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Meet the Conductor

Throughout Station to Station there's existed an emphasis on collaborative work but the most important collaboration has been between Doug Aitken and Len Peltier, the Global Creative Director at Levi Strauss. Without that the train would never have got...

Over the course of the past four weeks Len's grown more exhausted as the workload took over, but conversely his lack of physical energy just made him even more affable. And that wasn't easy to do. Len has a gentle strength to him. A friendly giant. He's a born leader in an age when nobody knows they need to be lead anymore. In another life, he'd have played the cowboy wandering from town to town, doing good, breaking hearts, not talking much but leaving a large impression. In a rare moment of calm, half way through the Congos set at the Oakland event, I pulled him aside and asked him a few questions.


First off, how did you manage to get this idea backed by Levis®?
It was difficult to explain, yes. But I know people were excited about the thought of it. Levis needs to keep a constant connection to culture and we are a creative community. If we don't keep in touch we're not authentic enough. This project gives back and it also gives access. But, yes it was a great leap of faith by the brand.

What will the implications be for Levis®?
I think it'll open up a dialogue between us and the customers and inspire them, but really inspire us too. That's what the train was all about. You know progress is made in ideas not miles and we thought lets make people talk to each other and break down all these barriers. It taught people how to be collaborative again and that's what Levis is. In the end you guys, the journalists, the artists, the public are as much about the brand as we are.

Are there any special memories you took from the trip?
Justin  (Stanley) our engineer sitting there working with Ariel Pink and Thurston Moore and a journalist on guitar. And then Thurston not wanting to get off the train because he's enjoying recording with him so much. I've been so lucky to get to work with people like him and Melodie McDaniels and everyone else on the crew. They can rough it. Sure there have been tense moments when there are a million cameras on a small train and all this stuff is going on. And that was hard for artists who were used to creating alone. But what we had was the opposite of exclusivity, people who could work with zero ego.