I recently caught up with April Syrup while she was visiting her hometown of San Francisco. However, as this posts, the graphic artist, fashion designer, and model is currently back in Tokyo, the city she’s called home for the last few years. A Temple University of Japan alumna, April chose to remain in Japan for a few years after graduating in 2010, to begin her art and design career. She often holds her own events in and around Tokyo, where she (who better?) models many of her own creations, a sample of which is at left.
After catching the Facebook wall post of April’s that revealed she was back in the States, I decided to shoot her a message to ask if she’d like to be featured here. She said she would just to see if her entry would get more hits than her twin (yes, twin) sister Aby’s did when I featured her here last year. Just kidding about that last part. The girls are very supportive of each other and April was happy to answer a few questions for me, including why she chose the moniker “Syrup.” Assuming that’s not her real name is just as much of a no-brainer as figuring out what her real name is, since her sister goes by her real surname.
CHRIS CHARLES: I’m really pleased to feature you here April. As you know, I did an interview last year with your sister Aby, for a feature here that I also shared at Asian Sirens.
APRIL SYRUP: Thanks! I did see the feature that you did on Aby! We’re really good about supporting each other so nothing goes unnoticed really. And yes, I read her interview. It was quite amusing.
CHRIS: This is your interview so I won’t ask you a lot of questions about Aby, but I am curious about one thing. She wouldn’t tell me why she’s known as “Bad” Aby, but my theory is; when you two were growing up, she was the “bad” twin and you were the “good” twin. True? If that’s not it; please tell me why she’s called “Bad” Aby! I promise I won’t tell her you told me.
APRIL: Oh, she didn’t tell you? It’s because she has bad breath (laughs). Jussst kidddinng!! My sister has done some gangster-ass shit and we used to call her “Hardcore Aby,” but it was easier to say “Bad Aby.” She’s just a badass.
CHRIS: Speaking of names; how did April “Syrup” come about? I mean, I understand the “sweet” part about it but the rest; sticky, goes on your pancakes …I don’t get.
APRIL: Ahhh yes, I get asked that a lot. During a photo shoot I had to fill out a form that asked me for my modeling name, and I didn’t have one so Aby and I just kept throwing dumb names at each other and laughing. April Fools, April Showers, April May, and April Syrup just sent us on a giggle fest so we kept it. A lot of people actually don’t realize that it’s funny because its a spin off on “maple syrup.” They just hear it and think “hmm that has a ring to it” Some people would roll there eyes to it thinking “how lame,” but I’m not lame and I guarantee you they remember that name the next day.
CHRIS: Ahh yes, of course; April Syrup, Maple Syrup. Anyway, you’re a fashion and graphic arts designer first, but you also model. You said by a strange twist of fate, you started modeling. How exactly did modeling come about?
APRIL: I actually never aspired to be a model. I guess it was just out of artistic curiosity about photography and graphic design that led me to make myself the object of all of my first graphic projects. I enjoyed editing my pictures, making posters and calendars more than modeling itself.
CHRIS: You’ve also been a certified personal trainer and that helped you as a model?
APRIL: I don’t work as a fitness trainer anymore, but when I started I was kind of a fitness nut and I’m sure my physical self esteem showed in my modeling. I always worried that I was flexing too much in my pictures though.
CHRIS: You have a strong dance background, including pole dance, for which you’ve won several competitions. Do you think pole dancing has become more acceptable as an art form and is somewhat losing its “stripper” image?
APRIL: Pole dancing has definitely evolved into an art and even a sport. I live in Japan now where world pole dancing competitions are held and they have turned it into one of the most mesmerizing performances arts. Stripper image? well I think when the dancer dances minus the stripper shoes women tend to look at it as an art. Men on the other hand probably will never overlook the stripper factor.
CHRIS: Any sport or activity you haven’t tried but want to?
APRIL: I really wish I was better at basketball (laughs). I can’t dribble and run at the same time, but I’m determined to learn this year. I think it’s a sexy sport for a girl to know.
CHRIS: Do you have any junk food vices?
APRIL: I love green tea ice cream! My junk food vices are the least of my concerns when it comes to vices (laughs).
CHRIS: Currently, you’re back here in San Francisco but Tokyo is where you live. Do you plan to make Japan your home or will you eventually settle back in the US?
APRIL: I plan to be in Tokyo for one more year and then I will either move back to California or Texas.
CHRIS: You really moved to Japan for the shopping or were you just kidding when you said that?
APRIL: Na (laughs). I went to university there and after I graduated I launched myself as a designer and artist. I host fashion and art events every once and a while and YES I love shopping there.
CHRIS: As someone who lived for several years in South Korea, I know what it’s like to be immersed in a different culture. What was the most difficult thing for you to adapt to in Japan?
APRIL: It’s incredibly challenging but it’s also incredibly exciting, I try not to focus on the differences that make me frustrated with Japan, but rather the small victories I have when I succeed in this country. Maybe the most difficult thing to adapt to is Japanese business. We have to get wasted with our boss and entertain our superiors. In Japan, you can be the most talented person but you still have to climb the corporate ladder and are expected to work 16 hours and kiss a lot of ass. It’s just my American side that can’t adapt completely.
CHRIS: Anything about Japanese customs or culture you’ll never get used to?
APRIL: I will never get used to the underlying gender roles. I mean its not just men that expect women to be quiet and powerless, I’ve never in my life met so many women who aspire to be nothing more than housewives. The list really goes on and on, in Japanese culture, your career defines you. If you have a fight with your husband the police report your boss and you can get fired for having private conflicts in your personal life. I’ve seen it happen. It’s strange to me. Again it’s just my being American that can’t fully acclimate, but I do respect the culture for what it is and there are far more things about Japanese culture that I love.
CHRIS: We have something else in common. We’re both Robot Chicken fans. So, is your sense of humor a bit twisted (like mine)?
APRIL: Aren’t we all a little twisted in our own ways? Yes, I love that show and I like the show The Office. too because it has that painfully awkward humor.
CHRIS: Do you do as much modeling now as you did when you first started doing it, or are you focusing more on fashion and graphic design these days?
APRIL: I was a the peak of my modeling career when moved to Japan so it was hard to put it on the burner, but I’m glad I did because I was able to focus all my time and energy to being an artist. I mean; I would still get some modeling gigs here and there and people around me encouraged it so it’s not like I gave it up completely, but I will say that getting fans for my art was far more gratifying than getting more fans for modeling. There’s a lot of gorgeous girls out there, so I would rather my name be recognized for my creative achievements. It didn’t hurt to use my image to bring attention to my art, though.
CHRIS: I don’t know anything about fashion design, but I’ve seen some impressive creations of yours at your blog and Facebook, such as the kangaroo leather “Angel Wings” dress. Are there any creations that you’re particularly proud of?
APRIL: I love Halloween because I get to be a bit bolder about my designs. One Halloween, I decided to be my favorite food which is samgyupsal which is a Korean barbecue wrapped in lettuce. I made a dress that looked like a giant lettuce wrap; I had a kimchi corset, and a garlic shaped clutch. I really blew myself away with the lettuce dress. It looked just like lettuce.
CHRIS: And as someone who is very familiar with Korean barbecue, and kimchi, I would have loved to have seen that. So, have you ever drawn up something just on a whim and it turned out to be one of your best creations?
APRIL: Yes! Actually, some of my best artwork was on a whim and super last minute class projects. I find that I work best under pressure.
CHRIS: At shows, do you always model some of your own designs?
APRIL: Duh, who better to model it than me (laughs). When I have fashion shows, I always encourage my models to have a wild carefree character, I play the hottest dance music and I go out first to set the standard, to which I just dance around like a fool but it makes the show very energetic and memorable.
CHRIS: Well, now you no longer have to envy your sister for being featured here, April. In closing, any shout-outs, plugs, or upcoming events you’d like to mention? APRIL: Thank you for featuring me!! If anyone is ever in Tokyo, do check me out for upcoming April Syrup Events on my website www.AprilSyrup.com. and do keep an eye out for some iPhone cover designs I’ll be doing for LMFAO this year.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
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