Looking Beyond The Lights


Shooting electronic music events is much more than just shooting some epic lights on a smoky stage with a big crowd of ravers. Like any cultural gathering, there is a reflection of society, politics, culture and traditions happening underneath the surface of loud music, dancing and drinking.

When we entered Zouk Singapore for their Halloween Party 2015 it was my 3rd time shooting in the club after having spent more than 10 months in Singapore in the last 2 years. My main job was to get some promotional images for Fujifilm Japan on the pre-production X-Pro2, so my shooting was a bit more frantic than normal, I had to make something happen. Fortunately Zouk Singapore is almost more like a theme park than a nightclub and offering a lot of scenes and scenery to shoot, even more so on a Halloween night with amazing set design and costumes.

I know the electronic music scene in my home town of Copenhagen very well, and as such I feel I at times manage to capture the layers of society reflected underneath all the obvious coating. It is different when shooting in a place like Zouk Singapore. But something interesting has happened this 3rd time around. I think I am on an instinctive level starting to recognise and shoot elements of Singapore. Charlene points this out to me in my pictures from Zouk, and being Singaporean she has an understanding of what I have captured, what I saw. An understanding that I do not have, I know something caught my eye and I captured it for a reason, but it is like a dream you cannot quite recall, it remains just out of reach. I see that I am just starting to capture…something…deeper in the images. But I have yet to comprehend what. It will surely take a lot more time, Singapore is a complex society and culture and extremely different to my home country.

I am sure I will end up shooting many more events in Singapore, and I will be very interested to see when/how/if I start to gain a further understanding of what my eye capture on instinct but my mind still quite cannot make sense off.

For now, here is a bigger photo set from the Zouk Singapore Halloween party 2015. All images shot on a pre-production Fujifilm X-Pro2 using Fujinon 16mm F1.4 and 35mm F1.4 lenses. A big thank you to Zouk Singapore for the access.

Recommended reading and viewing

The brilliant book, How Music Works, by David Byrne. The Land That Techno Forgot – The Survival of Singapore’s Club Scene on the excellent ElectronicBeats.net. And watch Real Scenes from Resident Advisor.

…and a not so hidden plug: my own ebook, Get In The Loop – How To Make Great Music Images.



















2 Comments on “Looking Beyond The Lights”

  1. After being away for so long, it may quite well be that my understanding of what you capture at these things, is not quite as “insider” as they could be – especially Zouk, since I’ve been there about as much as you had, and with less club experience, I’m probably more flabbergasted at how much of a Fantasia the old owners had made it to be (though possibly less surprised at this achievement, since I am accustomed to the pull-out-all-stop-ness of Singapore.

    But I will say that your photos certainly do have more of a sense of place than they used to. These pictures from Zouk are far more nuanced than the last lot were. I definitely get a sense that you’re looking past the surface splendour.

    1. Compared to my understanding of Singapore, you are still very much the insider 🙂 I am wondering how the old owner of Zouk actually feel about the theme park feel of the main room. I guess the main room is catering to the mainstream public (at least the mainstream that can afford the entry and drinks in there!) so it needs to go for somewhat of a lowest common denominator, still, it is a shame to see the venerable Zouk mainroom descend into EDM hell. It is left to Velvet Underground to still play credible music.

      And thank you! Looking past the surface, let that be the mantra for my music work.

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