Thursday, April 15, 2010

Link Highlight: Haasbroek

It's hard knowing where to start, needing to write about someone with as many layers of awesomeness as Jaco Haasbroek. Perhaps by way of introduction I could just list a couple of facts about Jaco:

* He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
* He's my favourite toy designer in the country.
* As a DJ he has one of the best sets of ears on the continent.
* He's one of the most prolific and creative people I've come across.
* He can sew! A power he used to turn a very cute little dog into a superhero.
* As a character designer he's a total master of the Japanese fundamentals of cuteness and simplicity, while still creating friend's that look totally unique.
* His skills on a Casio make me spazz out.
Jaco comes from my hometown Pretoria but I only became aware of his existence while he was studying in Stellenbosh. Like a few other awesome people I met back in 2004/ 2005, i found Jaco through the archaic turn of the century social networking tool Myspace.

I "added" Jaco because he listed Les Say Fav as one of his favourite bands, his page was full of photos of cute toys and his name was freaking Haasbroek!* * For anyone that doesn't speak Afrikaans, Haasbroek translates to Rabbitpants. Back in 2006, when my friends Paul, Ri, The Doom and I took our Sovereign Academy parties on tour, Haasbroek's house was the first place we went to when we got into Stellenbosch. Meeting Jaco I would discover the toys on his myspace were in fact all made by him, and more incredibly that Haasbroek was his actual name and not the result of some cute creative thinking! The day of our Stellenbosch show Jaco showed my around his studio and filled me in on the deal with the toys. Each Haasbroek toy was of a person in a rabbit suit. Each one was named after a real world person that made music Jaco loved.
Emily Haines
Dan Whitford (in ghost colours)
Cut Copy
Thom Yorke
Gareth Camesino
Los Campesinos

As their creator, Jaco was each toy's "dad". This didn't mean other people couldn't bring these toys into their own lives, but it did mean each toy would need to be adopted from Jaco. Any prospective new parents would need to sign an adoption form which Jaco would file away. They'd also need to promise to do 3 things:

* Send Jaco photos of their Haasbroek friend, wherever they landed up in the world.
* Eat Coco Pops with their toy once a week. As Jaco's favorite breakfast cereal he would eat Coco Pops with them all the time, so to make the creature feels safe with it's new owner, they'd need to keep to this tradition.
* Each toy came with a CD-R. Each CD-R would have 1 song on it, performed by the toy's human namesake. Once a week the toy's owner would need to play the toy this song to keep it happy.

Obviously blown away by this awesome world of plushy parenting I immediately ordered a Haasbroek of my own. I chose owner of the DFA record label, producer of the 1st Rapture album and powerhouse behind LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy. James and I have enjoyed some magical times together. Here he is hanging out on the beach in Namibia. Back home in Jozi, Anja, Nix and I organized a Haasbroek party at Nix's then shop of awesomeness, Ke Ai:
L to R:
James Murphy, Colin Meloy, Souxsie Soux, Karen O
Coco Pops!

Wow - this has turned into a pretty long post, and I haven't even got onto any of Haasbroek's many other creative endeavors outside of toy design. I guess for the first time in Link Highlight history I will have to say:


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