AMBUSH’s Beats Collaboration Is Dedicated to Tokyo Nightlife

Yoon Ahn explains how the glow-in-the-dark headphones are inspired by her home in Shibuya.

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Beats has unveiled a new collaboration with AMBUSH, taking inspiration from the streets of Shibuya for an eye-catching take on the Powerbeats model. The stand-out feature of the new headphones are the glow-in-the-dark capabilities, marking the first time this function has been used by Beats.

“It came from paying homage to the city,” AMBUSH creative director Yoon Ahn tells HYPEBEAST. The headphones had originally been scheduled to launch this summer, while the 2020 Olympic Games were taking place in Tokyo. Although COVID-19 disrupted this chain of events, Yoon was still keen to celebrate the city she calls home. “I live in Shibuya, it’s never sleeping, it’s always lit-up, there’s neon signs everywhere,” she continues. “I always wear headphones when I walk around the city. I was thinking what if I wore these headphones and was walking around, and then they lit up like these buildings and became part of the city.”

“At night it just transforms when the lights slowly come on across the city. It doesn’t sleep, it’s lit until the sun comes in up in the morning.”

The key theme throughout the collaboration is Yoon’s own nocturnal experience, in particular the area in which she lives. “I live in a high-rise and I have a view of the whole city,” she adds. “At night time it just transforms when the lights slowly come on across the city. It doesn’t sleep, it’s lit until the sun comes in up in the morning. When you’re listening to music and looking at that scenery, it’s quite romantic to me.” This influence also ties in with AMBUSH’s other collections, where Tokyo is a continual inspiration. “We’re rooted in Japan, this is our hometown,” continues Yoon. “That’s the story I’ve brought to the headphones, I wanted to see how I could make it become part of the city.”

As well as channeling her experiences of listening to music on her own — either looking at the view or walking through Shibuya — Yoon was also inspired by Tokyo’s nightlife when designing the glow-in-the-dark Powerbeats. The headphones were designed before COVID-19 spread across the world, so the references to nightlife feel like a celebration of a different world.

“I miss it,” Yoon says of nightlife, something people across the world are now deprived of. “You get so much energy from listening to music loudly in a mass of people, just being in a club. We need that human connection. Personally, I get a lot of energy from people. It’s unfortunate what we’re all going through, but I’m looking forward to a day when we can gather and enjoy music together.” While nights out remain off the table, Yoon hopes AMBUSH’s collaboration with Beats will offer an escape. “We have headphones, we have other methods of listening to music and enjoying it,” she adds, “if we help transport people into that world with our Beats headphones, I think it’ll be great.”

“You get so much energy from listening to music loudly in a mass of people, just being in a club. We need that human connection.”

The starting point of the collaboration was a collection AMBUSH released at Tokyo Fashion Week back in 2018 which featured headphones. Although those headphones were never commercially produced, they planted a seed which has now been developed through this collaboration. This project also sees AMBUSH expand into the overlap between fashion and technology, something Yoon is keen to explore further.

“Technology is such a big part of our world, we cannot live without technology,” says Yoon. “Technology, machines, everything will be a part of us, these things are going to happen soon, so why not embrace it and see what role creativity and fashion can play in that? I’m open to those ideas, it’s part of how this world is evolving. I’m really curious to see how big it will be in our lives.”

To launch the collaboration, AMBUSH and Beats have worked with Burna Boy to release a short film showing the glow-in-the-dark powerbeats in all their glory. The video plays off the two main influences on the collaboration, with visuals referencing the nocturnal inspiration while Burna Boy discusses how music can be a unifying force. Additionally, Burna Boy states his hope for future generations of African artists and concludes, “If you believe Black Lives Matter, you should be ready to fight for it.”

Discussing the campaign, Yoon described Burna Boy as “the perfect musician to represent the collaboration.” Equally, both Yoon and Beats were keen to work with Burna Boy due to his role within Nigeria and Africa more widely, “His story and his music is going to be a big part of the future of the continent,” Yoon continues.”

Echoing Burna Boy’s comments about how music can unify us, Yoon ends on an optimistic note. “Right now, we all need music to help lift our spirits,” she concludes. “I’m just hoping that people can use our headphones to get lifted.”

AMBUSH’s Powerbeats collaboration with Beats is due to release at select stockists and the Apple web store on November 18, priced at £169.95 GBP (approximately $224 USD).

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