[Interview] A Sit Down with the Burger King, Randy Nakajima
Matt Maraia, Nov. 17, 2017, 9:18 a.m.
This is the first interview in a smal series we are doing to highlight Asian-American creatives from all backgrounds. Randy Nakajima is a photographer and marketing guru based out of Los Angeles, California. He's worked with skate brands, fahsion brands, magazines, musical artists and has now staretd his own line, we'll get into all of that further down. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Randy spent a lof of time working at his dad's Japanese lifestyle store and skateboarding. Of course with skateboarding comes streetwear, and the rest is history. We sat down with Randy to give you an inside look on his journey from working retail in mails to working with Primitive, Dope, and eventually becoming a brand director at Team Cozy. Having left TC, Randy now spends his time freelancing, working with Jason Markk, as well as with popular sneaker reselling app, GOAT.
1. Tell us a bit about your background. You’re a second-gen Japanese-American, right?
Yup! Half Japanese and half Filipino. Mom moved here from the Philippines when she was 14 and my dad was born and raised here in the US, but also speaks fluent Japanese.
2. Were there any heavy expectations from your parents, that you strayed from?
Thankfully my parents have always been extremely supportive of anything I've done and want to do. I think that all parents should just want their children to live a happy life, which doesn't always entail keeping a consistent or stable single job. In that regard, among lots of others, I'm very lucky to have them as parents.
3. What first got you into photography? How has your mindset changed over the year in terms of what you find visually attractive in a photograph?
Skateboarding! When I was in high school, I'd fractured my ankle and couldn't actively skate with my friends, but still wanted to mob around with them. My dad had a camera lying around so I picked it up and became the dude who documented everything. My photographic taste I think changed as I discovered photography outside of skateboarding and slowly moved into "streetwear" fashion and beyond.
4. You used to work in a skate shop right? Can you tell us a bit about that? Is that when you started to get into fashion, street-style photography?
I worked a Boarders skate shop in the Northridge mall for a short time, pretty much for free, as I was always there chatting it up with the employees and talking skate anyway. Eventually, through skateboarding, i ended up working at Primitive (with my favorite guy ever, Matt Maraia) where I really started to pick up on "streetwear" fashion. From there it really snowballed into me working as Dope's photographer and so on from there.
5. You’ve worked with pretty big-name brands. How has that helped shape you into starting your brand Burger Days?
My friends Mike Cherman (Chinatown Market) and Alex James (Pleasures) are very much inspirations behind that for me. Their hustle and what seems like a direct streamlining of ideas to paper to production that both of them convey is very much something I strive for everyday. Additionally, the landscape of "streetwear" right now really allows for anyone to take a good, quality stab at getting their time to shine, although it's typically short lived.
6. Where do see Burger Days in the next two years? What would your dream collaboration be?
To be completely honest, I'm not even sure if it'll be around in 2 years and, if it is, I really haven't thought it out that far yet. As a So-cal native, my dream collaboration would be In-N-Out burger 1000%.
7. I know you do a bit of traveling. Do you feel affects your inspiration at all?
Yeah absolutely. I'd suggest to anyone who's currently spending their money on anything disposable to immediately stop and start spending that money on traveling; it's the best thing you could ever do. Seeing how other parts of the world work only enrich your awareness and open mindedness when looking at your own life and what you do with it. Those memories and thoughts are far more valuable than any pair of Yeezy's or Jordan's you could possibly want.
8. Is there anything currently going on in the industry that rubs you the wrong way?
I've always been bummed on big money taking advantage of skateboarding and "steetwear" culture, but I do see it being a very necessary part of both industries. I don't think either could exist without the other, at least not for long.
9. What are your top two favorite burger joints, that people might not know about?
Everson Royce Bar on 7th St. in Los Angeles and Freddy's Burger in Victorville.
10. Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Nothing out of the ordinary, I don't think: skateboarding, music, vinyl collecting and of course photography.
11. What album is your life’s soundtrack?
I'll know the answer to that once I'm on my death bed.
Give a Randy a follow to keep up with all of his new ventures https://www.instagram.com/randynakajima/, and while you're at it check out more of Burger Days too, https://www.instagram.com/burger.days/.