Strawberry Western & Petal Supply’s Mix Takes Your Workout To The Next Level
Listen to Strawberry Western’s latest Workout Set mix, premiering exclusively on NYLON.
Strawberry Western is doing more than creating cute, expressive activewear. The New York City-based line, inspired by Harajuku street fashion and launched by Kisa Shiga and Eli Libman in late 2022, wants to build a community. The duo’s ambitions were relatively straightforward. What’s more integral to a workout than listening to good music? After noticing how most activewear brands didn’t engage in their favorite music scenes, Shiga and Libman took matters in their own hands. Enter the Strawberry Western Workout Set.
Twice a month, Shiga and Libman enlist one of their favorite artists to create a vibrant mix for their ideal workout, generously timed to fit everything from a leisurely walk to a sweaty gym session. The latest artist to join the roster is Canadian artist Petal Supply, who uses her glittering pop prowess to create a delightfully frenzied mix, which premieres today on NYLON.
“We've been talking about ourselves as a hyperactive wear brand,” says Shiga. “We really like this word, because I feel like it represents a really energetic feeling, and that's how we wanted to portray ourselves, in terms of fitness. I think with Petal Supply, we really feel like her music embodies that as well.”
Listen to Petal Supply’s mix, below, and read on as Shiga and Libman discuss the genesis of Strawberry Western’s Workout Set series, discovering new music, and more.
What was the spark behind making the Workout Mix series happen?
ELI LIBMAN: Trying to start a brand in the active space, we're definitely just trying to think about it from more of a self-expression angle. We're really just reacting to what we think is a monoculture around active lifestyle brands, and how this idea of fitness culture is very bland and lacking in real subculture or youth culture.
Knowing that a lot of people work out, and do it in their own way, I think we really wanted to infuse some more subculture and youth culture into what we're doing. But most importantly, the relationships between music and working out is very important for so many people. I don't really know anyone who works out and doesn't have some element of music, at some point, involved in their workout routine. I think we wanted to create a soundtrack for our brand and our customers, and tap into our community of music people. I come from a music background, so I think we just wanted to bring in some cool music for people to work out to, to say it simply and not beat around the bush.
What's your music background?
EL: Kisa and I actually started a record label in 2016. It was an experimental, ambient, and electronic label. It's called Quiet Time. It's actually still in existence and puts out around one or two vinyl releases a year.
KISA SHIGA: And we were doing everything on tape.
EL: We also threw raves two or three times a year, under the same name, where we would book international DJs, more in the underground electronic world, the kind of stuff you'd see on Resident Advisor. We would book underground spaces, bring DJs in and throw these events. Going back, way before that, I used to play in bands in high school and throughout college. In New York, I promoted events, concerts and parties with A$AP Rocky, Disclosure, and a bunch of other people.
KS: I guess I'm more of a music enjoyer. My dad was really, really, into music, and growing up, that was the way we bonded. He always brought me to different shows. Looking back, it was crazy stuff that I didn't really appreciate or understand at the time, but it definitely had a big influence on me. I've played some different instruments. I play a Japanese instrument called a shamisen. It's a three-string banjo from Okinawa.
I love that. Let's talk about Petal Supply. What was it that really drew you to them? What made them the right fit for your vision?
EL: We think Petal Supply, specifically, is a really fun and awesome artist. We really love their music. The most important factor is we want to infuse the brand with music and put out music for people to enjoy, think of us when they're enjoying it and make their workout more fun. But I think we also just want to be able to stand by the quality of the music. We're big fans of Petal Supply. We're really into the community that Petal Supply is part of. We're tapping into multiple artists from this community of internet-native artists.
A lot of people label some of the genres, like hyperpop and other things. Overall, what we're seeing with Petal Supply and other peer artists of theirs is a lot of boundary-breaking, in terms of genres and identity. And being super inclusive and just mashing up the genres, a lot of which are nostalgic for people in our generation, in new ways. And also, the way all the communities have been built on the internet through Discord is super fascinating to us. In general, very inclusive and rule-breaking, which we find to be very cool.
KS: We've been talking about ourselves as a hyperactive wear brand. We really like this word, because I feel like it represents a really energetic feeling, and that's how we wanted to portray ourselves, in terms of fitness. I think with Petal Supply, we really feel like her music embodies that as well.
You two are clearly drawn to a more avant-garde sect of pop music. What kind of music did you guys listen to growing up?
KS: Yeah. I feel like I've gone through so many phases. Like I said, my dad really introduced me to a lot of crazy, more experimental and underground music, which again, at the time I didn't really understand, but a few years later I really started to get into it and appreciate it. But honestly, that's such a hard question, because there's not really any kind of music that I haven't gotten into. I grew up in Queens, so a lot of reggaeton, dance hall, hip hop, and rap was stuff that all my friends listened to, and that was more part of growing up.
EL: My adolescence was a lot of pop-punk, emo, and hardcore. I grew up in Montreal, we had a very big scene for that kind of music and metal too. We'd go to Warped Tour every summer. It was cool because I look back on a lot of bands now and I wouldn't say it was the most groundbreaking musically, but the scene in the community was really cool around it. That's part of what's so amazing about music is, the community and the culture that it creates.
I think we see a lot of parallels, and it's cool to see a lot of parallels in new youth music scenes. It's cool to admire and see how it's such an amazing foundation of building community. And it's just an outlet for people to find their identities and meet other like-minded people, whether it's an IRL or online community. I got really into raving when I was 18. I became really into underground electronic music and going out to tons of events, eventually organizing events. And I think it’s a very similar thing there. You get really into this, the nuances of the music, and really appreciate it. But a lot of what you're really getting into is the community and the group experience of it.
This kind of leads into my next question, which is something that me and the other NYLON editors talk about a lot. It's how the process of finding new music has drastically changed and a lot of it is so algorithmically-based. How do you still find new artists, what are the avenues that you guys go? I'm guessing, of course, community is one of them.
EL: I have a lot of friends who are more in the industry and who are just very actively paying attention to new stuff, who will send us stuff. At this point, I definitely just rely on people close to us who are plugged into the scene. My cousin Noah Simon out there has a label, Loveshock, and he manages a couple artists. He manages artists like That Kid and Rylo. He is out in LA, he is going to all the shows and he's bringing us all these amazing artists. The bottom line is, at this point, we rely heavily on people close to us who have their fingers truly on the pulse, because it's a full-time endeavor to be listening to everything and being out at the show, covering.
It really is. It really takes a lot of effort and time.
KS: I honestly, really missed that feeling of being in high school when I would come home and spend hours looking for new music on LimeWire, hotnewhitz.com, and random websites where I was listening to stuff that wasn't even released. I would literally do that for four hours after school. You don't have the time to do that as an adult.
I feel like if you spoke to some current high school kids right now, no one even knows how to Torrent music. That was such a huge part of me finding music growing up was, having friends who knew how to Torrent, and would get all the music for me.
EL: Blogs and these forums we used to be on. It's definitely changed a lot. I find that SoundCloud is actually still very vibrant. There's so much stuff going on there. It really takes a level of time and dedication to actually go and listen through stuff, because people who are finding the good stuff are people who are clicking on a track that has a thousand plays and not clicking on something on Spotify that's already shown up in some playlist. Knowing those people or being one of those people is very important.
What’s your biggest dream for the Workout Set series? Do you envision a rave in the future?
EL: We're working on our first live event. We don't know of the exact timing yet, but our immediate goal is just to bring a bunch of the artists on the series together and do a show, like a dance party. We definitely want to implement some fun self-expression element to it. Some kind of fit contest, costume contest, or something that makes sense. We really love the idea of the series and creating these longer form music recordings for people to work out to. We definitely want to continue to publish music, and put out music to accompany the brand and everyone's different interpretation of active lifestyle is just very important to us.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.