The great songs on the records they love and that made them. The premise of this article was to create a playlist with the songs chosen by a group of photographers. They were asked about the music they listen to and that inspires them. And here we have the eclectic cocktail! Welcome to their music icons worlds. The image and music go party together.
Let’s start with the Irish born Phil Crean. He lived and worked in London through the 1980s and has lived in Tenerife almost continuously since 1994, with breaks in The Channel Islands and the UK. This experienced master of photography able to do everything with his camera chose Uncertain Smile by The The for the playlist. The seven minutes new wave and art-pop song is a fantastic way to set the mood for this eclectic music list. Phil Crean defined his music choices this way: “My taste in music is very eclectic encompassing everything from Irish traditional music to early rock and roll, 60’s greats such as The Beatles and The Stones, 70’s prog rock, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Jethro Tull. In the 80’s I discovered Prince and funk music, and all through the years, I was also listening to modern jazz with Miles Davis, Coltrane, and a mixture of blues and soul for good measure! So as you can tell I’m kinda difficult to pigeonhole when it comes to musical taste, which is also reflected in my taste for foods, art, and culture in general”. The photo is of Dr. Robert from the Blow Monkeys that he shot in 1989 for iD Magazine.
We change into a darker atmosphere with Fran Plasencia‘s election: You’re so cool by Jonathan Bree. This visionary is mostly known for his pop icons’ portraits but also for his conceptual and rebellious photo series. His extremely well put together photo books are masterpieces that I’d recommend you if you are looking for new and fresh visions of these days matters. His last one is entitled “8” and it shows street photography from a conceptual perspective. The eerie song he chose reminds me of The Cure and the image of the singer to David Bowie. So we continue with art-pop like the previous track. Fran told me: “Jonathan Bree is the type of artist that I enjoy listening to when I’m editing my images. He sounds like something familiar, to something old, but it is also completely new. In spite of the fact he is a singer with a strong visual feat, his music is intriguing and cinematographic, his music doesn’t lose force when you separate it from the image, but at the same time, it lets you concentrate in whatever you are creating”. Fran’s photo is a portrait of this New Zealand singer.
The third song in the playlist: Music Non-Stop by Kraftwerk was selected by the coolest Spanish photographer Paco Poyato. He is famous for his concert photography, and also for his series about urban rituals and collectives. It seems Paco always decides what is cool when he shoots. Paco is able to find what’s on. The 80s song from the classic electronic band from Germany is another proof. “With respect to music genres, I listen to all sorts of music, from electronic to indie rock, Britpop, soundtracks, especially the ones from my fave films. I also listen to jazz, Ethiopia origin too, though I’m not an expert. If we talk about groups, I have been listening to a group called Girls, they’re not together anymore now. But then, I have also been following one of the member’s solo career: Christopher Owens. I love Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Hot Chip, New Order, Girls, Christopher Owens, The Lemon Twigs, Blur, Suede, Queen, Mulatu Astatke, and others”. I selected Paco’s photo for the article, and he was happy with the choice, it’s one of his fave ones.
Masters in photography Marianne van Loo has been shortlisted for Portrait of Britain 2020, and all her last works have got lots of attention in international media. She has been documenting the British Covid-19 moments, the social distance, and all-new ways. Her song choice slows down the frenetic rhythm of the music list: We are never apart by Nick Mulvey. This beautiful folk song brings some calmness in the melody and Marianne explained to us the lyrics: “Whilst sitting at my computer and working with images, I like to listen to quite relaxed music. On Spotify, I always listen to my liked songs when editing images. To sort of wake me up, I play Operator by DJ Koze, the 12 inches extended disco edit. Which just about wakes up all my senses and makes me want to dance around the room. Next on the list is The Teskey Brothers with Jealous Guy – lived at the Forum Melbourne, 2019. Lately, I have been playing a lot of Nick Mulvey as it is just great background music. Whilst editing I heard him say the words quadrille. I looked up the song text and it says: Oh Myela, my love, they say the pipeline is coming, Black bears at the summit, Gonna have to move on, With the white geese at dawn, Our daybreak storm, And our indigenous heart, Even though Lancashire said no Quadrilla say they fracking anyway. Just as I have been working on documenting the anti-fracking protestors in Lancashire. What a strange coincidence. I think when editing you have time to listen to songs more intently as your eyes are focussed on the photos, but your ears are tuned in to the songs”. The photo of Marianne completes her story.
We say goodbye to the calmness with Inertiatic Esp by the Mars Volta. I warned you will have a bumpy ride in our eclectic music list. This is Anthez‘s choice. Anthez is a street photographer based in Montpellier, France, and his urban photographs are full of life, colors, shadows, lights, and almost staged geometry. Anthez told me: “I’m also a musician and these are some of my favorite bands or albums. Well, my music idol is Jimi Hendrix. I listen to very different styles. In fact, it depends more on the artist than on a music genre but I have a preference for psychedelic rock. Among the bands, I listen to the most we find The Mars Volta, The Doors, Downy, Franck Carter, Chelsea Wolfe, Noir Désir, Snarky Puppy, and Portishead. These days I love the album “Ensen” by Emel or the title “Paratonnerre” by Deportivo”. Anthez’s photo shows one of my fetishes in photography, a mannequin, it’s a cool choice. Love it Anthez!
We get again into the electronic grooves with Tacit Blue by Nitemoves. This ambient chillwave track was chosen by Sara Culler, a Swedish / American photographer based in Santa Fe. As a former musician and current photographer, she was THRILLED with the proposal! She has been quite enthusiastic about this featuring and you can tell by her creative literary text that matches her photograph for the article. Sara’s Instagram feed is a party of cute, interesting, and pastel color minimalist images that I recommend you to check. I’m sure you will love her works! This is her music story: “A rumble in the distance. The summer clouds have quickly morphed from benign cotton bolls, to ferociously looming monsoon clouds, and I put the second headphone in my ear. My feet are throbbing, and the concrete radiates hotter than the high-desert air itself. I had been out shooting for a while, and the midday heat was really picking up. Monsoon season meant that the skies would be ready to unleash anytime from now, to later… Slowly the warm, sensual, vibrating sound of layered synth carpets fill my headspace. As per automatic, my head turns, slightly robotically, and my eyes spot an object on the other side of the large, six-lane main street. Drum patches add on, and the tempo picks up pace. With the intensity of the music increasing, I turn and run across the lanes. There, on the other side, is a white wall, with a handleless door, partially bathing in the unforgiving sunlight, creating a sharp, jagged, geometrical shadow across the door. Music is now in full-blown Bladerunner mode. The moral of the shot and mood in the music gives name to the title – A Door That You Can’t Enter”. Thanks, Sara, this is an inspiration!
From the electronic song, we submerge into the alternative R&B world with Raquel García‘s choice: Learn Ya by 6 Lack. 6 Lack could be considered an updated version of Craig David, sounding both sensual and cool. Raquel García is a great and versatile photographer based in Tenerife. She has much experience in doing street and travel photography mostly, but she has also done conceptual works and landscapes. Her works have some color tones in common that makes her easily recognized. She also tends to compose naturally vertical photographs, that’s another of her main feat. Raquel told me: “It’s not easy for me to put together all the pieces that represent my music taste, I’m truly eclectic. I like everything from Pop to even Indie music but if there’s something I’m not really into that is Spanish music. I really love Jadu Heart, their music is experimental electronic but with a pop melody that sounds beautiful, the kind of music that makes you creative. Among my top artist is also Lianne La Haras, I love every single note of her modern folk, so soft that you can breathe it. If there’s something in common among all the music I love, that is chill sound, that’s why I fall in love with 6 lack, I would like to recommend you his track Learn ya”. And I’m in love with her American shot, it’s absolutely fab and it gives me positive and vintage vibes like most of her works! Thanks, Ra!
Jo Kalinowski‘s choice brings some hope and cheerful vibes to this complex time we are living: I will survive by Cake. Jo Kalinowski is known for her exquisite minimalist images and also for her very personal way to understand social-documentary photography. I really admire her persona and all her production is worth seeing. Check her Instagram feed to find out her impressive and unique American road trip testimonies or her delicate works from her series Other People’s Treasures. She said: “My name is Jo. I have so many music favorites, from all genres and decades. Though these days my two teenage daughters have taken over the music in the house and I find myself influenced by them with little choice!!. So my ‘to listen too’ has become really quite diverse. Music to me is like a great image. It tells a story and is connected to a time and an experience; a big part of my life. Old favorites like Radio Head (The Bends) connected to life in London. Toots and the Meytals from backpacking days in Australia when I came over from London. Ocean Color Scene connects me to when I first met my husband. Baby’s Got Sauce by G Love and Special Sauce. I adore classical…My list is way too long. This morning the house was filled with Rex Orange Country, then Fatboy Slim Lockdown Mixtape. The one song I choose for the playlist has to be ‘I will Survive’ covered by Cake, it holds so many memories, a superb cover”. Thanks for your joy Jo, and for your crazy San Francisco legs shot.
We continue the list with Under Your Spell by Desire, from The Drive Soundtrack. This is the Italian photographer Lucilla Bellini‘s choice and it’s quite representative of her photography and persona too. Lucilla Bellini is the photographer of the dreams. Her worlds are attached to oniric and surrealist universes, and her concept of geography and places is something we can really sense in her photos. She is also good at emphasizing the seasons in her shots. She is aware of these days’ problems like climate change and other issues. She is also a feminist. She gets involved through her artistic production in what is going on in the world. Her fashion editorials are out of this world. Check her production, you will be surprised by her visions. This is what Lucilla told me about music: “My favorite artists are David Bowie, Angelo Badalamenti, Cliff Martinez, FKA twigs, The National, Tindersticks, Ludovico Einaudi. I love to listen to soundtracks from my fave movies and instrumental music, especially while I am creating, to be inspired, and in the right mood”. For the picture, she picked a portrait of the amazing and beautiful singer Giosy Le Poison.
The next song was chosen by the worldwide famous greek photographer Kostis Fokas: I need somebody to love tonight by Sylvester, an old disco song that sounds like new. No wonder why Kostic picked this one for the playlist! The photography of Kostis Fokas depicts the human body with certain eroticism, but he also changes the corporeal reality with unusual and unexpected twists. His models have become the contortionists of the Instagram era. He has had to tackle the nonsense and stupid censorship against nudity and body display, and in spite of that, his works have received great recognition in the best and coolest magazines. Kostis confessed to me: “As a typical MTV generation teenager, I was listening to the music of my choice from a really young age. My bedroom TV was always on for months in a row, even when I was asleep. I still remember the first time I saw Prince on MTV, or when my brother gave me the cassette of “The head on the door” from The Cure for my summer vacations when I was thirteen years old. Still to this day for me, it is so exciting when I discover new music and new artists. Lately, my obsession is John Maus. I’m listening to a great variety of music genres and even now music plays a huge role in my life and work. There is always music playing at my photoshoots as a means of inspiration. I consider music as the supreme Art Form. The one song I chose is Sylvester -I need somebody to love tonight. I heard this song for the first time in my life three years ago, even though it’s a 40 years old song. And I was like “How have I missed that?” The song was released around the end of the 70s decade. The years between1975 -1985 are the coolest and most important decade in music in my opinion. Almost all of my favorites artists started around that time and so many music genres were born: The smiths, Yazoo, Prince, Boy George, Roxy Music, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, The Magnetic Fields, and many more”. Bless you, Kostis, loving your music taste mate and your sexy shot!
As a bonus track for the list, me, Seigar, I’ve added: Giorgio by Moroder by Daft Punk. It represents my vision about art, in the sense, it is respectful of the tradition and the past, and it also brings a new personal concept. I think Daft Punk did a fantastic tribute to Giorgio Moroder’s persona. It’s important to value the people who have been there before us paving our way. With respect to the music I listen to, my main music icons are Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince. They are probably the three singers, entertainers, and composers I have listened to more times during my whole life. I love their videos, concerts, and also their messages. They are “a full package”. I’m a hardcore fan of these icons. However, I also listen to lots of pop, electronic, dance, indie, urban, and world music. I’m open to all types of music genres, from Latin to jazz or from trap to rock & roll. I try not to have prejudices against any music style. Every year, I do my own best-of list. I’m a list freak. I like to rate every single album I listen to on Sonemic/ Rate your music and I reorder the lists while I’m listening to music. And I know we live in the playlist era, in which the song is considered the music unit, but I still believe in the album as a whole, especially in the conceptual albums, and that’s the unit for me. I also connect music with images, and I love buying CDs or vinyls, I’m a record collector. I used to participate in music forums and these days, I write recommendations and lists for some media. It’s something I have been doing for myself all my life since I was a kid, and now I can share it with others. I love pop culture and music is an essential part.
Thanks to the ten photographers that made this article possible! I enjoyed our interactions, your photos, and your music choices!
Seigar is a passionate travel, street, social documentary and conceptual photographer based in Tenerife. He feels obsessed with pop culture that he shows in his series. He is a fetishist for reflections, saturated colors, curious finds and religious icons. He also flirts with journalism and video. His main inspiration is travelling. His aim as an artist is to tell tales with his camera, creating a continuous storyline from his trips. His most ambitious projects so far are his Plastic People, a study on anthropology and sociology that focuses on the humanization of the mannequins he finds in the shop windows all over the world, and his Tales of a City, an ongoing urban photo-narrative project taken in London. He is a philologist and also works as a secondary school teacher. He is a self-taught visual artist, though he has done a two years course in advanced photography and one in cinema and television. He has participated in several exhibitions and his works have been featured in many publications. He has collaborated with different media such as VICE and WAG1. He writes for The Cultural about photography and for Memoir Mixtapes about music. Lately, he has experimented with video forms. His last interest is documenting identity. Recently, he received the Rafael Ramos García International Photography Award.