined by the 1220 galleries and the 50 families that control the art world. Art’s for the people. It’s about being black in America and a descendent of a slave. It's about being human. It's all encompassing and it's about holding the line and not seeking validation, only seeking validation from yourself and your tribe. That's it. In relation to David Hammons’ Higher Goals, it’s about not getting caught up and drowned by the tropes of society and of your culture. David Hammons is someone that Virgil and Acyde, separately and together, would always bring up.”
“And I'm not just talking about his financial prosperity, his emotional prosperity, his peace of mind — because he went and fought for what he believes in. ”
This album was made by my brother and one of my best friends, Acyde. It’s incredible. I made music when I was about 16, but this is the first time I got to be around a music project. It was incredible because Aycde, who had a really cushy job, quit it and went broke to follow his passion of music and making an album. The album didn't sell shit, but it led him to where he's at now. And I'm not just talking about his financial prosperity, his emotional prosperity, his peace of mind — because he went and fought for what he believes in.
I remember when we were deejaying for a 100 GBP. Now we've done gigs for $30,000 USD. I'm not trying to brag, I'm trying to show people you can take it from nothing to something, but you gotta be ready to put it all in line. And I’ve seen Acyde put it on the line.
“I'm not into awards for validation, but I liked that it shows the kids that if you do something in real time, it matters.”
I got this award through being a friend, brother and student, with my friend Brendan Fowler who has a brand called Election Reform. And through learning from him, I learned I could create change through the medium of T-shirts. My mom always told me and my little brother about voting in the midterms, not just voting in the presidential election, voting in your local and being informed and involved. So we did a drop during the midterms where if you showed us that you voted, you got a T we designed.
I got a DM from the congressman's field representative and she's like, “We want to give you a Congressional Honor.” I'm not into awards for validation, but I liked that it shows the kids that if you do something in real time, it matters. Everyone who actually donated and helped us in any way deserves one of those.