From Kingston to San Francisco to the L.E.S., RockersNYC is making streetwear pop.
10 year old RockersNYC, the classic born and bred L.E.S. streetwear brand, is one of the most recognizable apparel lines on the East Coast. The man behind it is Kingston-born, New York-based visual artist Marcus Burrowes, whose rich lifestyle experiences have become strong influences both for his streetwear designs and in his personal artwork. Steering clear of anything predictable, RockersNYC creates its own trend by blending a unique collision of Rasta culture, Skate aesthetics, and underground Punk Rock references. We sat down with Marcus to talk shop, seshing, and what’s bubbling in his creative channel.
For those who don’t know, give us a brief intro of the creative vision behind RockersNYC.
I see it as an aesthetic bridge between cultures that have more in common than they sometimes know. The cultures I reference are what I was exposed to growing up between Kingston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
You’re from Kingston originally. How was that experience growing up and what made you decide to move to New York?
I’m not sure if growing up in Kingston affected my experience as much as growing up within the Rastafari community. I moved to New York officially to go to art school but was never a stranger here. New York was the first place I lived in the States as a child.
What’s your background in design? You’re a fine artist as well.
I’ve been doing art my whole life. I went to high school at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. and Parsons School of Design after that. My father is also an artist.
How does smoking cannabis inspire your creative process?
Herb allows me to make connections between seemingly random or unrelated things. That’s usually how my creative process starts. These things are usually right in front of you but you just can’t see them. Herb allows you to see around those corners.
What is one of the more unique design collabs you’ve worked on?
One of the more unique collabs I did was a small collection with the estate of hardcore artist Marc Rude. It was cool to work with an artist whose work I grew up with. Marc died in 2002 and was the only artist that I worked with who I never had a chance to meet.
Who are some style legends you rate and why?
Hugh Mundel, Super Cat, Slick Rick, Dr. Alimantado, Paul Simonon, Joey Ramone, Dash Snow for their originality, effortlessness, and timelessness. Their style defines a movement.
You’re also a Lover’s Rock DJ. How does that amplify the Rocker’s equation?
I play across a few genres actually. I just think Lovers Rock stands out because not as many people are really doing it in the States. I do a bi-weekly Internet radio show called Rockers Galore on 8ball radio that covers Ska, Rocksteady, Dub, Roots, Lovers Rock, Rubadub, Dancehall, Punk, Post Punk, Hardcore, Hip Hop, and Thrash Metal. Although I’ve never lived in England, I’ve always been a fan of British reggae and underground British music in general. In my opinion, U.K. Lovers Rock is an underrated sub-genre that influenced a lot of popular music coming from that region at the time.
What is a RockerNYC project you’re most inspired by?
The most inspirational RockersNYC project would be the collaboration with my favorite artist Ras Daniel Heartman. No other visual artist has been more influential to my work.
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