Nick Melons On Cultivating The WeDidIt Mentality Into Something Sustainable
DIY on a whole new level
For fans of producers like Shlohmo, Nick Melons, and RL Grime, the connection to WeDidIt runs deep. Established in 2012 as an independent record label, the collective now has a huge cult following. But those who rep WeDidIt know that it is so much more than a brand—WeDidIt is a lifestyle.
Primarily based on the internet, the crew releases bundles of merch in limited batches every season. Described by many as "bratty," their '90s-inspired designs are minimal with a subtle dose of the cool factor whether that be in the form of an upside down smiley face or a photo of Sade. Coming from a group of self-identified outsiders, this apparel is fronted by the music industry's underground insiders.
"I feel like I'm supposed to know about all this stuff, but I can't keep up because there's so much online," says Melons. "I haven't been using the internet as much. It's so nice. It's like stopping watching the news, it's a very similar feeling. It's very relaxing."
No matter what they are working on, the WeDidIt crew is all about doing things themselves. It's DIY without all the cheesiness that tends to come with the culture. WeDidIt cares about the craftsmanship, focusing their attention on every single detail. More importantly, they do it because it's fun.
We recently caught up with Melons to learn more about how the brand came into existence and evolved to the level of being carried at Opening Ceremony. Find out what he had to say, below.
- Take me back and tell me how the collective originally formed when you guys first came up with this idea and decided to make WeDidIt happen.Nick Melons: I think that it really came together when Henry [Laufer] and I were in high school. We went to middle school and high school together, and we had a bunch of friends who were making music, including Henry. We started up a website. We used Blogspot back in 2007, I think, and we were just posting stuff. It was a website that became a way that we would all keep in touch with each other once we ended up graduating and going off to different places.I moved to New York... People were all over the place, so it started as a website where we just posted stuff and stuff that we liked, and people started to find out about it and pay attention. We started looking at the website and saw the traffic was going up into the thousands every day and we realized that we had something that was worthwhile. So, it naturally turned into something of a brand, of what it is today. It's funny, I was just in the car and it still amazes me that people pay attention. I was just in the car thinking about that, you know, I have a call with NYLON about WeDidIt, and that's still funny and amazing to me that people fuck with what we do to the level that anybody is interested in interviewing anybody.
- Last year, I was able to get the Classique hat in the pink and everyone was like, "Where did you get that hat? What store is it from?" So I had to tell them about what WeDidIt was all about. They were like, "This is so cool, can I get it from the site?" I was like, "Nope, it's sold out."NM: [Laughs] I don't even have the clothes because they sell out. The shit sells so fast, it's crazy. I have so many friends who are mad at me because they don't have the clothing and they are my best friends. Henry doesn't even have shit a lot of the time. We just make it and then we start printing and doing the whole process, and then it ends up selling out before I go to the warehouse and get any for us. It's for people, it's not really for us at the end of the day, so I'm cool with that.
- When exactly did clothes come into the picture for you guys?NM: Henry and I were doing design and working on trying to make clothing brands in high school at the same time the music stuff was happening, but it wasn't like we did it. It was other brands, nothing nice, and these other little things that we would do. We've always wanted to do the design part of it because we do every flyer, we do all the album art. Unless it's noted that someone else has done it, if it ever comes out on any of our pages, we've done it because we just love doing design as much as the music stuff.To make clothes felt natural. The first shirts we ever printed, we did in our friend Dean's garage in Santa Monica [, California]. He had a little rig, and we just printed those shirts and sold them at a show, and it sold really well. We wanted to do more and got other people to print them out, so we didn't have to print them ourselves. We just started really doing it. It's been a matter of doing this and then seeing it at work. Is it received well? Then continuing to do it and making it bigger, so doing more stuff and selling retail. The minute that it's not feeling like it's a good thing anymore, it's over. But it's been good, so we just kept growing and growing with it. As much stuff that comes our way, we're taking it on just because it seems like people like it and we still enjoy doing it.
- I think about how a lot of artists now are trying to get into the fashion lane, whether that be collaborating with bigger brands or like how Drake has OVO, but the designs are not always tight, in my opinion. When I was a kid going to shows, I was always buying merch, and I didn't really care at the time if it was a cool looking shirt. I just think it's really dope when it's really well-designed and it shows that you guys really care about the craft and not just looking cool.NM: Yeah, and I appreciate you saying that. I think that merch used to serve a purpose, like you said, with it being a promotional item. People would buy a band's T-shirt to support the band, but not necessarily for any other reason. You would just have the band's name or the album cover, but it was more about you were into whatever you were wearing. Now, I think people are interested in looking at merch as clothing rather than promotional and branding items. That opportunity allows us to be taken seriously by people who probably would not have taken us seriously 10 years ago. To be sold next to some of the brands that we're sold with at Opening Ceremony still blows my mind. It's fucking insane.I don't know if that would've been the conversation 10, 15 years ago. I think a lot of people have broken down those wall of blurring the lines between what is music merch and what is actual clothing and fashion and real brands. A lot of people, big people like Kanye, have really taken major steps in blurring that line and allowing people to take this seriously. I think it's fucking amazing! I think that there's not a lot of money in music for a lot of people and so, if this is how you can make your money off your music, then you should go ahead and do it.
Photo courtesy of WEDIDITIs Opening Ceremony the first retailer that has carried your products?NM: Yeah. It's the first retailer that we actually sell to. I think that we've had some pop-ups in a store before, but this is the first retailer that we've been carried by. It's the first one where we were like, "Yes, let's do that." We've had opportunities in the past, and we wanted to wait until we got something that we were excited about, something that was a goal of ours or something to work toward, and this was that.Can you talk to me a little bit about the lookbook for your collection and the stuff that's being carried at Opening Ceremony?NM: We shot it with Adamn Killa and Killavessi, who are two artists out of Chicago that I became friends with over the past year. I met Adamn when I was coming back on a flight from Chicago. I saw him at the airport and I recognized him and I went up to him and told him who I was and what I did. We had a mutual friend and we ended up going to the studio—I think it was that night or the next night. We've been friends since. We've released some music with Adamn, and some stuff Henry did with Adamn and Young Lean. I think that Adamn has amazing style. I think that he's fucking cool as hell. Him and his girlfriend, Vesi, there's no pretentiousness. They are very real people and are the coolest couple ever. They have the same color hair, they have each other's names tatted on each other, they fucking love each other. It's beautiful. It's the type of relationship that isn't in a movie, and you're like, "Damn, I really hope one day I have that type of relationship," but I know I probably won't because that'll never happen.Henry and I thought it would be a good idea to put them together in a lookbook and shoot them and they were super down. We had all these different concepts we were constantly updating, and one of them was to do mall glamour shots, the old-school style mall glamour shots. The ones that you would do at Macy's or whatever back in the early 2000s. We couldn't find anywhere to do it because nobody shoots photos on film anymore. All the places I found were these new portrait studios that shoot wedding pictures and babies with weird shit, like these weird newborn photos that I'm definitely gonna do with my kid because I think they're fucking hilarious. They'll put a baby next to hay and put a sepia-tone filter on it; I don't know what people do with these photos. They look insane.I wanted to find a place that wasn't digital and had the classic scene machine, which is the thing that projects the backgrounds off a slide directly onto the image. It's not Photoshop, it's all very real. We found this place, it didn't have a website, so I went down there, met the guy, scheduled the whole thing and came back. I had everyone scheduled to shoot but then he was gone, I guessed he was in the hospital; the place was closed. I didn't know how to reach him and I didn't know where he was. Eventually, we ended up going back to the studio and he just taught us how to use all the gear. It was broken, most of it. One of the lights caught on fire and was smoking, it was totally janky. He taught us how to use all the gear then we just used the studio. We were in the back for four or five hours just shooting with Adamn and Vesi. We shot so many fucking photos, but what we ended up with, I thought, came out really well. It captured what the goal was, which was this very nostalgic mall glamour shot vibe that we like so much.
Photo courtesy of WEDIDITGiven that you have tombstone recordings and a lot of the designs have tombstones on them, I wanted to know where that came from.NM: I can't remember why is the answer. I'll tell you that when we were in high school and when we first started doing designs for all this shit, we were both, Henry and I, super into drawing tombstones and writing shit on them. Back before all this funny, ironic bullshit jewelry that's out now—I see all these dumb drawings where it says something on the tombstone that's supposed to be ironic or some dumb shit—it was way way before all that shit. We were just always using weird gothic imagery and shapes in general.Finding a shape for a brand and a logo is super important. You have to have a very distinct and basic shape, and that's why all the logos that you see, whether it's McDonald's or FedEx, there's an intentional simplicity to it. We always felt that this looked the best to our eye. We liked WeDidIt being the phrase that was being written on a tombstone. At the end of it all, being able to say, "We did it," as your last remarks, as the last things that you ever say to the whole world. It's your long-lasting message that's written above your dead body. It just says WeDidIt; it pretty much sums up everything. Life is very heavy if you take it too seriously. What's the fucking point?
Photo courtesy of WEDIDITWhat about L.A.'s environment influences you as an artist and your creativity?NM: I'd say the diversity, in terms of the people, and the landscape has always been something that I've pulled inspiration from. I like that there are so many different pockets that look different from each other in the city. I think there's a weirdness about Los Angeles that exists a lot in the entertainment industry. It's this thing that people get bothered by—the stereotypes of L.A.—the things that people hate about L.A., that's the stuff that I think is so interesting and weird. The fakeness and the search for fame, plastic surgery, and rich kids being unattended to and having access to drugs, there's all this bizarre shit and it's kind of gross, but it's super dark and weird. It's unique to the city, and it's a similar vibe to what David Lynch portrayed in movies like Lost Highway. It's kind of like that looming darkness around the city. I think that all that stuff has always been super interesting and inspiring as a narrative for us, and I think it comes down to the graffiti in L.A. It's very special and I've always drawn so much inspiration from just being around it. I don't think that I could live in another place.Could you tell me about the podcast series that you guys are working on?NM: It's a radio show. The goal is to make it more than music. Just like we do with the brand in general, we want to make it more than a mix series. It'll be live once a month. We might go to twice a month if we can manage to do that much. It's just going to be us, the WeDidIt collective, and bringing in guests and doing interviews with all types of people in and out of music. Uber drivers, fucking chefs, everybody. I want to try to do call-ins. I don't know if it's possible, but I used to do call-ins on my radio show in college, so I want to bring that back. And talking about topics and having a conversation. I grew up listening to talk radio and learning how it's done.
Photo courtesy of WEDIDITWhat else do you guys have going on?NM: We have a bunch of music that's gonna be coming out soon on WeDidIt and Tombstone. We have new music from Swan Lingo and Groundislava. We have new artists that we're gonna put out on Tombstone for the first time. We have a studio here, and we can go there every day, and there's a lot of music that's been worked on. We don't release the majority of the stuff that is made, it just comes out periodically. There's a lot of music we've been sitting on or tweaking. We're gonna be doing more regular clothing drops, but much smaller amounts of items because we have so many designs and we don't want to wait all this time to put them out. I want to be able to do stuff every month if we can. There are a couple of other weirdo projects that aren't done yet, so I don't want to talk about them yet, but we're always trying to do as much as possible across all mediums. It's all happening.Overall, what are you guys hoping to achieve as a collective?NM: I want to buy a boat off of this shit. I want to buy a boat from music and clothing and have everybody on it, all the WeDidIt people on it, and we'll sail to Italy once a year. It'll be meaningful because it'll be like a trophy because we brought the boat off clothing and music, and just being friends with each other and showing it to people on the internet. That is pretty fucking amazing.