Mix tapes by K Records’s Calvin Johnson and makeshift EPs of unsung bands, international labels like Opening Ceremony and customized T-shirt box sets by local creatives on consignment, rare art books and ’zines from the likes of Frances Stark and Wolfgang Tillmans and painted rocks… Just a few things you’ll find living in harmony at Ooga Booga. That is, if you find the boutique itself. Burrowed away above a Chinatown bakery, Wendy Yao’s inconspicuous concept shop is no secret in the City of Angels. Relying on good taste and a great network of friends, she showcases unique wares under one roof and stages music shows on Ooga Booga’s balcony. Here, we talk shop with the indie scene impresario.Why did you want to open up Ooga Booga, and what does the name mean?
The store opened three years ago because I wanted to have a place to gather things made by friends while supporting independent culture… ‘Ooga Booga’ was going to be the name of my friend's band, but then they became Wrangler Brutes, so they let me use it—you know, the first words uttered by man.How do you select what to stock, and what are a few of your new favorites in stock?
I just go with what feels right, and try to figure out a good combination of things to fit in this tiny space. We just got a really beautiful enamel silkscreen print by artist-musician Bjorn Copeland and a new book by L.A. artist Frances Stark. Starting this fall, we will be working with designers Ann'tian from Berlin who are doing cool things with pattern and color… And I love our neighbor Sara Clendening's wooden bead necklaces—everyone who works here has one! When I look for clothing, I like designers who think like artists.What are a few clothing labels that you’ve shown from the start and always will?
We've worked with designers like Opening Ceremony, Bless, and Ben Cho from the start. They are all great in different ways—Opening Ceremony's clothes are fun, classy but unpretentious; Bless are really conceptual and inspiring; and I love Benjamin Cho because he is a true creative spirit. Do you make any clothes and/or products yourself?
Only when there's time. We just started publishing a few things in-house such as ’zines, a DVD of Claymations by musician/writer Ian Svenonius, and we are collaborating with L.A. band No Age on a ‘bag set’ of their first five vinyl releases this month. My sister Amy and I are making some clothes together as well.What do you think of the independent music and ’zine culture that's expanding in Los Angeles now?
I think it's really vital and exciting—there’s a great sense of community. L.A. has a long history of independent culture happening beneath the surface, and right now the latest generation is taking over and making it their own. A lot of bands have actually played on the store's courtyard balcony including Barr, Kiosk, Always, No Age, Thrones, Extreme Animals… It's always really weird and fun—music al fresco.Ooga Booga
943 N. Broadway, Suite 203
Los Angeles, California