Words: Arthur Bray
Photography: Arthur Bray
This article was originally published on SSENSE, check out the full story here.
No Vacancy Inn is a creative incubator free of formalities. The non-physical entity, which can take form as a radio show, a party series, or a pop-up shop follows the transient lives of its founders, Tremaine Emory and Acyde. “You can check in with us at Art Basel, or we can post up with Tom Sachs at the Brooklyn Museum for his ‘Boombox Retrospective,’” said Acyde. “Think the Hotel Chelsea in the 70s and 80s, on wheels,” added Tremaine. For this particular session, we met up in Bali, where the two were headlining the International Stussy Tribe gathering at Potato Head Beach Club. It’s a celebration of music and conversation—arguably the two pillars of No Vacancy Inn, which tend to collide after the sun sets, in the dimly-lit bars where Tremaine and Acyde first bonded over records and cigarillos.
Through Tremaine’s toast on the mic and Acyde’s curated selection, the pair recall the harmonious tradition between the MC and DJ. “DJs are always trying to prove how deep their crate is,” said Acyde. “What Tremaine does is color commentating, like Craig Sager on the Game 7 of Bulls vs. Knicks in the 90s.” Acyde describes Tremaine as a translator between why he’s not playing hip hop right now and why he might in the next hour. For the duo, it’s all about making connections, whether between two unlikely records, in conversation, or person-to-person at the hazy, late-night affairs they champion that end up serving as creative catalysts.
1 – Midnight at Manero’s
Location: Manero’s Bar, London
Key Players: James Manero, Amici, Didier aka Ice Water
Acyde: In 2012, we did a party every Friday at Manero’s in East London. It was a speakeasy bar which didn’t have a proper license. It had a yellow door on a street that looked like a house, but it was in fact a basement club. It was really small, really intimate. This is when I first knew Tremaine and I could work together, because we found our roles very easily. The owner, James, was a character, this Cuban guy who had the biggest ego in the world. I like James, but he was a fucking egomaniac. We definitely got close to punching each other the fuck up a few times. There was Didier—he was like the mascot. We’d never seen anyone drink that fucking much and still show up for anything the next day. We ended up called him Ice Water.
Tremaine: We imagined he had to sleep in ice water for him to be able to, like…
Acyde: He was a really tall, good-looking black guy. His dad was a diplomat, he was basically a socialite. Honestly, I don’t know any other walks of life or jobs where you’ll ever meet people of this variety. Nightlife brings out a sort of person that’s extreme. The way they dress, to the way they live, it’s just extreme!
2 – Impromptu Yeezus Listening Party
Location: La Bodega, London
Key Players: Virgil Abloh, Frank Ocean, Kyle Demers of Supreme
Tremaine: Acyde and I used to do parties at La Bodega by Serge Becker. The place was a carbon copy to La Esquina in New York, which he founded. It appears as an adult video store outside, but really it’s a Mexican restaurant. One night, Kyle and me were just having drinks at Bodega with Virgil, and I remember that’s the first time I met Frank, Frank Ocean. Frank came down that night, we all hung out, had a wild night, just drinking, kicking it. Me and Virgil hit it off, he liked the spot and said that we should do a party together.
Acyde: We then got on email and talked about doing a party that Saturday, which was also when Kanye had his ‘Cruel Winter’ tour date in London. Virgil did what Virgil does and doesn’t confirm an idea. He won’t necessarily give you a yes, because A) he’s very smart, but B) when you’re working with a character like Kanye, you can’t say yes on his behalf. So, Virgil went and checked out the venue with Kyle ahead of Saturday and tells people that after the show, we might go to a bar. He left it open like that.
On Saturday, I get a call from Kyle asking if I was heading to La Bodega. I remember I was in bed with my ex-girlfriend at the time and she was like, “If you want to go, you should go and see what’s up.” I literally got in a cab, picked Tremaine up, and met Virgil.
Tremaine: We all met up at Bodega around 11, 12. Virgil came down and texted me like, “Yo, can you get the door for Ye?” So then Ye comes down, says what’s up, goes in, party starts, party is crazy. It was very intimate, it wasn’t even 200 people. Iggy Azalea was there, Acyde’s DJing, Virgil DJ’d, and then Ye got the AUX cord out and started playing songs off of Yeezus. It was literally that casual. He stood by the decks and no one knew it was him playing for the first 10 minutes because he was facing me the whole time, just talking.
Kim called on the phone, and Ye’s like, “Baby, I’m playing new records for people in London, love you, call you back.” I’ll never forget—I was standing next to Ye and then he played “I Am a God,” and I said to him, “That shit sounds like Daft Punk,” and he’s like, “It is Daft Punk!” I was just like, “Fuck!” It was just a legendary night, and that’s the first party me, Acyde, and Virgil ever did together. Fast forward five years later, Benji B, Virgil, and us are still consistently doing events, Frank and I have become really good friends. That’s why nightlife is important, it’s more than fucking getting laid, getting high. There’s a lot of creative shit that came out of that night.
3 – Hood By Air x Selfridges Apocalyptic Rollerskating
Location: Selfridges Carpark, London
Key Players: Been Trill (Matthew Williams, Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston), Shayne Oliver
Tremaine: This was the beginning of trap-only nights. It was us and Been Trill. Been Trill was at its peak before it took a fucking nose dive—for a lot of reasons. Hood By Air was at its fucking peak. This is the first time Selfridges did a party for streetwear, and they spent money on it. They flew in Matthew Williams, Virgil, Heron Preston, Shayne Oliver. There were fucking dudes in skirts skating around. It was fucking wild, bro. We did the after party and met kids that we now work on music with. The energy was great.
Acyde: After the Kanye impromptu party, we sort of had a reputation, so literally everyone packed themselves into that room. It was like, not in a egotistical way, but maybe we’ve got a little too big to do this. That was the end of the intimacy.
4 – Palace Skateboards Rooftop Party
Location: Rumpus Room, London
Key Players: Palace Skateboards crew, ASAP Rocky, ASAP Yams, Benji B, Michele Lamy, Rick Owens, Virgil Abloh
Tremaine: We did the party with the Palace crew. It was fucking fire—we had ASAP Rocky, ASAP Yams, the Palace Skateboards team were DJing with Benji B, Acyde, and myself. That week, Rocky premiered “Multiply” with the line that said “motherfuck Been Trill,” so people thought it was him versus Virgil. I had flown out Virgil, Yams, Chase Infinite, Rocky for this party. Michele Lamy was there with Rick Owens, and then about 500 fucking London kids in front of the hotel. It was my first party and last party at that club. It was also the second last time I saw Yams. The party didn’t even go on for that long because the crowd ended it. But it was an incredible moment. I remember Virgil said to me, “This is like the new civil rights movement, we’re at this type of spot.” Rocky sharing his art video “Chevy” in front of Rick Owens and Michele Lamy, and then they’re trying to kick us out because there’s wild kids. Ironically, now every hotel is trying to book us or Virgil. But this is back when we weren’t even trying to be booked. I paid Virgil $1000 USD and a plane ticket. Virgil doesn’t DJ shit for $1000 USD, you know what I mean? These parties, they were like inception points to where we’re at now.
5 – Communiversity at Art Basel Miami with Know Wave
Location: Know Wave Villa, Miami
Key Players: Aaron Bondaroff, Venus X, International Stussy Tribe, Siobhan Bell, The Onyx Collective, Virgil Abloh, ASAP Mob
Acyde: We curated talk shows and parties the entire week at Miami Art Basel with Know Wave. It felt very familiar jamming with everyone. It was super inclusive with all our international friends. Virgil obviously, ASAP Mob were there, Venus X, Stussy Tribe, Siobhan Bell. There were weirdo art performances. It was much larger than us DJing.
Tremaine: That moment for us is when we decided to go to another level. Obviously we still do parties and DJ, but now we’ve realized there’s another level to the social thing. Every one of those is a step up, every one of those we did was like a moment of clarity for us.