Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen
Photography by Jenkin Au and Meka
Location: Montreal[Show Text Only Version][Hide Text Only Version]
Please introduce yourself to our readers
I am Meka and I am the creator of Zombie Corp. It is a clothing brand that I have been developing for six years now. I came to Canada from France two years ago and I really enjoy it here. This is a good place for me to develop this project and for artists to interact with each other in general.
Tell us a bit more about your interests in ghosts, goblins, monsters, and zombies?
I am a horror film geek, so horror films are an inspiration for me, comics as well. I have an extensive collection of zombie movies here but it is just the tip of the iceberg because I left most of my collection in France.
Speaking of your interest in zombies, while the popular public perception of zombies is that they are figures of fright and horror, how were you able to work this into your designs while also presenting them as fun and interesting?
The most important thing about doing this was to look into this universe and try to apply my own vision to it instead of following the established conventions of gore and horror because that would be the easy way out. My work is also influenced by old cartoons from the ‘20s, so I try to merge horror with old cartoons. Merging these two elements together was quite difficult at times, but this is what led to the interesting universe that I have created now. With this particular series, I tried work in another influence of mine, which is tattoos, particularly old school tattoos. I wanted to merge my designs with old school gang imagery. Not the modern street gangs that we have now, that would be too easy. So yes, I try to incorporate elements from this world into this zombie vinyl series.
Do you have these kinds of tattoos?
What I like about these particular tattoos is that they have real stories and histories behind them. They are related to gangs and prisons, and although I love these tattoos as art, I could never get them myself because they just wouldn’t work on me.
With the brand being born in Paris, why have you relocated to Montreal?
I am not going to say anything bad about France because I was born there.
Right now it is really difficult to grow up in France and to develop yourself as an artist, especially with modern French politics and a culture that does not value the arts. That is why I moved to Canada. It provides a way better environment for artists to work in and to develop concepts like this on. I can see the difference the environment has on an artist by just working here at 123-Klan and seeing how things work out as opposed to what it was like in France.
Tell is a bit more about the eyeball mascot for Zombie Corp. Where did it originate and why did you choose it as the mascot?
So as you noticed, the eyeball is missing from every one of my characters. The eyeball can be seen as the eye that sees everything. It is the all-seeing-eye in any given situation. It could be my eye, so it’s like I see everything happening and I am just there, watching.
Yeah, whenever you are thinking up designs it’s always good that you can link that to your logo or mascot, because now, whenever someone sees a missing eye they will think of Zombie Corp. More importantly, was there a specific reason why you chose a red eye instead of a blue one?
I started by taking one eye out of my character designs one day, just to see how it would look. And I decided, “This is the right one. I am not going to change it.” I am influenced by advertising and I studied advertising and I used to work in advertising. I love mascots because they are deeply engrained in popular culture and at the same time, I was influenced by my background in advertising and I have the mentality that once you have something, you do not change it because that’s what people are used to seeing. This is what people saw so I kept it. It is bringing a commercial side to the artistry.
Personally I think that it’s very intelligent and I really like it. Maybe you can create a story for the character: he is always trying to get his eye back but never succeeds!
Your mottos is, “Trust in Freaks.” Other than its relationship to your design is there a meaning to it?
“Trust in Freaks” came to me with all the people that I have met. All the people that I have met, be they artists, friends, people on the streets, or even the people that others think are crazy or try to avoid, are the people that I have learned from the most actually. Because you can always learn something from everything and everyone, and it seems like all the people that I would consider freaks, other people find them to be interesting.
I read on the hat of one of the eyeballs, “Suicidal Tendencies.” What are some of the thoughts that the eyeball has?
Well, the eyeball is a real perv.
What influenced this style of yours?
My style tendencies come from music which is one of my big influences. Music is always related to my work because I learned a lot from music and I used to play in a band. Music is a large part of my history and I used to work in the music industry as a designer doing flyers or covers for albums. I would have loved to work more in music, but it does not pay well. A lot of my style tendencies are attributed to my style influences.
You have touched on eyeballs, green monsters, and blue dead people. What other kinds of things will these kinds of monsters metamorphose into?
There are a lot of other monsters coming because I am a real fan of horror movies. I am trying to pay homage to each classical monster creation, one at a time, with my designs. Zombies will always play a main part in my design but other monsters are going to come as well. I just did a Wolf man design recently. All the monsters that are long gone or forgotten from public consciousness, I am trying to bring them back from the dead. For instance, I am trying to do a design paying homage to characters from Ghost ‘n Goblins, which is an old video game, for you video game nerds out there. So yeah, I am taking established monster creations and using them as inspirations for designs that will carry my own concepts and styles in order to create a loving homage to the original creation.
Speaking of your inspiration from horror movies, especially older horror movies, which horror movie is your favourite of all time?
Return of the Living Dead.
Why is it your favourite horror film?
Because there were naked girls running around the cemetery!
I love it because it was one movie that depicted zombies as being created by toxic waste and also because those zombies didn’t just growl, they actually said, “Brains!”
That is one of the things about modern zombies. They are always eating humans but for some strange reason they are never shown eating brains. They are supposed to be eating brains!
Yeah, speaking of that, it seems like with the growth of technology in the newer horror movies, more emphasis is placed on killing and visceral violence rather than the goofy and campy qualities that older horror movies possessed. Is there a vaccine for Zombie Corp?
Probably, because there are probably people that are totally new to Zombie Corp. But I hope that I will infect most people who see my work. Does that sound dirty?
Definitely. Speaking of the freaks that inspired you, is there a specific person that really influenced you in your designs?
What makes a person a freak? The “freaks” that inspired me the most are probably artists that I didn’t even know personally. The first one would be Salvador Dali). The guy was totally crazy but he had a vision that was totally avant-garde and futuristic in some way; modern art still hasn’t even reached that point yet. Also, Johnny Cash, he was a total character. My number one master would have to be George A. Romero, the director. He and his movies are completely misunderstood. He had his moment of glory directing huge blockbusters in the U.S. and now he is back to doing smaller movies and smaller productions. He totally reinvented the concepts and stories of the Zombie movie genre and at the heart of each and every one of his movies are interesting stories, not just mindless violence.
What is HYPE?
It is an instant, popular phenomenon in popular culture. It is a really misunderstood movement because it’s not that it is good or bad, it’s both. It can help something or it can hurt it. It’s not as simple as saying that I like HYPE or that I don’t like HYPE. It’s just that I am a hipster. I just don’t really know what to say about it. It’s complicated.