Sometimes I make an image that for me sums up a whole concert in one picture. This is captured at VEGA the same night I shot these portraits of Questlove and DJ Rafik. On stage is Questlove behind the decks, Lord Finesse on the mike and members of the Wu-Tang Clan hovering around. Questlove played a two hour blinding set, some of the best music I have heard in a long time. The room was hot and packed. The audience were loving every beat. The light and sound was outstanding. The stage was filled with incredible characters. The moment was perfect.
A week ago I had the pleasure of shooting DJ Rafik for the second time this year. I first shot him at the Red Bull Distortion street party and was highly impressed by his set, but clearly I had seen and heard nothing yet. Rafik is a 6 time World DJ champion and at the Red Bull Music Academy Vanguard festival afterparty there was room on stage for his gear and epic skills as a turntablist, musician and producer. We all stood around mesmerized by the impossibly fast yet seemingly effortless mixing, scratching, cutting and editing. The beats were groovy, the performance was jaw-dropping. At times it appears the hands were moving faster than the eye can follow as tunes and beats were cut up, juggled and re-composed. It was one hour of wizardry by this German magician, fortunately I managed to pick my jaw off the floor and shoot a few pictures.
My images only tell part of the story, to really see DJ Rafik in action, watch him performing in this video. I hope to work with DJ Rafik again soon, if you get a chance then do go see and hear him, it is truly special.
Questlove. Photographed at the Red Bull Music Academy Vanguard afterparty at VEGA, Copenhagen.
Rum is a Danish word for space, room or reverb. Add pistol and you have Rumpistol, a brilliant and inventive Danish electronic musician. Add Unkwon, Mikkel Meyer, two other great Danish musicians, and have them play inside this mad professor KUBE invention featuring visuals by Obscura and we have liftoff, the trip to space has launched.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited by Rumpistol to experience and photograph a closed concert with the KUBE, the last of their KUBE performances. The KUBE is a specially designed 3x3m cube, three surfaces are clad in a semi-transparent screen, each mapped to video projectors. With a projector to cover each side, surfaces of content creates a transparent / non- transparent interplay. In other words, it is a truly mind bending experience, somewhat akin to a 2001: Space Odyssey.
The three performances by Rumpistol, Unkwon and Mikkel Meyer have their own distinct sound, look and visuals in the KUBE. Unkwon’s “bubbly” organic sounding chilled electronica very fittingly took place underwater. Mikkel Meyer’s old skool techno music is made on devices either salvaged from scrap or custom built and the visuals took us inside these unique machines. I was recently asked what music Rumpistol plays and I came up with “Deep, futuristic sci fi Electronica with splashes of house and breakbeat in a crunchy dusty analog yet digital style.” I am not sure what I meant either! The visuals for Rumpistol’s performance were nothing short of a masterpiece, mostly monochrome and incredibly fast and sci fi trippy in a style that made me think of the movie TRON speed up 500 times, and it fitted the music perfectly.
Capturing images of the KUBE was very fun and challenging. Standing inside the KUBE is a complete virtual reality experience, enough to make you loose your balance if you focus on the visuals. I am humbled and grateful I got invited to hear and see this, a massive thank you to Rumpistol for inviting me and Rumpistol, Unkwon and Mikkel Meyer for great performances.
This picture I made two days after Charlene landed in Copenhagen for the first time, almost year ago in 2013. She’s wearing her Born to Rock t-shirt. She is and makes me want to be always be awesome – and she caused a woman walking by to smile and say “I like your t-shirt. I too was born to rock“.
Copenhagen is fantastic in Summer, I would not want to be anywhere else. I had a magic 2 months here during Summer 2013. This year I arrived in early June to work the Distortion festival while Charlene has been in Singapore (damn you, Schengen visa bullshit!). Finally, on July 1st, a month of of counting the days, of waiting for my love, ends. In some ways I have been waiting for this Summer for 8 months. Summer of epicness you may begin, the Mad and Magic Raving team are back, ready to rock!
“There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.” – Doctor Who
“I am weird, you are weird. Everyone in this world is weird. One day two people come together in mutual weirdness and fall in love.” ― Dr. Seuss
“Du er magisk” – me!
The grand final party at Distortion 2014 is called – The Final Party . I had the pleasure of again working for Red Bull Music Academy. Final Party is held at an abandoned ship yard where 10-12,000 ravers go nuts at a mix of open air sound systems, tents and dark warehouses. I was looking forward to shooting our indoor warehouse stage where the sound, light, stage and performers promised something special and otherworldly – engage the turbo lasers!
The evening kicked off with the legendary Phase5 with Mike Rizzaw on the mike. The Hukaos crew featuring performances from Karl William, Tais and Louis Rustum then took over the stage and they sounded fantastic, I became an instant fan. Benal followed and rocked the warehouse with their special mix of hip hop and techno. Tokimonsta plugged in her own gear and proceeded to bring the roof down with her great one hour performance. Mykki Blanco was just…Mykki Blanco. I think he/she has her own category of far out performances, very fun to try and capture.
I had a terrific and very fun night, and everyone involved did a great job. Big up to the sound and visuals crew, they did a fantastic job with great sound and awesome visuals. They even let me “borrow/control” the lights for a portrait of the Hukaos guys.
There is one picture missing from my photo essay. As I rode my bike home around 4am the sun was rising and the view of the harbour bathed in early morning sunlight, on a beautiful quiet morning was stunning. You’d think with two cameras and three lenses in my bag I might have taken a picture. You’d be wrong. But I tid take these:
Once again I was armed with my Fuji X-T1 and X-pro1 cameras, loaded with 14mm, 35mm and 56mm lenses and myself loaded on a lot of Red Bulls (old raver here had to be up all night). Having two cameras at these events is nice, saves a lot of time on swapping lenses. Especially Mykki Blanco was all over the entire room including in the middle of the crowd and it was a challenge to keep up and shoot, no time for trying to swap lenses in a very dark room.
The lightweight Fuji’s easily hang on my shoulders for 8 hours, never feeling heavy. And as you can see it allows me to have hands free for holding a drink. Quite a skill, for trained time-travelers only. I did a lot of running around shooting, no falling over cables for a change, so felt a drink was in order.
A huge thank you to Red Bull Music Academy and everyone at Red Bull Studios Copenhagen for everything. Fujifilm Nordic for lending me extra lenses and a battery, and being wonderful partners. Distortion for a wicked festival. Look very much forward to the next one!
All my Distortion 2014 stories
At Distortion festival 2014, the Wednesday was not all that surprisingly followed by a Thursday! The street parties moved from the hood of Nørrebro to Vesterbro, and I was working for Red Bull Music Academy. Now, the street parties are a lot more fun it if doesn’t rain and at 2.30pm it began bucketing down and it lasted almost an hour. Fortunately half an hour before the 1600 hour kickoff, the rain stopped and never did return. Even the weather gods love a good street rave! Armed with two cameras, a bit of self confidence, gel in my hair and the infamous jacket (no sonic screwdriver though) I quickly cruised my bike to the Red Bull stage.
The epic downpour delayed proceedings a bit, giving us time to pose for some serious iphone photography. More importantly, the rain stopped, the sound system was setup, the sun broke out and the street rave could commence.
Since I am the now the lucky owner of 3 Fuji X cameras I figured I might as well bring a few. Especially as I don’t like changing lenses in a big crowd (I drop them easily enough all by myself). Slung on my right shoulder was my Fuji X-T1 with either the 35mm lens or occasionally the 56mm lens. My left shoulder held my trusty old X-pro1 with the 14mm lens. It’s a bit of luxury with two cameras, but it is a really nice way to cover an event, especially when working alone and I needed to get a variety of shots quickly. It worked perfectly, the Fujis are so small and light weight I find it no problem at all to shoot continuosly for 6 hours with two cameras.
The RBMA street party was a great success, a lot of fun for us all. After a delayed start things picked up quickly, the artists and everyone did a great job and there was a large crowd in front of the stage.
Stay tuned for the Final Party with Red Bull Music Academy. A huge thank you to Red Bull Studios Copenhagen, and Fuji Nordic for lending me the 14mm and 56mm lenses for the job, both of them were used a lot, especially the 14mm lens was perfect for getting shots inside the back of the old truck that served as our DJ booth.