Your browser currently is not set to accept Cookies. Please turn it on or check if you have another program set to block cookies.

 

In Focus: Death Cigarettes
In Focus: Death Cigarettes

In Focus: Death Cigarettes



Covered with health warnings and emblazoned with the universal symbol of poison and disease, DEATH™ Cigarettes boldly stood for “The Truth” in a market riddled with fear, hypocrisy and lies. DEATH™ tells it like it is. “The world is a fucking wild place, where you've got to find your love, you've got to find your peace, you've got to find your paradise and, even in that, remember you will die,” Benn McGregor tells LN-CC over a videocall, while aptly driving out of Paradise, California. Building on its graphic jersey reincarnation last year, Benn has worked with original founder BJ Cunningham to create the ultimate LIFE-style capsule rooted in counter culture. To celebrate its exclusive launch at LN-CC, Benn shares a death waltz-soundtracked campaign film, Even In Paradise There Is Death, that invites us down the DEATH™ rabbit hole…


In Focus: Death Cigarettes

LN-CC: Firstly, how are you and what life has happened since we last spoke?
Benn: The whole idea of this drop and DEATH™ Cigarettes in a wider sense is that we didn't want to build something that was susceptible to tired old brand marketing tropes. We didn’t want to be slaves to the business. This reincarnation is for us to enjoy the truth that it brings. The brand is what the brand is and we follow its lead and make it happen. ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ is an old, original slogan from DEATH™ Cigarettes, that translates to, ‘even in death, there is paradise,’ feels incredibly apt.

The world is a shitshow!
Benn: The world is a fucking wild place, where you've got to find your love, you've got to find your peace, you've got to find your paradise and, even in that, remember you will die. It's fucking chaos, but it's also incredible and your chances of being born is one in four and four hundred trillion. So, just fucking have it!
BJ: Each piece in the drop is an item we really wanted, items we obsessed over. For example, we really wanted a Hawaiian silk shirt with the Guercino print on it and knew it had to come with matching shorts. Ben and I love The Sisters of Mercy and there’s this picture of Andrew Eldridge wearing the shades and Ben and I were obsessing about these shades and couldn't find them anywhere. So we just thought fuck it, we'll make them. We wanted the coolest leather jacket and that's a combination of all of the classic British motorcycle designs that have gone before. So every single component of that leather jacket is the best. Everything is an act of pure joy and love. It reinforces that live immediately mentality, Memento Mori. Do you know about Et in Arcadia ego?



In Focus: Death Cigarettes

Of course! It’s fascinating to explore its origins and subsequent uses in popular culture too.
BJ: It's a rabbit hole of mind boggling gobbledygook. From Ancient Aliens through to Knights Templar. It’s a movement. It comes from the Memento Mori concept of death; don't get too above yourself because you're going to die. Poussin and the paintings, Rennes-le-Château, Goethe and beyond. It’s just so rich. Also, it's the name of our company, Et In Arcadia Ego Limited. We wanted to bring all of that to the fore and Ben did an incredible job creatively to tell this beautiful story. It’s as deep as you want to go.
Benn: And we love that it can be skimmed over and some people will see a cool shirt with a skull on it. There are always layers. Whenever I go deep on the research, it’s amazing where it takes us. When I first approached BJ about DEATH™ Cigarettes through a friend of a friend, it was because it’s an amazing brand. Everything has incredible meaning behind it. It’s either hilarious or meaningful, or both.

It’s a rabbit hole for all of us to fall down too. What was the starting point for this campaign?
Benn: It’s wrapped up in the idea of contrasting paradise with death. I wrote the music and bassline loop D, E, A, D, D, E, D, D, E, A, D So it's dead, dead, dead, dead. The extra element of fun about that is that D, E, A is a 123. A 123 with a 3/4 time signature is a waltz. So it's a death waltz announcing death in its baseline.
BJ: It's more than that. The paradise we decided to land in is this psychobilly, mondo, under a lava lamp on astroturf in a silk Hawaiian shirt, sipping out of a coconut, going bowling, but then ending up in a mosh pit, listening to The Cramps and The Meteors. So that whole vibe of just pure punk stage diving into the bastard child of rock-and-roll is exactly the energy and the vibe that we wanted to take out of it. Which is why when you watch the video, you'll see all that tiki.

The video collages so much and contains very powerful transitions.
Benn: The way it goes from paradise into death is purposeful. Go down the whole rabbit hole of Martin Denny, an amazing American composer. The whole Tiki movement was artificially fabricated by America on its idea of what paradise is from Hawaii. If you’re interested, watch The Air-Conditioned Eden. It's an amazing documentary that sheds light on Martin Denny and the whole Tiki paradise Hawaiian culture that was appropriated by America. We’re doubling down on that and making it even more subverted and twisted so there are so many layers and tentacles that you can follow here so we just want to fill your brain with a load of stuff.
BJ: Another potential tentacle to follow is the cockroach that appears on the wavy Even in Paradise, there is death title. On the original packet of DEATH™ Cigarettes, exactly where you'd expect to find a roach, we printed that roach on there. Of course, a cockroach is also a symbol of survival.
Benn: He's the reminder to live you know, he's a symbol of fucking endurance.

It goes to the very core of the brand’s message.
BJ: Exactly. Find something to die for. It’s about living!
Benn: The brand is a reminder to live immediately.

After the first collection reminded us of the history of the brand, what was the starting point for this drop?
Benn: What’s paradise and what’s death. For us, our instant reaction was paradise is a silk Hawaiian shirt and death is motorcycles and aviators, so it was about smashing these elements together.

There’s a sense that it’s building out LIFEstyle.
Benn: What’s paradise and what’s death. For us, our instant reaction was paradise is a silk Hawaiian shirt and death is motorcycles and aviators, so it was about smashing these elements together.


In Focus: Death Cigarettes | Shop Now