meet mademoiselle yulia, the jeremy scott muse ruling tokyo's electro scene
A quick Q&A with the multi-talented style star on Pokémon, Harajuku, and hanging with Rihanna.
Photography Darren Luk
Mademoiselle Yulia is a Japanese style icon living a life that would reasonably make anyone in their 20s completely envious. Between DJing at some of the most exclusive events around the world, sitting front row at fashion weeks, partying with Rihanna, and designing clothes, you'll also find her starring in fashion campaigns and casually being a muse to icons like Stella McCartney and Jeremy Scott. We took a moment to chat to her about music, computer games, growing up in Harajuku and her new fashion label Growing Pains.
What are you up to today?
I'm about to go Harajuku to meet up with my friends.
You travel a lot. What are your favorite cities?
I love London because it's kind of similar to Tokyo. I don't know why, but maybe it's the people and how they communicate. It's very comfortable for me. They also have an interesting music, art, and fashion culture there.
What was it like growing up in Harajuku, the district that has become so famous for its style and culture?
There's a lot of people from all over Japan and the rest of the world in Harajuku, especially those who are into fashion. When I was a kid I'd meet lots of cool grown up people there who taught me about fashion, music, and different cultures, which helped with starting my career.
Pokemon Go! has taken over the world and was only recently released in Japan. Have you been playing it?
Yes, I've been playing Pokemon Go!, but I'm kind of tired of it because the park around my house has lots of rare monsters and there are too many people there these days. It's actually becoming annoying. But, I'm also into another game called Chain Chronicle!
Hot tip! Can you tell us about your background and how you began making music?
I was in a band when I was a teenager but we broke up because one of the band members moved to London. At the same time, my friend asked me to play at his party as a band, but we couldn't. He then suggested that I DJ instead because that was the only thing I could do by myself. That's how it started. I didn't plan to be a DJ but singing was a very natural thing for me.
Having started music at a young age, how has the Tokyo music scene and your own music changed since then?
The Japanese music industry is very different from most others. They have their own, specific music taste. It's good, but on the other hand they don't want to try and accept what they haven't done before. I was with a big record label for five years but I quit three years ago because I wanted try something different and they didn't understand or accept it. I just wanted to make good music, so I started working with an independent record label and released an EP called Yulia at the end of last year. One of my really good friends Oli Chang (Animal Feelings), who's also from Sydney, makes amazing beats and he lives in New York, so I went to there and recorded my EP at the same time.
Your EP was great. Are there many other female DJs in Japan like yourself?
There were only a few female DJs when I started. Over the years it grew and we had a lot more five years ago, but now there's only a few left again.
You're a DJ, singer, and jewelry and clothing designer. Do you enjoy doing any of these things more than others?
I don't know, I love everything! But my new clothing brand Growing Pains just started, so I'm trying to do my best for it.
Can you tell me a little bit more about your new label?
I get inspired by various types of art including music, movies, underground cultures and movements all over the world. Growing Pains is a fashion brand that showcases my creativity under my multiple perspectives as an artist. It also celebrates a bit of humor and a spirit of enjoying fashion as a self-expression.
You also have a jewelry label GIZA, are you working on that too?
GIZA only makes collaboration items now. We just released an iPhone case in collaboration with Haribo.
How would you describe your personal style at the moment?
I have many tastes for fashion, but I'm really into Japanese antique kimono these days.
You are a muse to Jeremy Scott and Stella McCartney, appearing in campaigns last year. How did you guys meet?
I met Jeremy in Tokyo — he loves Japan. We had a friend in common who introduced me and we became good friends. I also used to go to LA a lot for my work and we hung out every time I went there. I met Stella in Tokyo too! Her really good friend introduced me as well.
As someone who parties all over the world, do you have any memorable moments you can share?
The story with Rihanna is memorable. I went to a party in Paris during fashion week and Rihanna was there. We didn't know each other personally at the time, but she was waving her hand at me and her security told me that she was calling me to come over. So, I went to speak with her and she told me that she knew about me from Instagram. After that time, we see each other whenever we are in the same city.
What's you're favourite gig you've performed at?
The Chanel party in Korea. I've always wanted to work with Chanel as a DJ and my dream came true!
Lastly, do you have any personal tourist tips for anyone who is traveling to Japan that they wouldn't get from a typical tour guide?
Actually, I love a typical tour! But if you are into vintage fashion, go to Shimokitazawa.
Text and photography Darren Luk