21.12.23 Frequent Players
It’s nearly time to close out 2023 and thus brings an end to another year of our Frequent Players platform. From a journey through the world of dub to the warm shores of a Balearic special, we now tune into the sounds of Uncle Fats.
Someone who we’ve had on our radar for a long time now, we’re excited to finally learn more about him and his passion for music… and collectibles.
As well as handing over Guest Mix 47 for our Frequent Players platform, we close out the year with a special edition to finish the year. Also known for his online series ‘Uncle Fats Chats’, Fats sits in-front of the camera to discuss life and life experiences. For this latest episode, Uncle Fats talks to us about togetherness. A time that’s focussed around the subject. Check out the feature over on our TikTok and Youtube.
Footpatrol: Hey Fats, it’s great to be here at your home with you today! Over the years, you’ve been involved in a variety of endeavours, from music and photography to blogging and clothing production. Could you please introduce yourself to our audience and share a bit about what you do?
Fats – Thanks for coming by, so my name is Fats Shariff, aka Fatsarazzi,aka Uncle Fats.
Yes for real I have done many things & worn many hats. I like to say I am a Jack of All, Master of some when it comes to our industry. I have done many things in my long Career & have had the privilege of working with some of the Pioneers of what we term ‘Streetwear’ today. But throughout that I have always been doing clothing production, that is at my Core. My family was in the Business since the 60’s & guess it rubbed off on Me. This is where I am the mad professor hah. I know production inside and out. A blessing & a curse sometimes. However we still managed to work with some amazing people & clients who have all gone on to do big things
FP: It must have been incredibly exciting in those early years, being part of this melting pot with influential brands and individuals who still hold sway today. Back then, did you ever envision the heights it could reach?
FS – It was an amazing time, imagine no internet, so you had to travel & be dedicated to the game to see & absorb all that was going on in The States, Japan & London. I don’t think we thought we would be where we are today with many Labels now being at the Forefront of what is Fashion these days. There is no way at the time you would have thought ‘Stussy’ & ‘Dior’ team up. For me I was so in the moment & excited to be pushing boundaries & creating a new genre of clothing. Truth be told, it was not till I got to Japan in 1994 that I really saw what could happen. In Tokyo they were not messing around & they already knew & were putting our Genre on the Map.
FP: What was it that led you to delve into photography and blogging, documenting the era and environment you were in?
FS – my dream was always to be a Photographer in Tokyo…from the age of 16-17 – that is what I wanted to do. So I studied photography…did all the work & then didn’t do it. I went into the clothing business. But on that trip in 1994 to Japan, I was introduced to the 1st Casio Digital camera & this programme/software called Photoshop & boom I was back. That is where the real birth of FATSARAZZI came from that trip. I am so into technology & this totally blew me away. From that moment I was shooting everything. Through the notoriety of Fatsarazz & who I was producing for i was approached by, Slam X Hype, Hypebeast & Highsnobiety plus a few more to. I would blog about different things on different blogs. I even got called ‘The Blog Father’ after a while. But that all ended for me when I found out that most of the blogs were owned by ECKO & he we all were giving our Ideas & thoughts for Free. As for continuing to take pictures, it was always there. I would travel a lot with Stash & Futura, shot a lot of early days with them at shows & openings here & there. It was Acyde & Steve Bryden that got me to put my photography out there. At the time apple had a free website application. So I chose a template & uploaded a lot of pictures from my Travels, but a lot of our own scene, Bond, the Bench & all the good stuff we used to do. The website crashed on launch as too many people were on it. I blew the bandwidth hah. That is when Fatsarazzi & my Photography took off. I was doing all of this for me. No fees, as I was earning all my living from Clothing Production. So it was a passion & a lot more fun. There was always something going on.
FP: Now, with No Brand Apparel as your current business and working with emerging brands and individuals, does it remind you of your early days?
FS – Good question. It is different now, but I am still excited & inspired to be working with these new brands. Thanks to my son Che (my business partner & Guru) we have a lot of amazing new labels coming through our door. Between his current know how & my knowledge of the industry we offer new labels a solid base to start their journey. The excitement never changes with me, I am inspired by the labels we work with. They do things differently, & that is what I like. I am learning new ways to do the same thing. Keeps me on my toes & always at the forefront of it all. Plus nice to know that I still have a lot to offer, but also learning new techniques everyday.
FP: Back when you were blogging, it was ahead of the social media era. How do you see today’s young brands and individuals using platforms like social media to propel themselves further and reach new heights?
FS – Social Media has broadened the exposure horizon, but I also feel it makes it harder for you to stand out. Brands need to find their handwriting before they walk the walk on Social. There are so many that many try to emulate. So once you find that Handwriting, Following & more importantly your Product lives up to it. You are good to go. Bening involved with PATTA & seeing how we have a whole division working on this tells you how much things have changed. The Marketing & Social teams are what used to be your Salesman. They have to be so good as this is the prime window for Sales. But what I 100% like, is the using of the tools available to make things work for you. We never had that. You can have a presence on social media in a matter of seconds once you have your product & media ready. We had to go to sell our product at shows, & retail was king, We would travel to other countries to buy product. Now, all available in the pal of your hand. Social Media is now Part of the Human Experience. It cannot be ignored & has to be part of the growth strategy.
FP: Listening to your Frequent Players mix, it’s so varied in terms of genres and really took us on a journey. Could you delve a bit more into the selection process behind the mix?
FS – Thanks for the kind words. You nailed it there, my mixes are about a Journey. There is so much good music out there, & being an eclectic listener & collector, I like to put it all together in my own way & hope it all flows & keeps the listener tuned in. The mixture of sounds & genres makes for a more interesting & engaging experience. I would like all to be guessing as to where I go next. My Vinyl collection goes everywhere, & is like a Diary for me. I know where I was when I bought each piece. Also being from such a multi cultural, genetic background I like to express that in my mixes also. I hope your listeners will like it & if they want to hear more I have a monthly show on ECHOBOX.RADIO in NL – Uncle Fats Far Out Sounds – says it all really hah.
FP: Similar to your music choice, your fashion sense is an eclectic mix of styles. What influences your fashion choices?
FS – Wow, how do I answer that? I don’t know really, my Mum has always said I am a cross between a Peacock & a Maharaja. I like that hah. There was a time when I described my style as a ‘Mafia B Boy’, but today I see what I like & just manage to put it together where it works. I am inspired a lot by Movies & Art. Vintage is a big thing for me also, this is the most Sustainable fashion that exists & we should be wearing more & more.
FP: If you had to describe your style in just three words, what would they be?
FS – Hmmm ? Eclectic Ivy Dandy ! There you go, that will do hah.
FP: You’ve recently started Uncle Fats Chats, a platform where you share words of wisdom on life, work, rest, play, and much more. What inspired you to launch this platform?
FS – this is something that i have wanted to do for a long time & finally started it at the beginning of this year 2023. I have been through so much in my life that I wanted to share some of this experience. Whether it be Business, our Industry or Life in General. Plus I have few tales to tell too, I have had some silly times with some great people. I hope by telling my tales & outlooks that not only I better myself, but perhaps I can help a few people along the way. I have no qualifications other than my life, being a Parent, being a Business Owner, knowing the Ins & Outs of this Game of Ours. Plus I have been on a pretty philosophical & spiritual journey in my life, that there are a few pearls to share. Let alone being a person of colour & the challenges that that has brought throughout my life. But all in all it is about positivity, to see the good & find tools to navigate the path to a place of calm & joy for all of us.
FP: And when it comes to Uncle Fats Chats, how do you determine which stories to share on the platform? Additionally, do you have a favorite story or piece of wisdom that you’ve shared to date?
FS – The stories come to me & I make a list & work through them. I used to have a long list of subjects to cover. But I have found that when I go with what I feel & experience l from day to day, are the chats that work better. They are more spontaneous, & rarely have a script or bullet points to cover. Actually, the Uncle Fats Chats I am doing for Foot Patrol is the 1st time in a long time that I have listed pro’s & con’s for the subject. I have only done this before when it comes to one to one sessions, where you have to hear, list & then apply my outlooks to the situation, otherwise it is mostly freestyle. As for a favourite piece, I just did one on the book ‘The Prophet’ – I talk about the book a little & how it is one of my go to books, but this was more about my Dad. He gave me the book when I went travelling, I was so shocked that my Dad had this book let alone read it. My Dad was poles apart from the Philosophy of this Book. It showed me a whole side to my Dad. We had a troubled relationship, my father & I, but this Book always reminded me that he had this Book & read it & therefore some of this must be in him. I have a series that I do hashtagged #dadstories always a tale of Dad, some good, some bad, but these help me find peace with my father & the traumas I carry from him. I also do this for my Son’s as they need to see & hear that it is good to be open, it is good to talk & share a challenge, rather that sit alone & fester in your own thoughts.
FP: As this interview is going out over the festive period, a time known for togetherness and being with family, you’re doing a special Uncle Fats Chats feature for Footpatrol on this but how does an ideal festive period look for you?
FS – may I say thanks for asking me to do an Uncle Fats Chats Special for Footpatrol, means a lot. For me, I like the total opposite of what it is, where I am now I just want to chill the F out !.
The Holiday Season is always busy for our family, Xmas Day is at Mickey’s (my ex wife’s) house, all of us together, 26th we then do the same at my Mum’s, but we do Indian Food hah, & the 27th is my 2nd son Solo’s birthday. So non-stop for us. I know that sounds a bit bah humbug & all that, but sometimes wish it was a little more chill. Thankfully we all get along so it is always fun in the end.
FP: Thank you for your time today. To wrap up, what is one piece of advice you would give to the next generation?
FS – Thank you ! In closing, I would say never be afraid to ask for help or for that next big step. If you get a no, you are no worse off than when you started, but if you get a Yes, it can all change for you. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you asking & moving forward. If we do not fail we never learn. But remember failure is easy, that teaches. Success, now that is a challenge, as you need to maintain & keep the success going. Not that it can’t take you all the way, but you have to work at Scucces, it needs feeding & nurturing. Succeed has to evolve for it to continue and Damn it I am still learning this everyday. Life is a Rollercoaster. Twist’s, Turn’s, High’s & Low’s, but what an Amazing Ride. Thank you FP & Be well.