A Conversation with Jeff De La Ham

 

1. We first found out about you through the Helmut Lang Instagram. How did you start working with them?

I had an in—my friend Ava, who works there, first suggested me to shoot taxi drivers for them last year.

 "A shot of Tony, NYC taxi driver, for Helmut Lang." (Jeff De La Ham)

"A shot of Tony, NYC taxi driver, for Helmut Lang." (Jeff De La Ham)

2. When and how did you find your unique voice?

The year was 2003. I was 12 years old and puberty’s bitch. I possessed the hairiest armpits in my class, suffered from extreme backne, and masturbation had just about taken over my life. And, I was at the height of my little league baseball career. It was a crisp March night, the season had just begun and daylight savings time hadn’t yet kicked in so it was still getting dark by like 5pm. I was warming up before a game, tossing the ball around with Pat Creed at the edge of the infield. The entire diamond glowed with a nostalgic yellow filter cast by the bright stadium lights that surrounded it. I side-armed the ball to Pat’s left so that he’d have to scramble a little bit to catch it. He did, and as he wound up to throw it back my mind jumped elsewhere. I’m not sure why this happened—it may have had to do with those freaking lights, or, maybe, I had caught epilepsy from Jack Powers who always seemed to be stranded in right field even when he wasn’t—but I was suddenly staring through Pat Creed, through the wall of dark pine trees that hugged the outfield fence and off into some phantom depth of the universe: foggy, silent. I don’t think I remembered what I saw even in the moments after it happened, much less now, but I’m certain that I left my body for another place and time completely and strongly believe it was an important clue about my life purpose. Anyway, the ball hit me square in the throat and ever since then I’ve had this unique voice.

 "A picture dramatization of the story of how I got my unique voice." (Jeff De La Ham)

"A picture dramatization of the story of how I got my unique voice." (Jeff De La Ham)

 "A picture dramatization of the story of how I got my unique voice, with labels." (Jeff De La Ham)

"A picture dramatization of the story of how I got my unique voice, with labels." (Jeff De La Ham)

3. Who are you? age/sex/location?

Name: JDLH.2018 (née Jeff De La Ham). Age: 26 human years. Sex: undetermined. Location: wherever you are, my darling clementine, my heart lives.

4. How did you get into fashion?

Found a shirt. Put my head through the head hole, put my arms through the arm holes. Found pants. Put my legs in their designated holes. Etc. It comes easy with practice.

5. What are you into? Books, thinkers, media, etc.?

I stumble across things essentially at random and consider them to be fated and wildly influential and inspiring in the moment, then stumble upon something else and forget about what came before it. I’m hoping it’s all being stored in my brain-cache but honestly can’t say for sure. Recently: John Berger’s “The Sense of Sight”, William Klein’s “Mode in France” and Weezer’s first 2 albums. This will be out of date by the time you publish this.

6. What is your “look”? What is a “look”?

My look is I think slightly asymmetrical because my right eye is a bit lazy—or maybe not lazy but perpetually fatigued. I think he was born with naturally lower abilities and so works twice as hard to keep up with Lefto over here. I’m sorry, what’s that? Oh, you mean look. Like lewk. Fitpic. OOTD! I generally try to look as confusing as possible (within the confines of what still feels like ‘me’) and make heavy use of false fashion flags. Because I know that everyone this side of the Dalai Lama assumes stuff about people based on how they dress or style their hair, I enjoy making that process of assumption difficult and inaccurate. I hate sports but I’ll wear sports clothes, for example. Another example is that I wear large pants but I am actually quite fit. My look is a big ol’ illusion and that’s how I like it—unpinpointable.

Re: looks in general, tough to say. Personal style in 2018 means a ham sandwich as far as I’m concerned. Too many clothes, too much hype, an uncomfortable amount of trends with fleeting lifespans, and way too much money spent on crap. A wise friend of mine said that peoples’ brains are disappearing, clothes are like a drug now and the individual decision process has become moot. Soon there will be PSA’s warning parents to keep their kids off Grailed.

P.S. I’m just realizing that if I ever heard one person describe another person’s outfit as a “look” I would assume it was more negative than positive.

 "A photo of myself after putting on clothes but I've covered my face with a horse head for accuracy's sake." (Jeff De La Ham)

"A photo of myself after putting on clothes but I've covered my face with a horse head for accuracy's sake." (Jeff De La Ham)

7. Do you use eBay? Are you for sale on eBay?

Yes, my gosh! I use it daily. And heavens, no! That’s human trafficking.

8. Are you busy later?

I’ve been staring at this question for ~4 minutes and can’t decide what you mean by “later”, so I will provide a series of responses:

-If by later you mean later today, March 9th, the day that I’m emailing you these responses, then no I am not busy later. If all goes well, later I will be in Los Angeles, California. I will be all alone, staying at the charming America’s Best Value Inn in Echo Park. Room 7A—knock thirteen times so I know it’s you.

-If by later you mean later in life, then I would have to say yes—I at least intend to be busy later. The factory in which I was created was apparently out of Premonitory Drives the week of my production run (#91XXY69B, stand up!), so I regrettably lack the ability to see into the future. Luckily, my Self-Discipline levels are actually quite high for my release date, and so I trust I will do all that I am capable of doing to avoid stagnation.

-If by later you mean later later, like dead and gone later, then my response is as follows: the absolute unknown of death frightens me, yet I find solace in the idea that the universe, of which we are just part, is its own living organism—surviving, evolving—and that the death of one thing inevitably leads to the birth of another, and so, since we are mere nano-organisms within this universal organism, we will never really leave it: we will be forever busy, even if our form changes from flesh and bone—or, in my case, titanium and electrical wire—to an invisible consciousness.

For all matters beyond living and breathing, which he handles on his own, Jeff De La Ham is managed by Alex Lee

 
MacKenzie Peck