Reflekt Muse: Isaac Takeuchi

Music emanates from every carpeted wall in a dim room lightly illuminated by a string of lights. They guide me to an open space in the room, controlled almost completely by music equipment and an austere portrait of Alf.  It is here that our local fashionisto agrees to an interview. In a studio split by an array of LA artists,  Isaac Takeuchi works at being a cellist, teacher, and chess enthusiast who is often snickered at or complimented for his sense of fashion.  It is audacious to say the least.  He has been in such notable groups as Tes Elations and Chelsea Wolfe.  Tes Elations, Isaac's latest major musical endeavor, released their self-titled album last year.  After catching a live performance, I knew an investigation in fashion was already underway.  Here is the fruit of our conversation on fashion and music, interrupted only by the change of records.

When do you feel like you developed a sense of style?

Definitely when I got into high school.  That’s when I started listening to music, and was listening to what a lot of my friends at the time were listening to, which was grunge and punk music. For me it was pretty pragmatic. I knew if I wore certain things, then I would attract certain people.  So I put patches on my clothes and tore holes in them so that I could meet people that I wanted to meet. Musicians. I wanted people to think: This guy probably listens to good music.


How has your sense of fashion evolved?

I don’t know. I’ve been through so many different phases.  And now I feel like I’m in the middle of where I want to go with fashion. I feel like what I want to wear isn’t available to me.  I used to be into vintage, but I feel like that source is tapped out I keep seeing too many of the same patterns.  I keep a look out for items on Etsy. I would like to see a lot of geometric designs on clothing, or optical illusions. I guess, it all goes back to how it started. I want to attract intellectuals and musicians. I’m really into fractals, but all I can find are really tacky t-shirts. They don’t convey style. They’re just silk-screened Mandelbrot images. Maybe, I will find something soon that has the design integrated into the fabric and has more aesthetic appeal.


What changes would you like to see in fashion?

I would like to see it become a lot weirder. Weirdos. I want it to be less concerned with business. I don’t like business aesthetic. I think it’s just an expression of capitalism and it’s ironic. If it’s too polished, then it smells too much of Imperialism.


 One of the fractal t-shirts Isaac designed

One of the fractal t-shirts Isaac designed

 Some of Isaac's fractal designs

Some of Isaac's fractal designs

Does your dress say something different depending on your musical project?

Yeah, it does. I try to think about what the project is about. I try to think about an aesthetic that enhances the music. With Tes Elations, I feel like something sophisticated yet eccentric goes with the vibe. Tes Elations uses Middle Eastern scales at times. Some writers have said it sounds mysterious.  Whatever that means. Sometimes I’ll wear prints that have a Middle Eastern vibe to compliment the music. If I do a purely classical show, it would be more sophisticated with a hair of eccentricity because that’s how I am.


So you describe your style as eccentric?

Not in general. When I do shows though, I like to pick shirts that are sort of weird and that I’ve never seen before. I like prints, maybe landscapes or geometric shapes.


What’s your favorite piece in your wardrobe?

I have like all these dress shirts that I kind of like equally because they each have their own personality. They all have a different vibe.  Their pattern is sort of wild or really shiny. There’s something weird about it.



How does your cello complement or inform your style?

I think the biggest thing is the psychological effect of playing cello. When you’re playing cello or any string instrument, you have to develop your technique. There’s an OCD-ness about ones self, From having to expose yourself to that kind of meticulous regime. I want my shoes to look nice. I want my socks to look nice. That concerns me. It’s  like an obsessive-compulsive disorder that I’ve developed from playing cello.


Do you have any fashion muses?

I do.  I mean, I’m not very versed on fashion.  I would like to learn more. I would have to say I am a big fan of Alexander McQueen. I like how bold he is.  His work is sophisticated and very creative. He has some of the most creative designs I’ve seen.


Do you have any style ideas for your next project in music?

I do. It’s kind of a secret. My whole project is going to be a secret. My identity will remain unknown for this project. We’ll see how this works as a marketing scheme.  It is tricky to sell your self anonymously.


Look out for Isaac at your local DIY venues.  He’s the one standing outside, getting his social fix.  While he does not claim to be a part of any group, Individuality is not a rare quality in Los Angeles. Fashion and music facilitate the attraction of like-minded individuals through artistic expression. The fashion is brave like the music, daring to speak in tongues.